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26 January 2011 @ 10:47 am
Black Swan, 2011 suckage, and sewing advice  
So far 2011 has consisted of a lot of low-grade annoyances. Apart from killing my laptop, I have also lost my mobile phone and may have killed my coffee maker (eeeeek!). A big job fell through when I really need money for travel. And now my landlords are thinking about selling, which is a BITCH because it means months of inspections and then a potential (best case scenario) rent increase or (worst case scenario) move. There is no way in hell we'd ever find an equivalent place to live for the price/location, so my standard of living could take a sharp downturn. Naturally I feel all these things are TOTALLY MY FAULT and KARMIC REVENGE for being a shit person, so my self-loathing is in overdrive and I approach every day as a kind of mano e mano battle with this part of my self. *wields baseball bat at it*

I saw Black Swan, finally, the other day, and it was marvellous. Obviously I'm ridiculously late to the discussion of this movie so everything will have been said much better already, but personally what struck me most was the effectiveness of the point of view construction. Even though I knew that it was about mental illness and distorted realities, going in, the tension still worked on me and there were still moments when I was unsure what was really happening and what was Nina's projection. I found it an incredibly effective demonstration of emotional reasoning: I feel afraid therefore there is something to be afraid of. I found it plunged me as an audience member to the same sort of doubt and confusion and unspecified terror that Nina was feeling.

Specific details of the movie worked better for the friend I went with than they did for me (at first I couldn't really get 'into' Nina seeing glimpses of herself everywhere--whereas that instantly hooked my friend in), but it all evened out in the end. She struggled with the webbed feet moment, whereas I instantly ran with that. But such little differences didn't seem to make any difference to our overall appreciation of the movie. The direction was just so incredibly tight and sophisticated and every element reflected the central premise so perfectly. It felt like there wasn't a stray detail. Even things that I am slightly confused by (the mother's paintings--I felt like I didn't really understand the significance of them--were they all self-portraits?), I am sure were carefully constructed and thought out.

I found it particularly striking how much Nina projected onto those around her: her mother, Thomas and Lily. Even though at the beginning it was particularly obvious how much she was projecting onto Lily, I wavered in the course of the movie and began thinking there was something behind it. By the end, I was back to seeing Lily as completely innocent of intention to undermine her. Whereas I began by seeing Thomas as a complete sleaze, I warmed to him by the end of the movie and in retrospect he did very little to her in the way of sexual assault--it was largely just her fears. The question of her mother seems harder to tease apart. Certainly the relationship was a claustrophobic one and one in which Nina felt the weight of her mother's expectations and own buried issues. However, at times the mother felt like such a distorted monstrous figure that it could only have been at least partly projection on Nina's part.

Nina herself was such an uncomfortable character to be 'inside'--that in itself created so much tension, and right from the start the claustrophobic nature of her life was captured perfectly. It made us long for the moments of freedom and the 'break' from that tightly coiled tension, that Lily provided. Even with her first entrance, slamming the door, and walking unconsciously. In terms of dance, I found it amazing how much tension there was in watching Nina dance and *wishing* she would loosen up. I also found it interesting that while we see her transform literally into a swan, we never quite see her dance the seduction scene that so challenged her. We see her dance powerfully and we assume from audience reaction that the entire performance was a tour de force, but we never quite see it... that makes sense given how tightly we remain in Nina's point of view, but it also meant that the longing that was generated throughout--to see a really 'free' performance, remained until the very end. That 'perfect' moment was one we felt rather than saw. Fascinating.

Unlike many vidders, I don't feel a need to vid the movie. I felt like everything that I would want to say was said in the movie. Which is not to say that I couldn't be blown away by a vid of it from someone else, just that despite loving the material and the visuals, I don't have that incentive to vid it myself. I'll be interested to see what others tease out of it though.

2011 also seems to involve a lot of asking for help... so in the spirit of that... I was given a sewing machine for Christmas (yes, I'm horribly spoilt), and I have been playing around with it. My last experience of a sewing machine was some horrible old clunky thing in textiles class, with which I managed to sew right through my finger (the needle broke off halfway through and poked out the other side). This contraption is a million times more marvellous and can perform such wonders as buttonholes and zips! \o/ I am greatly enjoying playing around and so far have achieved very simple pillow covers, a drawstring skirt and a wrap skirt, all reasonably ugly. I am giving myself six months to create something non-ugly. That seems reasonable, no? So I am very much in need of SEWING ADVICES!!!! Any tips for beginners with no natural talent?!

I have been scowering the net for help, with varying success. Two main problems so far:
a) the overabundance of fugly twee craft things that I would never in a million years make
b) so far I only know how to sew non-stretch fabrics (even though machine can sew stretch I am scared of it!) and it's hard to find even semi-attractive non-stretch fabric in the regular stores. This second one I've made progress with by shopping online or at a place near me where Project Runway get their supplies, but even so... I am also slightly hampered by my own shaky sense of style. I am sure if I had better taste and visual mind I'd be able to think up better creations! Any tips for developing these?

This entry was originally posted at http://bop-radar.dreamwidth.org/233720.html. comment count unavailable comments Comment here or there, as you will.
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: creativecreative
 
 
 
eriatarkayamakasi on January 26th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
I recently saw Black Swan, too, but the only things I knew about it were "ballet" and "lesbian sex scene". So the mental illness aspect was a nice twist for me -- for a lot of the film I thought that the things she was seeing was actually happening.

Anyway, I disagree with you re: Thomas. He forcefully kissed Nina, he ran his hands all over her ("that's me seducing you"), etc. He was a sleaze, period. I disliked him as much at the end as I did at the beginning.

I also think that Lily did try to undermine Nina, at least to some degree. The first thing that springs to mind is the scene where Thomas mentions Lily told him about Nina crying and Lily denies it. How else would Thomas know? And in the back of my mind I like to think that Nina and Lily did sleep together, although the "such a sweet girl" that Lily says at the end of the scene makes me think it was part of Nina's delusions (as that's what her mother keeps saying, and Lily couldn't have been mocking her because Nina's mother doesn't say that in Lily's presence).

Re: the paintings, I think most of them were paintings of Nina (in one shot there is a small photo of Nina attached to the top of the canvas, which her mother is obviously basing the painting on) but I also think there might be some self-portraits of Nina's mother in there.

Anyway, really enjoyed the movie. You're spot on with your comment about the tight editing/direction.
eriatarkayamakasi on January 26th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
Also: I absolutely loved the opening scene and was hooked from that point. That scene and Nina's Black Swan dance were my absolute favourites. A+ for the movie just for those.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bellydancebop_radar on January 26th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Oh, interesting--I really read it extremely differently. There were times in the movie when I thought was happening really was happening, but the ultimate reveals cast doubt on everything we'd previously seen. I think we can't know for sure what was happening and what wasn't because Nina's inner world was so distorted.

How else would Thomas know?
I thought that was a really clever construction because it was clear Lily said something but I think it's far more likely that Thomas guessed or asked whether Nina was crying (he was already shitty with her and thought she was a whiner) than that Lily came right out with it. Lily just seemed such an open, warm person. We only have hearsay or Nina's visions to imply that she deliberately did anything. That said, I think there Lily was *thoughtless*. She said something or other to Thomas. I doubt she said it to deliberately hurt Nina, but nevertheless it did so, as she herself acknowledged later.

And I don't know re. Thomas... I'd say 'a bit of a sleaze' but there was a degree to which him pushing her WAS constructive for her dancing. And I just think Nina could have projected a lot from that--particularly I think she thought he had deliberate desire to sleep with her, where I'm not sure that's the case. I think he honestly just wanted her to loosen up and dance more freely. Yes, he was controlling and manipulative but I started out *really* hating him, and by the end I found him more to be an interesting, believable study of someone, not wholly good nor wholly bad.

Nina and Lily sleeping together clearly didn't happen, imo. But that whole sequence was brilliant.

I think most of them were paintings of Nina
Ahhh, ok. That kind of makes more sense to me... it would be cool if they were muddled up with self-portraits, showing the blurry boundaries between mother and daughter.
Starrylizardstarrylizard on February 3rd, 2011 11:25 am (UTC)
Ooh I just came home after watching this and stumbled on your review. It's interesting hearing other pov's on it.

I agree with most of what your saying. With the mother and the paintings, I thought that the mother was somewhat schizophrenic too perhaps. The paintings reflecting the darker things she sees or imagines. Only at one point I'm sure she said something like "you see it too, don't you?" after Nina ripped down the paintings and the mother definitely seemed to understand when Nina was losing it. With such illnesses sometimes running in families, it is possible, but it could also be that Nina was projecting on her mother. I'm not sure.
patron saint of neglected female characters: Freema: green dressrose_griffes on January 26th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
What kind of sewing do you want to do the most? Home decorating? Clothes? Dance clothing? Something else?

I have a whole lot of sewing weblinks bookmarked. I get lots of inspiration for clothing style ideas from the sewing blogs. (I have almost no interest in craft sewing, so I don't have much bookmarked for that area.)

Threads magazine has some of the best tutorials I've found anywhere: everything from basics to haute couture tips.

sew_hip has a huge range of stuff: crafts, clothes, etc. Most people are good about not posting more than one pic outside a cut, so it's easy to glean if it's a post of interest or not without making your reading list impossible. I don't get tons of ideas from it, but it's nice to have a bit of sewing available to read about on LJ from time to time.

Can't help with fabrics, since you're on the opposite side of the planet. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya Raibop_radar on January 26th, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
Ohh, thank you so much! Mainly clothes, I think. It will definitely come in useful for dance clothes, but I'd love to be able to make some other clothes as well. Thanks for the links! That looks awesome!

Yeah, with craft sewing I feel like maybe there are some nice things out there but wading through most of it is a drag... a lot of beginners sites recommended bags as a good starting project, but I feel like the world has enough bags, you know?! ;)
patron saint of neglected female characters: girlyrose_griffes on January 26th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
That's how I feel about bags as well. Plus I generally like handbags of leather, and sewing leather sounds like a pain.

I want clothes that I can't find in the stores, or that fit me better than in the stores. As soon as I finish the red skirt I'm working on, I'll post pics! It's from a pattern (McCalls, if I remember correctly), and I didn't modify it except for the length, but it's red and in my size, so it makes me happy. (Just have to hem it and do one adjustment to the waistband to make better.)

Pattern Review is good if you want to find other people's takes on using commercial patterns*. They post pictures and so forth. They do have a paid membership level, but there's also a free one. (You can't see the individual reviews without being signed in.)

*I don't know about Australia, but in the US the main fabric stores have pattern sales on such a regular basis that I have no motivation to try drafting my own patterns. Why do that when I can buy a pattern for one or two dollars (or four, if it's Vogue) and just cut the multi-size pattern to what works for my body? (Smaller size for bust, grade out to larger sizes for hips.)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 26th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
Ohh, cool! Yeah I definitely like the idea of being able to adjust clothes to fit me better. I have a few pieces in my wardrobe that once I'm a bit more confident I hope to be able to take in to fit me. Also, I have trouble getting pants to fit me well so I'd love to eventually make some.

I'm pretty sure they have pattern sales regularly here too. I'll keep an eye out! I'm checking out the Threads videos at the moment--they do seem really good!
serenographyserenography on January 26th, 2011 06:01 am (UTC)
I love my sewing machine. I rarely use it anymore, but whenever the need arises it's right there and I'm usually successful, for the most part. I don't really do large projects anymore. I used to make a lot of stuff for my kids - mostly costumes and alterations. I made some window treatments too that came out fairly well. I'm actually thinking about trying a small crafty project that recently caught my eye. We'll see if I follow through.

I still haven't seen Black Swan. It's just fallen lower and lower on my priority list. I do still want to though. The variety of opinions on it are pretty interesting.

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bellydancebop_radar on January 26th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
A sewing machine does seem to be a most excellent thing to have! I think my boyfriend must have watched me try to hand-sew a sari one too many times now...!

Darren Aronofsky's a pretty divisive director... I've found his previous films very hit or miss with me--I either love them or hate them. So I can understand if there have been a lot of mixed opinions about Black Swan. For me, it was definitely one I loved, and I've mostly seen positive reactions, but it's definitely not the most comfortable viewing at times!
Chaotic Neutral Human Sorcerer (4th Level): [movie] DRAPERIES!myniamh on January 26th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
Black Swan hadn't really appealed to me before but it seems interesting. :)

re sewing: simple things often aren't.
Try things like beanies or tote bags first, things you can unpick if you do something inside out. :)

I'm making a heap of microwaveable wheat bags for a friend soon, they are dead simple and you can get fiddly after you get the hang of them. Plus people (so I am told) like hand made gifts.

I like the remnant bins in most material shops, they are chock full of bit's and pieces. I made a bag out of Muppet pelt (Grover) from a remnant bin!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Batgirlbop_radar on January 26th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, this plan of simple, small things seems good, except for one problem: I don't need any more tote bags and I look terrible in beanies! In fact, I'm finding it hard to find small projects that I actually want to make. Wheat bags maybe.... I hear you can also make them with rice.
Chaotic Neutral Human Sorcerer (4th Level)myniamh on January 26th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
I still use Nana's ancient sewing machine, I drag it out mostly to make cosplay costumes. Just wait until you want something then, or there's a birthday coming up. I got a kobo so I've made a cover for myself and planning some for friends.

Rice would be handy, I have lots of that. My sister burns them all the time and they smell like burnt popcorn. :(
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 26th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know that smell... my friend set her kitchen on fire recently with a wheat bag. :( Apparently rice doesn't burn so easily so I like the sound of that. :)
Chaotic Neutral Human Sorcerer (4th Level)myniamh on January 26th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
Sorry about the comment spam! That was weird! :O
random_seriousrandom_serious on January 26th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
my standard of living could take a sharp downturn.

Damn, that sucks. Have you started to shop around for a new place to live yet? What is it like out there? I hope you find something new that isn't too horrible.

Naturally I feel all these things are TOTALLY MY FAULT and KARMIC REVENGE for being a shit person, so my self-loathing is in overdrive

Oh, yes, this. The best advice I can give s to approach everything a thing at a time. Put on some blinders and go through things as they come up.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya lanternbop_radar on January 26th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Nah, I haven't looked yet but the rental market here is notoriously difficult--we have a housing shortage thanks to Australians' fanatical desire to own their own homes and rising property prices.

You're right that blinkers help. I shall blinker up for the time being because ugh, I hate the idea of moving so so much--this place is so amazing, the best place I've ever lived.
JackieKjonojackiekjono on January 26th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
If it helps, the upstairs of my mother's duplex is available. 3 rooms and the occasional mom-cooked meal included - plus living upstairs from icon-dog which would be awesome.

It would be a bit of a commute, though...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 26th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
That sounds pretty lovely! :) Thanks! Yeah, there may be some greencard issues as well .... :p
JackieKjonojackiekjono on January 26th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
But, then again, it would be closer to Vividcon.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 26th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
Yessssss....