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Monday, 23 July 2012

Gotham's Reckoning

Hey all.

So I had a pretty stacked week this week which was capped off by a friend's birthday party on Friday night. Got home at about 4.30 in the morning which was fun. Hadn't had a good drink in a while as well. Ellen blogged a bit about it. Read it there. Or even read about it on Alison's blog. Yes, go!


Thursday night was a big one since I went to go see The Dark Knight Rises which didn't disappoint at all but more on that later. Also if you're going to see this film then see it in IMAX because I feel like the scope of the IMAX screen and the sound within the auditorium does the film justice.


In the Mood for Love is one of my favourite films of all time so I was glad to hear the announcement that the prestigious Criterion Collection would be giving this masterpiece a high definition transfer on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, this means that anyone with a region-locked PS3/Blu-ray player (me), won't have access to it. Well ain't that a bitch!


Breaking Bad returned with its fifth season this week! Arguably the best show on television at the moment and although the first episode of the season was a little more restrained than it should've been, it's an understandable move by the show's creators. Can't wait to see how the rest of this season will play out.


Oh and speaking of television land, Emmy nominations were made this week and Community was given a long-deserved nomination for Best Writing in a Comedy Series! Unfortunately it wasn't given a nomination in Best Comedy Series which is a silly move cause isn't the success of comedy based on its writing?


Found this pretty awesome video the other day thanks to Tumblr and /Film. The video is titled, 135 Shots That Will Restore Your Faith in Cinema. So basically beautiful shots from some beautiful films. Enjoy.


And I just wanted to quickly show the picture above cause I thought it was pretty cool what Madman did with my blog name on the postage. It's like as if  Musing With Hieu is a company or something! And if you're wondering what's inside, it's a copy of the Indonesian martial arts film, Merantau. Will review it next week.


Yasujiro Ozu is one of Japan's most deeply respected directors. Known for his low-key "home-drama" films, Ozu, has been often described as being the most "Japanese" director, which essentially means that his films commentate on specific Japanese notions regarding families and tradition. His film Late Spring tells the story of Noriko, a woman pressured into marriage despite her intentions to take care of her father.

I feel that with this film - and perhaps with all Ozu films if Late Spring is indicative of things to come - it will take a while to appreciate. At least that's the case for me. It's a slow film with a poetic beat about it but there's a lot about Late Spring that I don't think you can fully appreciate on the first viewing. What I can appreciate however, is the unusual yet effective techniques Ozu implemented within the telling of his film. Shots have been clearly planned out meticulously - almost resembling a stage play of sorts.

Late Spring doesn't use many, if any, moving camera shots. I can't recall seeing any pans or dollys in the film at all but, and this is something I particularly admire about Ozu's direction, the fact that he loves to employ static still shots suggests to me that Ozu is an artist. He knows what it will look like and uses the set is his canvas and the camera as his paint brush. Each shot, as noted, has been meticulously planned out where everything within the frame is there for a reason. It might seem disjointed in his editing, particularly when characters move in and out of rooms, but I think that there's a quality about it that asks for you to pay close attention.

If I were making films, I'd want to work like Ozu. People would hate me for it but I would rather shoot one perfect shot and do it a couple of times than do multiple shots from different angles and then figure out which one I liked best in editing (and I would imagine it would save a lot of time in the post-production stage too!).

There's definitely a lot of nuance and detail to this film, and I would assume that the rest of his films would be just like this. I'm also pretty sure that Takeshi Kitano would cite Ozu as a directorial inspiration cause they both use similar shots for character conversations. But right now, it's hard to articulate how I feel about the film after watching it.

No trailer unfortunately.


Every great series must eventually come to an end. The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman series and for all its bombast and hype, the final chapter does not disappoint in any way shape or form. To call the film, perfect, is just a bit of a far-cry (although it is close to it) however as the film does drum up a small share of inconsistencies some of which mean having to draw attention to the film's plot which I wouldn't want to spoil anyway. Let's just say that with the amount of new characters that are being introduced into this film, some of whom may feel a little shoe-horned in, there's going to be some time in the beginning to have to introduce them and give them enough screen time to make them relevant enough to the story - even if that means not having to hold the film at a standstill for a moment.

Slow exposition notwithstanding, The Dark Knight Rises successfully rounds out the series and brings it full circle. The film has the theatrics and comic-book feel of Batman Begins while also incorporating the seriousness, scale and presentation of The Dark Knight. In other words, The Dark Knight Rises uses the best elements of the previous two films and turns it into a high-octane film. And once the film kicks into gear, it really delivers. The final hour or so of the film is enthralling and by this time the story is moved by mostly by actions, not words - an apt motif for a misunderstood hero like Batman.

As expected, acting is top notch from top to bottom. My favourite performance is probably the most understated one which belongs to Michael Caine. As the loyal butler to Bruce Wayne, Alfred essentially acts as the voice of reason for Bruce - the one that brings him back to reality and reminds him of the dangers that the Batman faces. I felt that Caine was able to make some of the more personal moments of the film so much more memorable. But not to take anything else away from the other actors, particularly Tom Hardy whose screen presence in the film was largely felt.

There's a lot to love about The Dark Knight Rises. It's a film that satisfyingly caps off what has been an immensely ambitious series - one hallmarked for its realism and intelligence and, at least for me, serves as a reminder as to why we go to the movies. And despite my minor gripes with the film, I feel that once I see the film again, the pacing may feel a lot different since I'll know what's going on. A near-perfect film and a near-perfect trilogy.



Two new teasers for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, popped up online over the weekend. The trailer has been screened ahead of The Dark Knight Rises in cinemas and Warner Bros are hoping Man of Steel will emulate the success of Nolan's Batman series. Man of Steel is directed by Zack Snyder and is being produced by Christopher Nolan. Judging from the teasers (both of which are identitical but feature different voice overs from Superman's two fathers) this looks like a completely different Superman than anything we've seen before. Camera work and cinematography bring to mind the work of Terrence Malick, in particular The Tree of Life. Anyways, I'm excited by this one - the teasers are quite powerful and have piqued my curiosity.

Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) V.O

Jor-El (Russell Crowe) V.O


Bachelorette has been on my radar for a bit now so I'm glad to see a trailer for it has been released. The film looks to be in similar spirit to last year's surprise hit, Bridesmaids, and features a pretty awesome female cast in Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson (who was also in Bridesmaids). Now aside from the lack of laughs I got from the trailer, my main reason for wanting to see this is because the film serves as a mini-Party Down reunion. You'll see Adam Scott (now seen in Parks and Recreation) and Lizzy Caplan are being paired together again in the trailer and it makes the fanboy in me cry.


The full theatrical trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's latest, The Master, made its debut online and does not disappoint. The film is loosely based on the Church of Scientology and is about a man who falls into a questionable religion whose founder is a charismatic intellectual. Of the three PTA films I've seen, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, I must say that Anderson's films are bold and refreshingly original. There's an energy, a flavour to his films, that you won't find any where else as far as American cinema is concerned (the Coen Brothers come close though, maybe even David Lynch or David Cronenberg but I categorise them as their own genres). Anyways, The Master looks elegant and is sure to be another triumph for Anderson.


And that's all for this week. This week's title is brought to you by Hans Zimmer, the music composer for The Dark Knight Rises. Gotham's Reckoning is essentially Bane's theme in the film and the music of the film is another outstanding highlight that elevates The Dark Knight Rises to another level of brilliance.

End post.

1 comment:

  1. Heh, thanks for the link to my blog, Hieu! Seemed like you had a good night. It was good seeing you after a very long time too.

    The Bachelorette & The Master both look interesting, gonna note them down on my to-watch list when they are released :)