The Kid - A Classic Tearjerking Comedy

                                The opening title of Chaplin's first film says that it's, "A picture with a smile and perhaps a tear." "The Kid" proves itself of this statement. It will move people to uproarious laughter and keep them in a state of unstoppable delight, it also will touch their hearts and win sympathy. 'The Kid' was Chaplin's first full-length feature, which was instantly hailed as a masterpiece. This movie established Chaplin as a major player in the movie business. 

                                The story is very simple. Chaplin, as usual, plays the tramp. But in this one, his co-star of five years old, Coogan upstages Chaplin in every scene. 'The Kid' is about the tramp's relationship to Jackie, a five-year old kid who has been abandoned by his unwed mother. Jackie was found and raised by the Tramp as his own surrogate son. The Tramp teaches the kid to help them make a living as con artists, the child throwing rocks through people's windows and the tramp coming along to repair them. 

                         In the mean time, the mother rises to prominence as a stage entertainer, all the while regretting her giving up her child and looking constantly for him. The blissful father and son relationship is endangered when a nosy doctor gets the people from the orphanage to attempt to take away the kid, by force. But they have to fight the Tramp for that first.

                        Chaplin transferred his own comedic skills, and many of his tramp's traits, to little Jackie Coogan. Coogan's magnificent performance, responsible for much of the success and popularity of the film, was the first by another performer that Chaplin totally controlled and dominated, in effect creating an alternative Chaplin in a different physical guise. Apart from the fictional material in the film, one can also strongly sense the influence of Chaplin's own personal experiences - his own life as an abandoned child of the London slums. the death of his first own child, born prematurely, and the collapse of his own first marriage, at least partially resulting from the child's death. 

                      Critics often praise the film for its effortless combination of comedy and pathos, which is not as easy as it looks. Even today, film-makers are trying to come up with that winning combination and failing more often than not. The Kid's memorable spotlights include breaking and selling of the window panes, Chaplin's fight with the neighborhood bully, and the truly bizarre dream sequence with the fairy. The most celebrated clip is the one in which the kid cries and calls to Charlie from the back of the orphanage truck, and it's a truly sensational, heartbreaking moment.    
                   While Chaplin and Coogan form the center core of 'The Kid,' Edna Purviance effectively plays the woman whose 'only sin was motherhood.' Even though her part  is relatively small and melodramatic, she remains memorable as the goodhearted forced to give up her child that later redeems herself, providing the kind of ending that Chaplin would have wished for himself. 

                    "The Kid," with its old-fashioned yet adorable combination of pathos and humor, is a film for all ages. The movie presents the quintessential Chaplin spirit, and it probably does more in its sixty-odd minutes to convince us of the man's genius than anything he ever did. "The Kid" is a true breakthrough from the comic genius. 


 The Kid - IMDb 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter........And Spring - A Trans-Cultural Insight Into Human Life

                          Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.......And Spring is a sharp meditation on the cycle of life and death, and it is a gorgeous motion picture. Korean Cinema's 'Angry Young Man' Kim Ki-duk makes a gritty, witty, sublime, and transcendental movie reflecting one man's life journey. Each and every shot amplifies the emotionally resonant story.

                         Spring, Summer........ is a statement that artisitic movies do not have to be boring. The movie's theme is universal, since it talks about mutability of life and the desire for peace and atonement. You might not identify intimately with the characters, but despite your profession or interests, the points raised by Kim Ki-duk could be easily understood.

                        The title uses the changes of seasons as a metaphor for life.  The five seasons in the title follows the physical, mental, spiritual development of a man from boyhood to adulthood. It is one long, intensely aesthetic Buddhist meditation on the passage of life and time, the acceptance of responsibility and the release of desire.

        The plot is simple. An aging monk (Oh Young Soo)lives in a monastery on a tree-lined lake with his sole companion, a child apprentice (Kim Jong Ho). The boy, spends one afternoon casually tormenting animals, tying rocks to a frog, a snake, and a fish. The Buddhist monk responds by tying a rock to the boy's back and instructing him to rescue the animals he has burdened. One of the animal survive but two does not, and that figurative rocks will stay with the boy for a long time.

            Each season is a chapter in the young man's life, separated by a decade or so. In "Summer" arrives a sickly but attractive adolescent girl (Ha Yeo Jin). The teenage monk (now played by Kim Young Min) is pulled into a raw, urgently sexual relationship, and when time comes for the girl to return home, the young man is heartbroken. The movie starts to spring in surprises with "Fall," in which the young monk is angry,  disturbed adult (played by Kim Ki-duk himself).

             The "Winter" is set on the beautiful the ice and snow-covered lake, in which the young monk atones for his past actions. "And ... Spring" commences the cycle once again, with a child deposited at the monastery by an anonymous mother.

                 The film has a careful composition and presentation of a painting. Director Kim Ki-Duk keeps the every scene nearly as static as a painting. He combines stunning emotion and visual luster, and endorses the heartening idea that a spirit need not be pure to be worthy. Much of the film is wordless, but Kim stacks with visual symbols of faith. Spring, Summer....." is a rare movie that would be worth seeing for the cinematography alone. Director of photography Baek Dong-hyeon and Kim Ki-duk have taken great pains to celebrate the beauty of their location (a national park in South Korea) as a recognition of the importance of the natural order is central to Buddhist philosophy. For the record, the floating, authentic-looking hermitage was built for the movie.

              The movie doesn't demand your knowledge about a particular religion or a philosophy. It works for those who are not adherents of the tenets of Buddhism. The film bears witness to the concept that existence is circular. The pace of "Spring, Summer....." is deliberately slow but there is too much richness in the movie's emotional tapestry for it to be considered dull or drawn-out. 

             The heavy symbolism is engrossing rather than distracting. A ceremonial, freestanding door leads from the monks' sleeping area to where the girl lies, and the young man is quick to disregard it to get to his beloved. The symbolical door represents self-respect more than religious fear. By circumventing it, the young man is ultimately betraying himself. The following seasons bring a chill of extreme spiritual challenge, then the warmth of nature's constant opportunities for renewal. 

            The film's ideas and images stimulate your mind as you watch, and stay with you after wards.  "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.......And Spring" may also cause you to contemplate on your own life, and your place in the world around you, and that's a claim few films can make. Watch this movie and appreciate the wisdom, you have accumulated through it. 


 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring - IMDb

Fargo - An Absurdist Comedy And A Clever Thriller

                              'Perfect crime gone wrong' has long been an almost irresistible movie thriller theme. Fargo, a black-comedy thriller takes this basic storyline and applies a new twist. The movie is based on the true events from 1987, and the events shows that, what can happen when the police and criminals are equally dimwitted. 

                            Fargo takes place in the dead of winter, in North Dakota. There's snow everywhere you see. Similar to the color of snow, the movie is unpretentious, unexpected, and except for a couple of brief scenes of violent brutality, low-key, one of the most hilariously twisted murder mystery. The film was a critical success and a box-office success in 1996, and it also came away with Oscars for Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen). Iconoclastic movie-makers Joel and Ethan Coen manage the precarious balancing act of respecting genre conventions and simultaneously pushing them to an almost surrealistic extreme.

         Fargo begins with a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (William H.Macy), talking to a pair of thugs, Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), about doing a kidnapping. Jerry is down on his luck, and figures out that he only way to get some of the money of his rich father-in-law is to have his own wife kidnapped. Jerry wants the pair of kidnappers to ask a ransom of $80,000, and when the cash is paid out, Jerry is supposed to receive a 50% cut, as well as the safe return of his wife.  

             Unluckily, with these two incompetent crooks, things are bound to go wrong, and Carl and Gaear are soon leaving a trail of dead bodies behind them. Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a local cop is given the task of investigating the murders, and it's only with an amazing assist from fate that she ends up on the right track. 

               "Fargo" is definitely blessed by its first-rate cast. Marge Gunderson, the police chief, is the heart and soul of "Fargo." Without her, this snow-driven film noir might have been an ugly, mean-spirited movie. Frances McDormand as Marge performs as a fundamentally decent person that you have to wonder how she manages to get mixed up in all misconduct  going on in this movie. McDormand's Marge is one of the best written and most fully realized film character. 

                   Peter Stormare is all calm and unpredictable, while Buscemi is the nervous and talkative type. They're really amusing together, their brutality only matching their stupidity. William Macy with his vigorous performance as Lundegaard matches McDormand's Marge. Macy's Lundegaard is a coward and a laughable schemer, but he also projects a pathos that could make you weep

                    Besides being gifted writers, Coen brothers are brilliant directors. Joel Coen's direction shows maturity and mastery of form in balancing the plainspoken and the brutal. The brilliance of Coen brothers movies are not in adventure or excitement, it's in the details. The details here are the the wonderfully understated dialogue, sly performances and stark cinematography by Roger Deakins, that delivers the frost-biting sense of frigid winters. The cinematography has a feel for time and place that are essential to its success, and it also gives a claustrophobic feel. 

                   "Fargo" is a reasonably engaging crime drama, and a wonderfully funny film too, which is a neat balancing act to pull off. Parts of it feel comfortable and old, but just when you start to relax, the Coens throw in a new surprise. “Fargo” is not for the squeamish, but an effective little morality play and a very engrossing film.


Fargo - IMDb 

Offside - A Simple Film About A Global Problem

                        A Women/girl have got a ticket to the World Cup qualifying match and stadium guards deny her to enter. Why? Because, the one who got the ticket is a female. Iranian Women are not allowed in soccer stadiums, theoretically for their own protection from such unguarded male behavior as cursing. 

                      Jafar Panahi's Offside is shocking in its revelation of the legal oppression of women in Iran. This movie, about girls trying to sneak into a big game between Iran and Bahrain, is also hugely funny. Bahrain played against Iran in a qualifying match for soccer's World Cup in a packed stadium in Tehran, 2006. And in a sequestered corner — out of sight of the crowd — was a film crew. The crew captured less about the game than about the fans, including some who weren't supposed to be there at all.

       On the day of a big match to determine whether Iran's team goes to the 2006 World Cup, minibuses and vans fill the streets with male fans chanting and waving arms and banners out their windows. A middle-aged man is desperately seeking his daughter in this crowd. His daughter has told her friends that she was going to the stadium, despite the law that says women cannot attend a soccer game. The girl gets past the stadium gates, ducking past the security guards doing body checks. 

             She is soon caught by a soldier and taken to a holding pen on the upper levels of the stadium, where the sounds of the game can be heard. In a short period, there are six other young women, one girl with a foul tongue, another cleverly dressed in an army officer's uniform. All of them are eager and knowledgeable soccer fans. 

            The rural soldiers shout at their prisoners and are not happy with their assignment. They would much happy at home relaxing or looking after their sheep. Eventually, one soldier agrees to provide commentary on the game as he sees it through a hole in the wall.

                Director Jafar Panahi is a self-contradictory populist. He is famous for making crowd-pleasing art movies, often set in the midst of life—the urban crowd is one of his subjects—and is a virtuoso director of (non) actors. On the other hand, he is the most frequently banned film-maker in Iran. Like his previous movies, The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold, Panahi is blatantly metaphoric and powerfully concrete, deceptively simple and highly sophisticated in its formal intelligence. Panahi shot the movie in documentary style, changing his name and concealing the plot of his film to get his crew into a real stadium.

                The amateur cast is uniformly excellent and completely believable. The movie’s final scenes, showcasing a wild post-game party in the streets, was also filmed that day. All the people you see are genuine soccer fans giving genuine reactions to a genuine event.  The movie unfolds in real time, from the start to the end of the match, and there’s not one moment that doesn’t feel like part of that day. Panahi's excellent long breathtaking shots makes this thing possible. This grants him a room to play with the characters and their interactions. 

               Panahi is baffled at his society's determination to protect women's honor whether they want it protected or not. At the same time, he is not mocking anyone, including the men. There comes a finest and priceless moment, when a soldiers escorts one of the prisoner to the men's toilet. The young soldier orders that she must wear a poster over her face (so she doesn’t read the vulgar graffiti on the stall doors), and he struggles to keep men out of their own restroom (there are obviously no ladies’ rooms in the stadium). Joyfully, the trip to the restroom gets her very close to the soccer field — though neither she, nor the camera, is allowed to look at it. 

              Off-side is as sharp as it is funny. Not one of these people believes in the arbitrary system of authority that has brought them together. They'd all rather be privileged to go inside the stadium walls, cheering their purest symbol of national pride. Offside doesn't stop with cultural criticism. It also explores how the sports unites people. After Iran's victory, the worn-out policeman, the angry girls, and the adolescent boy  suddenly become one with each other and with all the fans in the streets. Here the director is not just presenting the fans reaction to Iran's victory. He is indicating us that in a war-torn world, the joy can bring those in conflict together for a mystical moment of celebration.  

                Part sports movie and part women's movie, Offside, is a biting satire on the sort of bureaucratic nonsense to which all of us can relate. 


Offside - IMDb 

Hollywood Movie News

  •  Ang Lee's adaptation of the award-winning novel, 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel, has released a spectacular new trailer crammed full of wonder, action and CGI animals. The trailer looks bright and colorful and sea-faring. The movie follows the deeds of Pi (Suraj Sharma), a young boy traveling with his zookeeper family from India to America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. When a violent storm sinks their transport, Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with only a 450 pound tiger for company. Beyond the tiger and boat, the original Yann Martel novel gets into some heavy issues of spirituality and personal identity. It's a tricky thing to adapt a masterful novel. So, let's hope the Oscar winner and critically acclaimed director Ang Lee exceeds our expectations.

  •  It's been a while since we've seen any movies directed by the duo behind The Matrix, but sci-fi fans will be happy to hear that The Wachowski's next film will hit theaters this October. Cloud Atlas is an $80 million adaptation of David Mitchell's critically acclaimed novel. Earlier, it was said that Wachowski's were only producing, but now it seems that they have decided to get behind the camera along with the German director Tom Tykwer. The book consists of six different stories set in a different time and place, which ultimately connect. The massive cast includes a lot of A-list actors like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, and Hugh Grant
  • To further secure his career as an action star, Denzel Washington is closing a deal to star in The Equalizer, a loose adaptation of the 1980s TV series about a onetime military covert ops agent, Robert Mccall, who helps civilians in need as a private detective. 
  • Iron Man director Jon Favreau has signed on for a role in Martin Scorsese's The Wolfe of Wall Street. The film is based on the memoir of the same name and will star Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a broker who found great success in the stock market and began living a life of extreme luxury filled with drugs, women and excessive partying.This will be the fifth Scorsese/DiCaprio project. The movie also has stars Jonah Hill and 'The Artist' fame Jean Dujardin. 
  •  Chris Hemsworth of Thor fame might lead humanity's charge against their robot overlords in Speilberg's adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's novel Robopocalypse. The movie is told from the perspective of different people as the world is being over-taken by sentient machines. Spielberg is getting his Abraham Lincoln biopic, titled Lincoln, ready for its November 16, 2012 release. After that, he will move on to direct Robopocalypse from a script by Drew Goddard.
  • Writer-director Andrew Stanton has been behind some of the very best films of Pixar, and he directed the magnificient Finding Nemo and Wall-E. Stanton made his live-action debut with John Carter, and now it looks like he will be returning to Pixar for his next feature, Finding Nemo 2
  • Marvel unveils that they are working on four movies in active development.  The first is Iron Man 3, hitting theaters on May 3rd, 2013.  They then went on to reveal titles for two previously known sequels, "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and confirmed another movie, "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Paradise Now - A Journey To The Roots of Evil

                       Think about the sort of person, who straps on explosives, conceals them under his jacket, and tries to catch a bus in the fervent hope of killing everyone on-board, including himself. He is called as a terrorist, a word synonymous with 'evil.' Evil can only be demonized, but what happens when a directs takes a risky proposition to humanize a terrorist? Can you try to understand, or even try to walk in the shoes of a Palestinian suicide bomber? It would be harder to answer. But director Abu-Assad have come up with a gripping thriller about two Palestinian suicide bombers, which peels away the stereotypes and looks at the people who commit those heinous actions.

                      "And what happens next?" a young Palestinian suicide bomber asks after receiving his instructions for carrying a bombing. "You will be met by two angels," comes the convincing reply. "Paradise Now," loaded with powerful dialogues is a taut, ingeniously calculated thriller that fixates on the flash-point where psychology and politics ignite in martyrdom. The movie transports you behind the terrible curtain of terrorism to find, not too surprisingly, that human beings live there, not necessarily raving extremists. 

        Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) are just two regular car mechanics in the West Bank, having a smoke and drinking tea on a sunny afternoon.  A quarrel with a customer ends with both getting fired shortly before they're recruited by a Palestinian terrorist organization to carry out a suicide mission together. Jamal (Amer Hlehel) informs them that, they have been selected for a suicide mission. 

               They view this as a political statement, and are willing to die as martyrs, which in their view is best than living as victims in the hellish occupation by Israel. We aren't given many information about the plan - only that it has taken two years to put into motion and involves the two men undergoing a transformation from shabby to clean-shaven, strapping bomb packs to their chests under suits, and detonating them 15 minutes apart in crowded sections of Tel Aviv. The moral sense in this story is Suha (Lubna Azabal), Said's girlfriend, whose father is a famed martyr to the same cause. She exists primarily to argue for peaceful negotiations and to turn the boys’ heads. 

         Director Abu-Assad manages the heavy task of highlighting his characters' humanity without excusing their actions. His controlled handling even extends to the pitch-black comedy of some martyr-video mess-ups. As good as Abu-Assad is at arranging up the situation, presenting both sides of the issue, and developing the characters, he cannot generate the necessary suspense to make this a top-notch thriller. There are episodic moments of tension, and the final scene, despite being forced by a sense of inevitability, is effective. 

           Shooting on location in Nazareth, Nablus, and Tel Aviv, the 70 person crew often found itself in tough predicaments, especially in Nablus. Some Palestinians thought they were making a movie against Palestinians while others thought it was presenting their case for freedom and democracy. At one juncture a Palestinian group that thought they weren't presenting suicide bombers in a good manner arrived on the set with guns and asked them to stop filming. Such is the state of living in the area, especially when striving for delivering a balanced view of the situation. 

           What egresses from 'Paradise Now' is a compelling portrait of suicide bombers and the complex issues that surrounds the act, all brought to life by an excellent cast of little known Palestinian actors. Their appeal carries the film professionally while intimate knowledge of the subject material works to great advantage, that would be difficult to duplicate otherwise.

              Paradise Now may not inspire sympathy for these hapless terrorists, or change your ideology, but it shows us that, beyond the divisive views of religious morality, people are pretty much the same on either side of the holy fence. It is rare eye-opener, which gives you a dose of the other fellow's point of view.


    Paradise Now - IMDb

The Experiment - A Fascinating Study About The Roots of Authoritarianism

                         I would suggest anyone suffering from depression to avoid the German film, 'The Experiment,' because it does nothing to convince you otherwise. This psychological thriller was made all the more terrifying and compelling because of its basis in reality. The movie is a fictionalized version of the infamous real-life 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which a group of college students were divided into ‘prisoners’ and ‘guards’ and agreed to live in a mock-up jail for a period of time. 

                          The Experiment is a gloomy testament to the corruption born of absolute power, interspersing its thought-provoking subject matter with enough interpersonal conflict and mid-level violence to prevent it from becoming the cinematic equivalent of a scholarly research paper. Apart from the unsettling  real-life underpinnings, Das Experiment combines German post-fascist soul-searching to the fast-paced voyeuristic thrills of reality TV.

         A taxi-driver, Tarek (Moritz Bleibtreu), comes across a newspaper ad calling for volunteers for an experiment lasting 14 days. He visits the Psychological Institute where, the scientific assistant for the project,  Dr. Jutta Grimm (Andrea Sawatzki), explains that it involves role-playing in a prison-like setting.Tarek wants to use the money from the project to ignite his journalism career, and decides his involvement could make a great undercover story.

            Volunteers are divided into two groups of ten as guards and prisoners. The doctor also adds that those who take part will be required to give up their private life and their rights as citizens. Tarek is confident that the best way to make it through is to treat it as a game. Disputes arises though, as he clashes with one of the guard named Berus (Von Dohnayi), a particularly brutal, Nazi-like guy. It doesn't help that Tarek has a blazing hatred for all authority figures because he was humiliated as a boy by his cruel father. Then, the hyper-masculine mind game spins even further out of control.

                 Moritz Bleibtreu, with his dark looks and troubled eyes, rises to the challenge of the main role. He gives an unbelievably assured, charismatic performance as Tarek. Moritz is equally supported by a fine cast, including Von Dohnanyi as the closet-fascist Berus, Antoine Monot Jr. as sympathetic guard Bosch, and Christian Berkel as the cool Steinhoff, an air force major who's also working undercover. The screenplay by Don Bohlinger, Christoph Darnst├Ądt and Mario Giordano, is well-structured in its small steps toward violence as the guinea pigs start to believe in their roles. One of the most alarming aspects of 'The Experiment' is that it all goes so wrong so soon and yet remains utterly convincing. 
                  Director Oliver Hirschbiegel's movie has aspects of a twisted "reality TV" show, and the narrative portrays man's inhumanity to man. . It can also be seen as a commentary on the Nazism that emerged and overtook Germans 70 years ago. Oliver forces moviegoers to ask, "What would I do in a similar situation? 

                  Das Experiment is an actual study of authoritarianism explored cinematically. The query of how Nazism gained power is the obvious common thread through this film, and each is concerned with systemic discipline and punishment.In a contemporary way, the movie also explores the inherent cruelty of Big Brother, Survivor,and other social-endurance peep shows. There can be little doubt that placing power in the wrong hands can have disastrous results, but It's a bit difficult to believe that anyone participating in a mere simulation would submerge his moral compass to the extent that he’d participate in some of the group’s barbaric activities. But the movie maintains our interest by building to a crescendo. 

                  It is quite easy to sit back in the comfort of our homes and evaluate the violence in the many hot-spots around the world. But, it is quite another thing to witness a film like this one and to realize that there is within each one of us a monstrous guard who given the opportunity could revel in the chance to hurt others. 'The Experiment' is a sustained symphony of physical and psychological horrors, which isn't comforting, but gripping, and the whole thing will have you squirming in your seat. 


Das Experiment - IMDb 

The Dark Knight Rises - A Fitting End To An Epic Saga

                              Fear is an emotion you don't often come across in a summer block-buster, and especially in a super-hero movie, which tend to be all about the bluster conferred by superpowers and ludicrous scenarios. Well, not in this trilogy, particularly not in this movie. It incorporates human weakness and realistic threats of nuclear and economic destruction, into the densely written saga written by Nolan brothers and David S.Goyer. But the most important question is, does the "The Dark Knight Rises," attain the impossible, which is to bring a cherished cinematic chapter to a close, yet manage to leave fans feeling not desolate but cheered? The answer is an unequivocal yes. 

                      Batman was always special. For millions of fans, Spider Man reflected the person they are/were. Iron Man and Super Man represented represented the person they dreamed of becoming. But Batman is comprised of something different, darker, more damaged. He was a man who brooded in dark corners, and lived with pain. And not because of a gamma rays, or some doctor’s experiment. Because he chose to. The character's appeal lies there. 

                "The Dark Knight Rises" is much more of a film we need, as opposed to the film we want. It doesn't offer you the pure-popcorn pleasure of something like Joss Whedon's "The Avengers." But, it ends the innovative and modern "Batman" franchise with a blustery bang.

        To condense the plot of the movie would take a full graphic novel, so I will just hit the high notes. In the universe of Gotham City, it has been eight years since Harvey Dent went mad, since the Batman (Christian Bale) accepting the blame, disappeared into the shadows. The movie kick-starts with a spectacular set piece, a mid-air showmanship in which the movie’s villain, a terrorist thug named Bane (Tom Hardy), kidnaps a scientist. Bruce Wayne/Batman's only contact now is Alfred (Michael Caine), his loving and loyal butler. 

           Four diverse characters, Selina Kyle (Anna Hathaway) -- a cat burglar, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) -- an idealistic cop, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) -- a wealthy woman with a clean-energy project, and Bane (Tom Hardy) --malevolent terrorist with a clumsy mask, each with their own agenda, seek to bring Wayne back to public life. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce's mentor, is ready, willing, and able to assist him in the creation of any invention he needs for his adventures as Batman. 

            Stealing a nuclear bomb, Bane is bent on destroying the police force and eventually the city. He liberates the criminals from prison and, in the spirit of the French Revolution, gives the underclass a chance to avenge themselves on the rich and the powerful with charade trials and grim executions. Will Bane's destructive and destabilizing methods bring Batman out of his seclusion? Well, yeah, most likely, especially given the name of the film.

                  The narrative contains an extraordianry number of characters and most of which are individually developed and fully realized by the talented cast, which includes three generations of actors, from vets like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman to newcomers to the series like Joseph Gordon-levitt. Christian Bale’s finely drawn Bruce Wayne and Batman, is a darker and more brooding character than we’ve seen in past movies. It’s an understated and quite possibly one of the best roles of Christian Bale. The general excellency of Bale's performance, forces Wayne to reckon once and for all with the alter ego he's fashioned for himself and Gotham in the name of justice. 

                   The villain, Tom Hardy as Bane never equals Heath Ledger's charismatic-psychotic Joker, but neither is a one dimensional caricature of evil. With his mesmerizing expressive eyes, Hardy makes Bane, a creature of distinct malevolence with rumbling speech patterns. And, with his terrorism, Bane does ask many interesting questions. The most decisive new character is of Anne Hathaway, a.k.a. Cat-woman. The actress nails the sarcastic, hard-edged tone necessary to make this morally ambiguous vixen a dynamic contrast for the Caped Crusader. Marion Cotillard as the business tycoon Miranda Tate, fits very well into the intricate puzzle. Joseph Gordon-Levitt acquits himself  very well, by handling the heavy dramatic scenes. Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine give their normal excellent performances. 

                   But, ultimately the movie belongs to one guy: Christopher Nolan. Nolan stages every sequence with  spectacle, grandeur and even a touch of wit. He carefully hits all the beats of the superhero action flick in the right order. Nolan impressively expresses a seething vision of urban anxiety that speaks to such issues as the greed and complacency of the 1%, the criminal neglect of the poor and oppressed, and above all the unsettling sense that no one and nothing is safe. Nolan and his brother Jonathan co-wrote the script with David S. Goyer, who all keeps piling it on until the surface of the genre threaten to snap. The script is a bit complicated, but the scope and pace and endless details conspire to keep a viewer mesmerized. Hans Zimmer gives a magnificently meditative score. 

                   The impressive success of this franchise lies with its gifted director, who turned his ability and attention to such an commercial project is beyond heartening in an age in which the promise of film as a popular art is tarnished almost beyond recognition. Nolan has said he's done with the Batman movies now. Even though The Dark Knight Rises ends in a furious finale of chaos, carnage, and cataclysm, the filmmaker has brought things to a satisfying closure. It is a rare block-buster, the one that provokes viewers of all ages, to reflect on broader social problems of post-modern society.

                 “The Dark Knight Rises” isn’t the special effects extravaganza, like the “The Amazing Spider-Man,” or “The Avengers,” which reliably delivered fan-friendly archetypes. It is a complicated, character-driven movie that asks that you come to the theater prepared and that you watch the movie engaged. The difference between other super-hero movies and Nolan's Batman movies is similar to the difference between a magic, and a miracle. A magic is an wonderful charming act, that might be reproduced many times. But, a miracle is an amazing natural occurrence, which you might come across rarely.

              "The Dark Knight Rises," which concludes the Nolan's Batman trilogy is a 'miracle.'


Christopher Nolan Interview
The Dark Knight Rises - IMDb

Christopher Nolan's Batman Franchise - An Analysis

                           Superheroes have functioned as sites for the reflection and shaping of American ideals and fears since they first appeared in comic book form in the 1930s. As popular icons which are meant to engage the American imagination and fulfill real American desires, they are to inhabit an idealized and fantastical space in which these desires can be achieved and American enemies can be conquered. Film as a mass medium possess a similar potential to shape and reflect cultural values. Mainstream cinema in particular reaches a far larger audience than comic books do, so when this medium is used to transmit fantasies of popular superheroes, the result is apt to reinforce and perpetuate the American national narrative. 

Nolan's Ordinary and Extraordinary Batman

                      Batman is not ordinary in the same way as 'Spider-Man,' whose working class status affords him such everyday troubles as struggling to keep a job, pay the rent on time, caring for someone, and attract the attention of women. Bruce Wayne, armed with his father's fortune, shares none of these worries. He takes a job at Wayne Enterprises in Batman Begins (2005), but only to gain access to its Research and development division and its large and idle supply of flashy gadgets his father built for the military. 

                     What makes Nolan's Batman ordinary, then, is not the nature of the struggles he faces, but rather the fact that, for all intents and purposes, he is a super-powerless superhero. He does not hail from another planet bearing any number of superhuman abilities, and he had not been randomly bitten by a radioactive spider. Batman is fueled by a rage against criminals and an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. Is that a wish-fulfillment fantasy? Indeed. And a powerful one. Who doesn't want payback for injustices committed against oneself? 

                    Part of what makes Batman appealing to us and the post 9/11 Americans is that wealth and riches are the root of Batman's power. On the one hand, Batman's wealth provides the viewers the pleasure of witnessing on-screen the abundance of energy absent in their own lives, particularly during an era of economic recession. But it is also Batman' wealth which renders him such an emblematic embodiment. The Batman of Nolan's films is both an ordinary man in a cape, as Batman Begins villain Ra's al Ghul points out, and a figure of extraordinary power.

                 Evidence of this duality pervades Batman Begins and Dark Knight. Alfred (Michael Caine) defends both positions at different moments in the same film. At one point, he advises Bruce: "Know your limits Master Wayne." Batman has no limits," Bruce responds. "Well, you do sir," Alfred replies, reminding Bruce that behind his mask he is, after all he is just an ordinary man. However Alfred tells Rachel: "Perhaps both Bruce and Mr.Dent believe that Batman stands for something more important than a terrorist's whims, even if everyone hates him for it. That's the sacrifice he is  making -- not to be a hero. To be something more." In other words, to be a symbol of extraordinary power.

The Re-defined Batman's Villains

                      Just as Batman's wealth and the masculine body it (literally) affords him are what make him an exceptional hero of American capitalism, Batman's enemies in both films are framed and vilified through their contrasting relationship with money and consumerism. In Batman Begins, Batman must save Gotham from the league of shadows, which is like a cross between a group of ninjas and an Al Qaeda-like terrorist organization dedicated to destroying a succession of historical empires when they became too "decadent."

                   In Dark Knight, for example, The Joker, outlines his "favorite things" as he sets an enormous pile of money on fire: "Dynamite, gunpowder, gasoline," he says, "You know what they have in common? They're cheap." By re-inventing Batman villains as anti-capitalist anarchists, both the Nolan's movies explicitly equates American heroism with American enterprise and economics. The films other forces of evil, Falconi and the mob, are corrupt and greedy , but their relationship with money is presented as something equally contrasting to the honorable capitalism of the Wayne family as the Joker and the League of Shadows. 

                By representing the "good wealth" of Waynes and the "bad wealth" of mob boss Falconi, the film seems to suggest that wealth itself is not the problem. The corruption of certain individuals, no the capitalist system itself, is to blame for Gotham's suffering. 

Goodness And Bravery

               Nolan's Batman films, like the Spider-Man movies, also set about glorifying the ordinary man, emphasizing that Gotham's masculine strength pervades all levels of society.  The demonstrative example of goodness and bravery of everyday Gothamites occurs when the Joker takes remote control of two ferries, one full of innocent civilians and one filled with Gotham's prisoners. He informs each group that it possess detonator to a bomb on the other,  but that if neither makes the decision to destroy the other within a set amount of time, he will blow up both. If, however, one decides to blowup the other, the Joker will let that boat's passengers live.

             But the morals are upheld both in the civilians and the prisoners ferry. The allotted time passes, but by this point Batman has tracked down the Joker and engaged him in a violent struggle over the detonator to both bombs. "This city showed you it's full of people ready to believe in good," Batman tells him after subduing him. Like New yorkers of Spider-Man, Gotham's citizens proves that they are willing to stand up for good, even when their lives are at stake. 

The Ultimate Battle

                The appeal of classic superheroes from decades past may never fade, but we can hope that in the future, we might begin to see the protection narrative both on film and on in society, even in the face of threat, and to look to new, more empowering heroes for both men and women, which are not bound to the oppressed stereotypes  of an era. And so, With "Dark Knight Rises," releasing today, Nolan completes the story arc, he commenced in 2005. It might be a fitting decision to end a excellent franchise, that has redefined the super-hero genre. Especially since, the world is eager to create more super-heroes for even more destructive problems.

               Christopher Nolan concludes, "Bruce Wayne's story has fascinated people for more than 70 years because it's a great story. We were thrilled to bring our interpretation of the legend to the screen with these three films. It has been an extremely gratifying experience. We are very proud of this ending, and we hope the audience shares our excitement."

A Beautiful Mind - A Highly Rewarding Experience

                       There is always an underlying danger in glamorizing the link between insanity and genius. Its hard to deny as both the insane and geniuses are defined primarily in how they differ from ordinary people. They are removed somehow from the everyday activities in extraordinary/terrible ways. So, we have a urge to see these both as two extreme sides of a normal man. What happens when both these extremes lurks in the background of his thoughts? 

                         Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind, tells the story of Nobel Prize-winning mathematical genius and paranoid schizophrenic John Forbes Nash, Jr. It's hard to imagine, a mathematician as an movie hero, even a mentally unstable, brilliant mathematician. Yet, A Beautiful Mind is consistently engrossing as a trip to the mysterious border-crossing between brilliance and madness, and as an unusual character study. Even though the real tale has been somewhat conventionalized by very familiar "inspirational" storytelling techniques, the movie's effective blend of emotion and intelligence that will reach all manner of audiences.

        John Forbes Nash, Jr., (Russell Crowe), in 1947 arrives at Princeton for graduate study in mathematics on a scholarship. He has high desires of coming up with a truly original idea that will set him apart from his peers. He is a brilliant mathematical genius, but is also a erratic who lacks social skills. He has a only friend and roommate, Charles (Paul Bettany), who aids him through those difficult years. 

                 Years later, John is teaching at M.I.T. following an stupefying breakthrough that revolutionizes economics. He is also exercising code-breaking work for a shady government agent, William Parcher (Ed Harris). At this time John meets, falls in love with, and marries Alicia (Jennifer Connelly).Unfortunately, John's happy world soon starts to crumble. John is taken to a mental asylum under the care of the mysterious Dr. Rosen (Christopher Plummer). He is diagnosed as having an advanced case of schizophrenia and several of the most important people in his life are actually hallucinations of his mind.

                Nash struggled for years to keep his equilibrium despite his illness.  In 1994, John Nash was awarded a Nobel Prize for his game theory.

                 A Beautiful Mind lacks genuineness in bringing the life of mathematician John Nash Jr., but it makes up for it in superb performances, potent emotions and graceful, emblematic film-making. Russell Crowe, as the famously disturbed Nobel laureate Nash, creates volumes out of minuscule tics and mannerisms. His role is not the most likable hero to occupy the center of a major Hollywood drama.Yet his intensity is such, and his talent so large, that he pulls us into Nash's world. Russell Crowe’s dominance throws the supporting cast into the background, but several of them rise above their underwritten roles. 

                Jennifer Connolly is compelling with her warm, smart and confident work as Alicia. Her complex depiction of a woman torn by love for and fear of the same man, elevates the film to a higher level. Ed Harris is appropriately demanding and mysterious as the government operative engaged in very closely guarded activities. Paul Bettany gives a real standout performance as Nash’s brash college roommate. Judd Hirsch, Christopher Plummer, and Josh Lucas all deliver fantastic turns in their respective bit parts. 

               Akiva Goldsman's screenplay, based on the critically lauded biography by Sylvia Nasar, is ingenious in how it deals with the onset of Nash's schizophrenia. Those who are not aware about Nash will likely enjoy the film the most, as it is designed to put you in his shoes and see his life from his point of view. The dialogue is devoid of the mindless babble so prevalent in movies that deal with such high-minded concepts. Director Ron Howard uses exciting visual techniques to show how Nash makes his amazing mathematical connections. He also does a great job of visually showing us what is going on in Nash's tortured mind when Nash is beset by mental illness. 

              Audiences certainly doesn't have to be a mathematical expert to appreciate what A Beautiful Mind offers.  The film throws many mathematical theories and theorems in the audience's direction, but explains them simply and lucidly; no one is going to become lost or bored. The film uses mathematics just as a symbol. It's about human weakness and the ability to triumph over it. Nash could just as easily be a lawyer, a doctor or a construction worker and the essence of the story would not change. 

             The film simplifies John Nash's life in pursuit of cinematic, something for which it cannot be blamed. If you want to know the complex and in-depth details of Nash's life read the book. If you want an absorbing, bestirring, well-made film about a brilliant man whose life was almost completely devastated by mental illness, see A Beautiful Mind. Watch "A Beautiful Mind" with your heart instead of your head and you’ll be privy to a profoundly moving experience.


Tom Hanks Presenting "Best Picture" Oscar For "A Beautiful Mind"