This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Aren’t You Glad I Didn’t Say De Palma?
Why are reviewers so dismissive of this simple fact: Black Swan is the best Brian De Palma film in years? Why is the even more schlocky Argento suddenly somehow seen as a more favorable comparison than De Palma, when Suspriria is kind of a red herring. I mean how desperate to avoid being compared to De Palma to you have to be to find comparisons to Argento a compliment? Or worse that there’s some threshold filmmakers should be aware of in order to avoid having their psycho-sexual thrillers teeter off into the realm of hot messery, as though the default setting for psycho-sexual thrillers wasn’t in fact hot mess. In Dann Gire’s review of Black Swan, Gire states, “Aronofsky dabbles in the sort of hallucinatory sleight-of-narrative perfected by Brian De Palma, but never crosses into the realm of exploitation or cheap shock value.”
Gire never specifies which of the many De Palma films he cites as an example of the above mentioned “exploitation or cheap shock value” and seems to be laboring under the delusion that Aronofsky doesn’t also traffic in all that exploits or marinates itself in cheap shock value, which, of course, Aronofsky does.
And Xena love him for it! Anytime a film seeks to explore our sexual psyches, lusts, fantasies and fetishes in an attempt to “say something” there’s rarely a way to do so – particularly as it relates to those desires in the context of female sexuality without conjuring up Angie Dickinson, Margot Kidder, Jessica Harper (no not that movie) and, Xena, help me, Sissy Spacek! And that’s cool. And more importantly, that’s De Palma. Don’t be fooled. Black Swan is all about trafficking in De Palmacious ideas about women, sex and violence. Wave your twisted De Palma flag proudly, Black Swan. Don’t be ashamed! De Palma is the man responsible for introducing us to one of the finest actors of all time and there’s nothing schlocky about that!