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Arts and Entertainment

Weekend Movie Guide: Emotional Scars of Black (Swan) & Blue (Valentine)

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Between Kanye West's Runaway and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, ballet is staging a serious cinematic comeback. Black Swan opened at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, and the psychosexual thriller has soared from festival to festival ever since, in the same company as Aronofsky's previous film The Wrestler.

Black Swan and The Wrestler also share a distributor, Fox Searchlight, as well as critical praise for their unorthodox subject matter and lead performers. This time, it's Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis playing against type as two ballerinas teetering towards breakdown over a contested role in Swan Lake. As tensions rise between the two, so do their repressed desires - and if you haven't read where this is going, let's just say they fly south for the winter.

Now would be a great time to revisit LAist's preview of Black Swan's costume design from Pasadena-based Laura and Kate Mulleavy.

Moving from sexual repression to sexual oppression, it's absurd that the MPAA rated Blue Valentine NC-17 for "a scene of explicit sexual content". The Sundance darling, with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a young couple coming apart, was picking up serious steam until the rating shot it through the heart. The Weinstein Company is fighting the decision tooth and nail, while the filmmakers are collecting signatures to petition the MPAA for a re-evaluation.

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What's the big deal about an NC-17? In theory, the rating should distinguish the picture as one for an adult audience. In practice, an NC-17 is assumed to be mere pornography, and many theater chains and newspapers refuse to carry such films on that mistaken principle. I try not to grandstand, but if you care at all about emotionally honest, adult pictures, please go down to Laemmle's Sunset this weekend and buy a ticket for Blue Valentine! A strong showing there will not only warm more theaters towards booking this film, but prove there's more to the NC-17 than Showgirls.

If you’d like to see something even further off the beaten path, check out our weekly Film Calendar of specialty theatres, revival houses and midnight movies. See you at the movies!

General Release
Black Swan (Showtimes)
Dead Awake (Showtimes)
The Warrior's Way (Showtimes)

Limited Release
Applause (2009) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
The Assistants (2009) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
Barney's Version (2010) (The Landmark)
Bhutto (2010) (Nuart Theatre)
Blue Valentine (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
The Dreams of Jinsha (2010) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3)
Essential Killing (2010) (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex)
Louis (2010) (Laemmle's Fallbrook 7)
Meskada (2010) (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex)
Saha (2010) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
Undertow (2009) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)

Featured Trailers
Black Swan

Blue Valentine

That's all for this week. Not that I don't love Showgirls...