Monday, July 30, 2012

Sloth Crossing the Street

Thursday, July 26, 2012

SHOOT REVIEWS: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, Disturbs and Satisfies - by Nick van der Leek

Catwoman: You don't owe these people any more! You've given them everything!
Batman: Not everything. Not yet.

The good news is that the world's favorite comic book franchise is back, and arguably the world's best filmmaker has once again delivered the goods (or should that be, the Bats).  The box office hasn't disappointed either: The Dark Knight Rises, filmed on an estimated budget of $250 million,  hauled the third largest opening of all time, at $160.9 million. That was just higher than the debut of The Dark Knight in 2008 which took $158 million. By 24 July, just 5 days after opening, its worldwide takings had exceeded $286 million (and it hasn't even opened in South Africa yet).  Even so The Dark Knight Rises' opening is the highest US debut, for a non-3D film, of all time.

According to the UK's Guardian newspaper: ...the film may yet end the year as... second only to Joss Whedon's The Avengers, which opened in May...the current incumbent, with $1.45bn [is] a figure which also makes it the third-highest grossing film of all time. The Avengers also holds the top spot in the table for biggest US weekend openings, with $207.4m, followed by the final instalment in the Harry Potter franchise (with $169.2m).

But isn't it ironic that both this film and its predecessor are associated with macabre and tragic realities? Firstly the death of Heath Ledger, from a combination of exhaustion, insomnia and over-the-counter medication, and secondly the more recent mass killing in a Colorado cinema (during a premiere of the The Dark Knight Rises) by a youngster who seemed to see himself as a sort of 'Joker' antihero. Weirdly, James Holmes seems also to have been caught up in a fantasy world of computer games, prescription medication and insomnia.  Both are all too common clips out of the editorial of modern living.

The 'Joker' shooting deserves (briefly) a closer look. Firstly, it's believed that the shooting lowered box office takings by between $20 - $40 million.  Holmes, a PHD dropout, booby rigged his apartment with intricate and sophisticated bombs. The loner (who did an internship at the prestigious Salk Institute) and was a student of Neuroscience appears to be smart but mentally unstable. Just prior to his arrest Holmes dyed his hair a bright orange. There may be a reason for these real world parallels to Nolan's cinema craft: Master storyteller and filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento) has dedicated The Dark Knight Trilogy to realism.

That being said, it's nevertheless not real.  The film is set, after all, in Gotham, not New York or Chicago.  Regarding this, Nolan says, "That gives you a very interesting world to be able to play with in a very heightened way. In a very operatic way.  These are larger than life characters and I very much enjoy tapping into the operatic sensibility of that. And really trying to push the audience, and the audiences emotions, into extreme directions...using your extreme characters.  So that naturally from that you're aiming for a sort of mythic status."

Christian Bale has also noted Nolan's uncanny ability to render characters created in 1939 as topical in today's cinema.  In fact, during shooting of an Occupy-type scenario, Bale says, a few blocks away the real thing was happening. 

South African critic Barry Ronge says he enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises, but that he was not completely overwhelmed by it.  "I thought Christopher Nolan had brought the same kind of quality and darkness  to the whole thing.  I thought the new characters...were there, but I thought it was quite a tough movie to follow."

Maybe.  I was, I have to admit, sometimes 'overhwhelmed' by this film.  What I mean is that I felt my whole body tingle, thanks in part to a brilliant score (more on that later). I don't think it's a film that needs to be listened to as much as felt.  It resonates more than it needs to be read.  And it is very large and worth watching a number of times to fully absorb.

Is Rises Better?

Nolan's "Intelligent Blockbuster" formula appears to work wonders both with cinema audiences and critics. In fact Nolan's filmography represents a string of acclaimed films that sit at the top of the rankings on IMDB (his recent crop of films, including Memento, are rated between 8.6 and 8.9/10). Rotten Tomatoes gives The Dark Knight a staggering 94%. So the question, understandably, on everyone's lips is this: Is The Dark Knight Rises as good as The Dark Knight? Although IMDB currently rate The Dark Knight Rises as 9.1/10, the answer is no. Is it worth seeing? [Scoff]. Absolutely.

Unfortunately South African audiences don't have the opportunity to see this film in all its glory since there is no longer a single operating IMAX theatre in the country (much of the movie was shot using extra large format IMAX cameras).

The Dark Knight Rises is 2 hours 44 minutes long, and I think it is once again a sign of topnotch moviemaking and stupendous visuals, as well as creative rendering of the Batman mythos, that makes the film seem no longer than the usual 90 minutes. In short, Nolan is on form.

I have a copy of Frank Miller's Dark Knight graphic novel. Nolan obviously takes a little (very little) inspiration out of it. There's Bruce Wayne with a walking stick, a moustache, his furniture covered in sheets and collecting dust. There's not much more but in another sense, there is plenty more. Because Nolan's interpretation rings beyond true, it resonates with our private hopes and fears, our sense of love, loss, abandonment and betrayal. Instead of giving away plot points as many reviewers are prone to do, I'm going to do something slightly less painful (but painful nonetheless) and share a few personal insights.

Anne Easy on the Eye

I found reassurance in the film, in the way Bruce Wayne is portrayed as wounded, hurting (he seems older, and uses a walking stick). His burdens appear to have weakened him in a real way. And while he may be forgiven for retreating, and brooding, given the injuries to his psyche, reputation and so on, he needs what we all need when we find ourselves having become anti-social for any length of time. An incentive. Anne Hathaway, who plays a very easy on the eyes cat burglar, provides some.

Michael Caine as Alfred provides an unexpectedly touching performance in this iteration. He also makes a comment to his master that I found very compelling. It has to do with choosing to both face and let go of the past, and doing what may not be very difficult at all, simply reaching out - by choosing - to live a happier life. The film does examine this process seriously, and with measured gravitas, seems to suggest that whilst it is very well for an outsider to clearly see that when we need to get out more, to do so is quite different. A process of readying ourselves is necessary, and when we are ready, only we can know. But the belief and standards and desire need to be in place before that moment can be recognised.

So there is a beautiful montage in the final third of the film that presents Bruce Wayne with an opportunity (with a time limit) to exit his prison. It may be one of his body, or mind, or spirit, but it is probably all three. Liberation requires a special ingredient. I'll leave it to the film to show you what it is.

Bane is no Joke

Bane, played by Tom Hardy, is a compelling character. Whilst he has a tough, gripping persona, he's some way off the carefully considered and brilliantly portrayed Joker, and whilst I've been led to believe his performance via his eyes - since his face is partially hidden behind a mask - is riveting, I didn't feel it so much. That's okay, there are plenty of strong performances by Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and newcomer Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing a rookie cop (and perhaps more). Bale's Batman is another right on the mark performance. Good, resilient acting by a strong cast.

There are plenty of interesting surprises, but suffice it to say, almost every frame is a work of art. It is the touchy feely/hyper realism combination that Nolan balances so well that makes this another top quality film. If The Dark Knight is worth 9/10, The Dark Knight Rises probably deserves 8.5/10. Ironically, if there had been no The Dark Knight, Rises would probably score higher because comparisons are inevitable.

In a similar fashion to Ridley Scott's use of plot and visuals to convey deeper metaphors in Prometheus, Nolan uses similar devices to demonstrate Bruce Wayne's inner world. The ending has more than a few surprises, and overall the film more than satisfies. But if the story fails - whether to revive those lacking in motivation, or fire up the depressives in the audience, or stimulate those pining for better days (all unlikely) - the score deserves credit for being vivid to the ear, and moving to the body. The manner in which Nolan goes about wrecking a modern city is disturbingly beautiful.  But if what you see doesn't move you, close your eyes. Be assured, whatever happens in those 164 minutes, something will rise.

SHOOT Score for The Dark Knight Rises: A solid 8.5/10

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beautiful Painting by Pieter Wenning

This is so well done: Man of Steel - Teaser Trailer with Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe(HD)

DC seem to be on the right track with a serious filmmaker like Nolan on board. There's so much more value to be gained out of this mythos (whether Batman or Superman)than just a shallow dipping into the superhero comic lore. It's endured for almost a century because it remains a story for our time, and about it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Feeling old and fat - you're not alone!

Celebrities then and now:

Then and now
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Boy George
Then and now
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Kirstie Alley
Then and now
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Bridgette Bardot
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:68799A1B908B4C2F8B76A4269918A078@JUDY1
Nick Nolte
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:6E1A886A8AD64D49BF42ED6E16D7F2A0@JUDY1
Cybill Shepherd
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:9325B162FD8948DDA0047D625C09B655@JUDY1
Sylvester Stallone
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:C2418F95070E43CAADECCB7127CDA47A@JUDY1
Kathleen Turner
Description: Description: cid:479E8B8ADFF543B89842D4145D45EE13@JUDY1
Billy Joel
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:2A12131573A24A5AAB8050D0B4A1B8C0@JUDY1
Bob Dylan
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:0E6FED6B1D8D4B069301550E2F60157D@JUDY1
Ozzy Osbourne
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:BDC6CF361ED34D8F9DDBF2F5B338DCF8@JUDY1
Mick Jagger
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:45EAF421F04C4B1CA222115FFCE30051@JUDY1
Gary Busey
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:D28E8D8E74FF4F83BC2B9495C04CFC62@JUDY1
Burt Reynolds (Had a tiny facelift, Burt?)
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:AD9ACFAFA4D4444DB39C135BFB5CE527@JUDY1
Wayne Newton (Nice makeup!)
Then and now
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Mickey Rourke
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:16EBF8E98DD440959278AF23B2FB2C21@JUDY1
Clint Eastwood
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:F806532C2F5143769096E747F14BBEBF@JUDY1
Keith Richards
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:FE185580A23840219AE9F9A8711AA81C@JUDY1
Joan Rivers
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:D7E1BD9CB2DB4D4681D1C44EA85BEE7E@JUDY1
Eddie Van Halen
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:12EC7D07C83F4A5F9F5DBF1F99FA8797@JUDY1
Linda Ronstadt
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:0883265797884EE8B44803E4A7B9D722@JUDY1
Jack Nicholson
Then and now
Description: Description: cid:650B9C902EB6468095A835ADF734577A@JUDY1

Don't know about you, but I feel better already.

The Dark Knight Rises: Links to Trailers and Reviews + POSTERS

TIME's Review of The Dark Knight Rises: To the Depths, to the Heights
Make way, puny Avengers, for the grand tale of a superhero in emotional crisis, as Gotham City faces economic collapse and a reign of terror. Can Batman even come to his own rescue?

Read more:

Rotten Tomatoes


 The Dark Knight Rises has ridiculous villians, bombastic effects and dialogue I could barely make out

 ‘The Dark Knight Rises’: Grandiose, not grand

Personally I'm not sure whether the one below (2 stars out of 4) is even worth a glance.

 Review: Batman series ends as epic letdown

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What did David say to the Engineer?

He said: ‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’.

As far as cosmic introductions to our ‘gods’ go, it’s hardly friendly and it’s hardly reverent. And ironically the clue as to how the Engineers might react to this request was there along. It was embodied in Holloway’s condescending and discourteous treatment of David, which hauntingly foreshadowed the way in which our own creators might choose to treat us: at best with condescension and ambivalence, and at worst with, well- a murderous rampage.

Read more here.

People are different, so don't sell your soul trying to please everyone

It's amazing how two people can have complete opposite views. You can show them the same thing, and they may respond not slightly differently but COMPLETELY differently.  It shows tastes differ, perceptions too, standards, appetites and the rest of it.  Here's a short sample of comments on the movie Prometheus.

The film is just pointless, it raises loads of questions yet no answers. No suspense, it's not scary, just dumb. Really poor.

Loved it! Great script, acting, lavish production. Loved the back story created for the Alien universe, in what is a superb reboot of a franchise.

...stomping out of the theatre angry, wondering why none of these movies can get it right.  Incoherent.

A masterpiece from the master himself. Best movie of 2012 so far.  My sympathies to those who don't 'get it'.

It's garbage.

This isnt trying to be better than Alien its a thing on its own so haters gon' Hate. Seriously dumb people.

Utterly atrocious. The story is laughable, the character development is non-existent, the pseudo-science claptrap is intolerable. A hateful pastiche of the Alien films with other elements stolen from any recent sci fi you can think of. The dialogue is cringe-worthy in the extreme - just embarrassing. There is exposition delivered at every possible opportunity.

it was amazing and the sequel could quite possibly be even better.

Hated it.

I know the expression "on the edge of my seat" is a cliche, but this is the first time since Se7en came out that I've been tense and uncomfortable, but in a good way, throughout the entirety of a movie. With the possible exception of Chronicle, this is the coolest sci-fi movie I've seen in years, and the H.R. Giger visual style, combined with the fact that a lot is left unanswered, lets the viewer develop real curiosity about everything that happens. While still scaring your @$$ off, of course.

After two and a half hours, I still didnt really have any emotional attachment to any of the characters. Actually, it lacked many of the emotional elements that I was looking for in this film. I didnt get scared, I didnt feel sadness, I didnt feel happiness, and I didnt really get grossed out either.

It does raise questions....but in the end its up to you to make the answers. thats what FILMS do.

What a waste.

Intelligent movie. Not another bug hunt - thank God.

This movie reminds me of people who only look at the pictures of Playboy magazine, forgetting to read the very informative articles. Hollywood mocks us!

I was engrossed from beginning to end. Beautiful cinematography and storytelling.

Unfourtunately, after it's first hour, the film grows tiresome and relentless and then, through the final sequences, when it needs to be electric and filled with adrenaline, it instead boring and non-climactic.

This was really good.

This was a complete disaster of a movie that made absolutely no sense at all and all the wonderful cinematography and Michael Fassbenders in the world cannot save it... NOTHING any of the characters did made any sense AT ALL. This movie is an insult, a slap to the face of his audience. Half a star for pretty CGI and a great performance by Michael Fassbender and a big fat ZERO for everything else.

Alien prequel or not, this is one of the better movies of the year. It's been 30 years since his last sci-fic movie Blade Runner (still my favorite), and Ridley Scott proves he is a master at creating a believable world that you could live in with his visuals. It's hauntingly beautiful and scary as hell and will absolutely spark discussions about its meaning. As for Michael Fassbender, is it too early to consider him for an Oscar nomination?

That low hum is the sound of Ridley Scott coasting.

Delivers not because it harkens back to previous films, but because it slows down to tell a story.

No way is this a great movie. Sure the effects and visuals are stunning, but the movie drags and nothing really ever becomes of anything from beginning to end. Space man come... Space man go... Monster created. And in the end a suicide mission for the Prometheus ship and crew? What a big disappointment. Too much existential mumbo jumbo.

Great script, acting, lavish production. Loved the back story created for the Alien universe, in what is a superb reboot of a franchise.

A good script is vital to good film-making, whether its complex or simple, and this film just doesn't have it.

Expected more. Yuck

It was so epic...and yet it wasn't.... it feels more like an old man's philosophical diatribe than an Alien movie.

I was really impressed.... especially since I felt the most compassion for my least favorite actor in the film!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For those who *GOT IT*, Prometheus Poses Eternal Questions About Science, Creationism

SHOOT:' It's shocking, but a lot of people who should have gotten this flick, didn't. I have an idea the reason is they went in thinking PREQUEL PREQUEL PREQUEL and then got stuck wondering why what they were seeing didn't fit properly into a prequelic structure. Instead it was a round peg in a square hole, leading to howls of protest and disappointment. Here's a Review I can live with though.

Prometheus does what all good science fiction should do: It uses scientific concepts currently out of the realm of possibility to provoke thoughts about philosophy and the future. It asks questions that get us thinking, and the gray areas are intentional — the lack of final answers is what kept us watching Lost until the end, constantly debating what happened in Inception and, ultimately, it’s what will lead us to multiple viewings of Prometheus and endless hypotheses about what really happened.
“I think Ridley’s instinct kept being to pull back, and I would say, ‘Ridley, I’m still eating shit a year after Lost is over for all the things we didn’t directly spell out,’” Lindelof told Bleeding Cool. “‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ And he said, ‘I would rather have people fighting about it and not know than spell it out.’”
In other words, Prometheus intentionally does not answer all the big questions it raises. It can’t — the answers have yet to be discovered.

Read the rest here.

Or if you'd prefer ranting, watch this:

Interviews with George R.R. Martin - author of the Game Of Thrones series

Interesting that this dude is a comic book fan.

Remember this: "Power resides where men believe it resides..."

And: "Knowledge is power." "No, power is power."

Here's his background via Wikipedia.