Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Film Review: "In Darkness" ("W ciemności") (2011).

"From the Director of Europa Europa" comes In Darkness (W ciemności). This Polish drama film directed by Agnieszka Holland, adapted by David F. Shamoon, and based on In the Sewers of Lvov by Robert Marshall. Leopold Socha is a sewer worker in Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland. When he finds a group of Jews hiding in the sewers, Leopold agrees to protect them from the Nazis in exchange for money, even though it could mean his death if they are found. Though he is solely motivated by cash at first, their experiences lead Leopold to adopt a different view of the people under his protection. When catastrophe strikes, Leopold is forced into a final act of courage.

The film stars Robert Więckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup, and Kinga Preis. With a magnificent performance and deliciously ripe turn from the cast, especially from Więckiewicz, Holland has unearthed a too-little-known story and presents it beautifully.

In a time when nationalism and hatred fuel political campaigns around the world, the film remains relevant. Perhaps never before (or since) in film history has circumcision played such a pivotal role in a movie's plotline. Yet that's the almost absurdist thread running throughout the film. While in every other Holocaust film the Nazis are depicted as masterful at sniffing out and executing Jews, Socha dodges bullet after bullet with relative ease and immense good fortune. A fresh, incredible story in the way that only true stories can be, it is based on the Marshall's book about Socha's heroics, who survived the War ordeal through a chain of extraordinary events. The film uses the historical background only as a backdrop to the fears and isolation Socha must undergo without dwelling on the evils of the Holocaust. Flawed yet fundamentally worthy, the film peers into the past to tell a fact-based story that remains troublingly relevant today. Though the film doesn't all hang together, Holland finds subtly horrific ways to reveal the truth about the holocaust. Produced on a grand scale, the film sometimes feels over-worthy, making sure the audience understands the historical importance. And the colour-drained aesthetic leaves the story a bit dry and choppy. But it's still powerful. The film deserves plaudits for taking a true story about a sewer worker in one of the most hostile environments on earth, without falling victim to the many clichés of depicting the behind the scenes lives of ordinary citizens onscreen. It is a harsh, masterful film about being wary of the lies being fed to you by your media and your government. Presented in the inescapable grey-brown color grading of such period confections, it is a worthwhile, at times exciting, and ultimately informative effort if perhaps not a great one. Holland makes it clear with this pessimistic, exciting and lucid clash of ideas and stories, of ghosts on one side and the other: there is no escape, both are the same and you do not see a future.

Simon says In Darkness (W ciemności) receives:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

"Show and Tell" Education Protest.

Film Review: "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)

"I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known." This famous passage is at the heart of The Dark Knight Rises. This superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan and the story with David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the third and final installment in Nolan's Batman film series, and is a sequel to The Dark Knight (2008). When Bane, a former member of the League of Shadows, plans to continue the work of Ra's al Ghul, the Dark Knight is forced to return after an eight year absence to stop him.

Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov had hoped a third film would be released in 2011 or 2012. Nolan only agreed to a third film on the basis of finding a worthwhile story. By December 2008, Nolan completed a rough story outline, before he committed himself to Inception (2010). Following the success of the Joker in The Dark Knight, studio executives wished for The Riddler to be included as the primary villain. However, Nolan wanted the antagonist to be vastly different than the previous incarnations and committed to using Bane instead. It was not until February 9, 2010, that it was announced that Nolan had "cracked" the story of a sequel to The Dark Knight and was committed to return to the project. Shortly afterward, it was announced David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan were working on a screenplay. Goyer would leave the project during pre-production to begin work on Man of Steel (2013); Jonathan continued writing the script based on the story by his brother Chris and Goyer. The film's storyline has been compared with the story arcs in the Batman comic book series Knightfall (1993), The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and No Man's Land (1999).

The film stars Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Matthew Modine. The cast gave spectacular performances, especially to Bale, Hardy and Hathaway. Bale gave his best performance yet as the caped crusader. Hardy and Hathaway gave brilliant renditions of Bane and Catwoman.

Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Dark Knight Rises is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy. It is such a crowning achievement, such a visionary use of all the tools of storytelling, such a pure spectacle, that it can be enjoyed even though it is not as powerful as The Dark Knight. If it didn't take a hundred and sixty-four minutes to end the trilogy, it could have been the best movie of the year. However, as it is, it's just one of the great achievements in film history. It is a film, when viewed, that is not even possible to understand this film without knowing the first two. To conclude, this highly dramatic and emotional conclusion to Nolan’s trilogy was masterfully told.

Simon says The Dark Knight Rises receives: