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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Watching Black Swan With My (almost) 15-Year-Old Ballerina

So those of you who know us, know that October and Halloween hold a special place in our household.  We start watching horror movies in September as we countdown to Oct. 31, mostly because we have too many we want to see and not enough free nights to watch them.   

One movie in particular has been on the waiting list for a few years because of its content.  That movie is Black Swan.

Spoiler Alert:  Don't go further if you've never seen it.

For those that don't know, my daughter is a ballerina.  She's been dancing for more than a decade and she's about to turn 15 in a month.  After a few discussions with those that had seen it, my wife and I decided that she was old enough and so last Saturday we settled down and fired up the television.

Put simply, Black Swan is about a ballerina who is so intent on being perfect that she's losing her mind.  Along the way, we're subjected to watching her deal with jealous rivals, an overbearing director, brutally graphic injuries and we watch her display some weird tendencies and nervous tics before we start to question just what the hell is happening to this woman.

As my family sat down to watch this, I thought I knew what we were getting into but I figured my wife and daughter probably did not.  I mean, I hadn't seen the movie yet, but I'd heard a few spoilers.  I knew it would have some graphic violence and gore.  I also knew that my wife and daughter love "creepy" horror movies but aren't as into the insanely bloody stuff.   

Imagine my surprise as I became the one cringing and my daughter became the jaded expert.  Some examples:

Scene - Our main character splits a toenail while dancing and graphically deals with the bleeding herself.

Me (squirming on the couch):  Ugh!  

My daughter (nonchalantly):  Yeah, that happens all the time.  Most of our feet look like they've been in a car crash.

Scene - Our main character steals some lipstick from the woman whose place she desperately hopes to take in the cast.

Me:  That's a little bit psycho.

My daughter (shrugging it off):  We had people stealing stuff for a while.  It seems to have stopped now though.

Scene - Our main character has a tendency to nervously scratch to the point of breaking the skin.

Me:  Yeah, I think she's losing it.

My daughter:  Not necessarily.  I've seen people do that. Or play with their hair incessantly.  Stuff like that.  It's just a nervous tic.

Scene - Our main character takes a piece of glass and stabs a rival.

My daughter:  Okay, I've never seen that happen.

Me:  Thank goodness! 

Anyway, the bottom line according to both my daughter and my wife is that except for the insanity and murder, Black Swan was the most accurate portrayal of a ballet company they'd ever seen.

I already knew my daughter was a hell of an athlete (the kid has a six-pack for crying out loud) but watching her not bat an eye during that toenail scene made me realize just how tough she is.

If you haven't seen Black Swan, watch at your own risk.  We all loved it, but we're kind of twisted that way.

Other movies we've watched in September.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Wolves (2014)
The Monster That Challenged The World (1957)
31: A Rob Zombie Film (2017)
Them! (1954)
The Mummy (1959 - Hammer)
Lifeforce (1985)
Southbound (2015)

Coming next week:  How about a free short story about vengeful Louisiana ghosts?  I'll see what I can do.


Tom said...

I'm curious how you handled a sequence with your daughter in the room.

Cary said...

My daughter is actually a lot more worldly wise than most 15-year-olds. By that, I mean that my wife and I just decided early on that if she asked us about something (anything at all) we weren't going to lie or sugar coat anything. We'd just explain it to her as best we could. I'm not necessarily recommending that parenting style, but it's worked for us with this particular (and very curious/relentlessly questioning) kid.

So while she hadn't seen that before, she knew those situations existed. It was a shocker but not as much as it probably could have been.

Tom said...

It just conjured memories of sitting in a movie theater with my parents watching Basic Instinct. I knew what I was watching but it was still damned awkward.

Cary said...

I totally get it. The same thing happened to me watching Bull Durham with my Dad and Stepmom in a hotel room on vacation one time. "Hey! Let's watch this baseball movie!" Thirty minutes into it, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are screwing in every room in the house and an awkward silence has fallen in Room 210.

Lisanne Harrington said...

I raised my kids on monster movies. Remember USA Saturday Nightmares in the 80s? That's where we started. Now, we all enjoy watching horror together. Its a great way to bond. Worked for us, anyway.

The Monster that Challenged the World is a movie I haven't heard of. I'll have to check it out.

That dream scene in Black Swan? (An awesome movie, by the way.) Tom's comment reminded me of when I went to see Alien (Sigourney Weaver) with my dad when it first came out. When the alien popped out of the guy's stomach, I was a little uncomfortable, sitting next to my staunch father, because we both thought it looked a little like a penis...