That Gotham movie

Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, respectively. Homage to Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, perhaps?

I don’t think we need another The Dark Knight Rises review on the Internet, but this is my film blog and I will post whatever I want, even though it’s grossly belated. This is my blog, deal with it, blah blah blah etc.

I kind of want to say how I thought The Dark Knight Rises is absolutely ridiculous, but alas, there are also so many things to like about that movie, that I really can’t give a completely negative review of it.

However, I don’t understand how people can’t see how it’s actually a very clunky, messy, overly ambitious shell of a film. It really is. There’s a difference between a film conveying chaos (as its predecessor expertly does) and a chaotic film. This, my friend, is the latter. There are many scenes trying to weave together 500 different plot points, involving 500 different characters. It’s not that it’s confusing, it’s just sloppy. Bane is not a compelling villain, he’s just a sometimes-amusing villain with a back story motivated by the most common of movie people emotions. The fight scenes and chase scenes are just okay and don’t cover any new territory as far as action movie euphoria goes. Though, I must admit, the football stadium scene, the montage hauntingly accompanied by the young boy singing the national anthem, is quite beautifully executed.

I kept waiting for Christopher Nolan to put his damn film together–get it together, man–but every scene, up to the very end, he refuses. Because it’s clearly out of his control. And the problem with all these plot points and characters is that they are not interesting or engaging. And whatever “twists” that come with those plots and characters are just underdeveloped and feel excruciatingly random. I get that Nolan isn’t very interested with how his characters are developed and is more interested in how they act as another function in his world, but he needs to realize that his characters need to be fleshed out for his twists to feel at all shocking or groundbreaking. I feel like once he continues to mature as a filmmaker, he will learn.

There’s a sense of darkness to the film, but it’s not a genuine darkness–rather, it’s just sort of angsty, bitter, grim, and depressing.

That being said, Nolan is also my kind of sentimentalist, though I hate to think it’s a product of his disinterest as a storyteller that he’s not too above typical Hollywood cliches. I have a love/hate relationship with Nolan’s sentimentality because it feels more Spielberg than people will ever give him credit for, which means it’s also gooey and lacks any sort of balls whatsoever, but it’s also why I go to the movies. I want to feel uplifted. I want to hope. Nolan gives me just that, in a way that’s old-fashioned, if not somewhat lazy. But that scene where Bruce Wayne has to climb out of the damn cave and all the prisoners chant “Rise,” or that sweet, sweet ending–they completely emulate all the reasons I watch movies.

And I deeply admire a director’s ambition–the overwhelming desire to create an epic. Sure, that ambition can be overblown and misdirected, but there is something admirable, and even charming, about that quality.

I’ve noticed that my feelings for this film are parallel to my feelings for Spider-Man 3. Of course, this film is superior, but I’m kind of conflicted with my absurd appreciation for wannabe epics and knowing that the film itself is kind of a mess on fire.

I’m hesitant to say that Nolan saved his own film by his sheer, restless ambition, but I think that’s what happened. Yeah, it’s still an uneven film, but it tries, it tries so hard. It wants to say something about so many things–economic inequality, nuclear attacks, fear, courage, power, morality, isolation. While The Dark Knight asks the tough moral questions with such nuanced profundity, The Dark Knight Rises hopes to merely provide the sufficient answers. And I suppose, it’s all kind of worth it.

Some other thoughts about this film:

Yes, I’m disappointed, but I feel like even if the predecessors didn’t exist, I would feel this way too. It’s not so much that I’m let down and I’m pissed off as a result, but I genuinely think there are parts of this film that just don’t work very well.

Anne Hathaway gives a very elegant performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, probably the best performance in the film–a performance that’s not colored by her self-serious persona that was even prevalent during her hosting of the Oscars with her mismatched co-host, James Franco. And this is probably the first time I found Anne Hathaway a lot more likable and charming than Marion Cotillard.

I have extremely mixed feelings about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance and his character. I know where Nolan was going with this casting, but it just feels all a bit silly, that’s all. I keep thinking about other actors who could have nailed the role, but there are some scenes where I thought Gordon-Levitt is perhaps, necessary.

And can we talk about how in love Nolan is with his Inception cast? Nolan is enamored with his Inception cast.

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All that neurosis

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Woody Allen directing Marion Cotillard, Allison Pill, and Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris

Messy thoughts on modern Woody Allen.

I can’t. It’s like watching your grandfather imitate his younger self, but trying to be hip and happenin’, and sometimes succeeding beautifully, and sometimes failing rather miserably.

Although Midnight in Paris is incredibly charming, I can’t decide whether or not Owen Wilson is miscast. I understand all the reasons why Allen would cast him, but Wilson will never be convincing as a character who is infatuated with 1920s Paris. I can’t speak for Wilson, the person, but he certainly does not look like someone who would stutter in the presence of Hemingway and Fitzergald. Strangely enough, however, I can’t seem to think of any other actor who could have done a better job than Wilson.

I don’t think I expected to like Vicky Cristina Barcelona at all. It has an obnoxious narration, to start off with. It’s also about pretentious, beautiful, wealthy people with careers in the arts and culture and their ultimate first world problems. Even more bloated with those qualities than previous Allen films. Sure, I like watching and reading stories about glamorous lifestyles, but sometimes it upsets me because I start to wonder: Are these stories even worth telling? Of people who sit around all day and contemplate whether or not they should have affairs or leave their fiance(e)s and husbands and wives and get back together with their ex- wives and husbands and write novels and pursue careers in photography? Assuming people who work in the arts are living their dream–to hear characters with those careers complain about how difficult their lives are is just upsetting. But I think Allen’s talent lies in making his characters–who I would probably slap if I ever met them in real life–interesting to listen to, especially in the confined space of Allen’s imagination. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is wildly entertaining and shows off beautiful Spanish sights, which saves it from what it really is: ambitiously romantic fluff.

Is it weird that I kind of like Anything Else more than Annie Hall? Hear me out: They keep getting compared among Allen fans, even though Annie, as played by Diane Keaton, is charming and sweet, but Amanda, as played by Christina Ricci, is painfully frustrating to watch. I mean, I hate Amanda, she is an awful human being, and I think watching Jason Biggs attempting to tackle the constant neurosis of a Woody Allen script is like watching a young Leonardo DiCaprio talk in Shakespeare, but I find Anything Else a lot funnier than Annie Hall.

While Biggs seems to nervously prod along in the film, the dialogue between Biggs’ character and the Woody Allen character–with a very good performance by Allen himself–is very well-written and oftentimes, the lines are very well-delivered. I think I enjoy those scenes between Biggs and Allen more than I enjoy any scene in Annie Hall. Not that I think the film itself is vastly superior or anything, I just think there is some very fine comedic writing involved that would have been better utilized in another film. That’s all.

I actually think a more fitting comparison for Anything Else is probably 500 Days of Summer, though 500 Days of Summer is often compared to Annie Hall because Anything Else is nowhere as popular. No, I think the people who compare movies (active members of IMDb) are getting it all wrong. When Harry Met Sally is the child of Annie Hall–the happier, more well-adjusted child, I might add. 500 Days of Summer is a more saturated, hipster version of Anything Else. I say this because Annie is nowhere as obnoxious as Amanda or Summer. Amanda and Summer are unbearable people while Annie, at the very least, is likable.

When people speak of the low quality of modern Woody, I think You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger should be the poster child of that campaign. It is so boring, so pretentious, so microwaved. It’s a soap opera, heavily marinated with Allen’s favorite topic–infidelity–tailored to Allen’s famous nihilism. And it’s not funny or interesting at all. Save for a few performances, namely of Naomi Watts and Gemma Jones, it’s a star-studded mess. And it has that terrible narration device that is used in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Can Allen see that his characters already talk enough?

There seems to be some underground adoration for Whatever Works, which is surprising to me. I think it ranks among Allen’s worst films, probably even worse than You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. And I say this as a huge fan of Larry David–both as a writer on Seinfeld (favorite show ever) and actor on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It just strikes me as such a weird, uneven, and unfunny film–perhaps too sunny for its own good. While I love David as his honest, relatable, and sometimes obnoxious alter ego on Curb Your Enthusiasm, his character in Whatever Works is just so completely unlikable. I realize that May-December romances are another one of Allen’s favorite things, but Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood are no Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway. It also has a really absurd happy ending that feels kind of tacked on and untrue to the tone of the film.

I think I’m still waiting for the day that Woody Allen makes another Hannah and Her Sisters. Which is as unfair as all those folks expecting Allen to make another Annie Hall, but I can’t help myself.

While we are on the topic, how is To Rome with Love?