Featured Post

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

Director: Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov Genre: Documentary With "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" Werner Herzog ...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Chris Nolan does it again, nails third Batman film in a row and every single person involved—cast and crew—chips in. Comparisons with previous films are bound to happen and TDKR, of course, hasn’t bettered the prequels but considering how sequels usually run out of steam, this is a pretty neat wrap up of the franchise.    

Dark Knight RisesTom Hardy’s Bane looked epic—a massive improvement from the mindless thug of earlier ‘Batman and Robin’ film. Here, he is rightly portrayed as a superior physical and intellectual match for Bats and takes him through a journey full of ‘pain’. However, the impact that ‘fear’ and ‘chaos’ left in the minds of audience in ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, respectively, is not matched again. Bane starts off as a fearsome leader but seemed more like a puppet by the end. This should have been avoided; he is an intelligent fellow, a thinking person, and would have fared better if portrayed as an equal partner instead.   
Anne Hathway looked pretty damn hot as Catwoman. Looks apart, her role wasn’t as meaty as that of Michelle Pfeiffer though she does well in what little she had. Pfeiffer was her own Catwoman, crazy and wild, and still remains the act to beat. Michael Caine, as Alfred, is again a pillar of strength for Batman even in his leaving him, and he is the reason we get to see something completely unexpected in a restaurant in Florence! Caine delivers again in a significant short role. Morgan Freeman too has a short role but there isn’t same scope for him as in previous film though he had to be in it. Marion Cotillard has an eventful role as Miranda. As for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, we all know he is the guy to look out for.         

Overall, TDKR is a complete package with thoughtful references to previous films. But unlike ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ there aren’t many dialogues or sequences that stand out and will remain with you forever. 

One thing that Nolan does in the film for Batman (and for the ardent fans who have been praying for it forever!) is give him the ending he fully deserves. In DC universe it is very hard, almost impossible, to accomplish but in a film you can just leave it at the happy ending. Take a bow Chris Nolan. Thank you from heart’s bottom :)

Chris Nolan is well known to leave subtle clues for the audience. The sequence where Blake and Batman rescue the trapped policemen is quite exciting; it drops the audience first hint toward the eventual ultimate! 

One sequence in the film left me a bit unsettled, perhaps, Nolan did it on purpose. In DC universe Batman restores himself—after Bane’s plundering—by supernatural means, and it still took him years. In the film, his healing process has been sped up dramatically. Once Batman breaks out of the holed-in jail (Jodhpur fort, where the shooting for film started) camera does steal a glance on some greenish, small pond quite close to the underground jail; most likely, Lazarus pit but nothing conclusive is shown. In comics, ‘Lazarus pit’ is a secret Batman has kept from most, so, probably that is the reason Nolan choose not to be explicit about it in the film either. Instead, he drops a few hints for the comic book purists instead of showing use of magic so late in the franchise. Unlike, say, Wolverine; Batman has no super-healing even though he possesses a will of steel, I am sill assuming, some essence of Lazarus pit use to seep into the water/food supply of the underground prison inmates.     

The film concludes as it should have. Clearly, Nolan didn’t ended the film in this manner to ensure a future safety-measure for himself but if ever—highly unlikely—he runs into a bad patch then you know where he can start up again, along with Gordon-Joseph Levitt!  

Finally the trailers! The Campaign trailer looked extremely promising, hilarious actually, with Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis locking horns—two of current generation’s comedy superheroes. Just hoping, trailer dialogues aren’t the only ones that tickle your funny bone.  
Man of Steel trailer didn’t showcase as much but we do get to see the Supes in air once more, in almost full glory! My favorite flying of Supes, till date, still remains the one where Superman turns the time backwards to save Lois, please jog my memory for any other!

I’ll definitely watch TDKR again on my laptop with headphones plugged in; helps me feel a film more intimately!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone

Plot: Midlife crisis for a longtime couple.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is delightful film—like a breath of fresh air of late. Steve Carell has become one of the best of current actors when it comes to romantic comedies. He simply lights up the screen with his presence. 

Crazy Stupid LoveThe film won’t offer you anything new but there are humorous, little family-twists that keep it ‘fun’ all the way. Carell and Ryan Gosling form up a dashing wingman combo. Julianne Moore is well familiar with the genre and gives a neat performance along with all the other actors. She looked beautiful as ever, and even young and sensational Emma Stone doesn’t overshadow her on-screen. As always, Marisa Tomei is loud and cheerful and poses up nicely for the film’s poster! She seem to have come an altogether different route since ‘Untamed Heart’ with Christian Slater, looked so promising and pretty there; but now it seems she’ll only play the second leads. Kevin Bacon, after the intense villainy in X-Men First Class, enjoys the film in a short role as a punching bag!

Overall, "Crazy, Stupid, Love." is a kind of film that will brighten your day even when down in the dumps.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone
Genre: Superhero

Plot: Your friendly neighborhood super hero is back. Again!

Amazing Spider-Man
First things first, 3d is best ever you might have seen thus far, even the dim lightning scenes rendered perfectly which isn’t usually the case with most 3d films.

Amazing Spider-Man starts with a young Parker playing with his father. From there onwards, back story of Spider-Man has been told well and explains a lot why Spidey is the way he is. He is usually considered a geek who is perplexed with his love-life and saddened by the death of his Uncle. But this films shows, even before he was a superhero he was a boy of solid beliefs—beliefs that were instilled in him during his upbringing. His disappointments that he always curled inside had more to do than just girls. Untimely death of his parents and the hole they left in Peter Parker’s life has all been brought to us, explicitly, from behind the curtains.

Be it film or comicbook, Spider-Man of late took a back seat to X-Men and Avengers franchise. The reboot didn’t make much sense to many but it did to Marc Webb and the crew, and I am very happy for that!

Spider-Man, like many other superheroes, is driven by love for his family and friends and they, along with his beliefs, are his actual strength. Marc Webb does a good job in making sure action and special effects don’t overshadow these basic human tendencies.     

The chemistry between Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) is the USP of the film—even though they lack the ‘famous kiss.’ They look adorable as a couple, seem made for each and emit some sort of instant freshness—something that was missing in earlier Spidey films. The scene where both are clearly eager to go out but none can say it out is simply too good!

Andrew Garfield with his antics does light up the screen. Emma Stone (unlike Kristen Dunst) complements him equally. She does so with her prettiness, trademark Gwen Stacy looks and a neat performance—surely an up and coming actress. For female protagonists, she is a breath of fresh air for Spider Man films.

Amazing Spider-Man remains right on track when it comes to character development and some of the most influential scenes from previous Spidey flicks have been executed alright—Uncle Ben’s death has been rightly toned down a bit, to be in line with this slightly different Peter Parker who has already experienced the suffering of losing loved ones, so he doesn’t blow his cork as frantically this time.    

However, Tobey Maguire is one tough act to follow and as a superhero film Amazing Spider-Man lags behind its predecessor. A superhero flick must guarantee, never-before like, brilliant action sequences and even though it has some good action scenes, like the one where Spidey is saving people on bridge or the one where crane workers are helping him out, these are no match to the intensity of awe-inspiring sequences from Sam Raimi’s versions. E.g., Spider Man’s efforts to stop the train headed toward a certain death of all the passengers.        

A few things, perhaps in an attempt to be a distinct, seemed hasty and awkward. The scene where Spider man simply tells the boy’s father that he is ‘Spider-man’ lacked glitz. Are Parker and Gwen already getting together again? You are definitely going to miss the words "Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"!

Webb has given us a decent first reboot film but he needs to take it all to level-next in upcoming sequel—action being an uncharted territory, he has his task cut out.

A real good theater watch.

P.S., going in with zero expectations did help and free popcorn plus cold-drink was an additional perk!

The Flowers of War (2011, Chinese)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Flowers of War
Set in 1937 during hte 2nd Sino-Japanese war--with the 'rape of Nanking' at its full intensity--Flowers of War focuses on a group of young girls, some prostitutes, last few surviving Chinese soldiers resisting the Japanese invasion, an adopted orphaned boy, and an American Mortician disguised as a priest. All sheltering in and around a Convent declared as protected. 

It is another good film by Yimou Zhang but not in the same league as 'Hero' or 'House of Flying Daggers' and seemed a little over stretched. For its length, it could have thrown some light on the circumstance of war-weary, frustrated Japanese soldier as well, instead of just showcasing them as an army from hell--a war film covering both the opposing sides automatically becomes that more special.

Feats of valor aren't uncommon in face of adversity, be it the prostitutes, Major Li or young George they all look like some actual Chinese who stood tall in the gruesome war and made sacrifices for their home. But, an American priest didn't make much sense--not that Christian Bale didn't do justice to his role. This would have still been alright had the director been some American, however, coming from an A-list Chinese director/writer/author, this is bizarre. All the other characters in the film are very believable and it actually seems an account of some real event, except the American priest character messes it a bit.       

The trademark Yimou Zhang cinematography is on display again, he indeed is a very special director. The way he plays with colors and camera is simply exemplary--breaking of glass, shattering of window, the resulting sounds, the reflection of light; he combines such miniscule things in a well-knit detailed sequence, like only he can, and presents it on-screen as some masterpiece of art. You, as an audience, are only left gaping over his marvel. What more, the man makes a bomb blast look like some celebration of sorts and yet highlight the pain and trauma within (more specifically, Major’s death scene). 

A good watch.

Find us on Google+