Archive for August, 2008

Dark Knight- Sober and somber!

“He is the hero Gotham deserves. But not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero…He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a DARK KNIGHT”

This is the epilogue of the Christian Bale starrer ‘Dark Knight’, directed by Christopher Nolan, a Sequel to his 2005 film Batman Begins. The plot is straight: Joker vs Batman and a U turn which occurs at the crisis. The movie begins with the portrayal of Joker’s {Heath Ledger} insane intelligence through a mob owned-bank heist. A while later the silent guardian {Christian Bale} makes his entry to be bitten by dogs, as a price of intruding the talk between Scarecrow and other mobsters. The wounded Batman plods his victorious way home to think of redesigning his suite. Lieutenant  Gordan{Gary oldman} and Batman plan to reduce the crime rate with Harvey Dent{Aaron Eckhart}, the new attorney general of Gotham city. Bruce Wayne learns that the new attorney general is dating Rachel Dawes, his childhood friend. Wayne also offers to throw a fundraiser for Dent, which he explains “one fund raiser with my pals, you’ll never need another cent”. At the same time, when the mobsters are being informed by Lau a Chinese mobster that a small amount of their money had been robbed by Joker and he has shifted their money to Hongkong, away from the Joker and the jurisdiction of Harvey Dent, who is up to the funds of mobsters, Joker steps in and demands half of their money for killing batman. When the offer is not accepted after a pandemonium, he leaves his card on the table and leaves. When Batman takes Lau in custody from Hongkong and hands him over to the Gotham Police department, the mobsters are forced to hire Joker. Following this Joker reveals his mind and tricks putting everybody in trouble. As the Joker says “if you’re good at something, never do it for free” the film makers want you to spend a few bucks and watch the rest of the ‘Dark Knight’ particularly the games of the funny and the freaky knight!

Don’t let the above excerpt to prejudice your thoughts. The Nolan brothers’ attempt to visualize their three dimensional ideas using a two dimensional comic is more than this. The thematic unity of the film in one word is “flawless”. Right from the gestures to the screen tone, every aspect fly well towards the intended ‘sober and somber’ effect which tells us that this is not another superhero movie. Christian Bale has successfully ‘De Evans’ed himself from the ‘Yuma’ world to be the Batman again. Heath Ledger with his ghoulish smiles and startling looks and Aaron Eckhart with his strange transitions give Bale a real tough time. Ledger’s performance as the Joker will echo his name forever. Funny tricks, frightening fireworks and slaughter add verisimilitude to the dramatic character of Joker. The real essence of this movie unleashes only when you give importance to the narrative mode leaving behind the cinematic mode. The questions and sarcastic comments put forward by Joker stir our conscience to the everlasting existential questions. The conflict between Free will and fatalism is one of the major hidden themes of the movie. Joker calls the morals, a bad joke. What do you think?

The falling action of the movie lumbers to tire the first bench movie goers and kids. After a boost of fancy and fantasy the story droops a while. The director has made use of the thread- juxtapositioning technique to build up the latter half of the movie, which seems to be technically perfect but expects the audience to labor a bit. Though Nolan blends philosophy and fantasy well, logic less vestiges of a comic book is seen sprawling over the movie. Also the movie fails to fulfill the requirements of the action genre despite the fact that it has never ending chases and typical ‘bat fight’ sequences.

The technical aspects of this movie take the movie going experience to a different level altogether. The Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard duo’s music inimitably pulls the audience willy-nilly to the dark world. Especially the ‘why so serious’ track go hand in hand with Joker’s terrorising screen presence. Kudos to the duo for the amazing orchestration. Lee Smith’s editing is so perfect for most part of the film so that if you leave your seat for a quick coffee, the rest of your time with the movie may become cold. Apart from these, the stunt sequences and special effects are above the mark. If someone asks you: Why so serious? Proudly tell them, ‘I’ve just seen The Dark knight’

– Spontic

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Leatherheads-A Comic craftsmanship!

A sunny day in the early 1920s. A British countryside football stadium. Players are warming up and the spectators are slowly coming in. The band has just begun to play music with their drums and trumpet. Noise all over. A team captain asks his new player, ‘Hey Kid, what position you play in high school?, the fat boy answers ‘Kicker’.Few seconds of silence???!!!! Everyone in the team looks at him in surprise. The Captain again, ‘Kicker?!’ One of the players ask Simultaneously ‘What the hell?!!’. The fat boy replies, ‘That’s ought to be my best position’. An astonished captain asks him, ‘Who’s your coach?’. ‘Maths Teacher’ says the fat boy. The confused Captain manages to say , ‘Huddle up’.The band starts playing enthusiastically. The ball is kept on the line. The fat boy kicks. The ball goes right into the band which was playing enthusiastically. The music and men go haywire. The fat boy takes a grave look. Captain looks at him. The boy looks at him and says ‘Hooked it’. The band seems to be alright now. The boy kicks again. this time right into the back of a teammate. He shouts in pain. Laughter all over.The team manager puts his hat down in frustration and murmurs. The captain pulls the boy and says ‘stand here next to him and you hit anybody that comes near you, anybody that comes near’. The game resumes. The boy knocks one. He knocks two. The referee comes whistling near him and the smiling boy knocks him out too!

The above is just a sample of what ‘Leatherheads’ could do to you. George Clooney plays the lead and has directed this film as well. A Historical comedy with all the necessary ingredients to bake the present day commercial cake. Going back to the early 1920s, the screenwriters have taken into account the condition of pro football or college football at that time and a man’s single handed attempt to change the course of the history of pro football. With a string of finely crafted characters, the movie’s mundane elements hoist up as a heavenly star.

Political satire, History and Romance are the three major themes of Leatherheads. Dodge Connelly{George Clooney} the captain of the ‘Duluth Bulldogs’ an essaying pro football team, endeavours to save his team from being egged out by losing their sponsors. As a part of his endeavour, he  pulls in Carter “the Bullet” Rutherford{John Krasinski} a war hero as well as a blessed pro football player to play for his team by luring him with large sum of money. Both the Duluth Bulldogs and pro football prospers in the reign of ‘The Bullet’. Meanwhile Lexie Littleton{Renée Zellweger} an instinctively investigative journalist appears on the scene with the intention of peeling the Bullet’s mythical war heroism. Both the old Dodge and young Carter fall for this intermediary woman. Consequently the real game between Dodge and Carter starts but off the field. A number of other characters with and without wit form a metal cover to make the story of Leatherheads bulletproof.

A big grin with a heart full of historic nostalgia is what you get seeing Leatherheads. This is a mediocre story like plain bread but with a spread of sweet fruit jam. Though a number of characters are seen, all of them are etched out  properly and vividly contributing to the comic effect of the movie. A few scenes like the opening scene, the jumping scene, the fight sequence and the scene mentioned at the beginning of this article are hilarious. John Krasinski and Renee Zellweger play their games well. We’ve heard that ‘looks can kill’ but this movie tells us that ‘looks can make us laugh’. But these elements are not found sustainedly throughout the film. This factor knocks leather heads on the head and says ‘a bit of extra-care on the script would have saved you from me’. Also the relationship between the characters fail to gain momentum. But however this movie is a quality family entertainer, if you want to laugh your weekends out.

The movie makers have succesfully given this movie its 1920 skin. Even the characters live and speak with the early twentieth century mind and tongue. Stephen Mirrione’s scissors appear to be a little squeamish to cut certain adjuncted scenes from the movie. There is something that doesn’t love a conclusion of this review. In other words there is someone we forget to talk about. George Clooney. Mr.Clooney has exhibited his multitasking skills through Leatherheads. A good screen writer{Along with Steven Soderbergh, Duncan Brantley, Rick Reilly, Stephen Schiff}, an impressive Director and a lovely lead. What else we need from him. To our surprise he is one of the producers{Along with Barbara A. Hall, Grant Heslov, Casey Silver and Jeffry Silver}too. George Clooney who plays the Captain of Duluth Bulldogs is the real captain of Leatherheads aswell. Kudos to Clooney and team. Leatherheads say “Men of future, forget the red cards and fouls, close your eyes and enjoy the warmth of rugged rulelessness of the 1920s for a while!”

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