Fave Five: Natalie Portman

In this new feature, we will profile five of our favourite things in a given category. What we feature will vary according to our whim, but we’re always open to suggestions.

Our inaugural post centres on the filmography of Ms. Natalie Portman. Around this time last year, you couldn’t open a magazine, turn on a TV or read a blog without hearing about Portman’s astounding performance in Black Swan. It’s been nearly a year since her Oscar win and the new mother has practically disappeared from view. As we don’t like to put anyone in a corner, we decided to honour her award-winning year with our five favourite Natalie Portman movies:

1. Black Swan

Directed by Darren Aronofksy, Black Swan is a psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet. The film co-stars Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel, and was the site of Portman’s introduction to her baby-daddy, Benjamin Millepied. Portman underwent a year of rigorous ballet training to transform her body into that of a prima ballerina, though many people may best remember the film for her sapphic love scene with Kunis.  

2. Leon: The Professional

A mere 13 years old at the time of shooting, Portman’s debut performance is arguably one of her most badass to date. Leon: The Professional tells the tale of Mathilda, a young girl whose entire family is massacred while she’s out shopping. She takes refuge in her strange neighbour, Leon’s apartment, where she learns he’s an assassin and begs to be taught his trade. The film tracks their quest for revenge and the birth of their unlikely friendship. Their relationship verges a little into Lolita territory, but it’s Gary Oldman as a two-faced cop that will really creep you out.  

3. Closer

Closer is a dangerous love story about four strangers and how their lives become complicated when their relationships begin to intersect. Portman plays Alice, a tough-yet-vulnerable stripper, alongside heavy-hitters Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. This role has been touted as Portman’s first foray into more “adult” roles, due to the sexual nature of her performance.

4. V for Vendetta

We take back what we said earlier, THIS is Portman’s most badass role of all-time. V for Vendetta is a dystopian film set in a futuristic Britain, where a fascist government controls its powerless population. Early in the film, Portman’s Evey Hammond is saved by a masked anarchist named V (Hugo Weaving) and becomes his unlikely ally. Most people will remember this film for two things: “Remember, remember the fifth of November” and Portman’s shaved head.

5. Saturday Night Live

Okay, so this might not be a movie, but this SNL Digital Short is the funniest thing Portman has ever done (we are trying to forget No Strings Attached ever happened). Basically, this is all you need to know: Natalie Portman + rap = magic. Enjoy!

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Rave: No Strings Attached

By now, our regular readers know that we LOVE movies on the fourth floor. Last week, we saw an advance screening of No Strings Attached (Paramount Pictures), directed by Ivan Reitman.      
Considering it’s a rom-com that premiered just before Valentine’s Day, this is sure to be a popular date movie, so we sent Lisa and her boyfriend, Jesse, to check it out – and get a girl’s and a guy’s opinion on the film.
#NoStringsAttached
Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) have known each other for years, though they’ve never dated. One morning, after an unexpected sleepover at Emma’s house, a hung-over Adam wakes up on Emma’s couch having no idea where he is. He’s never met Emma’s roommates (who wake to find him on their sofa) and doesn’t even realize he’s at her home until she comes to find him in the living room. After everything is sorted out, they hang out (sans roommates) in her bedroom, and end up having sex.

To protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly “no strings attached” – no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public space they want, as long as they don’t fall in love. The question becomes – who’s going to fall first? And can their friendship survive?



We think it’s such a relatable story for a lot of men and women. Jesse, the ultimate “guy’s guy”, loved the inappropriate guy jokes between Adam and his friends. Emma is a relationship-phobic workaholic and likes to keep her guard up. Like we said, relatable.

What surprised us most about this flick was how funny it is. It’s definitely not a typical romantic comedy, when the laughs are slightly forced, because you feel like you should laugh. Our entire theatre was actually LOL-ing. 
Portman is clever and witty, while Kutcher plays a character far more endearing than the “Kelso” and “Punk’d” personas we’re used to seeing. 
 
Lisa:  My main priority is whether or not a movie is entertaining. I want to escape reality and kick back with some popcorn. No Strings Attached was perfect for this. It had just the right amount of love, jokes, sex, embarrassing moments and likable characters – the best recipe for a romantic comedy. 

Portman’s and Kutcher’s Emma and Adam made an adorable couple, while Mindy Kaling (The Office‘s Kelly Kapoor) tossed out some good zingers as one of Emma’s roommates. Lake Bell
played a great supporting role as the comical Lucy, a work colleague of Adam.
Even though I went with Jesse, I would definitely come back with my best girlfriends for another giggle-fest.

Jesse and Lisa. 

Jesse:  Ashton Kutcher always kills me, but Adam’s father, played by Kevin Kline, was my favourite. His role was just hilariously ignorant. A one-time TV star, he uses his former status to date women 30 years his junior, smokes pot and seems almost oblivious to his rude, but funny, behaviour. 

Guys – if you owe your girl a chick flick date, this is the time to go. You’ll both like it.


Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures*. Photo credit: Dale Robinette.
*With the exception of the last image.

Fashion-able: Inspired by Black Swan

Directed by Darren Arnofsky, Black Swan is a psychological thriller set in New York City’s dance scene. While the film tells an exhilarating story of dancer rivalry, it’s really the fashion that takes centre stage. All 40-plus couture ballet costumes were designed in signature sinister Rodarte style.
For those of you who don’t have the Mulleavy sisters on speed dial, we’ll bring you prima ballerina style inspiration. This flick has inspired us to reach for delicate, pretty neutrals, lace, corsets and fluffy skirts. Toss in a current fresh, neutral face and simple ballerina bun, and you’ll be mistaken for one of the corps de ballet. Whether you are looking to seriously splurge or score a save, we have the right Black Swan fashion option for you.
The Ballerina Dress

Serious Splurge: Dazzle the crowd in Marchesa’s One-Shoulder Feather Skirt Embroidered Mini-Dress ($6,600). This show-stopping nude corset dress is covered in gauzy black rose lace, and has a full, fluttering feather skirt with floaty net tulle. Glam it up in this one-shoulder dress, and steal the show from the opening number to the final curtain call. 
Score a Save: Dancer or not, Rare’s Opulence Corset Ballet Net Dress ($176) will have you looking every bit a graceful ballerina. The black-boned corset top (with underwire cups) meets layers of nude ruffles and fastens with a back zip closure. For a look that is all ballet chic, pirouette away in this tutu dress, available at ASOS.
The Corset
Serious Splurge: Wear Rosamosario’s ($605) nude corset with black lace overlay for a look that is both strikingly different and daringly Gothic. Trimmed in black satin with a sweetheart neckline, the Rosamosario corset has internal boning and padded cups. Lace up the rose satin bow back for a fitted feminine silhouette.
Score a Save: Hit the ballet barre in Bebe’s Silk Corset Bustier ($89), decorated with delicate lace embroidery. This satin-lined corset with a sweetheart neckline in blushing bride has supportive boning and an adjustable back. For a complete ballerina look, tie the corset bustier with a slightly padded bust, and knot your hair in a messy dancer bun.

The Ballet Flat
Serious Splurge: Miu Miu’s Embellished Velvet Ballerina Flats ($403) are decorated with Swarovski crystals and a chic black bow. Shine as you dance the night away in these sparkly elastic-back ballerina flats. 
 
Score a Save: Slip on Versus’s Oversize Gem Embellished Pumps ($34) with a delicate bow and giant jewels. Sparkle with every step in these ballet flats, available in Topshop stores and online. Wear these flats and you’ll be Swan Lake-ready.