WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
As this is an animation, you'd think that it's a direct-to-video film made for children but the subject matter in this film is definitely a bit extreme for children. What makes Batman and other comic book heroes great is the fact that they can adapt to either being wacky and unique for kids (see "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" - a tongue-in-cheek homage series to the old Batman show starring Adam West) or something adult fans of the comic books can take seriously. Batman's a complex character - an idea of which has been explored so many times both on print and film. Without giving too much of the plot away, the film does a great job of demonstrating Batman's ideals as a vigilante - why he won't use guns and kill people and why he will always be the better man. It's fine exploration into a vigilantes approach in minimalising crime.
The voice-work is exceptional, especially with John DiMaggio's version of the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. His Joker incorporates parts of Mark Hamill's Joker at times but it's entirely his own thing, especially with how the animators chose to animate him. This character almost sounds "experienced" and not nonsensical or playful like previous voiced Jokers. The only bad choice in voice casting was the decision to cast Neil Patrick Harris as the voice for Nightwing (that's the grown up first Robin, Dick Grayson, for those that don't know). The voice doesn't fit the personality of Nightwing and does not sound convincing. It's almost as though Harris is doing a "hammy" portrayal of a superhero which doesn't do the character justice.
Engaging and mature, this "Batman: Under the Red Hood" is a fine example of an adult Batman animation done right. The story flows very nicely and is a great addition to the stories that have made up the Batman universe. If Warner Bros' animation department assembles the right people to animate and voice their next Batman feature, "Batman: Year One" (an adaptation of Frank Miller's landmark retelling of the Batman mythos as well as the primary source of inspiration for Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins") then WB may have a nice library of mature animations along the way.
"The Aviator" is Martin Scorsese's second collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio after working with him in 2002 in "Gangs of New York". The pair would later go on to work on two more projects, "The Departed", a remake of the brilliant Hong Kong film, "Infernal Affairs" and last year's mystery thriller, "Shutter Island". With "The Aviator", Scorsese is able to make a film that honours the visionary Howard Hughes by demonstrating that he was a man that had a lot of high ambitions and passion for what he loved but had many shortcomings with his obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe anxiety and depression.
The first half of the film is perhaps the most interesting as Scorsese decided to film that section utilising two strip Technicolor to give the film an old and nostalgic about it. I believe this is done due to the fact that the three strip Technicolour hadn't been around during this time period within film, making everything that's normally green a weird blue/teal colour (of course, I can be wrong so don't quote me on that).
Most of the first half of the film is absolutely solid and paces along very nicely. We see a lot of who Howard Hughes is, his ambitions with aviation and how much he was willing to make his dreams come true. His desire to stick close to his dreams makes him something of a respectable person even if he had to borrow a lot of money along the way to make it happen. It's also interesting to see how Old Hollywood functioned back then, offering up some nice amounts of film history with characters mentioning Hughes' involvement with the original "Scarface" (an instrumental film that was controversial at the time of it's release due to it's level of violence). Also seeing someone like Jude Law portray Errol Flynn is always a nice piece of cameo to throw in.
Unfortuantely the film does suffer in the second portion where things start to become a little stale and isn't as rythmic as the first half. Howard Hughes' trial goes on for quite a while and becomes a bit boring after a while, quickly diminishing interest in the film. I guess for me, the whole aspect of Old Hollywood and Howard Hughes the film maker instead of the "aviator" was more interesting to me. That isn't to say the entire second half was a bore, however, as the second half ventures into the darker side of Hughes' psyche and features a magnificent plane crash set-piece.
Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing in the film as Howard Hughes. If there was any indicator that DiCaprio was award worthy, this film certainly demonstrates it. One has to wonder, with such a great list of accomplishments - working with directors such as Scorsese as well as Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Danny Boyle and James Cameron - how has DiCaprio NOT won an Academy Award yet? His work in "The Aviator" is amazing - DiCaprio's interpretation of Hughes is a performance to marvel at. DiCaprio clearly taps into the anxities and ambitions of Hughes and translates that perfectly onto screen. Equally impressive is Cate Blanchett who portrayed Katharine Hepburn and got her down pretty spot on as well. The "yakkidy" nature of Hepburn as seen through her films is quite fun to watch on screen as she toys with Hughes but Blanchett is able to also reveal a side of her that seems heartfelt and genuine - a side that most people who've only seen her in films are accustomed to. For her performance, Blanchett was awared the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
That said, "The Aviator" carries with it an impeccable performance by DiCaprio but falls short in the second half of the movie where momentum begins to slow down and end on a rather unsatisfactory note.
It's a hilarious send up and deconstruction of rock and roll that is just riddled with endlessly legendary quotes. The band starts out as a Beatles-esque group then quickly decides that it's all about flower power and then becomes the rockers they are at the time which was just on the precipe of glam rock. Rock and roll can be pretentious a lot of the time and these guys think they're the best when really they're not all that great to many and at one point are sidelining for a children's puppet show. Everything that can go bad on the tour for this band does in the most hilarious fashion possible.
What makes it funny is the fact that the film actually feels real due to it pretending to be a documentary. The actors are fantastic and the realism of it all and the stupidity of some of the things that happen make it seem so much more genuine and funny. Best of all, despite being a fictional band, Spinal Tap have recorded several albums and performed for people as well as having sold quite a lot of merchandise like as if they were a real band. Brilliant stuff.
If you haven't already do check out "This Is Spinal Tap" - it's genuinely hilarious and above all else just an incredibly fun movie to watch.
Screening at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, "Submarine" is a British coming-of-age debut feature film from Richard Ayoade whose most known for his work on the popular television show, "The I.T. Crowd". The film has been building up a considerable amount of positive buzz on the festival circuit and has become something of an audience favourite as well as being well received by critics (currently holding a rating of 87% over at Rotten Tomatoes). With "Submarine", Ayoade presents to audiences a stylishly told yet charming story of a teenage boy trying to save his parents’ marriage while also trying to make ends meet and impress a girl at his school.
Many folks will compare "Submarine" to the works of Wes Anderson and while the comparison is fair to make, "Submarine" is in no way a cheap knockoff of a Wes Anderson feature. Yes, there are the familiar tropes of a Wes Anderson feature that can be found throughout the film (the theme of family, the use of narration etc.) but there’s something about the film that sets it apart from most of Wes Anderson’s films. The film feels refreshingly unique and brings with it a strong amount of youthful energy and spirit. Most of this is due to the way in which the film is presented to audiences. It would seem almost as though the film’s presentation comes straight from the mind and imagination of our quirky protagonist Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts). Oftentimes, the film does feel like as if the character has complete control over how his story should be told (and in some brilliant instances, he really does).
Additionally, Alex Turner’s (lead singer of Arctic Monkeys) contribution to the film’s soundtrack not only sets the atmosphere for the film but it also enforces some memorable moments throughout it. Aided by a piano and an acoustic guitar, the songs possess an almost nostalgic quality about them when inserted into integral moments within the film. We are reminded of the joys of our adolescence as well as the tragedies that beset them.
Craig Roberts does a nice job of portraying the film’s protagonist, Oliver Tate. For the most part, Tate’s a likable character who possesses a lot of charisma. His quirks and naivety make him someone that most of us would know in real life. Tate’s love interest, the insufferable Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), is played out with a wry sense of humour. She’s a character that’s just as multi-faceted and fun to watch as Tate. Our two young leads are supported but an equally pleasant cast in Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine (who is exceptionally hilarious within the film).
Perhaps the one thing to criticise about the film is the fact that it lingers around in its second act a bit longer than it should. While the film isn’t long at all (clocks in at around 97 minutes according to IMDB), the film may have benefited by shaving off a few minutes in its second act. Nonetheless, "Submarine" is a charming debut feature and is sure to please a lot of audiences. And much like a submarine, those who do become submerged into the film may come back out with a lovely and refreshing experience.
TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
JUST TRAILERS TODAY! Some of these trailers here has come out either in preperation for San Diego Comic Con OR was released during the Con. The only ones that didn't are "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Grandmasters". I know you wouldn't wanna miss some of these trailers, folks.
The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan's "Batman" films.
Famed Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai takes a break from melancholic romancing to present a martial arts biopic based on Bruce Lee's mentor, Yip Man (yes, it's another Yip Man biopic).
A darker retelling of the Spider-man mythos.
Live-action role players conjure up a demon from hell by mistake and must deal with the consequences. (IMDB)
In the future people stop aging at 25 and must work to buy themselves more time, but when a young man finds himself with more time than he can imagine he must run from the corrupt police force to save his life. (IMDB)
And that's all this week. Now for you fangirls that love Andrew Garfield, here's a video of him talking about much he's always wanted to be at Comic-Con and what Spider-Man meant for him growing up. Enjoy and goodbye.