Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Joker: The unstoppable force

Saluting the best performance of the yesteryear.

Disclaimer- If you are a fan, I ain’t exactly aiming this piece of flattery on Nolans’ brainchild on you. It is for the nitpicking, pseudo-intellectuals who believe to grab attention by cramming against THE Joker- Jokers.

Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he’s after.
Alfred Pennyworth
: With respect, sir, perhaps this is a man that YOU don’t fully understand.

Villains are bad guys. For the most part, they are boring idiots. Killing, raping, robbing and cheating. Is there anything else they do? Then came this guy. What he did was not any of this kind, actually. He kills yeah, but not cause of women, wine or wealth. He never even is interested in raping. Robbing, well he burns it. Hence it doesn’t count. Cheating- He is a joker. It is ofcourse a part of him, but that doesn’t essentially make him a villain. Atleast, accept that he is not stereo-typical.

The biggest strength of the movie is the characterisation,next comes the screen-writing. Actors did a commendable job as well, still to mould the 2D figures on comics into real people in a city is a challenge, really. It is very subtle. At the outset, we just could perceive the players- Batman, Mayor, Mayor’s girl, Commissioner and the Joker simply straight from the series or the prequels. Certainly, I had read so many reviews, forum topics, blogs and opinions; re-watched the film before writing this. They remarkably crafted in such a way that they aren’t ordinary. They won’t do things that normal people would do in normal situations. Refer-
1. You cry for help when the dynamite is set upon you and not ask to help an another victim who is far away, like how Eckhart or Gyllenhall do.
2. You imprison and won’t help a vigilante when you are a cop, as Gary Oldman does.
3. You don’t buy a Luxury hotel for a couple of girls who mess up the fountain, as Bale does.
4. Definitely, you won’t laugh when you are feet away from death if thrown from a multi-storey building, you know who did it.
THE freak himself says that they both (Batman and himself) would make choices that the others wouldn’t. That is one-side of approaching the movie, in its sense. Exploring the movie through its characters makes it more intimate and takes its deal of details we could notice. Closely examining in this perspective, we realise that even the butler and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) behave in a similar fashion. Observe a butler asking a super-hero to “Endure!” and Fox resigning his job, just after a promotion. After all, I would be a crook if I don’t mention the penultimate scene. Didn’t you expect the thugs to press the button or even the civilians for that matter? Nolan, you were robbed at the Golden Globes Sir. I wish you could make it up in the Oscars.

Coming back to our prologue, the Batman is supposed to be the central character of the movie. But it turns out to be that he is reduced of his role in the sequel. It appears that the Joker is the real central character but to me both of them were given equal weightage. The screenplay, as I already mentioned is top notch. It starts off just holding you in terror, till the last moment. It all happens in the eye of yours and the clutches of the clown- Masterpiece of a crime/ dark movie (Note: NOT the superhero genre). The awe and mystery of the movie is in the Joker anyway. The hospital scene, where he sympathizes with two-face is the real crux of the movie. Accompanied by awesome music, his own co-written dialogues in the scene is the ‘matter’ of the whole film. But, for one lie he makes- He says that he doesn’t scheme and the others do, but after all the joker has to. It is astonishing to note that he is the best schemer of the lot. Note:
1. “I want my phone call!” - This is the simplest of the examples of the Joker phenomenon. He had planted the bomb in the phone knowing that he would somehow be arrested that night.
2. “They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper!” - In some scenes the crowd brands the Batman a criminal too. Probably, Batman acknowledges this at the end.
3. It is amazing to carve several layers of a plot inside the same scene as in:
*The pencil trick: He anticipates an attack. Did you think it had no purpose? TA-DA!
*“He’ll find him and make him squeal! I know the squealers when I see them.” - The Dark Knight did it. The man with ‘no name’ knew it.
*“Ah-ta-ta-ta! Let’s not *blow* this out of proportion” - He knows that the goons would try to shoot him. The criminal with a class is prepared for that also.
4. “We really should stop fighting, we’ll miss the fireworks!” - It is a pity if you think he misjudged it. In fact, the sociopath had a remote to blow it off on his own. He is a genius: by that I mean Nolan brothers are, as well.
There are a lot more to see and appreciate, just in this aspect itself in the film. This phenomena starts showing from the opening sequences of the film only: “I kill the bus driver” and goes on till “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.” The Joker is the face of all the terror that wreaks and havocs our daily life. So, is with everyone. As a guy who is socially opressed we try to revolt- in Batman’s cape. Not just that, Harvey Dent is the symbol of the helpless politician juxtaposed with his second role- two-face where he becomes the revenge-seeker. I don’t have to repeat it with Gordon’s case again. In a nutshell, I would say that the Joker knew how it all was gonna end. I mean, the agent of chaos uproots a plan and turns it upon the schemer itself. And, he knows what response that chaotic situation would receive. So, he makes another plan to topple the plan of that someone else who would save the chaos. I believe he has alternatives when this turning plans on itself fails. This chain takes us to the finale. Hereby, he just is not a dog chasing cars. And for sure knows what he has to do when he catches one. As you would know, “It is all part of a plan!” In the name of this post, I sincerely and proudly pay homage to the mighty THESPIAN we had in our times. Hail Heath Ledger. R.I.P.

P.S 1: Please do appreciate and mention Nolan ‘brothers’ wherever. It sometimes hurts.

P.S 2: This actually is a recycled article, which was posted earlier in my personal blog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It is a restless moment. Hong Kong 1962

Wong Kar Wai
Director/Screenwriter/Producer from Hong Kong

The most romantic filmmaker of modern classic cinema who brought his masterpieces during the last two decades. He is famous for his unique style in film making with romantic visuals and sensual themes. He showed his uniqueness in his movies in the Hong Kong Cinema when the gangster and martial arts related movies were famous during the 90s. His movies bring out the emotions hidden deep inside your heart and stay in your memories forever.

He is the first Chinese director to win an award in the Cannes Film Festival and also he was the jury in 2006 Cannes Film Festival. His directional debut movie "As Tears Goes By" released in 1988 was screened at Cannes at that time. He turned the world's sight towards him through his later works like "Chungking Express", "Happy Together", "In the Mood For Love" and "2046". His first english movie "My Bluberry Nights" was screened in 2007 Cannes Film Festival among 22 films.

The notable trademarks in his movie are slow motion shots, jump cuts, too deviated angles in action shots, mood bringing face expressions in characters and especially the hypnotising soundtrack with soap opera. Inspite of his global recognition, he's not famous in his own country because of commercial audience. Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung appear in most of his movies. Cinematograoher Christopher Doyle along with Wong gave a great piece of artwork in the modern cinema. His similar kind of love stories with stylish visuals and poetic script are treat for the movie goers. He's the only one among the directors like John Woo, Ang Lee and Yimou Zhang differing from action genre in Hong Kong Cinema.

Wong Kar Wai is a romantic, sensual, artistic and gorgeous film maker from Asia. He is a man of melodrama who have shown desire, lust, love, dream and all hidden human emotions mixed with colors, opera, moods, nostalgia and darkness inbetween the modern livng and urban alienation in a society. He is another impressive film maker in modern cinema.

"Usually I find that genre conventions get in the way of dealing with certain areas of character psychology, but one of my inspirations for 'Ashes of Time' was 'The Searchers'--a film which suggests how you can get inside an apparently opaque protagonist." - Wong Kar Wai.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Preview- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Terry Gilliam, the craftsman who gave us the brilliant 12 Monkeys and Brazil's latest movie is titled so. The film's huge popularity is solely due to Ledger's shocking demise recently. Plus, we have the box-office boss Johnny Depp playing a major role in the movie. The IMDb page might lend you some insight on the trivia about the film. The post-production of film is underway and we might expect the movie would become a summer blockbuster very soon. We present you the teaser trailer of the movie (with tidbits from Terry's previous movies) -

(Courtesy: Terry's fanzine)

Imaginarium is a moving-theatre run by Dr.Parnassus in London. He entertains the audience through his wit and magic. When he involves in deals with the Devil known as Mr.Nick, he wins some wishes but is cursed as well. This tale of wit, tricks and challenge weaved in fantasy and thrills looks promising. Other important Cast members include Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Andrew Garfield , Lily Cole apart from Jack Sparrow and the Joker. Parallel worlds, evil intervention, black-magic, theatre with the undertones of Dreams, Fatherhood, Good against evil, Deceit from the eyes of Terry Gilliam arouses my interest.

When the official trailers and images release, we would keep you posted. Watch this space.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Harvey Milk

"I am not a candidate, I am part of a movement. The movement is the candidate."

Harvey Milk, a forty year old gay moved to San Francisco from Newyork in 1972 and started his life as a gay activist, fighting for the gay rights, who later entered into local politics and after several failures he succeeded as a San Francisco Supervisor in 1977. He was assassinated by his fellow supervisor Dan White along with Mayor George Moscone after his success and raised voice for the gay rights in U.S.

An inspiring biopic about a person who is the first gay to enter and win an election in american history. Another compelling story about gay activists like "Philadelphia" and "Brokeback Mountain".

A sensational, tragic performance by Sean Penn. I never knew anything about Harvey Milk before. But Sean Penn's performance moved me to know more about Harvey Milk's life. Milk is full of surprise and inspiration. Gus Van Sant have delivered this movie with a best cast having Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Diego Luna and Josh Brolin along with the stunner, disturbing actor Sean Penn.

Every character have been portrayed well to prove their responsibilty towards their role. Gus Van Sant's another artistic portrayal made and presented well in the name of "Milk". 

I'm amazed at the film, maybe not at the content. But still homosexuals are human beings who are struggling for their own rights and still hiding in the closet. This happened 30 years ago, but still they are fighting for their rights. Never mind a human's sexual orientation, consider his destiny. Harvey Milk is a man of words with power to prove his existence in the society. He is impressive, energetic and spiritual.

Now I'm awaiting to watch Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" after watching "Milk".

This must be the best movie of 2008 and Sean Penn deserves more for his performance.

"A homosexual with power-that's scary."

Zenith of Indian Film Noir.

The art of the Thespian who was never won.

People were in the clutches of Industrial revolution, world wars and British rule. Their only mode of rejoicing was the theatres. The drama slowly evolved into cinema and was in its formative stages. Noir or stylish mystery movies, with sexual and emotional themes in the subversive overtones and social life of the people less focussed are one peculiar genre in particularly Black and White movies. Movies like Chinatown (Roman Polanski), Touch of evil (Orson Welles), Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder) have been doing well in the 40s and 50s, which had brilliant expressionist depictions of the frame. In India, it was not that dense and rigid, but well Noir movies were popular in their age. I say this in the vernacular context of Andha Naal (1954), which I believe is a work of art which hasn’t been surpassed by other Noir movies of the period such as Puthiya Paravai, Adhe Kangal, Nootrukku Nooru, etc. And yes, it was the greatest Tamil actor- ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan who played it to perfection in the lead role.

Cast: Sivaji Ganesan, Pandari Bai, Jawahar Seetharaman

Director: S.Balachandar aka Veenai Balachandar

Banner: AVM


The movie draws downright inspirations from Rashomon (Akira Kurasawa) and Citizen Kane (Orson Welles), still manages to be one of the finest movies ever made. Andha Naal is a period movie - first of its kind in the era it was made. It is the product of extensive research and analysis. It happens in Madras during the IInd world war, when South-Asian cities were bombed by the Japanese. The locales and the backdrop are completely new to the audience who had been witnessing mythology and folklore for ages. The style of movie-making provokes deep insights unlike any other Indian movie that released before. It radically changed the way music was used for movies as in the case of its contemporaries which had a minimum count of two dozen songs. The camera angles and techniques used were inspired, but pathbreaking. Montages, voice-overs, flashbacks, deep focus, fade, zoom, rally, recur and the application of gestures in place of the dialogues were critical breakthroughs. 

The story is simple- A detective unfolds the mystery about an Engineer’s murder as he enquires the usual suspects. The perspective keeps changing, which provides interest to the otherwise monotonous script. This murder catapults a series of events, which expand into realms of the social life and conditions of India before Independence. Sets, costumes and dialects are typically portray a Madras which existed in the 40’s. Performances, apart from the obviously excellent Sivaji Ganesan (about whom I’m restricting myself from writing- I’d never stop) never upset us. To quote scenes, there is a speech given by ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan in a students’ consensus. The powerful dialogue delivery, minimal yet apt music and stand still, close-up camera shots in this particular scene are noteworthy. The detective tries to get evidences near the scene of murder in a beverage stall. The juice vendor’s casual dialogues, his striking accent and a realistic set with information about the plays of that days and a small folk number he sings is such a treat to watch. The wit of the detective throughout the movie is remarkable. The convoluted script and the sequence of events that are knit together are masterfully crafted that the dominoes if disturbed spoil the whole design itself. The non-linear fashion of story-telling sure has a reason and fortunately doesn’t end in an ambiguous climax. S.Balachandar, the filmmaker who gave us few other good movies like Bommai has to be given due credit. If anyone told that they could see the end coming, they are lying. 

And all this was astonishingly accomplished 50 years ago. And is yet to be surpassed. Period.