TDKR = Epic Awesomeness

PLEASE NOTE: This is not necessarily a review. Partially because I am lazy and do not have the time to produce the fully developed, well-reasoned analysis this film deserves. Also, whenever possible I enjoy bucking convention when it comes to a critical reaction to a film; I think it makes things more exciting 🙂

I do recognize, however, that after seeing The Dark Knight Rises this past Friday, I could not let the moment pass without letting the readers (at least) know what I thought of the film – as if the title of this post were not indication enough.

As we know, films like these that come in 3’s usually can be a bit of a let down in its closing installment. So automatically, the expectation and excitement I had for this film was a bit tempered. But, as you will see by the following aspects of the film that I have highlighted below, The Dark Knight Rises left me with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and completion.

 

The slow burn. I felt like the action that awaited us largely in the remainder of the movie was well earned by the dramatic tension, pathos and humor experienced in the early stages of the film.

 

Anne Hathaway. While I have my favorite actors/actresses, I try not to invest too much time and energy in those thesps that I look upon less favorably. In the case of Anne Hathaway, on the best of days, I have remained relatively ambivalent about her. Here in The Dark Knight Rises, she delivered the goods. I was quite impressed with her performance. And better yet, I want her personal trainer 🙂

 

The cast at large. As with many comic book adapts, the law of diminishing returns holds. When I saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises I was a little apprehensive – there were too many people that I recognized! How would they all get a fair share of screen time? Well leave it to Nolan to balance everyone’s role and create a true ensemble piece.

 

Those nice little surprises. From the cameos to little plot twists, this installment gave it to you all.

 

It truly was a communal cinematic experience. In a world of flat panel monitors and home cinemas, people have started to question the need for the multiplex, movie house, or any incarnation of film exhibition that lies in between.  A large part of my enjoyment from watching the film was that I was in a room full of strangers who were laughing, crying and clapping along. In other words, we are all there to have a good time – and we did. And in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy of this past weekend, that was a warm, reassuring experience to have.

 

I could not have imagined a better send off for the Christopher Nolan “Dark Knight” canon.

(For the uninitiated, not to worry – you can always catch up on the first two in The Dark Knight trilogy by signing up and watch movies online for free).

One Day I Was Watching “One Day” …

My goodness. This weekend while channel surfing, I stumbled upon a film that until this point, I had successfully avoided – the Jim Sturgess Anne Hathaway tearjerker One Day. Despite its best intentions the film just did not do anything for me. Well, there was that wince inducing moment near the end that I did have a slight chuckle. However, I do not think that was the response the filmmakers desired.

The story of One Day is adapted from the bestselling novel by David Nicholls (also wrote the screenplay). Upon getting together on graduation night, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) develop a friendship that we, the audience, drop in on, on the same day July 15th (St. Swithin’s Day), over the course of 20 years. Whereas in the novel, each chapter chronicles a single year, the film does not have this luxury so the narrative skips a few years at a time, still focused on the “one day”. This aspect of the movie is well executed.

The performances overall were quite good; the excellent supporting cast includes Rafe Spall, Romola Garai and Patricia Clarkson. The one slight disappointment is Ms. Hathaway. This is not entirely her fault for, if I am honest, the kerfuffle in the media at the time of the film’s theatrical release regarding her Leeds accent was a bit of a distraction when watching her onscreen.

The film is wonderfully shot under the direction of Lone Scherfig (An Education, Italian for Beginners). So one would think that this is a wonderful formula for an emotive, romantic piece. But, as stated in my introductory paragraph, this was not the case.

What escapes me at this point is why, for the life of me, I walked away from the film thinking it ended as a bit of a mess. It had so much potential – unique narrative device, a great cast and director, but misfired where it mattered most – eliciting the necessary response from the viewer (me).

This is where you, fair readers, come in – what am I missing? Did you see One Day? If so, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

What Do You Think? (Accents in Films)

I am always fascinated by accents (or lack thereof) in films. On a related matter, I have read a lot about this week’s film release of One Day, which stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess and is directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education). David Nicholls adapted his best-selling novel for the screen. David Nicholls also wrote the novel and screenplay Starter For Ten. Although I did not read this novel, I did enjoy the film.

Now back to One Day. Much is being made about the success or failure of Anne Hathaway’s efforts at a Yorkshire (Leeds) accent. As a self-confessed Anglophile, I am able to distinguish between some (I repeat SOME) regional accents from the greater United Kingdom; but I am a far from an expert. I defer to folks who are from the area to make that distinction. However, based on a couple of clips I have seen of the movie, I am left a bit perplexed. To my ear, her voice is a bit “whispier” than in its American incarnation, but it does not sound too distinctly British, much less from the north of England.

The Guardian newspaper (UK) posted a pretty entertaining piece on their movie blog on the very subject. My personal favorite was listening to Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I say all this with the accepting that I can only imagine how challenging it is for actors to not only take on the challenge of embodying another character but to have that compounded with trying to master an accent foreign to them. I get occasionally and momentarily distracted when I hear non-Americans working to tackle the accent, especially when you get down to regions – notably the Northeast (Boston and New York). In spite of this, I have been able to enjoy the films even in light of being less-than-convinced by the accent that I hear (Emma Thompson in Dead Again immediately comes to mind).

The real question for people who have a problem with the accent, will this deter you from seeing the film? More generally, have you ever let your accent reservations affect your ability to enjoy a film?

Please share your comments below.

An American Version of "Love Actually?"

I recently saw the trailer for a Valentine’s Day 2010 release of the same title. The trailer made me think (as I suspect many, many others thought) about what is in my mind the quintessential, ensemble cast, romantic comedy, 2003’s Love Actually. I love this movie. And on the basis of the trailer for Valentine’s Day, it makes me appreciate Love Actually all the better.

Don’t take my word for it, watch the trailer.

Tell me what do you think?