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

Inception’s Early Reviews: It’s Just the Beginning

Among the endless and plaguing remakes, reboots and sequels which Hollywood has been chastised for earlier in our State of the Box Office, comes a willing, bold beacon of hope to rise up against the order of Hollywood and save the summer from a single state of mind, a breath of fresh air, a sneaking guardian, a… dark knight perhaps?

Maybe. At least that is the word so far.

Early reviews for Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bender are calling the Memento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight creator’s newest film “easily the most original movie idea in ages.” Peter Travers from Rolling Stone rated the film three and a half out of four stars, complimenting Nolan’s audacity in storytelling, visuals and ambitions. The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and a handful of other notable publications have all joined the bandwagon, commending the film for skipping CGI for in-camera photo-realistic imagery, its grand multi-reality setting and complex narrative. Continue reading

Our (Belated) Best Movies of the 2000s

1. There Will Be Blood– Paul Thomas Andersen’s take on a corrupt, independent oil prospector at the turn of the century who just conned a family out of their oil-wealthy land is an epic exploration of two souls squaring off in a new world torn between spiritual and capitalistic ideals. The performance of Daniel Day Lewis gives Daniel Plainview flesh and blood thicker and blacker than the oil he devotes himself to drilling, carrying the film for nearly three hours and never skipping a scene that won’t enthrall. Those who can’t appreciate experimental filmmaking or principals of classic cinema like Citizen Kane will think this movie bores more than it bleeds. Though it’s a tragic tale, telling the American nightmare oppose to the America dream, it’s technically beautiful, if not perfect. The unconventional and strange cinematography and score are just a few of the elements that set Andersen up as rebellious poet, taking a stand against everything the digital film age embodies, and in doing so he creates something just as classic, magnificent and important as Citizen Kane, but clumping them together is injustice. There Will Be Blood mines deep into new territories and in the process, becomes a masterpiece.


2. The Departed– Martin Scorsese’s visceral return to the crime drama yielded extraordinary results.  Packing an unbeatable cast into a winning script by William Monahan, Scorsese creates a world where corruption starts young and gets more powerful with age.  Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, and Mark Wahlberg are all excellent, but as with most of his films, Scorsese is the star of the show. He laces this tale of Shakespearean magnitude with perfect music and pacing.  Two and a half hours rarely go by so fast.  You’ll have whiplash by the time the film reaches its bloody climax, and love every second of it.  With The Departed, Scorsese’s created a classic that stands with his best work. Continue reading

‘Dark Knight’ Sequel Gets Director and Date

Finally! The time has come for Warner Bros. to set an official release date for the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series.

It was announced that July 20, 2012 will hold the third installment, which should put it on track to follow the success of The Dark Knight‘s July 16th and Inception‘s July 18th release dates. This means there will be a total of four years between the previous and next installment, where a three year gap existed before films one and two. However, it is reasonable to assume Nolan will need 2 years to write, direct and produce Batman 3, which for now has no official title attached.

The best part of the news is that Nolan himself is returning to helm the project. It is said that Nolan, his brother Jonathon and David S. Goyer who all co-wrote the first two will be back to script the third. No other official casting, production or plot announcements were made. Continue reading