March 2, 2020 – Alison reviews

Coincidentally I too pulled out some old titles this last week.  I rewatched the Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan’s brilliant reboot of the Batman story.  I watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight back to back, as it was intended by Nolan, and it was a better experience than that of the years in between each episode.  It’s Batman so I think the plots are within the scope of your imaginations.  Instead I’ll comment on some things that stood out.  (1) Christian Bale was ripped for his first donning of the bat suit.  The second movie he was notably smaller and by the third he just didn’t bother. (2) These movies are loud (my neighbours will attest to this).  I recalled travelling 6 hours to San Jose to see the Dark Knight Rises while I lived in Costa Rica.  It was so loud that it wasn’t until I exited the theatre that I realized there had been an earthquake during the showing.  (3) Nolan’s use of theme music in his films is brilliant.  In each of his films the score becomes as if another cast member not meant to simply exist in the background.  He uses Hans Zimmer who has had a long history of being attached to some of the best films in modern history, many of which if you pause for a moment the melodies will come to mind for you.  (4) Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker.  Both Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger won Oscar’s for their portrayal of the Joker.  I am a huge fan of both but with immediate comparison I gotta go with Ledger as being the best.  Phoenix came at the character from a different angle than Ledger.  Ledger’s Joker was truly frightening in that his madness was so unhinged and unpredictable whereas we were drawn to feel a degree of pathos for Phoenix’s take. (5) I still maintain that Maggie Gyllenhaal was miscast as Batman’s love interest.  Just didn’t look right.  They made up for it by casting Anne Hathaway in the final chapter.  (6) Where has Joseph Gordon Levitt been?  Miss him.
This weekend I found an abandoned box of DVD’s and VHS tapes in my office and decided to wire up the old tech.  I rewatched Hero (2002).  Hero was nominated for best foreign language film but lost to Germany and to my surprise was not nominated for cinematography.  The early 2000s saw a wave of epic films coming in from China – Joy Luck Club, Crouching Tiger and Hero to name a few.  Hero still stands as one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen as the cinematography is breathtaking.  The story has Jet Li as an assassin that comes to meet the king in order to receive his reward for killing the kings enemies.  Li has three assassins to kill and with each one he is allowed to advance closer to king who has constructed a hall big enough to prevent any assassin from getting close to him.  As Li tells his story to the king each is a separate scene in the film.  While the CGI technology used in 2002 pales against today, Hero still stands up.  Each story features a different colour as the primary theme as does the scenery and use of natural elements.  The film keeps to what I call the Shaoling Kung-Fu style where people can fly, levitate and run on water.  The fight scenes are brilliant and somehow are not violent.  One detail I noticed with this viewing is that at no time in the film is there ever blood – get stabbed and someone is always there to rip their clothing and tie things off so nary a drop is seen.  Hero stands the test of time and I look forward to watching it again some day hopefully digitally remastered.
Lastly, I started rewatching The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s last foray into a television series (he wrote the West Wing).  I stand by the opening scene of this show as being one of the best written wherein the lead character, Jeff Daniels, goes on a rant about the state of America.  “America isn’t the greatest country in the world…but it can be” – words that still resonate a decade later.  The story follows, well, a newsroom at a time when the primary election process is underway and the credibility of journalism and facts start to come into question when it doesn’t suit politicians.  What is that saying…life imitates art.  No one is better at rant writing than Sorkin and his dialogues are always at a peppered pentameter.  He creates intelligent, likeable characters and stories that interlace timely facts of reality into his fictions.  The Newsroom is still fresh in today’s climate and at times predicts the reality we find ourselves reluctantly in today.
Rob, I was at that Gordon Lightfoot concert.  You may have seen me; I was the only Black person there LOL.

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