“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” —Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

The sky was blue as an Autobot’s eye, and I felt stupid enough without my real car breaking down. I’d been to Target and Toys ‘R Us a bunch of times just to hold these things in my hands, turning them over to see how the light bounced off the clear plastic shrink-wrapping when I moved them, how enticing the packaging made them look. But I hadn’t even thought about Transformers since I was a kid, even though the show and toy line had undergone several alterations since then, since I thought I’d grown up.

A lot has been written about Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, both in the mainstream media and even here on TNB. It was an important feature of Matt Baldwin’s “When Stupid People Go To Smart Movies,” and was also mentioned in “Legacy, Lightcycles, and Lady Gaga,” a discussion between Cynthia Hawkins and Gloria Harrison. As it happens, I’ve also tapped Ms. Hawkins, who has become TNB’s resident film expert, for a post about Black Swan. Below you’ll find a conversation she and I recently had about how audiences perceive independent films compared to those built using the more traditional Hollywood model, as well as some questions for you, the TNB reader. Thanks in advance for sharing your time and thoughts with us.

You haven’t arrived until you’ve let Andrew McCarthy rack up debt on your Blockbuster card.

So I told myself and people back home at the time, which was long enough ago to relive safely, but not long enough to feel casual about seeing it as a “time.” It was half a year after I’d crossed the country for Los Angeles, the receptacle of my crowded visions of movies as products of an innocent, worldwide imagination.In the case of the employer to whom I’d first hitched my collegiately-decaled wagon I’d settled for tv movies.I’d awarded myself an early E for effort, and for entertainment.

Among household names then were “Blockbuster”, “videocassette” and “the end-of-millennium.”“Andrew McCarthy” was well ahead of them on slowly fading away.He was set to star in a 10 o’ clock network original playing a single father fighting for custody of his adopted child after his wife’s sudden death.I calculated he now owed me thirty dollars.The production company had rented the movies of the woman playing McCarthy’s wife, for his own research purposes.I’d been sent on the task of obtaining the videos and had used petty cash, but my own card still got strapped with the late fees.