July 25, 2008

The Dark Knight - $8

I went into The Dark Knight with high expectations and it delivered - for the most part. This is a comic/superhero movie which, unlike the many others in this genre, tries very hard to also be a good movie and a compelling story. Director Christopher Nolan has succeeded in making a very good movie here and in a way he has transcended the genre while perfecting it at the same time.

I won't go into a big plot summary, since you've all already seen it according to box office numbers, but essentially you've got Batman saving people from the Joker and assorted other criminals while wrestling with his purpose and the question of whether he is actually helping Gotham in the long run. I like that Nolan has given the Batman story something more than it's other incarnations by focusing on moral dilemma's and Batman's own lack of innocence.

The Dark Knight works on a lot of levels, the effects are amazing but great effects alone never make a good movie. Dark Knight also gives it's audience fairly good writing which is the last thing I expect in a big budget comic book adaptation.

Everything you've heard about the acting in this movie is true, if a little over hyped. Ledger is incredible as the Joker and Bale turns in another great performance as Batman. For me Aaron Ekhart's performance as Two-Face/Harvey Dent stole the show a bit from the bigger names around him. The supporting cast is good as well and I agree with most that Maggie Gyllenhaal playing Rachel Dawes is an improvement on Katie Holmes. Thankfully though she's not different enough as to distract the audience. Normally using a different actor to play the same character is a huge distraction for me (Fresh Prince of Bel Air anyone?) but it worked here.

As I said, I enjoyed this movie. The hype is overblown for sure, especially when you look at it's IMDB rating, but it's still the best blockbuster to hit theatres in a long time. I still think Batman Begins is the superior of the two but I'm a sucker for origin stories. I'm definitely hoping Nolan doesn't stop with Dark Knight and continues to redeem the Batman franchise from the horrific Warner Bros versions.

The Dark Knight is on my 'Watch It' list and I'm giving it a value of $8.

July 23, 2008

Four, Five and Six - $9

Four, Five and Six is a short film by Nathan Davies and Jeff Coutts.

The film follows a man through six scenes of life, in the first he learns that his Father has passed away and throughout the rest of the story we see how this passing affects every day moments in his life and the lives of those around him.

Four, Five and Six is a great film and well worth watching. The dialogue is smart and the scenes are well shot and well performed.

For those who live in Edmonton this film is in consideration for the Edmonton International Film Festival so I hope the selection committee has the good sense to show it and that you get the chance to watch it.

For my part I put this one on the 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.

July 21, 2008

Two Quick Reviews

I've been away and will be seeing and reviewing The Dark Knight this week but for now here are a couple lightning quick reviews of two movies I saw last week.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days - $9

4 Months is an incredible movie and may be the most emotionally intense film I've seen in years. The story follows a University student who is helping her roommate obtain an abortion in communist Romania during a time that this is illegal.

Regardless of what your opinion is on this divisive issue the images and story in 4 Months succeeds in bringing both sides to light without ever giving an opinion or even directly addressing either side of the issue.

This was a movie experience I will never forget, though I'm not sure I want to duplicate it. I put 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.

Lars and the Real Girl - $6

Lars and the Real Girl was a surprisingly touching and funny movie. While it was never incredible it was often good and was well worth watching.

I put Lars on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $6

July 9, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War - $8

This one will be brief, I'm on holidays.

Charlie Wilson's War was an endearing and fun character movie. This is the true story of US congressman Charlie Wilson in the late 70's and early 80's. Charlie isn't your typical congressman as he drinks a lot, sleeps around and dabbles in drugs. Charlie does however care deeply about what's happening in one part of the world other than the US and that is Afghanistan, where the Soviets at the time had invaded the country and were killing Afghan citizens who were horribly underarmed to fight back.

Charlie convinces the decision makers to spend a lot of money on a covert operation to get weapons to the Afghan fighters willing to fight the communist Soviets without the Soviets being able to blame it on the US.

No matter what your opinion is about the history of Afghanistan this is a fascinating story which is well told by one of my favorite writers, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin's strength is dialogue and the dialogue is performed to perfection by Tom Hanks (Charlie) and Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays the CIA advisor that helps Charlie make all this happen. The often vulgar and always entertaining dialogue between these two made me laugh out loud more than once.

Charlie Wilson's War is definitely on my 'Watch It' list and I give it a value of $8.