ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story) and Bob Kane (characters)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Gary Oldman

The Dark Knight changed the landscape of comic book movies by taking the super out of “super hero.”  The caped crusader at its center is a man tasked with an evil so great, so uncompromisingly senseless and terrifying, that he must sacrifice his moral superiority in order to fight it.

To me, this is not only Christopher Nolan’s crowning achievement as a director (so far), but also one of the best summer blockbusters ever made.  Just as Batman (Christian Bale) is brought toward the moral center, the movie’s heavy-handed post-9/11 politics and its gloriously conceived action sequences must also meet in the middle.  
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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Batman Begins

Batman Begins
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (screenplay)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, and Katie Holmes

Christopher Nolan goes the route of Stanley Kubrick in his take on the Batman mythology.  Kubrick was infamous for taking acclaimed works of literature and making them his own, just ask Stephen King.  It’s hard to say what Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman’s true origin, would say about Nolan’s origin story.  The colorful world is all but stripped away, replaced with the gritty streets of Gotham City and induced with a tinge of noir.

Though he would go on to create a masterpiece in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan needed to establish his version of this world and the principle characters in it.  In that respect he is mostly successful.

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Our (Belated) List of Favorite Movie Directors

1. Martin Scorsese- It may seem unimaginable that nearly three years ago director Martin Scorsese had yet to hold an Academy Award in his hands, but it is the disappointing truth. The once would-be Catholic priest entered the film making world with hits like Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets which put him at the forefront of New Hollywood with his violent, audience-specific films. Though Francis Ford Coppola felt he was unfit to helm The Godfather: Part III, Scorsese quickly overshadowed Coppola to become an icon of his own, creating films filled with themes related to violence, machismo, Italian-American identity, immigration, Catholicism and New York City. Five decades of classics like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed, Scorsese set a style of quick editing, rock and roll soundtrack and frequent collaboration with actors and editors who claim Scorsese to be a living encyclopedia of film history. The film that did it for us: Though he’s created modern epics including a personal favorite, Gangs of New York, Scorsese’s talents are most apparent in Taxi Driver, a film with some of the most carefully constructed technical detail and powerful themes of isolation, violence, sex and how they are related and lead to destruction.

2. Stanley Kubrick– One of the unprecedented visual artists in all of cinema, it’s hard to not love movies when Stanley Kubrick makes them.  His gift for telling a compelling story is aided by those infamous distant shots, able to encompass the idiocy in The War Room (Dr. Strangelove) or gravity-defying in the great beyond (2001: A Space Odyssey).  He never told the same story twice, but each film carries with it his distinct visual flair,  helping him to create some of the most fully realized worlds the movies have ever seen.  Kubrick is one of the biggest influences on American cinema not only because of his artistic genius, though.  His ruthless dedication to his vision of the material led to feuds with his actors and the writers of the source material (both on The Shining.)  Perfectionism is costly, but with it he created many things that are, in fact, perfect.  The film that did it for us: There’s never been a more beautifully filmed comedy than Dr. Strangelove, and there are few as horrific.

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If they were in television… Christopher Nolan

Notable films: Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight

Famous for: Stories grounded in realism, alterations to linear narrative structure, psychological themes, usage of symbolism, old school special effects with minimal CGI, excellent casting of prominent actors and dressing pretty classy, even on set.

Hypothetical title: Nostalgia

Hypothetical premise: Two young brothers are the only children of their parents. One is a charming, fair haired child and often the favorite of the parents because of his cleverness and personality. The other, a dark haired deviant child who often loses the affection of his parents due to his shortcomings when compared to his brother. The parents die when the boys are in their early adulthood, forcing the favorite and older to take over the family estate and the other treated as a child. Although the story does not mainly take place in this past, the flashbacks do.

In modern times, the dark haired brother is an unaccomplished writer and the blonde is a well-noted novelist, mostly for poaching the ideas of his brother while they were young. Following their career successes, failures and rivalries, the show digs into where the stories come from during their childhood, the death of their parents and how they can learn to travel back into those memories with their writing, meaning memories may not exist at all. Continue reading