Archive for July, 2012

25
Jul
12

Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin)

Director: Benh Zeitlin

Staring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Synopsis: Hushpuppy is  six year old  girl whos father is unable to proect her due to a mytserious illness that he contracts. Soon after, temperatures rise and the polar ice caps melt, releasing an army or prehistoric creatures known as the aurochs. With the rising water and invasion of the aurochs,  Hushpuppy goes on a journey to find her long lost mother.

Coming right from Sundance, Beasts of the Southern Wild has been an out-of-leftfield hit that critics have been very receptive about due to its visually stunning cinematography, bizarre folk-like story, musical score, set designs and acclaimed performance by non-actor Quvenzhane Wallis.

The film starts off within a small bayou community called “The Bathtub”, an area which has been cut off from the rest of society and has resulted in a high level of poverty and neglect.  What is interesting about this setting is the inspiration behind it. Benh Zeitlin (..the director) was strongly influenced by Louisiana, which in some parts has become flooded and ravished.  In recent years, communities within Louisana who reside close to the marshland have become stubborn and unwilling to go inland and this was something that intrigued Zeitlin.

Okay, cool…but why go see it?

I think this will be an interesting watch due to the film’s unique atomosphere and environment. Personally, I’m a fan of films that expose urban decay. I think it’s gritty and shows a side of realism which exposes the truth of modern society (I.e, people living within the margins of society). This film won’t exactly be defined by a sense of realism, but will be unique nonetheless. The swamp-like environment, junkyard inspired locations and lack of technological advancements will help bring a fresh perspective to my idea of what urban decay is.  All of which is beautifully defined through the attention-to-detail cinematography provided throughout the film.

Here’s some photos to help visualize my description.

In terms of the storyline,  the director claims he wanted to make a populist film that would be relative and transferable to all types of audiences. It is intended to be a film which answers the question: “What is at the end of the road?”. On that note, the film has been described as being a combination of apocalyptic and folk-like. After numerous pre-screenings, critics have commented by saying that the film doesn’t fall short of being unique and inspirational.

After learning about the main character, Hushpuppy, it seems like there will be a unique character study being provided here. We’re seeing a young girl who’s been described as the last of her kind. She’s young and therefore, unknowledgable about the plagued world around her. After being thrown into a civilization which is at the end of its existence, she is naive- believing that the very nature around her will end up consuming her. However as the film progresses, she explores nature and eventually comes to terms with everything. To top it off, apparently Quvenzhane Wallis’ performance is nothing short of spectactular and has been gaining recognition by numerous critics..

So if your looking to see a film which is out of the ordinary and will enlighten you, this may be the pick for you.  I know I’m a little late with his up-coming film as it appears it is already being screened through some public theatres. If your in Toronto and your interested in seeing this film, it’s being screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I’ll probably be checking it out sometime this week.

On a sidenote..

  It comes to no surpise that this film has been described as having folk-like elements. The director’s parents were folklorists and his last two short films were also inspired by folk-like tales. On a sidenote, His 2005 short film titled Egg is an odd and disturbing retelling of Moby Dick. Here’s the link to it if your interested http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/1309703760.

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14
Jul
12

The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)




Synopsis: Eight years after Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes, a new terrorist leader named Bane overwhelms Gotham City. As a result,  the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Marion Cotillard and my homie, Morgan Freeman

Release: July 20th

Where to begin, well how about, holy crap, it’s about time. Christopher Nolan returns with the third entry (…and conclusion) to his Batman trilogy. To recap the series in a brief manner, Batman Begins  helped revamp the cinematic Batman experience by introducing a darker and more realistic perspective on the Batman story. Not only that, but it brought a more thorough understanding to the origins of Batman and how the caped crusader came to be. Next in line was The Dark Knight. Now that Batman had become an established hero amongst Gotham City, he was given the task of facing the Joker, while trying to fight off the police (..who labelled him as a masked vigilante).  Which much anticipation, the third entry to Nolan’s Batman series is sure to be a grandiose cinematic experience. Here’s what I think about it…

The hype behind this film is pretty intense. I mean, after seeing Heath Ledger take on a fresh, gritty portrayal of the Joker and being blown away by amazingly
choreographed action scenes, one would have to wonder how Christopher Nolan would be able to top his second entry in the series.  From what we’ve seen in the trailers, the snippets of action scenes seem like they’ll be on par with the The Dark Knight. Then again, that’s just the trailer so I can’t be absolutely certain. It almost looks like Nolan’s trying to go above and beyond…I.e, having a bomb detonate beneath a football field, forcing the whole foundation to cave in.  In terms of new characters, Nolan has introduced a new villain (Bane) who will not only test Batman’s wits mentally, but physically as well.  This is something that we haven’t seen in the previous entries, as the Joker was undoubtably a criminal mastermind but probably couldn’t bench 140 pounds if his life depended on it (weird image of that just popped in my head).

Story Line

I’m hoping the story is just as good as The Dark Knight. It’s been eight years since Batman’s disappearance, so there’s probably been a gradual increase in crime once again. The story will probably have a strong focus on how Bruce Wayne redeems his falsely accused image as the caped crusader by saving the city from Bane’s attempt to bring urban warfare amongst the city. There will also probably be some interesting subplots which will help establish the origins of new characters, such as Bane and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). Overall, I’m confident that people will walk out the theatre satisfied.

Brief Character Breakdown

Bane

As stated above, Bane is different because he is physically superior to Batman so theres no doubt that Batman’s gonna get pummelled in.  The last cinematic portrayal of Bane was weak…really weak and really inaccurate as well. He was dumb as nails, green and lacked vocabulary, only saying his name “BAANEEE!!” and flexing his muscles until his purple veins popped out of his biceps.  Nolan’s going to fix the true image of Bane. He is a criminal mastermind who is mentally and physically capable of taking on Batman. Although his background is rather mysterious, we’ll get the chance to learn about his past life (..where he came from, why he has the breathing apparatus) and what actually drives his motivation to bring destruction amongst Gotham City.  In terms of his physical looks, I think he looks awesome. Nolan’s made him look as realistic as possible. His military look compliments that factor nicely. Although people seem annoyed at his voice, I like it. It makes him sound more menacing and evil. 

Catwoman (Selina Kyle)

The last cinematic portrayal of Catwoman was also poorly done. It was basically
Halle Berry running around half naked jumping on walls, hissing at cats and meowing. In this new portrayal, Catwoman is described as an associate of  Bane. She abides by her own code of ethics   and in that sense, she does anything she needs to survive. When she’s not in costume form, she comes off as your classic femme fatale, adding a level of mysteriousness to her character.  In terms of her looks, Nolan’s strayed away from her costume having a cat design (..Nothing against the classic design, but this is a fresh perspective on it) and more towards her looking like an actual burglar. What intrigued me most at first was seeing her use the Batpod, a vehicle in which Batman used in the last half of The Dark Knight. I’m interested to see how her association with Bane and Batman all ties together.

Batman

Whereas in The Dark Knight, Batman had become an estbalished hero (..But a vigilante to the police), we’re going to be seeing a torn up Bruce Wayne who’s become older and doesn’t have the same playboy image he had in the previous Batman films. Christian bale described it best in a recent interview, “He’s filled with remorse, he’s become a recluse, he’s given up and completely quit” (http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/christian-bale-on-the-dark-knight-rises-batman/275326). What this means is that Bruce Wayne will be internally battling his alter ego, Batman while Batman is battling Bane. Once he makes the transition back into Batman, he’ll have to re-establish his name and become the hero he once was.

New Gear

Similar to The Dark Knight , we’ll get to see some new technology, as provided by Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman). As seen from the trailer, this film will introduce us to the “Batplane” (…or also known as “The Bat”) which is a sleek black,  military inspired plane. We’ll also be able to see a revamped bat cave (…Last seen in Batman Begins), which has been described as an underground, desolate labyrinth. I’ve read that the cave will be flooded with water and when activated, a supercomputer and all of his equipment will rise from the water. Sounds pretty cool to me. We’ll probably be seeing a lot of new gadgets as the movie progresses (I.e, look to the image on the right).

Here’s a small clip of when we will first see “The Bat”

With every great origin story has to come an ending which was just as good as the introduction. As proven previously, it’s tough to pull of a good third entry in a trilogy but in this case, I’m confident it can be done.

…Okay I’m done jabbering my jaw now.