Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dark Knight as Political Allegory

Author Andrew Klavan wrote an op/ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week exploring his interpretation of "The Dark Knight" as a conservatively slanted allegory for President Bush's position in the war on terror. I am glad to see someone finally broach this topic, as it seemed clearly evident to me when I saw the film. I thought it would be in every review, on every blog and every chat room that contained any serious discussions of this film. Unfortunately, most of the internet discussion of this film is simply fanboy hyperbole about how this is the greatest thing ever committed to celluloid.

Well, let me say-- bravo, Mr. Klavan. This article was a well written, logically approached interpretation of this film, and of the topic of how Hollywood has treated the topic of the war on terror as a whole. My only wish is that the article was longer. Many bloggers and internet posters are claiming that this interpretation is bunk. My answer to that is, any intelligent person would at least recognize the correlation between this film and the current situation in the war is simply being willfully ignorant. It's a pretty blatant theme of the film, and only someone who was purposely ignoring this theme would come away from this film purporting to have no idea where someone Klavan got this idea.

Whichever side you are on about this topic-- please, do yourself a favor and read the article here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pardon my French...

... but IMDB can kiss my ass, Here we are, two days after the official release of "The Dark Knight", and it now sits at #1 on IMDB's top 250 films of all time list. That means, according to the IMDB and its users, this is the best film ever made, of all time... ever. That is just preposterous.

This is just another example of why IMDB's rating system, and top 250 & top 100 lists are so flawed. No film should even be considered for this list until a set time after it's release-- say, one year. One year after it's release, a film should be eligible to be placed on this list. Because right now, all we have is a bunch of fanboys and midnight-screening moviegoers, still drunk with the excitement of opening weekend hoopla, logging on and mindlessly giving it a "10." Hey-- perhaps it deserves a 10 (Though, when you consider that a "10" would mean that there is no room for improvement, which is not the case here). I just think IMDB should hold off on allowing any film to their pantheon of amazing films, until it's been out at least long enough for people to get over the media frenzy it may have created. And oh what a media frenzy this film has created.

I mean, I get it-- "The Dark Knight" is good. In fact, it's probably great. I've contributed to it's record smashing opening weekend. But what I simply can't get down with is the now tiresome overload of hype and (to quote myself) critical fellatio the film is getting. Okay-- they've run an awesome ad campaign. And Heath Ledger's death provided the type of awareness of the film that money simply cannot buy. I mean, come on, the studio would be lying if they said they weren't basking in the media glow that his death created. But at this point I'm so sick of the name "The Dark Knight" that I just wanted to see the film, if only to get it out of my system and move on. Essentially, my enthusiasm for the film is fighting a losing battle with my desire to ignore anything that is so widely and blatantly put forth as infallible. I even felt compelled to vote the film a zero, just to make a point. Talk about a useless vote-- I now know what it must feel like to vote for Ralph Nader.

At this point, I don't even feel like thinking about this any more. IMDB has now joined the Oscars as just another Entertainment institution that has essentially ruined it's own good name in my eyes. Let's not forget, Eminem, 3-6 Mafia and an American Idol winner all have Academy Awards, and the greatest film of all time is "The Dark Knight." Does anyone have a cyanide pill? Because this must be the end.

In closing, here are some of the Greatest films of all time (for real) and their (dis)repsective IMDB ranks--

Casablanca #10
Citizen Kane #28
Lawrence of Arabia #34
The Third Man #47
Rashomon #68
Raging Bull #72
Touch of Evil #92
Jaws #96
Blade Runner #103
The Bicycle Thief #108
Annie Hall #129

The Grand Illusion
The Thing

and many, many more.

For shame, Mr. IMDB-man. You, sir, can kiss my ass.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Something you may have missed: "Primer"

Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing low-budget independent films over some good coffee at a bad diner. The usual titles came up-- Christopher Nolan's "Following", Darren Aronofsky's "Pi" and even Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs", for good measure. Another title came up-- one that doesn't carry quite the same cachet as the others, but is still quite a good film. The film "Primer" made a splash when it hit the festival circuit in 2005 because of it's twisty, mind-bending plot-- and the fact that it was made for only $7000.

The story is deceptively simple. Two guys (one portrayed by the film's director) develop a machine that they believe has allowed them to travel in time. Having said that-- the film stays away from venturing into too much of a science-fiction feel. It's surprisingly realistic. So, anyway, I don't want to give anything about the story away, because it's got one of those serpentine storylines-- but I just wanted to bring the spotlight back to a film that deserves more attention than it gets.

And, unbelievably, the film's writer/director Shane Carruth has this, and only this film to his credit. It's a shame he hasn't had the motivation or opportunity to do more, because he certainly seems to have the talent. So, check out the trailer for the film below. So, if your Netflix queue is looking a little anemic this summer, go ahead and add "Primer." It's definitely worth a watch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This just in, from the sports world...

My hometown NBA team, The Philadelphia 76ers, have signed Elton Brand. He's a Forward from the L.A. Clippers we just signed for 5 years, $82 Million-- good on him. He's a damn good player, and will make the Sixers better, for sure. But this isn't what excites me about the signing.

Most people may not realize this, but Brand is one of the few NBA stars who has done interesting things with his money. Namely, he co-produced Werner Herzog's last film, "Rescue Dawn." This was one of my favorite films of last year, and I look forward to seing if he has any further involvement in film, especially given that Philly is sort of a booming East Coast Movie town.

Cool news.

I'm Blu....

Now that Blu-ray has become the next generation of home video, I've jumped on and started grabbing Blu-Ray discs here and there. Ebay has been very good to me. I've gotten a bunch of flicks really cheap-- you just have to look hard. Now, I haven't actually pulled the trigger and bought a player yet-- I have too much work to do to invest in that big of a distraction right now. But soon, my friends, very soon.

Anyhow, there are a few releases that are coming out this summer that I consider to be must haves for my collection. Here are a few-- Agree?

1.)"Gangs of New York"-- July 1st - I still feel that this film will prove to be one of Scorsese's classics. It wasn't heralded as such when it was first released, but you just wait. This is one Blu-Ray that I really want to get. It's epic and-- forgetting the awful performance by Cameron Diaz-- the film is a masterpiece. Seriously, Cameron Diaz? Anyway, it will look great in high def-- it's just too bad they kept that abomination of a front cover. Boo-hiss.

2.) "Dark City"-- July 29th - Speaking of a film that wasn't given a fair shake theatrically... Alex Proyas (Director of "The Crow" and "I, Robot") directed this film, which pre-dated "The Matrix", and had some very similar themes. It's coming out this July in a special, high def edition. I cannot wait to check this out. This is the best High Def sci-fi release since "Blade Runner." High hopes for this one, high hopes. If you haven;t ever seen this one, make sure you do when this release comes out-- the previous DVD release is a bit lackluster.

3.) "The Nightmare Before Christmas" -- August 26th - I was so excited to hear that this was being released in High Def. I have the dvd, and it's a good transfer-- but in High Def? That's going to be awesome. This release also comes with new features, previously unavailable on the other versions. Good stuff. Not much more to say, other than this one is a no-brainer.

Man, I hate the term "no-brainer."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Trailer: "Blindness"

A few months back I read Jose Saramago's book "Blindness", and it was awesome. It's about an epidemic of instantaneous blindness that overtakes the country, with no clues as to how it started, or how to cure it. The afflicted people are herded into an abandoned asylum, and left to fend for themselves, while those not yet affected avoid them like the plague. It's just a great premise, and what Saramago did with the story is incredible. It's definitely the type of story that lends itself to being made into a film.

Enter Fernando Mereilles-- director of such films as "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener." He's made this book into a film, the trailer for which looks amazing. I'm not the hugest Julianne Moore fan, and Danny Glover is about as grizzled as they come-- but the film looks great nonetheless. Check it out below-- and for those of you that still do this sort of thing, I would definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the film. It's an intense, quick read and will definitely make seeing the movie more enjoyable.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Holy Hyperbole, Batman!

There is an awful lot of praise being heaped on Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." I believe it's hit it's highest now, with people (read: critics) actually hinting that he may get an Oscar nod for his final role.

Obviously, I haven't seen the film yet, but this just smacks of hyperbole. Now, I may be eating crow after I see the film, if he truly does deserve this type of recognition. But for now, I just think the critical world needs to slow their proverbial roll, and let the performance do the talking. The movie isn't even out yet!

So, what do you think? Is all of this praise warranted?