BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
First of all, let me just say that I got in and out of the movie theater with my life intact, so that alone is a victory.
Secondly, I employed a strategy designed to keep me from waiting on a long ticket line or encountering sold out shows; I went to the very first Saturday matinee at a theater that was NOT showing the film in IMAX. Since I’m long removed from my pre-teen years, I can live without IMAX.
The strategy worked. Not only was I the very first customer in the theater when it opened, but when the film started, the theater was only half-full. Great … for me ... maybe not so great for Warner Brothers. Hey, they got MY money, so I feel like I did my part.
The film is brilliant. It’s dark, raw, gritty, insightful … everything you’d expect Director Christopher Nolan to make it. He doesn’t disappoint. When I was a kid, I idolized Batman. THIS was the Batman that would always make me shout out as a kid...
Tom Hardy is stunning as Bane, Anne Hathaway is slinky as Catwoman, Michael Caine is at his most fragile as Alfred and Christian Bale has certainly solidified himself as perhaps the best of the Bruce Wayne/Batman combos.
Oops! Sorry! I just spilled too much. Okay, yes … Bruce Wayne IS Batman, but don’t let that stop you from going.
I was stunned by all of the well-known actors in this film. I won’t name them. Let that be your treat. Joseph Gordon-Levitt being the biggest "surprise" of all. You’ll see.
I hear this is the last one Christian Bale is doing. I guess he doesn’t need the money. I don’t want to ruin the film for anyone, but there’s one particularly violent scene that made me think of that dumb ass in Denver. Such a tragedy.
You know, I have to admit that one of the reasons why I went to the film one day after the tragedy is because I really feel like I was making a personal statement. I’m not going to live my life in fear of what COULD happen in a movie theater. Of course, I’ll be on guard, but I’m not wimping out. After all …
TO ROME WITH LOVE
First off, if you’re looking for a scathing review of this new Woody Allen film, forget it.
I’m a big Woody Allen fan. Why?
Well, he’s a great storyteller and film maker. I love the way he weaves a plot and photographs his films. Also, he makes movies for ADULTS. Not adult films, but ADULT films.
No one takes on issues of life, death, mortality, isolation, loneliness, faith, celebrity, romance, love and intolerance, to name a few, head on like Woody Allen. He has this unique ability to get at what all people (if they’re at all awake) are grappling with and exploring in their lives. He constantly captures the drama of life by masquerading it as comedy. He’s a master.
And so, he does it again, this time with, “To Rome With Love.”
There’s no need to get into the plot. It’s a Woody Allen film. That’s all you really need to know. What I will say is that this film deals with celebrity vs. anonymity, adultery, romance, living life to the fullest even if that life includes conscious wrongdoing, the downside of travel and seeking purpose in retirement ... among other themes.
I’m just getting back from the movie theater where I saw the film with a 50+ crowd. That’s pretty much Allen’s demographic. Again, he makes films for adults. He should get Oscar after Oscar for THAT feat alone. Who else does this? Not all films need to pander to action-figure toting pre-teens … or 30-something-year-old pre-teens ... to make money.
When Allen appears for the first time in the film, I could FEEL the charm and warmth that everyone in the theater, including myself felt upon seeing him. He is literally aging right before our very eyes. In this film, he is giving us the stereotypical Woody Allen that we’re so accustomed to seeing. As usual, Allen is playing his alleged neurotic self playing a character. That’s not good or bad. It’s basically his acting brand.
Roberto Benigni is the true “star” of the film, but the character he plays wrestles with this very issue. You’ll have to see for yourself. I was also charmed by Judy Davis who is in her usual wry, rare form, Ellen Page who Alec Baldwin laughingly berates and parodies throughout the entire film, Jesse Eisenberg who I love for playing substantial roles that don’t infantilize 30-something-year-old men and the delightful and hot Penelope Cruz who we don’t see enough of (in more ways than one) ... but again, this is not THAT kind of adult film. Sorry Penelope.
In short, it’s hot as blazes outside on this July day and I needed a cool treat. “To Rome With Love” is just what the meteorologist ordered.
By the way, if you’re a Woody Allen fan, don’t you just love the way Allen romanticizes his cities? He films the best picture postcards. Allen loves cities and urban life. If he can’t get financing to film in New York City, why not go elsewhere?
It just doesn’t matter. Wherever Woody Allen goes, THERE he is.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
On this sunny Sunday, I got a bright idea. Why not go see Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris"?
Surely most folks would be out and about enjoying the 80-degree weather since the past few days have either been intolerably hot or rainy. I could really relax, stretch out my legs and enjoy the film. "Who would want to be cooped up inside a movie theater today?" I thought.
I was wrong. The theater was packed.
However, as I entered, I saw my saving grace. The entire top, back row, where I usually sit, was completely empty. Great!
Not for long.
Within minutes of getting comfortable, I was surrounded by a group of chatty, big-bag toting old ladies on the left and by an elderly couple that relentlessly chomped down on their popcorn and rustled their bags through the entire previews on my right side. The old lady and I were constantly jockeying for elbow dominance on the arm rest.
That's why I rarely go to the movies on the weekends. The best time to go to the movies is on a Monday or Tuesday afternoon when you basically have the entire theater to yourself ... minus the stray movie geeks sitting in the rows all the way up front. By the way, in case you were wondering, I have no problem whatsoever with older people. However, I do have a problem with obnoxious people. I can be obnoxious myself, which is why I think going to the movies alone is best.
ANYWAY ... back to "Midnight In Paris." I loved it. I'm a big Woody Allen fan. Mainly because he's such a great filmmaker AND storyteller. He's also a moralist, although given his personal life, some folks may take issue with that. However, I'm talking about his films. His plots are usually nicely woven with dashes of drama and humor of course, but you always walk out of the theater smarter than when you entered.
I won't give away the plot of "Midnight In Paris." I'll just say that Owen Wilson (one of his best performances that I've seen) plays this successful screenwriter whose working on a novel. He visits Paris with his somewhat shallow fiancé (nicely played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents. Wilson's character is looking for real love and happiness (aren't we all) and finds himself time traveling where he meets up with some famous art and literary figures from the distant past. All I'll say is that Kathy Bates plays Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody does a fantastic cameo as Salvador Dali.
If you're an art person, I'm sure you'll love this film as much as I did. It's such a wonderful tribute to art, culture and life. In fact, most of Allen's films are tributes in one way or another to art in general. He presents the moral of the story when Wilson's character learns a truth about the past versus the present. It's so nicely done.
I smiled at the very beginning of the film where Allen very appropriately opens with a charming montage of Parisian scenes. Is there any other way to begin a film based in Paris? I just thought it was a cool gesture on his part. The French probably think this is a sappy cliché. Oh well, this isn't French film, it's a film made by an American director. Allen plays with the whole montage and mis en scene filmmaking thing. Plus, throw in the lovely Marion Cotillard and you're all set.
Anyway, I really enjoyed, "Midnight In Paris." Since I never write about things I don't like, this makes it all the sweeter. The film was a rich, lush diversion on a sunny Sunday afternoon ... even in a crowded, obnoxious theater.
There's nothing like taking a bath in art and culture with famous figures from the past as you might imagine them to have been. In that vein, Allen does not disappoint, nor does the film.