The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

August 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I finally managed to squeeze three hours out of my schedule to see this – I am glad to say that I was no disappointed. Spoiler warning: plot details revealed.

Despite being 165 minutes long, the time passed easily. As someone who has read Batman (and related) comics for the last 45 years, I was very comfortable with this film. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have left the characters as they currently reside in the DC Comic universe.

Christopher Nolan has done a good job of closing out the Dark Knight series. Christian Bale makes a good fist of Batman. It is an increasingly hard role to play: he must be the fourth or fifth actor in the role (including TV). Bale/Batman wrestles with his inner demons, as he wrestles with those that walk in Gotham City. Anne Hathaway is the surprise casting as Selina/Catwoman: she is able to shake off her ‘nice girl’ image, and be the cat burglar trying to shake off a twisted past. At times she steals the film.

Michael Caine (Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (guy with the cool toys) provide a bit of continuity from previous Batman films.

Marion Cotillard, as Miranda, is classy and exotic, and the surprise package at the end.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the future Robin tidies up one of the loose threads – with Batman gone, who will protect Gotham?

I liked the use of Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace to link Batman/Bruce’s origins to Bruce finally finding peace.

My only disappointment was the final scene removed any doubt: instead of Alfred and Bruce nodding to each other across the restaurant, with Selina facing away from Alfred; I would have had Alfred and Selina nodding to each other, with Bruce facing away from Alfred – leaving a little mystery.

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Undefeated

August 11, 2012 at 10:06 am | Posted in Documentary Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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The 41st Wellington Film Festival is on; I went to see Undefeated.

I like underdog sports movies; well this is certainly one. It is a film in the tradition of Hoop Dreams. It is The Blind Side from the perspective of the coach – Bill Courtney.

Film and documentary makers, Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, follow Bill over the course of the Memphis high school [American] football season. We see the Manassas Tigers of Manassas High School work their way through 10+ weeks of their lives. Young men in difficult circumstances, with the guidance of Bill, overcome their demons.

It is a very inspiring film: of good people putting their hand up to make a difference; and of good people in difficult circumstances doing the best they can – sometimes it is not enough. Bill has a mantra: “The measure of a man is not how you handle winning, but how you handle defeat.” For young men cast into a social-economic situation where they face more barriers than accelerators, this is very important.

Bill and his assistant coaches volunteer their time free to coach and to be father figures to the young men on the football team. Mike Ray, one of the assistant coaches, takes in one of the players so that he can be tutored; OC Brown lives with his grandmother in a part of town the tutors won’t go to! Bill has to console ‘Money’ Brown, who injures his knee, and almost drops out of high school. Then there is Chavis Daniels, who is back at school after a spell in ‘juve’, and has huge anger management (and self control) issues.

But it all ends well: OC’s SAT scores are enough to make him eligible for a sports scholarship (Southern Mississippi); Money gets a private scholarship to the same university; and Chavis learns self discipline and stayed on the football team (and school).

Well worth a look: there are human stories; and views of life in 21st century America.

Side by Side

August 5, 2012 at 6:22 am | Posted in Documentary Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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The 41st Wellington Film Festival is on; I went to Side by Side – Chris Kenneally’s documentary film on the on-ging digitisation of ‘film’; narrated by Keanu Reeves.

Keanu Reeves interviews a number of directors and directors of photography to get their views and thoughts of digitisation. There are three camps: silver nitrate film is dead, and digital is the way; digital is still limited, and I will continue to shot films with silver nitrate; and it depends on what I want to do.

The directors include: George Lucas, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Martin Charles Scorsese, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski.

The debate seems to centre around a number of points:

  • Dynamic Range – apparently film is capable of a wider range of light frequency
  • Digital has fewer physical constraints – film canisters are expensive to move around (both shooting and eventual distribution), raw film canisters hold only 10 minutes of shoot time, and a full-length film is many reels
  • Film degrades rapidly the more often you project from it – why spend so much effort, when few audiences will see the film you intend them to see?
  • Digital is immediate – no more waiting for the ‘rushes’ / ‘dailies’
  • Long term archiving – will software still play digital films 30 – 40 – 50 – 60 years from now?
  • All editing and post-production is digital anyway.

The possibility that cinemas might disappear – as people favoured their personal devices or home-theatre systems – was also raised.

There was also a sense of potential loss: if anyone can make movies with their consumer High Definition digital cameras and home editing software, then films will become devalued.

At times the film took on the appearance of commercial for this or than professional digital movie camera.

The film was a tad long – 99 minutes – and might have benefited from some ruthless editing. Nevertheless it was informative and a ‘must see’ for students of film and film history.

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