Anyone who pays attention to such things knows that, in the early 1990s, the Batman comic-book series featured a storyline with a super-villain – actually, steroid-enhanced – named Bane, who broke Batman’s back, turning him into a paraplegic (until he was eventually healed by paranormal means).
None of which will mean anything to the target audience of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” an audience too young to have been born, let alone old enough to read (or willing to read, for that matter), when the Bane storyline first surfaced in print. They want it now – hold the history or context – with a side of Imax, and snap it up.
And so we get “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third Batman film in Nolan’s trilogy and also the weakest. Where “Batman Begins” (2005) had a mythic feel that remade the origin story in an exciting new way (away from the flat-footed cartoonishness of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher entries), “The Dark Knight” felt like an overreach – an attempt to tell too many stories in one long movie. But it won over the critics, mostly because of a sizzling performance by Heath Ledger, who died before the movie was released (and who was given a posthumous Oscar). (More…)
Gorgeously shot and acted with aching tragic truthfulness, Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna” is a romance of depth and feeling.
Part of that, of course, is the source material; Winterbottom, who also wrote the script, has transposed Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” to modern India, where class differences still hold the kind of sway they did in Hardy’s time in England.
But Winterbottom, one of most adventurous and varied directors working today, takes it further. He captures the world of these characters and the contrasts they represent. The tragedy is multilayered, operating on both personal and more macro levels in this story. (More…)
When you first meet Lucy, played with bracing forthrightness by Mira Sorvino in Nancy Savoca’s “Union Square,” well, let’s just say she can only grow on you.
Because Lucy is – or seems to be – a serious pain. She’s whiny, she’s needy and she’s abrasive without even trying to be.
But stick with her. In Savoca’s brisk, surprising little film, she and Sorvino achieve a kind of raw emotion that you don’t find very often. Most movies would find cute or obvious ways to redeem Lucy. Savoca does ultimately reveal her more appealing side – or at least makes her seem less annoying – but Sorvino earns every iota of sympathy or empathy she elicits from the viewer in “Union Square,” opening in limited release Friday (7/13/12). (More…)
“Crazy Eyes” was spawned by the same boozy mentality (and, sometimes, sentimentality) that has inspired the work of everyone from Dylan Thomas to Charles Bukowski.
If Adam Sherman’s film, now in limited release, occasionally wobbles under the delusion that alcoholics are actually visionaries and their bad behavior comprises the antics of a demented genius, well, it doesn’t do so very often. (More…)
Testosterone may not confer eternal youth on the male of the species, but it does enforce perpetual juvenile traits that can never truly be bred out of men.
These come to the fore in Jay and Mark Duplass’ “The Do-Deca-Pentathalon.” A shaggy, basic tale of fraternal jealousy writ large, “DDP” is funny if not deep, an amiable, sometimes aggressively funny film that occasionally dawdles. Yet there are obviously funny people at work here, who understand the fine line between hysteria and hysterical. (More…)
It took a Facebook communiqué from a friend, asking what I thought about “Savages,” for my thoughts to crystallize:
“I was mixed,” I wrote. “Liked the action, thought the acting by the 3 heroes (and the writing for them) kind of sucked.”
Which about sums it up. This film by Oliver Stone, based on a snappy novel by Don Winslow (who cowrote the script with Shane Salerno), springs to life when the action gets cracking – and settles into stoned somnolence when it turns its attention back to its central trio. (More…)
Spider-Man was an angsty teen that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created in “Amazing Fantasy” comics in August 1962 – a character that’s apparently a perfect fit for Andrew Garfield in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
Garfield sweeps aside memories of Tobey Maguire as the web-spinner. He captures the personality split – incipient do-gooder trapped in the body of a nerd – playing Peter Parker in Marc Webb’s reboot of the comic-book franchise.
After three films about Spider-Man guided by Sam Raimi, Webb takes over and takes off. The director of “(500) Days of Summer” uses all the visual and digital tools at his disposal, just as Raimi did – except the tools are slicker, glossier, more digitally seamless than those long ago days of 2002. (More…)
Where do writers get their ideas? How do they go about putting words in other people’s mouths?
To writers, it seems like an unanswerable question: It’s a compulsion, a need, an itch that needs to be scratched on a semi-regular basis. But the process seems like a mysterious one to some people, who can’t imagine … well, that’s the problem – they can’t imagine.
Which is one of the ideas at the center of “Collaborator.” The film, an assured directorial debut for actor Martin Donovan (who also wrote the script), is smart, funny and tense, featuring a riveting performance by David Morse. (More…)