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Good Knight

The Dark Knight Rises has finally brought a shuttering conclusion to Nolan’s beloved Batman trilogy, and the legacy it will leave behind will overshadow and dissuade all new comers to revitalize the franchise as the bar has definitely been set not only for the cape crusader but also for every comic hero’s cinematic Hollywood blockbuster treatment. For what differentiates Christopher Nolan’s interpretation from the others in this genre is that it’s a reflection of our dark and disturbed times, hopes and fears, thereby elevating it to “art” and not just mindless disposable entertainment. I mean the cinematography alone is worth the price of a ticket.

Since the teaser trailers Batman fans all over the world have been chattering endlessly about the outcome and unveiling of the rival, Bane (Tom Hardy), and from which of the numerous graphic novels and lore the Nolan Brothers would derive from. Well I’m here to tell you I don’t know cause I’m no fucking Batman nerd but Tom Hardy gives a menacing performance with even more marbles in his mouth than Batman – and near impossible act to follow in Heath’s Joker.

Also with Bane we are introduced to the highly anticipated, and every boys’ wet dream, Catwoman. Now, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed when Anne Hathaway was first cast…I was fucking pissed! Almost as much as when they had to replace Katie Holmes with slouchy Maggie Gyllenhaal. But at least back then Katie was probably deeply devoted to Scientology and dressing fashionista Suri. Anyway, Hathaway didn’t exactly set the screen on fire straddling a bike in her black skintight suit, but with Bale’s acting chops there was a semblance of chemistry – though she seemed more into her roommate.

Marion Cotillard with her french peepers is seductive as always until she get’s behind the wheel…and Joseph Gordan Levitt’s mystery role is all what we suspected. But it’s really Christian Bale’s portrayal over the years – from Batman Begins to now – that makes this trilogy respectable and not even comparable to Tim Burton’s version (with 3 different actors playing Batman) which now in retrospect lacks any credibility because Batman is serious business to many of us and Gotham is a state of mind.

It was not as sad as the Toy Story trilogy end but comes a close second – and only because it concluded pretty much the way every other superhero movie ends (most recently The Avengers) where the hero not only saves the world from a ticking time bomb but then saves face by putting the costume aside opting for an auspicious beginning. Hopefully Christopher Nolan will do the same and won’t be tempted to make an Inception sequel.

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Double O Oldham

Why is it that American movies have yet to create a espionage thriller comparable to them Brits? (Don’t even get me started on rock & roll!) Everything from The Third Man, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold to James Bond. As for our homegrown we just have Jason Bourne, The Good Shepherd, and Tom Clancy. If only Norman Mailer finished writing the conclusion to Harlot’s Ghost….

I guess the fact is cloak and dagger tactics don’t bode well in cow towns like Boise, Idaho or Shaftsbury, Vermont, whereas any village in Europe is a ripe setting for assassination plots and double dealings. Besides, I can’t imagine a spy with a hillbilly accent. But at least we have a lock on the detective genre. I mean just look what them fucking ‘tards are doing with Sherlock Holmes! And so the latest import by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, breathes new air into the genre even though it is mainly shot in a claustrophobic soundproof think tank called “The Circus” with a bunch of suits huddled around a table smoking fags giving each other the stink eye.

In the eye of this quiet storm is recently dismissed into retirement British Intelligence Officer, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) who looks around this poker table trying to figure out who the KGB mole is or in other words, bluffing. But as the the old poker saying goes, “if you can’t spot the sucker around the table then you are the sucker.” Much of course is owed to John le Carre seminal novel though the adaptation seems a bit muddled probably due to compression and trying to weed thru the subterfuge and decipher all that spy stuff, code names, and operations – one can easily become disorientated with what the fuck is going on.

(Benedict Cumberbatch – the real Sherlock Holmes)

But if you are familiar with the Cold War climate during the late 50’s and 60’s and the infamous Cambridge Five which are somewhat loosely represented in this film by a very motley looking crew comprised of Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Truman Capote, and Ciaran Hinds then you will go with the flow of things and begin to admire the amazing cinematography, direction, and set design. I never thought it possible that seeing a room full of file cabinets, desks, reading lamps could look so beautiful. Not to say Gary Oldman’s performance wasn’t admirable but he was definitely the antithesis to his cop persona in The Professional. He didn’t even utter a fucking word until about 20 minutes into the movie! I mean I thought I was in the wrong theater and mistakenly turned homo and sat in on The Artist. All kidding aside, Gary’s character was methodically subdued and like a Bobby Fischer assigning the pieces on this chessboard only to find that his opponent was not them Ruskies but his whore of a wife.

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Inception Intervention

Well, I can’t tell lies, ’cause they’re listening to me. And when I fall asleep, bet they’re spying on me…” – Cheap Trick

After a slew of lame blockbusters since last summer’s Star Trek, Nolan revives a “new hope” among audiences that commercial entertainment can be fun again. Inception, proving to be a crowd pleaser for even those with a brain, starts as a complex plot of exposition and rules in a world addicted to shared dreaming and those in the business of dream thieving when Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a pro at exploring and extracting secrets through the subconscious, is hired by Saito (Ken Wantanabe) to infiltrate and sabotage his corporate rival Robert Fischer Jr’s (Cillian Murphy) mind though the theory of “Inception.” Cobb, should he be able to complete this convoluted dream mission, accepts when promised his freedom and to be reunited with his children – currently in his “Father’s” (Michael Caine) custody (who speaks British unlike anyone else in the fam). As this all star cast continues with accompanied dashing point man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a charismatic forger Eames (Tom Hardy), and a prying, know-it-all, student architect Ariadne (Juno), this sci-fi turns full into the ultimate heist through a maze of multilevel dreams, and a series of kick queues. However problems soon erupt when Jr’s dream goes into autodefense mode and Leo washes up on Shutter Island again and is haunted by his over possessive, desperate, dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who also makes a comeback as Edith Piaf.

Sound confusing? As Winston Churchill said in a 1939 radio broadcast, just a few weeks after England declared war against Germany, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” And one of the keys to this conundrum of a movie is the number 528. Kidding. I’d hate think that unlocking the code to this movie comes down to some quasi mathematical frequency or equation or even worse, numerology, (I mean try sitting through Jim Carrey’s The Number 23!). But if 528/Love is at the heart of the matter, then it’s just yet another similarity to The Matrix. I say, if both Neo and Cobb’s dilemma and motivation is sacrificial love then that’s just pathetic. Churchill was right, I say fuck Mother Russia and let the Cold War begin!

Like No Country for Old Men, a man would have to put his soul at hazard and like Sheriff Ed Tom Bell say, “O.K., I’ll be part of this world…” And in this world Nolan creates a notion that turns into a concept and then an idea that grows into a virus that is resilient and hard to eradicate. So maybe just take a leap of faith and go along for the ride.

“You’re waiting for a train to take you somewhere.

You hope you know where the train takes you,

But you aren’t sure if it will go there –

But it doesn’t matter because you are together.”

Either way in the end is the glass half full or half empty?

I say it’s half…

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