So, I've seen three newish films in theaters in the last two weeks, if none on this busy weekend...and all three are about women with deficits who meet Good Men and/or Women, and in the case of the Salander film, the third of the Millennium Trilogy oddly mistitled in English, and Love and Other Drugs, the good men (and women) help out our heroine Salander and a young woman with Parkinson's and related commitment issues, to one degree or another, and in Black Swan, the good woman can't quite overcome the influences of the malefactors in the protagonist's life. Though Why women with deficits are consistently In Trouble, when men with deficits (see any Judd Apatow or Happy Madison production, or the likes of The Hangover) are Just Regular Guys, is a good question. One probably should ask why all the women leads in these films are suffering, one hopes only temporarily and role-specifically, from something akin to anorexia, as well...
The Salander films are all crowd-pleasers, with the Asperger's-spectrum heroine in this installment playing mostly by The Man's rules as noble public servants help her by rooting out the evil that government bureaus and consultants and patsies do. You can tell she's a Rebel because she wears a mohawk to trial, which would seem to be unhelpful to her case, but the suggestion here as with the other films is that we should be against the kind of condescension that retitles the novels and films in this language and this language only as The Girl..., except in the case of the second novel, wherein the Girl Who was actually a girl when playing with fire. I liked it a lot, as I did the second film also more than the first, just because the first seemed a bit more outlandish...the conspiracy that causally abuses Salander throughout the works is at least somewhat better delineated in the latter two films, both made for TV apparently rather than for cinematic distribution, as was the first.
Love and Other Drugs is also related to television, one could say, as the kind of subject matter that writer-director Ed Zwick loves to deal with in television series, ranging from thirtysomething through My So-Called Life, Relativity and, my favorite, Once and Again to the slightly disappointing web-series, later briefly televised, quarterlife. A pilot for CBS, A Marriage, was shot and declined without being shown, so far. So, instead of the kind of historical drama that Zwick has been doing for cinematic release, such as Glory and Blood Diamond, Zwick somewhat splits the difference with a romantic drama with comic bits (some perhaps broader than they need to be) and some serious subtexts involving caring for people with degenerative diseases, and the responsibilities of the "ethical" drug industry and how they are avoided (the film is loosely based on the memoirs of a pharma rep in the last years of their utter cowboy phase, ten to fifteen years ago...considerably if not sufficiently fenced in these days). Good performances, including from Judy Greer and the other smaller-role supporting players, including one of the last or perhaps the last performance by Jill Clayburgh. There are a few threads left dangling (not least in that a drug rep might well be able to provide discounted prescriptions for low-income patients), and I'm not sure whether I think it was deft to leave it vague as whether Anne Hathaway's character was a trust-fund baby or not...somewhat improbable that she can live the life she does without a financial cushion.
Black Swan is the least successful of the three, while probably the most ambitious. However, it doesn't help that there isn't a non-stereotyped character in the film, despite those characters being fleshed out by good performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder among others. But, quite aside from the Fragile Diva, the Good-Sporty Potential Best Friend (and Manic Pixie Girlfriend, Free-Spirit Division), the Stage Mother, and The Bitter Dumped Star, the film as a whole will remind you, or at least it does me, of better films...not solely The Red Shoes, but also Repulsion, Persona, and a bit of the latter-day kind of horror of perception films such as Donnie Darko. Or, to some extent, Aronofsky's previous films...listening to Natalie Hershlag being interviewed about Aronofsky's attempts to create a Method rivalry between Kunis and herself did little further respect his intellect or professionalism. When the script features such Cleverness as the Svengali choreographer of the ballet troupe telling the fragile, overly-controlled, severely in need of apron-string-cutting protagonist that There will be no boundaries between them...ho, ho, So Telling! But it's well-shot, and as I mentioned, well-acted (even if, as actor Marcia Wallace notes on Jackie Kashian's podcast, "Portman" wanders throughout the film looking consistently startled, which helps the constant potential for goofiness tip in that directiton for at least some viewers). I've been told it's a love it or hate it film...it's just a good try, on the part of the cast, by me, and not bad...not nearly as bad nor good as you might've heard or read.