Sunday, October 21, 2012

Where Have I Been?

 
 
 
Though I wish this were the case, it isn't. I have been extrememly busy though. I'm working, schooling, working, and doing more work. (Did I mention I'm working?) Anyway, I have been writing for The Daily Herald's entertainment section--The Ticket. Check out my entertainment ruminations. I will get going again on here when I have a moment to breathe. Promise. Until then check me out here...


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20 years ago....

 http://media.screened.com/uploads/1/14932/513323-batman_returns.jpg
There are movies that seem to cast spells upon the people who watch them. On June 19, 1992 Batman Returns was released. I was 5 years old and I still remember it (however vaguely) to this day. It was my favorite gift come Christmas day and I remember making everyone watch it. I still have the VHS copy and lugged that thing for years to neighbors homes (most notably the Wilkey's) as well as on deer hunting trips (Yes, I was that obsessed with it). Tim Burton's Batman was great, but it was Batman Returns that really got me into the Batman mythos.

The villains, Catwoman and Penguin, had me spellbound (I still sort of have a crush on Pfeiffer's Catwoman) Each was also fairly complicated. I couldn't really hate either one because they were complex, possessing qualities of both bad and good people. But most notably they were "different," from what is deemed "normal" and I think I gravitated towards that (and probably why I gravitate to Batman as well. He's "normal" but also not "normal." Lauded and yet condemned. In the end, he is just trying to do his best and who can't relate to that?).


If I ever get into the entertainment business in either film or television, I know that it's because of this movie. Everything from the soundtrack to the set design  had me fascinated as a child. To me, Batman Returns, was magic--and even now sits highly upon my list (It's my 3rd favorite Batman movie in fact, right behind Nolan's Batman movies). It's influence is not only in entertainment, but in pure inspiration.

At some point, I want to make those kind's of movies (either write or direct). Movies, like Batman Returns, that are so grand and great that viewers don't simply remember it as a fleeting moment, but as a cherished memory. I will be forever grateful for Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Still brings a smile to my face...


To celebrate here are a few .gifs of my favorite moments from the film.

 


 

Note: all of my favorite scenes involve Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.... Coincidence?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Cabin, an Engagement, & Shadows--OH MY! Review Roundup...



In lieu of Deena's recent arrest I thought it was appropriate to include her as a .gif here. I also feel like it reflects my laziness over the last little while regarding this blog. I've completely let all 8 of you faithful followers down. But, I have "NO SHAME!" Time to move on, what's done is done. To further celebrate my laziness I've included 3 reviews in this post... because I have "NO SHAME!" Hope y'all enjoy.

Reviewer's Note: Due to the fact I've been lazy and haven't gotten around to doing these reviews, I'm offering each movie review ONLY in an abbreviated fashion. This is of course temporary and is only being done to get caught up.


The Cabin in the Woods
http://www.10aweekreviews.com/sites/default/files/images/Joss_Whedon_The_Cabin_The_Woods_Gets_Twisted_New_Poster_1322776971.jpg
 BRIEF REVIEW: Though The Cabin in the Woods is certainly not up everyone's horror alley, it is a fresh alternative to the torture porn and remake trends which have gutted Hollywood horror as of late. It breathes fresh air back into the stale genre, while also cleverly turning scary movies on their utterly empty heads. The common elements of the horror movie are intricately woven into the plot of the film. Genre stereotypes and archetypes such as "The Virgin", "The Jock," and "The Stoner" are all on full display and are utilized or recycled, then deconstructed which leads to a reconfiguration as we find ourselves questioning every tenet and value of what is heroic, horrifying, and/or humorous. Yeah, this is definitely on the deep end of the philosophical film pool. Further, the movie is brilliantly paced as every cut and edit is meant to defy the Hollywood narrative structure. You'll find yourself saying, "Wait that's not how it's supposed to be," which is precisely the response it's attempting to illicit. The Cabin in the Woods is a delightful "tongue-in-cheek" gore fest, but does suffer from its own problems as the film's meta-referencing is so vast and deft, that the common movie-goer will find themselves lost at times. This is a movie that may actually require a prerequisite course in Horror Movies 101. In short, its fun, different, and may be the best horror movie (though because it's so different and bends the genre so much it's probably not a "horror" movie at all) of recent memory. One thing is for certain if you're a fan of Buffy, this will certainly be your cup of tea as producer Joss Whedon's blood, sweat, and humor permeate every frame of this flick.
GRADE: B 

http://www.liveforfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Five-Year-Engagement-poster.jpeg

The Five-Year Engagement
BRIEF REVIEW: Sometimes the trailer for a movie not only tells the entire movie, but is also far more entertaining than the film itself. Such is the case with The Five-Year Engagement. At times laugh-out-loud funny, the movie suffers from sloppy pacing while lulling the audience into a stupor of boredom. What should typically be told in an hour and a half, is instead drug out over the course of two very uneventful hours. I struggle sleeping and am probably as much of an insomniac as Christian Bale in The Machinist, however this movie actually put me to sleep. It's so uneven, that it feels at times like a really bad 'SNL' sketch that even Kristen Wiig couldn't make funny. For every funny moment and one-liner, the film has about a dozen truly stupid and lazy attempts at making us laugh. The first act is probably the only place where the film works, after that I'm not entirely sure what was supposed to happen. Of course they work through problems and finally get hitched (sorry for the spoiler, but it's a rom-com what do you expect?). Alison Brie does her best here in a supporting role and truly steals the show. Note to Hollywood: Give Brie more starring roles. In the end, I found myself crawling out of the theater wishing I'd waited for Redbox. It's really just an overlong, "okay" movie. Save your money for other Summer film fare and rent Forgetting Sarah Marshall, truly that was Segel's comedic peak.
GRADE: C



Dark Shadows
http://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/147/MPW-73739BRIEF REVIEW: Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors. Needless to say, I was anticipating this film on that merit alone. Mix in Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, and Helena Bonham Carter and one should expect cinematic magic. Unfortunately, Burton's latest offering seems forced, uneven, aimless, and half-hearted. In deed, Burton seems bored with the material all together. The tone of the piece ranges from comic to dramatic, but does so awkwardly. I found myself wondering if I was supposed to care for the characters. The comic moments certainly are the film's strength. Depp, as always, is on his "A game," and even when muddling through sub-par dialogue and story, he carves out a memorable performance. Bonham Carter (Burton's wife and muse) is similarly great with her cynical personality and snarky sexually-laced commentary. Even still, their performances are simply not enough to keep Dark Shadows from sinking. The story lacks complexity yet still somehow manages to be confusing. Tonally speaking, Burton misses the mark--so much so that I'm still not sure if it was supposed to be comedic or dramatic or neither. The visual splendor and set design present in all of Burton's films was definitely present, however the lack of character development completely kills the film. It's been awhile since Burton has made something I've really enjoyed (Sweeney Todd). The more I like Burton, the less I like him as well. His film's seem either HIT (Ed Wood, Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands, etc.) or MISS (Mars Attacks, Planet of the Apes, etc.) and Dark Shadows is more MISS than HIT.

GRADE: C+ (only because Depp and Bonham Carter are so good)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back to... Blogging



I'm back (not that I've been missed)... I am trying to get back inot the swing of things even if it kills me...


Yeah, it's been a lot like this... If only I could actually catch it.. ;) Anyway,  I have been busy with film, just haven't had time to formally review and report here. I realize my reviews are by now irrelevant to most of you. But in the end I guess I'm really just selfish and do this mainly for me anyway. 

Anyway, here's a preview of the movies I'll be reviewing and posting about. 

  • The Cabin in the Woods 
  • The Avengers
  • The Five-Year Engagement
  • Dark Shadows    

Not to kill any suspense, but so far, I've been pretty displeased with the summer slate. Maybe that can change?

I'll also be writing a tribute to my favorite lady in comedy who bowed out from SNL recently; the incomparable Kristen Wigg.

 



Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games (Review)



BRIEFLY: Though The Hunger Games is well-acted and decently paced, there is simply not enough character development to justify the film which is itself reaching for a sort of young adult gravitas. We come to find in the end that, much like the reality television of today, the characters are disposable with motivations that conveniently yield to the plot rather than reflect the person. Further the dodgy camera work that schizophrenically pulls in and out of focus further undermines any sense of storytelling that director Gary Ross is reaching for. As a non-fan of the series(I haven’t read the books), the film did nothing to excite me for a sequel, but I’m sure that matters little as hardcore fans will certainly flock to the multiplex for this installment and several yet to come.

DETAILED REVIEW: It’s no surprise that The Hunger Games has been adapted for the screen. With Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Twilight carving out their own blockbuster film franchises it was only a matter of time until someone picked up the dystopian novel. The source material has all the makings of an epic: romance, action, death, sacrifice, and did I mention death? The Hunger Games is brimming death, but in the end, as each demise stacks up one after the other, the impact of such violence is lost and dismissed. Maybe this is a societal issue rather than a story issue, but if our society can care whether Snooki is pregnant or not, we should (the key word here being should) hold the capacity to care for death (albeit fictitious) of characters on screen. Couple that with the fact that the deaths are happening to teenagers and in some cases mere children, and I found myself reasoning that the film lacks the story elements necessary to help an audience connect and engage, but more importantly resonate with any character in the film.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the plot of The Hunger Games probably in passing, either from your mother, the cleaning lady Consuela, or your teenage niece. My niece in fact summarized it best, “It’s like in the future and there’s like these 12 districts who send two teenagers into a fight for the death, but only one makes it out.” Indeed, that’s about all you really need to know. Additionally, you probably should know that there is a romance (actually several romances), a few familial issues, and a global government hell-bent on utter control—sounds a lot like the Clinton administration doesn’t it?

In the midst of the story there is our main protagonist, Katniss and her fellow “tribute” from her barren home, District 12. The two have a history, but it’s unclear exactly what that history is until about two hours into the movie. The lack of characterization here really makes their relationship lack any resonance—romantically or otherwise.  

The lone exception to sloppy characterization however, is Katniss played by Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence. As the protagonist, Lawrence plays a powerful, independent, and cunning female. Indeed, the biggest achievement the film provides is its very positive representation of females. Katniss is strong without succumbing to clich├ęs yet also maintains a tender and emotional core that feels authentic rather than pigeon-holed into the so called norms of femininity.

On the other hand Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), slumps around with hunched shoulders and a chip on his shoulder that is more annoying than appealing. I found myself wondering why Katniss would ever wanna make babies with him? I think that for some reason we are supposed to connect with Peeta maybe even sympathize with him, however we can’t because we truly never care about him between he is either pouting or smirking with angst. He is jealous of the far stronger Katniss, something we see in his mannerisms, yet we get bludgeoned with dialogue that restates the character’s non-verbal thesis: “Katniss is better than me.”  

Though the characterization is shoddy, the acting is actually very sound. Lawrence is perfectly cast as Katniss. Lenny Kravitz is spot on as the fashion designer turned motivator, Cinna. Woody Harrelson is similarly great as the has-been hunger games trainer Haymitch. Even Stanley Tucci plays an effective role as the announcer/talk show host with Stephen Colbert’s candor and a Nicki Minaj hairstyle. If there’s one reason to see The Hunger Games, it is indeed the acting.

The biggest complaint is the camera work which is dodgy at best. At times it’s almost like watching one of those “found footage” films like Blair Witch or Cloverfield. But here, it’s far worse as the camera, for reasons unknown to this critic, moves in and out of focus faster than a Tebow Jets jersey at a Manhattan Footlocker. It’s an unnecessary move that proves futile in doing anything other than make it really hard for the audience to understand what’s going on.

Though it sounds like I really disliked The Hunger Games, I must admit that I was overall entertained. It’s a far better effort than Twilight, which it is somehow drawing comparisons to. I did find it at times very exciting, but those were only brief. The social commentary here screams the 21st century where we love reality television and have catapulted mere “nobody’s” into society’s “somebody’s” overnight—look no further than Teen Mom on MTV for further evidence! The film is most certainly trying to tap into that vein and for the most part it succeeds and does for once resonate, at least on the social commentary level.

In the end, the film concludes with a dues ex machina that removes any tension the film was attempting to build. It’s far too convenient (regardless of what happened in the books). I found myself going, “Okay, so what? What was all the hype about?” That’s most certainly never a reaction a Hollywood studio attempting to build a franchise would hope for. Though as previously mentioned, it matters little because the fans have spoken with their wallets and ticket sales are sky high (though still not quite to Dark Knight levels—just sayin). I’ll probably see the sequel, yet I can’t say I want to. Though if anything, seeing Lawrence command the film the way she did may be all the reason I need. I do love that lady.

 GRADE: B-

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

From the Archives... Oscar picking the wrong film--AGAIN!

The Artist won Best Picture... yawn. Will we even remember the movie come 10 years from now? Probably not. I mean we might remember it as the "black-and-white silent film," but it's impact on the film industry at this point is moot at best.

This isn't the first time Oscar got it wrong--Citizen Kane anyone? Just a year ago Oscar got it wrong picking The King's Speech over the far better, more culturally relevant The Social Network. Though it's prbably a little bold to say, The Social Network might prove as revolutionary to our time as Kane was in the 1940's. In each respective case though, Oscar chose the "safe" route.

To further my disdain for Oscar's latest selections, I've turned my focus to the father of dramatic theory--Aristotle. It was he who brought up the idea of mimesis--a way by which good drama is evaluated as it mimics or replicates a representation of reality. Shakespeare took it a step further in Hamlet telling us that good thetre should "hold a mirror" up to the audience and reveal reality. In deed, we like movies because we find ourselves in them. In light of my mulling of Oscar stupidity coupled with the theory of the mirror holding itself to society, I found my review of The Social Network. It seems to echo my words and reinforce the theory of mimesis.

Take that Oscar!

The Social Network Succeeds with Snapshot of a Generation
By: Matt Howard
SUU University Journal
November 2010

A movie about Facebook sounds about as exciting as Katherine Heigl in another romantic comedy.

Yet The Social Network, a film about the founding of online-fixture Facebook, is simply incredible.
Directed by David Fincher of Fight Club, Seven and Benjamin Button fame, The Social Network is without doubt one of the best films of the year. The film is a deft mixture of Greek tragedy, courtroom thriller, college comedy and coming of age tale. Each respective genre is intricately and respectively woven into the plot’s moral fabric.

Based on the true story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, the film explores the consequences of success in our day and age. The very idea of Facebook actually started as a plot for revenge after Zuckerburg was spurned by a lover. He aired his disgust for the girl who turned him down the only way our generation knows how to — by blogging. From there, he took his revenge to new heights and spawned FaceMash, a site which users could vote on Harvard students’ overall attractiveness. In a little over an hour, the site had received a staggering 22,000 hits.

Being the genius that he is, Mark Zuckerburg realized the idea for FaceMash could be added upon and thus Facebook was born.

All the while, Zuckerburg is played by a hauntingly distant Jesse Eisenberg, whose lightning quick wit is mixed with an innocent yet roguish blank glare. He is the complete embodiment of a cunning wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Along the way, Zuckerburg makes and breaks friendships. His best friend and business partner, Eduardo Savarin, played by Andrew Garfield, is his only real friend and yet Zuckerburg throws it all away in order to protect his precious website.

Justin Timberlake plays Napster­­­­­ — founder — turned — Zuckerburg — friend Sean Parker, who does his fair share of bragging and backstabbing to get to the top. His cockiness exudes the one-upmanship of this generation.

The story follows a disjointed time line. Edits switch from present courtroom depositions to past events that lead to the said depositions. It’s abrupt and hard to follow in the beginning, but really adds to the fluidity of the pacing and character development.
In the end, Zuckerburg, like so many of us, is left alienated — relegated to his digital Facebook friends. He is successful, but without true human connection and interactions we are left asking just how successful he really has become.

As far as the social commentary overtones — they are apparent in every frame. For the college generation, which this film is definitely speaking to, it’s as if we are staring into a mirror, finding the ugly visage of instant gratification, fame, fortune and individualism. The Social Network is very much a cautionary tale for this digital age of social interaction and self-induced online obsessive compulsive disorder.
In fact, as I write this review I must admit that I’m logged into Facebook.

The Social Network is so masterful, that some are labeling it the “Citizen Kane of our time.” My response to that can only be answered by borrowing the words from college football analyst Lee Corso, whose popular phrase is, “Not so fast!” Truly, The Social Network is something to marvel at but it doesn’t reach Citizen Kane levels — at least not yet.

Instead the film needs some time to marinate in our minds before we get too ahead of ourselves. For now it’ll have to settle as “The Breakfast Club of our time,” as a film which offers a succinct snapshot of a generation. So move over Molly Ringwald, there’s a new nerd at the table.

At the end of my viewing of the film, a friend posed the question whether Facebook was a fad? I kind of paused and thought about it only to reason that a company with 500 million users, valued at $25 billion dollars, in nearly every corner of the planet except maybe Antarctica, should be relevant for a long time. Undoubtedly someone told Bill Gates his “personal computers,” were fads and look how that ended.
Whether we like it or not, Facebook, like Katherine Heigl romantic comedies, are here to stay.

The Social Network movie poster
  

Miss Lohan is BAAAAACK!

Y'all know I have a love for Miss Mess--Lindsay Lohan. Well, she was on SNL last week and did great (though I was holding out hope for either a Mean Girls reunion or a Parent Trap 2 skit). Nonetheless it was good seeing her back in the limelight. How long will it last? Honestly, I have no idea, but I hope it lasts... She was my generations Emma Stone or Molly Ringwald.

Check out the video... Lindsay+Real Housewives + Disney + Kristen Wiig = MAGIC

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Last Minute Oscar Predictions...

Okay... Captain Procrastinator strikes again. I had this elaborately detailed commentary on the Oscars all mapped out, but school and my current enslavement at the OG has been so "cray cray" that I had no choice but to put off the blog. Regardless, I am ready to throw out my predictions etc. So without further adieu...

 


Best Supporting Actress...
Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Should Win (Matty's pick): Jessica Chastain, The Help
Don't get me wrong, Octavia Spencer was incredible in The Help, but I felt at times that she was more a caricature than a character. Believe me there's a difference. She stole the comedic show, but I felt like Chastain's comedic moments were less "over-the-top" and more grounded in "white-trash" reality. Also, Chastain's moments more fully humanized the story's theme that "you is smart. you is kind. you is important." On the outside she had it all, but inside she was entirely conflicted and I think that made The Help a much better film. Even still, I would not be surprised or upset if Melissa McCarthay of Bridesmaids ran away with Oscar Gold here. She does seem to have the "Marisa-Tomei-in-My-Cousin-Vinnie" factor on her side.  

Best Supporting Actor...
Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Win (Matty's pick): Max Von Sydow, Extrememly Loud &Incredibly Close
I loved Plummer as the 70 year old who finally comes out of the closet. His role is a unique one that defintely goes against his past filmography, however I didn't exactly find his acting that incredible. His "son" in the film Ewan McGregor was far better in my opinion. Von Sydow should win this. His "silent" acting was full of subtle nuances that simply spoke louder than words. Plus I loved, Extremely Loud and thought the acting all around was "Oscar-worthy."

Best Actress...
Will Win: Viola Davis, The Help
Should Win (Matty's pick): Viola Davis, The Help
Hands down the performance of the year and so far this very new decade is Viola's turn as Aibileen in The Help. It would be criminal to NOT see her win. If there was one person I wouldn't mind see winning here, It would have to be Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She took some serious risks that both worked out and made for a memorable turn as the truly twisted Salander.

Best Actor...
Will Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Should Win (Matty's pick): TIE. George Clooney, The Descendants. Brad Pitt, Moneyball.
Okay, I've seen The Artist. It was really pretty good. I laughed and thought overall Dujardin did a great job making a silent film star come to life. Nonetheless, I did feel like the film in general was/is pretty gimicky. If the film wasn't almost entirely silent, I'd say Dujardin nor the film itself would be looked at for any real Oscar love. Both Clooney and Pitt deserve this. Honestly, I'd be completely happy with a full blown tie between the two of them. Clooney turned in his best performance in his illustrious career and Pitt was no different. Honestly how have neither of these guys won Oscars for acting? I mean didn't Clooney play Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin? Joking...

Best Director...
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist
Should Win (Matty's pick): Martin Scorsese, Hugo 
Again, The Artist will win, but I found nothing about the direction worth a nomination. It's gimcky as I said before. Scorses resurrected 3D. Yes, he actually made it relevant for thatres today. It also doesn't hurt that his film serves as a paean to the history of cinema as well.

Best Picture...
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win (Matty's pick): The Descendants
Though Oscar will undoubtedly pick The Artist, I'm still holding out hope for The Descendants. I have no problem whatsoever with honestly any of the other nominees winning. The Help was probably the most talked about film of the year, while Hugo was the most beautiful. Extrememly Loud & Incredibly Close is easily the biggest longshot, but I really enjoyed the film (I've seen it 3 times--oops!). Moneyball wouldn't be a bad choice, nor would Tree of Life. I'm just personally not sold on The Artist, but unfortunately Hollywood is.

Well there you have it... the Oscars start in literally an hour, so we'll have to wait and see how right and how wrong I am. One thing's for sure, I'm really excited. Time for a Bridesmaids awkward dance?




Yup, I just did this right now... I have no shame! Happy Oscar everyone (All 8 of you)... ;)



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where Have I Been?

I'ts been WEEEEEEKKKKKKSSSSS since I last posted. I promise I haven't quit on all 8 of you; nor have I been lazy. Actually life has been super busy. Between now and the last time I posted there's been lots of stuff goin down... I think in this case, words are less effective than pictures and animated .gifs... so I'll tell you where I've been and what I've been doing through the visual medium...

There's definitely been some fist pumpin while watchin J-Shore on Jerzday...

 

I've also been in the club... fist pumpin... Jerz-style

20120219_SatNite_TheMadison_7127.jpg
(I'm dead center, sportin mad facial scruff, a grey/blur striped v-neck, just to the left of
my Ginger Princess aka Kramer)

School has been crazy too, Utah Valley University just decided to have everything due the last couple weeks.



(Honestly, don't let the mountains or pond fool you--this place is a prison.)

My niece, Bailey, is on Juab High School's Drill Team and they competed for State and Region recently... so of course I was there supportin her...

1st at Region...


5th at State...



It goes without saying... she learned all her best dance moves from me...



I've been workin my guts out at The OG...

(That's me (future Academy Award winner) with my very good friend
(future Grammy winner) Keena Casper.
I'm her biggest fan... ask her ;)

A word to anyone who goes out to eat.. If you can't afford to tip... you can't afford to eat out. PERIOD! Servers are paid $2.13 an hour. That hourly pay takes care of our taxes. If you think it's appropriate to tip $3.00 on a $70.00 ticket in which a server has to bring salad and soup several times, while also filling drinks, refilling breadsticks, and assuring your leftovers are boxed to take home, then you're dead wrong--like Ron Paul and his craziness. No worries. There's a place for people who tip terribly... It's called Hell. ;)

Oops, sorry for the rant.. but that's been frustrating.

My Fam has had a lil drama here and there... but nothin that we haven't faced before... There's no photographic evidence but I think we are slowly moving on and up...

(Yeah, I wish this would solve it all, but we'd eat the cake, get fat, and cry more)

I haven't posted most of all, because I haven't seen any movies. I've seen The Grey and that's it over the past 3 weeks. A review on that is coming--PROMISE! Also the Academy Awards are coming this Sunday and my predictions will be posted later this week.

Anyway, please don't worry. I'm back. It's just been a dry spell... Love ya'll.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Review)


BRIEFLY: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a deftly crafted post-modern film that both effectively reflects and evokes the post-9/11 paranoia of America, while simultaneously being a simple story of a family told in the most unconventional Hollywood way. Most importantly Extremely Loud does little to answer all the questions of our world turned upside down on what the main character Oskar Schell refers to as the Worst Day—September 11, 2001. Instead of coming off pompous and preachy it feels passionate—a love note to the American sentiment both in fear and faith of the days that have proceeded since 9/11. Bullock, Hanks, and Davis all are on par, but it’s the silent performance of Max Von Sydow and newcomer Thomas Horn who steal the show. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is probably my favorite film of 2011 and had I seen it last year, it would have been my number one choice. Fortunately, The Academy did see it and tabbed it for a Best Picture nomination.
DETAILED REVIEW: Anyone who knows me knows I do read a lot of books (I’m an English major after all). I’m definitely into the more post-modern and contemporary literature than most other English majors. I prefer the voice of the time and the moment rather than the voice of decades or centuries gone by (This probably explains my affinity for Stephen King instead of Milton or Chaucer). I honestly don’t even remember where I heard about Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, but suffice it to say I’m very glad and fortunate to have done so, because it is not just a stellar book, but probably my favorite book I’ve ever read—yes EVER. It sweeps you off your feet and you can’t put it down. A drug addict would call it ecstasy. A fat person would call it a Big Mac. An anorexic would call it Ex-lax. I however say it’s simply brilliant (like fry sauce and chicken strips—maybe I’m the fat person?).
So with that in place, let’s just say I was very excited to see the book on the big screen. I’ll admit though, I was weary. I mean off the top of your head, name a film adaptation that was deemed better than the book? (And please no mention of Twilight!). Yes, film adaptations are rarely deemed better than the source material. Ask any Potter muggle and even they’ll agree (though I do think Hermoine is far hotter on screen than on the page). Film adaptations seem to “leave out” things for the literary fans. I was expecting that this same thing could happen with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and it certainly did, but the result was not one of dissatisfaction, but quite the opposite. In the end I found the film to be as enjoyable and satisfying as the book—something I certainly wasn’t expecting.
The plot centers on Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) whose father (Tom Hanks) died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Left with nothing more than his father’s empty closet, Oskar seeks to find meaning after his father’s untimely death. He finds a key which he determines must open something his father wanted him to find. Oskar, despite his worried yet seemingly negligent mother (Sandra Bullock), gallivants around the New York to find whether the key actually is a postmortem message from his father. Along the way Oskar meets Abbey Black (Viola Davis), The Renter (Max Von Sydow), and others none of which know anything about the key or Oskar’s father.
Remarkably, the film manages not to slump into some sort of travelogue for New York City. I wondered if we’d see Oskar looking around Times Square or searching for answers at the Statue of Liberty, but fortunately the New York presented on screen is a mysterious one—the real one.  Credit director Stephen Daldry for finding the right tone for a city as iconic as New York and yet making it feel almost foreign and new.
Daldry is no stranger to Oscar fair either with his films like The Hours, The Reader, and Billy Elliot. He has a knack for finding a story that can be both touching and heartbreaking, but most of all entertaining. Extremely Loud is no different having garnered nominations now for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor with Sydow’s work.
What’s most interesting about the film is how Daldry captures the feeling, the genuine sentiment of the dark days that preceded 9/11. We were all in deed a little nervous and wondered if things would be even darker in the days that were yet to come. Would there ever be a “normal?” Daldry projects these feelings in Oskar (who in the book has Asperger’s syndrome, though the film doesn’t clearly define him that way). Oskar wants so badly to understand his father’s death, but to an audience who grew up in such perilous times we find ourselves, in moments of pure catharsis, thinking the exact same things he does (like being suspicious of public transportation). Though Daldry dabbles with the “why,” he wisely sidesteps the answers simply with “It’s not going to make sense, because it’s not supposed to” (that’s a line delivered from a teary eyed Sandra Bullock who subsequently made me teary—Kleenex please?!).
Though I won’t reveal any of the third act of Extremely Loud I will say that is an extremely (no pun intended) satisfying climax coupled with an effective denouement. Oskar finds, something we all know but rarely say, that he isn’t the only one suffering and more importantly he is not alone. Though he can’t completely resolve the death of his father, he has finally developed the courage to move on. Much like the American public (for better or worse) that’s what we’ve done—moved on. Though the plot of the film revolves around Oskar and his family, the story aims higher, becoming a sort of allegory to Americanism in the wake of 9/11—and in my opinion it does it beautifully.
I’m truly surprised that the film has been so divisive among critics (It’s currently at 46% on rottentomatoes.com). Maybe this is more a reflection of the current political landscape, one divided both on war and the economy, than representative of the film itself? Regardless, the other 54% are wrong. It’s a movie that not only “moves” you but inspires you. I know it made me break out my laptop and pound out a few pages on my screenplay. Though one thing is for sure, anyone (myself included) will be extremely hard-pressed and have to be incredibly talented to match the revelatory scope, both in word and image, of this movie. Don’t miss it. It’s the Best Picture of 2011.
GRADE: A

I'm Baaaaaaaacccccckkkk!


Like Michael Meyers in Halloween... I'm back from the (blogging) dead. Reviews are on their way... 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Extremely Brief...

  Tom Hanks Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I just saw Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close... and all I can say is W-O-W! I had pretty high expectations for the film which is based on quite possibly my favorite book of all time, but it absolutely surpassed any expectations I had. I'm confused as to why it was panned by critics (it only has 46% approval on rottentomatoes.com), because quite simply it has quickly risen to the upper echelon of films for 2011 in my eyes. Fortunately, the Academy used their collective brain (kinda surprising considering they snubbed DiCaprio, Gosling, Fassbender, and Theron this year) by awarding it a Best Picture nod, something I didn't see coming. Honestly, this might be the BEST film of 2011... which is saying a lot for someone who really, really, really liked The Descendants.


On a further note, Extremely Loud might be the most important post 9/11 film to date in the way it deals with our universal paranoia and sense of communal suffering in the days that preceded what Oskar Schell refers to in the film as "The Worst Day." We connect with the characters because we were all truly lost striving to understand a world pierced by terrorism.

When I get over what I need to get over, I'll be back to post a more detailed review. In the meantime go see this movie.... Suffice it to say, "I liked it... I really, really liked it!"



 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Taking a Break...



In lieu of recent events that transpired this past weekend (most notably a harrowing stay at the Beaver Lodge), I think it's time to take a little break. Frankly, I'm exhausted. I need a dozen Krispy Kremes, a bag of Chaos chips from Maverick, followed swiftly by a truckload of Ambien. Yeah. I. Be. Tired.

 I'll be back here--just not sure exactly when... Just need to walk a way from this for a bit. Kinda sucks 'cause I think there are now like 7 people who read this and very soon I might have had 8.

sigh...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Most Anticipated Films for 2012...

Yup, here it is... And no there is really no need for a lead-in or introduction... Here it goes...



Seriously? Don't be pissed, I was tacky before I didn't introduce my blog posts. I don't need anyone telling me otherwise--after all I'm the guy who plugs Jersey Shore and Paula Dean's diabetes after all. It's not that big of a deal and let's be real y'all could care less about a "tacky" intro anyway. So without further adieu or personal attacks here it goes...

really for sure this time...

The CineMATTic's Most Anticipated Films for 2012... 

10. Dark Shadows- I look forward to almost anything Tim Burton does. He could make a commercial for toothpaste I'd probably pay to see it. Burton reunites with Johnny Depp (have they ever NOT made a movie together?) and Helena Bonham Carter (Seriously? There's gotta be another actress out there right?) in a film based on the cult 1960's  television series. Dark Shadows has vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, etc. which all seem right up Burton's creative alley. He should definitely be in his weird, quirky, inky black element. Michelle Pfeifer of Catwoman fame also is back with Burton here.

9. The Great Gatsby- Director Baz Luhrmann has decided we need another cinematic adaptation of this classic literary gem (apparently the Robert Redford version wasn't sufficient?). How will Luhrmann breathe new life into the story? He'll be shooting in 3D! The biggest reason I want to see this is to see if Luhrmann can finally subdue his obsession with spectacle and bring a film with heart and story to the big screen. His past film's like Austraila and Moulin Rouge failed here, but did manage to create indelible images for even casual moviegoers. The good news is he has a stellar cast with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire. Still, I'm a little concerned about seeing DiCaprio's massive forehead rendered in 3D but I guess that's Luhrmann's problem.

8. Life of Pi- Ang Lee, the visionary (?) director behind Brokeback Mountain and Hulk (the crappy version that didn't have Edward Norton in it) sets out to film what some say is unfilmable. Based on the wildly popular book, Ang Lee has his work cur out for him, but I surprisingly have a lot of faith in him. I've never read the book, but it is one of those that is looming on the reading list for quite some time. The book author Yann Martel states that Life of Pi is intended to make the reader believe in God. I'm interested to see if Lee takes this route or presents the story with more of a dissonance towards the theological themes Martel suggests.

7. The Cabin in the Woods- Joss Whedon produced this horror film promising it would be "...the horror movie to end all horror movies." That's a pretty big statement (kinda like J.Lo's butt in a glittering G-String), but if he can back it up--more power to him. I love scary movies and really hope someone can breathe some new life into the paralyzed genre. After watching Scre4m this past spring, I've started to doubt any resiliency in the genre (not that Scre4m was bad, I actually liked it a lot. It just didn't bring anything new to the table like I had hoped). Whedon is a fanboy's wet dream. Every comic geek from Tacoma to Topeka to Tampa loves him. He is famous mostly for bringing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to television (one thing's for certain Sarah Michelle Gellar's gottta love him). So I mean every geek has faith in him but this horror geek (ME aka Matty) doesn't quite yet know what to think. I guess I'll just have to wait to see this one...

6. The Avengers- Didn't I just mention Joss Whedon? Oh yeah, I sure did. Though he'll be scrutinized for his producing skills with The Cabin in the Woods, it's his directing that will cement his glory among the legion of nerds. Yes, Mr. Whedon (who has never directed a feature film), is tackling Marvel's crown jewel franchise with The Avengers. It's make or break time for both Whedon, but more importantly Marvel. This is THE film they've been trying to make for years, and now they're finally releasing it. It'll certainly be a big box-office draw, but it's unclear as to whether it'll be too many heroes and spectacle to juggle. Will there even be a story? This is maybe not the most anticipated film of the year for me, but it's definitely the trickiest film of the year and possibly the decade.

5. Prometheus- Ridley Scott returns to space and science fiction with Prometheus. This film started as a quasi-prequel to his Alien film franchise. Over time the film evolved into it's own identity with "nods" to Alien. Still, this is NOT an Alien prequel, at least the Fox marketing department wants us to believe. Regardless, Scott has a stellar cast with Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Noomi Rapace. The trailer looks interesting and really seems to mesh fantasy with fear quite nicely. It kinda feels like a flashback to the sci-fi 80's in fact. We'll see... Maybe Sigourney Weaver will make a cameo too? (Oh, wait this is NOT an Alien prequel--Got it!)

4. Django Unchained- Quentin Tarantino is back. He is such a revolutionary with the unique if sometimes quirky ways in which he tells his stories, that I'm not sure what we'll get out of his latest film. He says Django Unchained is "Not a Western, but a Southern." He is really good at telling us one thing and presenting something completely different altogether. Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds are prime examples as neither was entirely what it seemed. He always has a great cast and this is no different with Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell, and THE kitchen sink... Okay, I'm joking, but seriously everyone is in this movie and that's not a bad thing--not in the hands of Tarantino.

3. The Master- Paul Thomas Anderson might be the greatest director out there today--PERIOD. Yes, he might be even bigger and actually a better storyteller than Christopher Nolan himself (Nolan fan ninjas descending on blog in 3.... 2.... 1....). Anderson is incredibly adept at telling the American experience through various tales: some strange, some normal, but all universally palpable. His films range from Boogie Nights and Magnolia to the darker There Will Be Blood. He can personify even the most alienating character and manages to always do so with deft dialogue and cunning cinematography. The Master stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman who creates a religious sect after returning from the Vietnam War. Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix also star.

2.The Hobbit- Peter Jackson returns to Middle-Earth. He'll have his work cut out for him, but it's Peter Jackson--after all isn't he half Hobbit? I mean, this guy won't let us down, but will have his work cut out for him in bringing the "less-epic" Tolkien story to the big screen. I'm sure some will disagree, but I never found much fun in The Hobbit, but with Jackson behind the lens, I'm quite excited.

1. The Dark Knight Rises- Do I really need to explain? No, I don't think so... If you wanna see some reasons why this is my most anticipated film for the year.... check here and here and here. I think because TDKR doesn't have many words that it deserves a picture... Right?!?



Can't wait... Even If I am a little tacky and a couple people hate me... ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mr. Scott? perhaps...

Aibileen didn't help much the other day... Apparently she isn't really real and can not therefore comfort me at least not physically. I guess the title of her movie "The Help" is just a load of crap--Minnie's sh!#% pie perhaps? Anyway, I've decided I'll turn to the only man who can always muster a smile for me... Michael Scott of Dunder-Mifflin.


Nope, even he's crying... Ugh. Thanks Michael. Anyway, the Most Anticipated Films for 2012 List is coming your way and should be posted late tonight. Look for it (all 6 of you, yes 6 people are actually reading this crap! I couldn't be prouder)...

Now that both Michael and Aibileen have let me down who to turn to next?

L.C.? Kelly Kapowski? Snooki? Ron Paul? Yep, I'm legitimately desperate. Any line with the names "Ron Paul" and/or "Snooki" are bleak at best. Who'd of thought in that lineup or any for that matter that the voice of reason is the 80's teen hearthrob famous for being Zack Morris' on-again-off-again-girlfriend (she was also influential in marketing "mom jeans" to an entire generation).



Yep, this is what it has come too... Cue the Saved By The Bell music... I'm headed to The Max. 

SIGH...  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Need Me Some Aibileen...

I know. I promised I'd be posting a Most Anticipated films of 2012 list very soon (barring an unfortunate OG breadstick incident). No, nothing happened at The OG, but my life recently has been a mess. There is really no way to explain it, but I guess I could try. It's like if Ke$ha and Mitt Romney hooked up, got loaded Charlie Sheen style, and had a baby together that would summarize my life right now--conflicted and reeking of stale Cheetos and Barbasol (actually that sounds slightly better than my life right now). No, I'm not trying to be dramatic or even melodramatic (some have accused me of that already) it's more that I'm frantic.

You see, I'm tired of meandering through life, hoping today everything will change and be so much better. In fact I'm about as patient as a snow cone in a jacuzzi on a sweltering June afternoon. Sooner or later, something or someones gotta melt. I just hope it's not my snow cone (Tiger's Blood's a bitch of a stain to get out of clothes). It's not that things won't get better...it's that they haven't gotten better. Still... they have to right?


Thanks Brad. But seriously, things have got to get better right? Regardless, I need something, anything really. I haven't slept in a while (I think even the cast of "Up All Night" gets more sleep than me) and feel myself turning into the male version of Joan Rivers--obnoxious, decrepit, tired, and in need of a serious face lift.

Anyway, I write all of this only to say that the list is coming (cue Michael Scott, "That's what she said!"), there's just a lot of "life stuff" getting in the way. Hopefully and through various miracles that'll be the case. (P.S. To those who have been praying for my sister I gotta say thank you again. We appreciate your love and support).

I do finally know what I need. I know it's a stretch, like Katherine Heigel sporting brunette locks and a Jersey accent, but I could really use Aibileen "Aibee" Clark from The Help. I know she'd know just what to say and exactly how to say it. As shown below... 


Yep, If Aibileen could sit me on her lap and tell me this and have me actually believe it, that'd make everything go away (except maybe the Barbasol). Sometimes all we need in life is someone to believe in us even when we don't deserve it. Yes, right now I need that...someone like Aibileen.   

Anyway, 'nuff of that. I'm gonna try and sleep earlier tonight. If that fails, and it probably will just like Rick Perry, then I wonder what movie I'll be watching?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

From the Archives... Last Year's Most Anticipated

 2011 is officially in the books and its now time to look ahead to 2012. Yes, we are sad to leave behind cinematic gems like Justin Bieber's Never Say Never and the utter snoozefest Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (seriously I think an episode of Golden Girls is/was scarier. Blanche Devereaux without make-up: absolutely frightening). Yet we move onward and upward--head's held high. There will be no tears shed for Eddie Murphy's failed career comeback and certainly no sadness for Miss Lohan who managed to pose for Playboy but still isn't quite out of jail (I guess she knows how all of Hugh's blond prisoners, leaches, homewreckers, messes, former hot beauty pagaent contestants, milfs, girlfriends feel). Anyway, lets focus on 2012. If the Mayans are right and they always are (they discovered Chocolate!) then this will be our last year of existence. Fortunately Brit has us prepared to (shameless and obligatory Spears reference/gif time) dance 'Till the World Ends.


Oops wrong animated .gif... Hate when that happens. I mean she's got Brit's moves and overall charisma, but I mean she is B---


B-L-L... BIG.... She is big really, really big... I mean other than her being "cruiseliner" size with "love-sac" consistency I see no real glaring differences between her and The Spears... 

Anyway, enough of that banter... I need some Red Bull and a dash of Adderall to keep this blog entry on track. I was saying it's time to look forward. Very soon, barring an unfortunate breadstick mishap at The OG, I will be posting my most anticipated upcoming films for 2012. So, in looking forward I thought it would also make sense to look back--kinda like when Doc Brown sends Marty the letter from the old west when Marty is in the present but not really cause he is stuck in the 50's and has to now go to the parrallel/other Doc Brown because they fudged with the space time continuum and now they gotta reset the whole thing like Joan Rivers face...(you still with me? yeah me neither. Adderall anyone?). Okay, okay that reference went way left field on us.. even Cubs fans favorite turtleneck  Steve Bartman couldn't catch that one.

Instead, let me summarize by saying I thought it would be cool to rummage around suunews.com and pluck an old article from there--particularly an old most anticipated list. I found nothing exact, but did find something worth a post. Thought not a thorough list of my most anticipated films for 2011, it does give you a slight gauge of what I thought might be good. Enjoy... If you're still with me, all 5 of you... (Yes...I apparently have not 4 loyal readers but 5... Thank you! You know who you are).

Movie evaluator reviews TV spots (yeah. let it be known. I NEVER got to write my headlines)
University Journal
February 9, 2011
By: Matt Howard

Who would have thought that in a night when Christina Aguilera flubbed up the national anthem, the Black Eyed Peas flopped during their TRON inspired halftime and the Packers won the Super Bowl that all I could think about was how good the upcoming movie season could be?

Yet, that’s exactly the sentiment I came away with in the wake of my spinach artichoke dip, Mountain Dew-induced Super Bowl Sunday hangover. If the TV spots showcased during the big game are any indication of the success flicks will have this summer then I better start lining up now.

The TV spots for films did exactly what they were supposed to — create anticipation. In doing so, each spot has to show just enough to stick out among the bloated commercial onslaught, while simultaneously leaving much to the imagination. In short they give us a taste of their fry sauce, but withhold the fries, cheeseburger and Coke.

By far the best “fry sauce” of the night came with the TV spot for Super 8. Written and directed by every nerd’s hero, JJ Abrams, the film pays homage to Spielberg films of the 1980s. From its evocative cinematography to its inspiring musical accompaniment, this TV spot is breathtaking.

At times, the advertisement feels like E.T. while I can’t help but feel a dash of Close Encounters of Third Kind and The Goonies love there as well. All I know is that it looks beyond good, definitely great, with the possibility of being epic. I wonder if Abrams will go way nostalgic by throwing in some “truffle shuffle?” I certainly have my fingers crossed.

Another reason for my excitement is the presence of coach Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights fame, leaving me to proclaim that Super 8 simply “CAN’T LOSE!”

Okay, enough of my Super 8 obsession. The night was full of other movie spots. Surprisingly, the new Transformers actually looks exciting. After Revenge of the Fallen’s missteps with “Robot Heaven,” Optimus Prime sized plot holes, and Megan Fox not being near as sexy as she was in the original, I am left with no reason to see a third explosion-filled foray. Yet, the Super Bowl spot completely has me salivating. Dark and gritty are the best adjectives to describe the new Transformers flick.

Hopefully director Michael Bay has learned from his mistakes and is prepared to deliver a genuine cap to his trilogy. As for Shia, please don’t mess this up like you did Indiana Jones. Ruining franchises is career suicide — ask Jar Jar Binks.

The 2011 summer movie season looks to be saturated by superhero films. Marvel is releasing both Captain America and Thor. DC is releasing Green Lantern. None of the superhero movie spots did anything to differentiate themselves from one another. However, Captain America’s World War II setting does seem the most interesting. Nonetheless, Thor has Natalie Portman

Also looking to invade movie theatres this summer is aliens. Battle: Los Angleles and Cowboys and Aliens, look to terrorize and entertain as well.

Cowboys and Aliens has Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) as its stars, while Battle: Los Angeles has Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). While I must say Dent could take Bond any day, I have to go with Solo in the end. Similarly, I must say that Cowboys and Aliens looks slightly more interesting than Battle: Los Angeles, like a sequel or rehash of alien epic District 9 — which isn’t exactly a bad thing.

Near the end of the game, we finally caught a glimpse of Captain Jack Sparrow back in action in the fourth installment of the wildly successful Pirates franchise. As excited as I am for this film, the TV spot did little to inspire me. Instead of giving me that “fry sauce,” all I got were stale crumbs. In fact, I actually lost interest in the film after the TV spot. Depp and devoted Disney fans like me deserve more. Hopefully, the film is far better than the commercial or else this film may end up not on “stranger tides,” but “bankrupt beaches.”

Unlike Fergie’s halftime howling, the TV spots were actually worth my time. And for the most part the movie commercials played their tune correctly — something Miss Aguilera certainly couldn’t do. Hopefully this was a sign of a summer movie season akin more to the Packers and less to the Cavaliers.

Check back real soon (all 5 of you) for my list of the Most Anticipated Films of 2012...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nolan and 'The Batman Canon'...

The more the weeks pass and the seasons change (Utah’s still waiting on winter), one thing seems to be undeviating at the megaplex--the collective anticipation for Christopher Nolan's final Batman foray in The Dark Knight Rises. The movie has sold out at IMAX theatres in major markets for the midnight showing—and we still have 7 months left. Someone could conceivably conceive a child and give birth days before the film even flickers on the projector. That’s pretty amazing. Further, people actually applaud after the trailer is shown--an absolute rarity of which I have never seen (except when Tosh rips trailers on his show, but obviously that's different). Probably not since the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has there been such "foaming-mouth" eagerness for a film.

Will it live up to the hype is entirely different than can it live up to the hype? And let’s be honest, this hype is something far different than what we generally consider ‘hype,’ even at the movie theatre. Sure there was hype when Kim Kardashian got hitched. There was similar hype when the new iPhone debuted. Yet, none of that compares to nerdgasm of anticipation welling in the minds of comic geeks the world over.

Though Batman Begins was a great film, it wasn’t until The Dark Knight the bar was truly set. Some refer to TDK as the greatest comic book film of all-time. It’s honestly not even debatable. Ledger’s performance, the stunning cinematography, the post-911 sub-text, and the Best Picture snub (Interestingly, the Academy expanded the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 after effing Nolan over).

It’s easy to deduce that crafting a film that surpasses its predecessor (TDK) is the real Mission: Impossible come this July. Though it seems all hope is lost, there is hope—which is at least well hopeful. The wild card in all of this is Mr. Nolan who has molded an already epic Batman film duo with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and one can only assume that his finale is as good as the near perfect predecessors. I'm also sure that with yet another post about TDKR and Batman all my readers (yes all 4 of you if you count my sister's dog Daisy) are tired of the exhaustive Caped Crusader coverage. I'll admit it, I'm obsessed. But I'm not going to stop; doing so would be the blogging equivalent of asking Paula Dean to abstain from cooking with butter. Yeah, not happening anytime soon.

This blog entry though is about why I think Mr. Nolan is set for not only succeeding, but surpassing previous entries. Yes, I’m honestly going on record saying The Dark Knight Rises will be the BEST Batman film Nolan has made--and really this reasoning comes simply after viewing the trailer. Yet, the reason for such confidence in this statement is simple: The comic book source material.

I’m sure some of you (all 4 of you) are shaking your heads in collective confusion. Let me explain with what my High School art teacher Kristy Carter used to say, “Always, always, always show with image what can’t be said with words." Thanks Kristy, she also taught me to both love and loathe Enya.

As a comic book geek myself, I admit that most of what I say will not be understood—kinda like when I took Calculus in high school (Thank Bob for Mr. Marelli). Nonetheless, and in the words of Batman himself, “stay with me…”

In the comic book realm, Batman and his extensive lore can be boiled down in what are typified as being the “Batman Canon.” Made up of three graphic novels, the canon is influential in covering Batman in three distinct points of his life. The three graphic novels are Batman: Year One, Batman: The Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Returns.

Batman: Year One, much like the film Batman Begins portrayed Bruce Wayne/Batman in his earliest stages, exploring the “why” and “how” Batman does what he does. Nolan was very influenced by Batman: Year One. It helped set the framework for Nolan's hyper-realistic take on Batman.

          


Even the poster/cover of each work is eerily similar. Further, Batman: Year One and Batman Begins is integral to showing how and why Batman and James Gordon come to trust and work with one
another.

  


Remember this scene in the film, when Gordon tells Batman about the Joker? Well, it actually came from Batman: Year One. It worked so well, Nolan plugged it into his franchise. Batman wouldn't be the same without it...

  

Though the death of The Wayne's is nothing new to Batman lore, it's hard to argue that Nolan didn't entireley rip his scene from the comics. The positions of both Bruce and his parents in each are identical. Each evokes an identical feeling of just how lonely Bruce has now become--a lonelieness that will forge him into The Batman also known as The Dark Knight...

With the sequel The Dark Knight, Nolan turned to Batman: The Long Halloween (Spoiler alert from here out, ye be warned). In The Long Halloween, the mob led by the Falcone crime family hire the villains of Gotham (Joker, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, etc.) to do their dirty work and keep Batman at bay. Sound familiar? It certainly sounds like a synopsis for The Dark Knight doesn’t it? Also in the book is the two-faced personality of Harvey Dent, which again is prevalent in TDK. Check the visual similarities below…

  

Though not entirely similar both poster and cover do share some similarities. Notice the blue hues in each.
  

Obviously Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister looked no further than the source material for TDK.

 
Yes, Two-Face is pretty much the same in the comics, but in both TDK and The Long Halloween, they're almost duplicates of one another, like those twins from SisterSister Tia and Tamara (seriously, nobody can tell the difference).



Anyway, I think you get my drift. Nolan was heavily influenced by The Long Halloween.

Now comes The Dark Knight Rises, set 8 years after the events of TDK. This makes me think that Nolan will tackle arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time—The Dark Knight Returns. He is literally going for it all--like Charles Barkley at a Krispy Kreme. He’s biting off a lot more than most directors could chew, but remember this is Nolan. I Believe in Chris Nolan. You should too. How could he top The Dark Knight? Well, he’ll start by at least emulating the core canonical source material. Though the film isn’t out yet, we do have the trailer. Check out the similarities...


  

Hmmmmmm? Doesn't that look interesting. Honestly though, neither character is the same. The comic book character is the leader of 'the mutants,' while the other is Bane. Coincidentally, each is a leader of a band striving to overthrow Gotham. When the original pictures of Bane were released, some nerds complained, but if you look at what Nolan might be going for it makes a lot of sense. Even the colors in both images are similar. Could this simply be a mere coincidence? I really don't think so.

  

I'm right, Riiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttttttt?

  


You'll have to look close.. real close, but it seems Nolan is replicating the "worn-out" Batman look found in the comic. Though Christian Bale is sans mustache, they both have a similar frazzled demeanor. Neither looks ready to "save Gotham." They both look flat out wore out and frankly tired. Nolan didn't randomly set The Dark Knight Rises 8 years after TDK  just for kicks and giggles. He did it to emulate what's been done in the comics. Oh, and just a slight possible spoiler, but if Nolan is following The Dark Knight Returns story well be prepared for a funeral in Rises--well kinda. ;)

 

More similarities? Yes, each is THE Batmobile, but look at what Batman's got in Rises...




Okay, I think I've used plenty of proof here to show that Nolan, with his three Batman films, is seeking to create the film version canon of the comic book source material. If this is the truth, I see no way he can't succeed.



Oh, and what about this scene from the trailer? Where could Nolan be "plucking?"





Hmmmmmm? I wonder if maybe this could be where we are also headed?

But that's a subject for another blog and another time. You know this aint the last Batman blog...