I was blown away by Darren Aronofsky’s intense psychological thriller “Black Swan” starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.  This film, which tells the story of a ballet dancer (Portman) cast in the title role in a production of “Swan Lake,” successfully conveys the immense pressures of professional dancing, showing the dark effects that it has on the body and the psyche.

The dancers starve themselves almost to the point of emaciation so that they can preserve their place in the dance company.  As the main character Nina, Portman’s body clearly shows signs of significant weight loss and malnourishment.  Nina’s devotion to perfection on stage and off though drives her to madness, especially when she believes a fellow dancer (Kunis) is trying to steal her role.  As the audience you are lost in Nina’s head, unsure of what is real and what is not, constantly making you question her sanity. 

While I was thoroughly glued to the screen and impressed by Aronofsky’s devotion to thoroughly portraying the subject of ballet, his shaky handheld camerawork made me a bit woozy at points and the pacing of the story dipped enough in a few places to make me shifty in my seat.  My Grade: B+

Arriving in theaters this week are the Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie thriller “The Tourist,” the Shakespearean adaptation “The Tempest,” the epic fantasy “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the economic drama “The Company Men,” and the Mark Wahlberg boxing biopic “The Fighter.” 


Frank Taylor (Johnny Depp) journeys to Venice, Italy to recover from a break-up, but he soon finds himself involved with the beautiful and cunning Elise (Angelina Jolie), an Interpol agent with connections to a dangerous fugitive. 

German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck directs this international thriller.  In addition he also collaborates on the screenplay with Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes.  The trio adapts the story from a French film called “Anthony Zimmer” by Jérôme Salle. 

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Audiences that have been hoping Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie would team up will get their fix with this movie.  If you enjoy thrillers about characters in the wrong place at the wrong time, then you should catch “The Tourist.” 


In this Shakespearean adaptation, Prospera (Helen Mirren), the rightful Duchess of Milan is exiled to a remote island with her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones).  As she begins to assert her influence over the island, Prospera develops a new enemy: the slave Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), who rebels against her.   

Julie Taymor, the intensely visual director of “Across the Universe,” helms and writes the screenplay for this adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play by the same name.  In Taymor’s version the most notable change is that the main character is a woman instead of a man.      

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Shakespeare admirers should be the first in line to see this film.  If appreciate adaptations which make brave changes to the original story or characters then you should watch “The Tempest.”             


Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and their cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) return to Narnia where they rendezvous with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) for a trip across the ocean aboard a ship called The Dawn Treader.  On their journey they encounter dragons, dwarves, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.     

The third film in the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise brings on a new leader, Brit Michael Apted, who lends his veteran directing experience to this fantasy.  Series scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely return, receiving additional assistance from Michael Petroni in adapting C.S. Lewis’ popular novel.           

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Fans of the C.S. Lewis books will be interested to see how things pan out in this third adaptation, especially under the leadership of a new director.  If you liked the previous films in the franchise then you should view “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”                 


This drama focuses on a year in the lives of three businessmen (Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones) who try to figure out next steps after being laid off by their company. 

Television scribe John Wells directs his first feature length film with this movie, which he also writes unassisted.           

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Those who were struck by the poignant messages about struggle during a tough economy in “Up in the Air” are the type that should see this movie.  If you think that Ben Affleck is a talented actor and you think the supporting cast of Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones is solid, then you should definitely check out “The Company Men.”             


“The Fighter” is a biopic about the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his complicated relationship with his brother, Dick Eklund (Christian Bale), who helped him train to become a pro fighter. 

“I Heart Huckabees” director David O. Russell helms this drama starring A-List actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.  Russell collaborated previously with Wahlberg on the 1999 action movie “Three Kings.”  Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy combine forces with newcomer Eric Johnson to pen the screenplay for this movie, which is based on a story by Tamasy, Johnson, and Keith Dorrington.    

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Boxing fanatics and sports movie aficionados should definitely catch this gritty drama.  If you believe the combination of Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale is a solid one, then you should go see “The Fighter.”