Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Knight’

The Searchers – Minute Movie Review

Montag, August 30th, 2010

Review:

After his family has been murdered by Comanche, John Wayne sets out to take his little niece back from them. For years he tracks the tribe, with the help of an adopted son, more intent on revenge than anything else. This John Ford film features what may be Wayne’s best performance and has a magnificent story. Ford, of course, is a very able director and the film is very close to being perfect, even if it has become rather dated and the story and themes could be explored much better.

Random Observations:

The Searchers at the IMDb

This film is a favourite of many contemporary film-makers. Steven Spielberg claims to watch it before starting each of his films to remind himself what a perfect film looks like.

The film reminded me of a quote from The Dark Knight: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

The only film to star both Natalie Wood and her little sister Lana. But while Natalie is by far the superior actress, she is upstaged here by her ten year old sister.

It’s a bit strange to see this film after having seen so many films that have been obviously inspired by it.

We continue our Themed Weeks Theme with John Wayne Week. Two more Wayne westerns on Wednesday and Friday!

The Oscars are today! Did you know?

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009

Later tonight, the prestigious Academy Awards will be handed out at the 81st Oscar ceremony. After the dismal television ratings last year, the Academy promised to revamp the show this year, make it more interesting for “common” people. So they got rid of a comedia hosting, who would only crack inside jokes that nobody not obsessed with Hollywood would get. So they promised to reduce the running time from three and a half hours to under three hours. So they got rid of the ban for commercials for upcoming movies. And then they completely forgot to nominate the most popular movie of the year.

Ever since The Dark Knight was wrongfully overlooked by Academy members, the predictions have been that nobody would care about the Oscars anymore. And to some extent, that is true. Advertising rates in the US are significantly lower than last year and for every Oscar buffy predicting a better show you can find three predicting that nobody will see that show.

For my part, I have kept mostly quiet about the award season, which comes to a close today, this year. Not because I didn’t care, but because there are so many people writing about it on the internet that I didn’t feel a need to write more of the same. So this is just a quick note to offer some of my predictions for tonight – that the Oscars are all about politics and not about quality should be universally known already. How else would The Reader have gotten in?

I would also like to offer my thoughts on who *should* win, but I can’t. There is only one category where I have seen all nominees and I would consider it unfair, just for example, to Mickey Rourke if I said that Frank Langella should win Best Actor. So now, without any further ado, some predictions:

Slumdog Millionaire is going to sweep the awards. Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle) and Best Adapted Screenplay(Simon Beaufoy) are sure to win – Cinematography, Score and Original Song also seem likely. Maybe they all deserve it, but I would bet my life that the movie wouldn’t have stood a chance of even being nominated without the current economic climate.

Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor for The Wrestler. The only other nominee given serious chances is Sean Penn for Milk, which didn’t impress me and hence will also not impress Academy voters. And besides, the comeback of the year wouldn’t be complete without this win. Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards be damned.

Kate Winslet will win Best Actress. And sadly, not for Revolutionary Road, but for “The Reader”. And even though I have seen neither film and thus can’t really judge the performances, I strongly feel that this is wrong on too many levels. But hey, at least Winslet finally gets an Oscar.

Heath Ledger will win Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight. I think if you were to bet on this, you would not make any money – everybody expects this. Heath Ledger was great in the film and the nomination is certainly deserved, but one cannot help to feel that it is also an award for all the movies he will never make.

Penelope Cruz will win Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Nothing to say here, except that this is apparently the consensus.

Man on Wire will win Best Documentary. It’s the only one I and the rest of the world have seen and this is one category, where Academy members have to see all five nominees to vote, so a surprise is not unlikely, but which film would win instead nobody can say.

WALL-E will win Best Animated Feature. For sure. They even tried to get it nominated as Best Picture. Almost as certain as Heath Ledger’s win.

Waltz with Bashir will win Best Foreign Language Film. Certainly better than The Class and The Baader Meinhof Complex. Better than the Italian entry Gomorra and not nearly as good as the Swedish film that wasn’t eligible, Let the Right One In.

I have no idea who will win in the technical and shorts categories. I’m not that obsessed…

The Ten Best Movies of 2008

Mittwoch, Januar 7th, 2009

Everybody loves Top Ten Lists, right? You can never get enough of them, correct? If you read one to the end, you want nothing more than start looking at the next one, or am I wrong? In any case, I like Top Ten (or basically any other number) Lists. I know they are silly and arbitrary and highly subjective, but they are still fun – even if one just reads them to poke fun at the author(s). So to start my own habitual list-making off, I hereby offer you the TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2008!

(weiterlesen …)

Is Warner Bros. smart or are Harry Potter fans stupid?

Freitag, August 15th, 2008

If you please, let me indulge in a little bit of geekery here. In recent years, fan-following for movies, TV shows and similar pleasures has changed quite radically. (I personally blame the internet.) Where once a fan’s only role was to consume the offered product, they now voice their opinions on it, often quite loudly, and some studios and film-makers are even listening. Back when the original Star Wars films were released, there was a huge cry of outrage when George Lucas (Attention, discussion of plot points in a 30 year old movie follows!) digitally altered the pivotal confrontation of Han Solo by Greedo. You see, Solo shoots Greedo, but in the “new and improved” version, Greedo first fires upon Solo. Star Wars fans the world over were outraged, but what could they do? Very little, apparently, because to this day this is the only version of the film people are able to buy, rent or see in some other way – unless they want the bad picture quality of old VHS tapes. And George Lucas just has a way of alienating the Star Wars fanbase – which is, incidentally, probably the biggest and most vocal fanbase existing today – that is by now legendary. Remember Jar-Jar Binks?

Still, people flocked to theatres to see the new Star Wars films, minding very little that they were absolute rubbish.

Would the same be possible today, with the importance of the internet and the great ways of organizing fans it provides? I would have thought not. Today, the ones making the movies (or other popular entertainment) actually have to listen to their fans. Just take for example the great following that Joss Whedon’s TV show Firefly garnered – even after it was cancelled, fans talked about little else and did everything possible to keep it on the air. Fox didn’t budge, but Universal did. They handed Whedon $50 million to make a movie – Serenity. Sure, the film was a commercial failure, but at least it got made. Similarly, many cancelled TV shows were renewed after fans showed their support – by bothering the studios until they caved.

The most recent example once again is Star Wars themed – and probably the best example to show how much things have changed in just ten years. There is a film called Fanboys that deals with Star Wars fans eager to see Episode One before its release. Why? Because one of them is dying of cancer and it is the only chance he’s got to see the film. But the production company, The Weinstein Company, didn’t like that story. They wanted to cut out the whole cancer subplot and, or so I was led to believe, in general make the movie a silly joke about Star Wars nerds. But guess what? Star Wars nerds – and I use that term in the best possible sense – protested. They protested and protested and protested. They renamed Harvey Weinstein Darth Weinstein. They boycotted other releases by the studio. And they voiced their opinion loud and clear all over the internet. Until recently it was announced that Fanboys would finally be released and that it would be the original cut. Fans – not just Star Wars fans, but all movie fans – worldwide celebrated.

If there is only fan group that is as big and as organized as Star Wars fans, it is probably Harry Potter fans. 10 years with seven books brought millions of people worldwide together. And now that the books are all published and the story is finished, more and more of the fans’ attention is brought onto the movies. The previous installments in the franchise range from abysmally bad (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) to surprisingly good (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), although true fans will both disagree with the notion of a bad Potter film and tell you, that the books are actually much better. (Isn’t that always the case?) But no matter how organized and powerful Potter fans are, Warner Bros., the studio behind the movies, doesn’t seem to mind aggravating them just to make a few more bucks. And Potter fans don’t really seem to mind – they are just happy for every bone they’re thrown.

First, WB announced that the final instalment in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would be split in two. The reason they gave was, of course, creative necessity. Now, maybe I missed something, but if you can make Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by far the longest book in the series, into a two hour movie, shouldn’t you be able to make a shorter book into a single movie – even if it takes two and a half or even three hours? Of course you should. But you see, Harry Potter has been a cashcow for WB for quite a few years and they are afraid of ending the franchise. And what better way to go out then with a completely unnecessary eight movie that can be produced for a fraction of the cost of a normal movie and will make another billion dollars. Two movies for the price of one – and I thought that offer only applied to DVD buyers.

What was the fans’ reaction to this? Mostly, they were excited. They don’t want things to end either. They are happy, as I’ve said before, for every bone they’re thrown. Who cares that it is virtually impossible to seperate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two stories? Who cares that they are being ripped off by WB every inch of the way? Who cares that they are being lied to – and the smarter ones (or at least the ones more honest with themselves) know it. Harry Potter fans worldwide have united for a number of things – from ridiculous (on WB’s part) like the photoshopped posters increasing the actresses’ breasts to admirable like the efforts to help the people in Darfur. Only when it comes to what truly unites them, they apparently can’t stand united.

And now WB has done it again. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film, was slated for release in November of this year. Today, WB announced that they would push it back to July 2009. Why? To make more money – or, to put it into the studio’s terms, “to reach the widest possible audience”. Sure, it’s understandable. For whatever reason (people say it is because of the WGA strike), the schedule for Summer 2009 is rather empty of what is termed “blockbusters”. Sure, they can make more money by building up tension even more. Sure, their profit in 2008 will be through the roof thanks to The Dark Knight, while they have very few promising films for 2009. But aren’t they afraid of the fans’ backlash?

They aren’t. And why should they? What can the fans do? Write angry letters? Voice their disappointment and anger on message boards? Boycott other WB releases? I’m pretty sure that WB would really only care about the last idea – if only there were movies that the fans could actually boycott. Too bad WB’s slate is so empty. Of course, there is one other options: Harry Potter fans could just refrain from seeing the next Harry Potter movie(s). But since they are fans, they won’t. They will flock to theatres just like Star Wars fans did for Episode One. Mabye things haven’t changed all that much. I just wish The Dark Knight had been released here earlier, so that I didn’t have to flock to theatres next week to finally see it. Being a fan is hard.

Comic Book Movie July – Final Thoughts

Donnerstag, Juli 31st, 2008

Persepolis, 300, Sin City, V for Vendetta, A History of Violence, Constantine, Ghost World, From Hell – eight unique movies that have little in common except that they are based on comic books. For Comic Book Movie July, I assembled them and tried to investigate whether that actually meant anything – an endeavour that quickly failed. Instead I wrote about them in the most boring fashion possible. But now, for the final conclusion of glorious Comic Book Movie July, the first and probably last Theme Month at Fabricated Truth, I will reexamine the question.

(weiterlesen …)

Minute Movie Review – Batman Begins

Donnerstag, März 20th, 2008

Review:

After 1997′s “Batman & Robin“, a successful comic book movie franchise was dead – and rightfully so. But in 2005, Christopher Nolan, the acclaimed director of “Memento” and “The Prestige“, revived it. Deciding to start all over, he tells the story of how Bruce Wayne, a billionaire, became Batman, the darkest of popular comic book superheroes. A brooding tale of revenge, Batman Begins actually focuses on story-telling and character development – and it does so extremely well. With a stellar cast (Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy…) and a brilliant director, those parts work extremely well. The action sequence, who here are supposed to be the icing on the cake instead of being the entire cake as is usual for blockbuster movies, don’t work quite so well. Nevertheless, as far as popular comic book adaptations go, there is none better.

Random Observations:

Batman Begins at imdb.com

The obligatory sequel, The Dark Knight, will be released this summer. And it certainly looks as if it could really get the whole franchise running again. Katie Holmes has been replaced with Maggie Gyllenhaal (who can actually act) and Heath Ledger will star in his second-to-last performance and the one he himself said he was most proud of as the Joker.

Compared to other movies in this genre (the earlier Batman films, Spiderman and so on), this one sets a new standard for gritty realism. Batman is not a superhero because of special powers, but because he wants to revenge his parents’ murder and do something good in the world. His opponents aren’t caricatures with “magical” weapons, but instead very real humans with very real ways of hurting people. Sure, you sometimes have to suspend your disbelief in this movie, but not to the same extent usually necessary.

Heath Ledger died today

Dienstag, Januar 22nd, 2008

Earlier today, Heath Ledger was found dead in a New York City apartment.  It is not clear yet what the cause of death was, but pills found near the body mean that drug abuse or suicide can not be ruled out.

But whatever the reason for Ledger’s death is, it is a tragedy. Ledger was still young at 28 and has a small daughter with  “Brokeback Mountain” co-star Michelle Williams. That movie is also probably his greatest accomplishment career-wise, earning him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor as well as critical acclaim. Ledger recently finished filming for the role the Joker in the “Batman Begins” sequel “Dark Knight”. He was notoriously unhappy with his performances, even after commercial and critical success made him one of the most popular young actors.

It’s a perfect 10!

Donnerstag, November 8th, 2007

The always great IMDB (Internet Movie Database) offers registered users the chance to rate movies on a scale from 1 to 10. As somebody with a lot of time and even more interest in movies, I have done so (as of November 8th 2007) 342 times. Out of the 342 movies, I rated 12 as 10. Here is, in alphabetical order, the list with short explanations. Please note that I am aware that some of these movies are far from perfect. I nevertheless enjoyed them immensely. It would also be inadvisable to compare these movies to each other – my ratings are more based on what I felt about the film than on objective facts. That is why they are my ratings.

About Schmidt

I see this movie as Jack Nicholson’s best. And considering his life’s work, that is saying something (Chinatown anyone?). It is a nice story of a senior in the United States that is lost after losing his job. Don’t expect great action sequences or special effects from this movie – just a nice story with incredible acting and some extremely funny passages.

Die Brücke

The only German movie on this list and at the same time the oldest. Die Brücke (The Bridge) is an anti-war story of several boys who are charged with defending a bridge at the end of World War II. Never before and never again has a movie so brutally showcased the senselessness of war in general and of the Third Reich in particular.

Brokeback Mountain

To say that Brokeback Mountain is simply the story of two gay cowboys is not enough. The movie is a masterpiece in almost every aspect: A moving, extremely realistic story, superb acting from everyone involved and just beautifully shot. Despite the subject, the movie never gets sappy, preachy or homophobic.

A Clockwork Orange

I watched this movie after I read the book, which is a masterpiece in its own right, and was surprised at just how much better it is. I see this as Stanley Kubrick’s best movie, easily surpassing the usual favourite “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Caution: This is by far the “darkest” movie on this list.

Down by Law

And now we come to one of my favourite filmmakers, the great Jim Jarmusch. As much as I love all of his work, with the possible exception of “Stranger than Paradise”, Down by Law is his best movie. Who could ever forget “I scream, you scream, we all scream – for ice cream.” Possibly the funniest line in movie history.

Fucking Åmål

The second (and last) non-English movie on this list. This Swedish film is a touching love story as well as a nice coming-of-age story. The titular city, Åmål, is small and not exactly exciting for teenagers, so most just want to leave. The twist: the love story is of two girls.

Lost in Translation

My second favourite movie ever. A love story of sorts between a young American philosopher and an aging movie star who are stranded in Tokyo. Slow, character-driven and sometimes extremely (intentionally) awkward, but overall just great. Bill Murray has never acted better and Sofia Coppola proves with this movie, after her promising debut “The Virgin Suicides”, that she has inherited her father’s talent.

Love Actually

Probably the “lightest” movie here. Just a straightforward romantic comedy (British!), with not one but a dozen love stories. It’s funny and always good for Christmas, which is of course all around. The star-studded cast makes this movie even better.

The Matrix

Yes, I still think the Matrix is a great movie. You just have to ignore the two sequels. I think everybody has seen this one, so there really isn’t much to say. It’s a great science fiction story, well made and though-provoking. What else could you ask for?

Million Dollar Baby

Two-thirds in I wondered what the big deal was. Up to that point, Million Dollar Baby is just a usual feel-good sports story which has you cheering for the underdog. It’s nice, with brilliant acting and so on, but nothing special. But the ending changes everything and makes this movie truly unique. It’s the movie I’m most unsure about including in this “elite” company (and incidentally also the latest addition), but the ending deserves it.

The Royal Tenenbaums

This is my favourite movie. It’s a Wes Anderson movie and I like all of his work. But The Royal Tenenbaums is easily the best among them. The story is typical Anderson (and Owen Wilson, his usual co-writer), a unique blend of humour and melancholy. Royal, the father of three brilliant kids, wants to come back to his family after living in a hotel for decades. At first he justs wants to come back because he is broke, but slowly he begins to care for his family and the other members of the family begin to care for each other. If the fact that this is my favourite movie is no reason for you to watch it, just take a look at the cast list: Gene Hackmann, Bill Murray, Owen and Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Houston, …

V for Vendetta

Finally, an action movie on this list (apart from Matrix)! Well, true, but also so much more. This comic book adaption, incidentally from the Matrix creators (the movie, not the comic, that’s from Alan Moore), is even better than its source material. In a Britain where a new tyranny is reigning, a single “terrorist” sets out to make things right. The story is very well versed, with many great actors (Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, Natalie Portman among others), just the right amount of humour and action sequences to spice up the political story.