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Comments on two films

A lot has been said about Heath Ledger as Joker in the latest Batman edition - The Dark Knight. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It has all the classic Batman trappings - a rich Bruce Wayne, a fast and ruthless Batman, Mayor of Gotham City, stunts, batmobile, batpod, searchlight and the final addressing of the "batman-cant-turn-his-head" problem. It also has three villains.
I liked the ending, the quippy dialogues in parts of the film, and the vehicles (the MV Augusta F4, the Lamborghini) used by Mr Wayne had me drooling. And though the batmobile was good, it was not shown in all its Glory, and was more of a guest appearance (Only one scene of batman inside the batmobile? Gimme a break).

Heath Ledger was good, the role demanded that energy. But somehow, Joker to me, means Jack Nicholson. That stiff smile while laughter emerged from a record, the suave sophisticated madness - is no comparison to the shoddy Joker makeup and the ill-concealed madness the Ledger portrayed. A purple suit not a Joker makes. Joker was a criminal mastermind, not a gutter rat who donned makeup for the heck of it. He wanted to be feared as Joker, so then why should he make Joker appear shoddy? It begins well enough when he robs the bank, but deteriorates somewhere mid-film. I agree, the shoddy joker makeup must have been tough to put on, but after seeing that Joker you would not look at a real joker in a show next door with fear. Thats what Nicholson did - he made the funny jokers in real life seem sinister. As an eight year old, the image lasts in your mind. Who can forget the roof-top scene of Batman and Joker in "Batman"? I cant.
Downplayed irrationality is leagues ahead of head-on madness, isnt it? A knife to scar and kill you is direct and gross, a jack-in-the-box bomb makes you doubt all jack-in-boxes. And could he stop licking his lips already? It was like a lizard and more irritating than scary. If he had to lick, he could have had a more leisurely savour of the fear in the environment around him than that gesture he did.
The script for the new Joker may have had more thought behind it than the one used in Batman (1989), but as a character portrayal, I preferred Nicholson, thank you. At least he wasnt grisly and gory, and he dint wear his hurt on his sleeve.

The film, overall, however, was fun. A little too much shaky camera action in parts, but I forgive that - the second half (two-face included) kind of makes up for it. The action, though animated looking was also good. And photography of the Batman-jumps, the cars, the bikes, and Gotham City were really good. Someone get a better girlfriend though.

Another film I saw recently was Speed Racer. At home. I lament that. I had tried all I could to watch it in theatres when it was released, but a combination of forces coupled with bad international reviews kept 'them' from showing the film at timings when I could go. The latter slots being usually devoted to some sappy Bollywood drama.

I did not understand a few things - why was the movie ridiculed so bad by the critics? Seems like they were not paid enough. Secondly, why was it targeted at kid's audience? Especially the under 10 one? Children would not get anything of the light-sound extravaganza that the movie is. It is not a simple anime, where it is simple for children to follow, but rather its an anime made for adults with nuances and subtleties which an adult mind can exult in.
Movies like this cannot be classified into 'adults' or 'children'. It is not a 'cute' movie, a film like Lion King or Toy Story or Finding Nemo...or even Shrek. It is not a Disney/ Pixar animated movie. It does not intend to be simple and slow, clear and cute.
The movie is homage to the Speed Racer anime. But more than anything else, it is finally, a movie which has worked back from anime to acting and stopped somewhere Utopically in-between.
It indulges also in Speed (not the hero, the adjective). I can imagine a Schumacher crying after seeing the movie - for his lack of driving skills and for the beautiful portrayal of the feelings when you are in the cockpit of a car. I, as a movie viewer, can only imagine it.
The movie portrays the feelings associated with driving at a high speed, for the thrill of it. There is no story to speak of, and no real need to act. It was a directorial bonanza. And I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely visuals (bright though they were) which captured the essence of the race. It was a comic book enacted. A film I would have expected to be better criticised than a money grossing movie. Ah well.

PS - I also saw Hancock, and considering how bad its reviews were and how senseless the name is, the movie wasnt half bad. Not 'good' but not bad either.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
21st Jul, 2008 19:32 (UTC)
i doubt if you should
compare Jack nicholson's joker to heath ledger, for one Jack was much more of a consummate and terrifyingly good actor, the manic energy he brings in is unrivalled, "One flew over the cuckoo's nest", "The Shining", there are examples aplenty,"as good as it gets", "a few good men". Tim burton's batman was a great film as well, but the comparison here wouldnt be fair to either movies or leading men.
Heath ledger did bring in a lot of energy, and portrayed him as a very terrifying character, one who has no rules, but i missed Wit, whether it is coz of editing or the script itself, he came across as a ruthless criminal than the scary but very witty joker. Also missing was the immortal. "he who laughs last, laughs longest" kinda lines. Though the pencil disappearing scene was gasp! awesome!.. :) . All in all, i prefer to think that Heath did an awesome job, one of the great modern day villains. As for his constant flicking of his tongue, like a viper, imho it is a manifestation of his nervous energy, and his gradual unhingeing mentally, or possibly coz of the knife split cheeks, in child hood, not being able to place his tongue properly..
What attracted me most was the twisted morality and the sheer darkness into which gotham has plunged. .. and the ending with the boats, a leaf out of game theory, and economic profit and loss, a la prisoner's dilemma! brilliant, the Joker was a twisted genius, no doubt about it.

Speed racer bombed primarily, coz reviewers went to town deriding it, and two it wasnt a well known cartoon/character to be adapted to screen like others. Also the constant flashing light and sound orgy, though incredibly cooled, fueled fears of panic seizures among parents of kids. However, i have a feeling, it was much ahead of its time, and will get its due later on. For now, i think the DVD and blu ray market will be great for Speed Racer.
Lastly Hancock is poppycock, but will smith and short running time and gags make it work..
:) rather long comment eh?

22nd Jul, 2008 05:53 (UTC)
Re: i doubt if you should
heh. yup, long comment.
just a few bullets:
- heath ledger and jack nicholson ARE being compared everywhere >.< me no like
- u never know whether that was self inflicted smile or childhood/ wife/ what. it just is there. constant flicking of tongue is supposed to be to savour the fear he has created around him. should have been viper like - but was lizard like.
- hope speed racer gets its due
- hancock on big screen was more bollywood than anything, but after fearing the worst, the bad appears decent.

PS - i liked the prisoners dilemna too ^^
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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