Of all of my 2010 roundups, I am left wondering about this title more than most.  Why would kings enjoy exporting swans?  Does the love extend to ducks and geese as well?  Most importantly, why would a monarchy be judged (positively or negatively) for their international swan trading skills?  Guiding a country through the challenges and hardships brought on by nature, politics, and our own human weaknesses is challenge enough without involving tariffs and taxes for several swans-a-swimming.  Plus, if white sheep are for shearing, but black sheep are for ostracizing, does the same fate await a Black Swan (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?

“BLACK SWAN is a gorgeous story about control. Holding on to it. Letting it go. It’s about the fear of what happens when you unlock one part of yourself. What else flies out the door you’ve opened just a crack?” Jenna Busch JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t want anything flying out of my crack.

“With Natalie Portman, in the demanding leading role, equaling her director in unquestioned commitment, the central issue for the viewer is how far one is willing to follow the film down the road to oblivion for art’s sake.” Todd McCarthy indieWIRE

If there really is a road to oblivion, it’s a shame that missing an exit results in an eternity of infinite nothingness.  Perhaps artists traveling the road should carpool or invest in a GPS.

“Audaciously weird and scary and go-nuts psychotic, Black Swan is, by any measure, a tour de force.” Katey Rich CinemaBlend.com

Chinese soldiers segue into a tour of force

“Aronofsky has established a distinct, powerful voice so strong and probing that every time he releases a new film, it should be regarded as the cinematic holiday of Aronofskoliday.” Phil Villarreal OK! Magazine

Aronofskoliday is already on my calender, it comes right after “invent a holiday-day.”

“An absurd Freudian nightmare that is more wet dream than bad dream, with all the subtlety of a chain saw.” Rex Reed New York Observer

And if you experience an absurd wet/bad dream in which you use your imaginary chainsaw to cut down Freudian-nightmare trees, your dream-self will have a cord of fictional wood products that could be sold as Rare Exports (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Some moments are so deliciously shivery-our heroes’ breath condensing in the air like in John Carpenter’s “The Thing”-that you wish the film were naughtier and less nice.” Time Out New York Joshua Rothkopf

Perhaps the creators should have made a list of essential Christmas/horror movie conventions, then checked it twice.

“The darkest and gleefully funniest Christmas movie since Gremlins.” James Croot Flicks.co.nz

But leaving cookies and milk out for Santa almost guarantees he’ll be eating after midnight.

Would Santa turn into something like this?

“’Rare Exports’ is an enormously entertaining and unpredictable Yuletide romp packed with sly wit, solid scares and naked geriatrics.” Tom Huddleston Time Out

Jokes, jolts, and jolly geriatric junk in a Yuletide romp sounds both entertaining and unpredictable.

“If you’re a bah-humbug type looking for an alternative to Santa Claus: The Movie or Miracle On 34th Street, this could be a holiday perennial. May be too strange for normal people, but weird kids will love it.” Empire Kim Newman

Weird kids come from weird familes

“A contentedly macabre creation that unveils a different breed of St. Nick in this winning horror/fantasy film, which gives the jolly Christmas figure a righteously ghoulish reimagining.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Since believing in Santa includes a belief in immortality, it’s possible he’s a god, a ghoul, or a garlic-phobic vampire.  Regardless of the reasons for his longevity, he’s one of the few people who can smoke without fear of consequences.  If he wanted, he could enjoy a smoke during his globe sledding and smile as he shouts “I Love You Phillip Morris (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)!”

“The least outrageous thing about this movie is that Jim Carrey plays a gay guy.” Joanna Langfield The Movie Minute

So long as the most outrageous thing isn’t that Obi-Wan Kenobi is gay too.  In another outrageous move, Jim Carrey worked for union rates (what actors who are not household names make) to get the movie made.

“I Love You Phillip Morris is blunt about illicit personal traits gays share with straights and that define our era. Importantly, the filmmakers don’t equate gay with subversive.” Armond White New York Press

You know, I’ve given Armond a hard time in these roundups, but I respect his politics when they align with my own.

This argument just saved itself a thousand words

“Loved the chutzpah, but the heart and the funny bone are left relatively untroubled.” Trevor Johnston Time Out

Is the chutzpah located closer to the heart or the funny bone?

“Mr. Carrey has balls of brass, but seeing him dressed flamboyantly in fish-net bikinis and high-heel Nancy Sinatra boots is an experience I hope never to repeat again in this lifetime.” Rex Reed New York Observer

And you won’t have to…unless there’s a sequel.

“One of the funniest films of the year, this is a wonderful mix of old-school Carrey outrageousness with a genuinely touching – and very modern – love story.” Empire

If you prefer your modern love stories tinged with murder and psychosis rather than humor, consider what your mind fills in when someone starts a sentence with: All Good Things (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Here’s a story about a man who befriended and eventually killed a Texan while going incognito as an exceptionally frumpy woman, then was eventually nabbed shoplifting a chicken-salad sandwich while carrying more than $500 in his pocket. Why underplay that?” The Onion A.V. Club Scott Tobias

If truth is stranger than fiction, then the stranger the truth the less believable it is.  Could this be a case where the ‘why it happened’ is more interesting than the ‘how?’

“A slow, melancholy tale of murder of how it pays to be rich if you want to get away with it.” Harvey S. Karten Compuserve

Evil Santa could get rich via murder

“You go away slack-jawed with shock and sated with the chilling bedtime-story elements of a great unsolved mystery novel you can’t put down.” New York Observer Rex Reed

Does anything happen at the end of an unsolved mystery novel?

“It’s a pretty picture or would be if the ominous music and camera position didn’t seem directed at the man portentously lurking in the background.” Manohla Dargis New York Times

Does this count as a portentous background?

“A believably creepy tale that forces the audience to draw its own conclusions about what did and didn’t happen.” Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine

While ambiguous mysteries might suit some audiences, most prefer facts in their history; like the story of King George VI and his struggle to improve the The King’s Speech (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“A riveting, intimate account at how a British king triumphed over a speech impediment with the help of an unorthodox speech coach.” Kirk Honeycutt Hollywood Reporter

I’m glad to hear that modern films about the struggles of royalty focus on solvable problems rather than swan exportation.

“The King’s Speech has left me speechless.” Rex Reed bNew York Observer

They probably have coaches for that too.

“The King’s Speech adheres to every rule in the Oscar playbook.” Richard Corliss TIME Magazine

See the Oscar playbook in action

“Stylishly directed, brilliantly written and featuring terrific performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, this is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging drama that’s almost certain to be leading the charge come Oscar time.” Matthew Turner ViewLondon

British source material, British actors, and British directors, worked for the London critics, but do the Americans’ concur?

“A film like this arrives on the scene and restores my faith, not only in movies but in humankind itself.” Leonard Maltin indieWIRE

King Sheep hopes this weekend's Apple Cup restores his faith in Cougar football