The Dark Knight Rises

So, spoiler free, I hope!

I loved this. As with Prometheus, I’d gone out of my way to avoid trailers, reviews etc, and loved the surprises, the twists and turns and almost all of the characters. There is certainly a lot going on in this film, and not all in the action sequences either.

The ‘Dark’ in the title is definitely explored in the photography, costumes, plot, and character motivations, and the leitmotif of ‘Rising’ is visited several times.

The Wayne/Bane face-off (if you can call it that when both are wearing masks*) is really well done. It can’t really be described as Dark v Light, and I’m not even sure if the old ‘two sides of the same coin’ cliché works, but the connection between the two grows gradually over the course of the film and I did find it really tense.

And I totally squealed out loud with glee twice, once when [don’t worry, I’m not going to say here 🙂], and again when [trust me, I don’t do spoilers but ask me if you want to know!], which made me so glad that I had avoided anything to do with the film before viewing.

Interestingly, there was a short period in the middle where I was a tad bored, but by the end I had forgotten this as it all fitted together nicely. And I wondered briefly whether there were too many villains complicating matters somewhat, but again, it all fitted together, so I came to the conclusion that Nolan had got it just about right.

If I could just nitpick a tiny bit, it’s about the casting and use of Tom Hardy as the pantomime baddie. There have been complaints that, due to the character’s face mask, it was difficult to understand his dialogue. I didn’t have that problem, but I did think he sounded like Sir Ian MacKellen treading the boards as one of the Ugly Sisters. Which was odd. And because the mask covered his mouth, you’d be hard pushed to actually recognise it was Tom Hardy. 

That aside, this is the best blockbuster of the year by far, and a more than fitting finale to the trilogy.

*Yes, I know technically The Batman wears a cowl, not a mask …

Nostalgia de la Luz (Nostalgia for the Light)

The Atacama desert in Chile is home to a series of major optical and radio telescopes, which astronomers use to scrutinise the heavens, look back into the universe’s past, and try to unlock the secrets hidden there.

But the Atacama desert also hides another secret – the remains of Pinochet’s Desaparecidos. In the years of General Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973 – 1990), tens of thousands of people who opposed his political views were ‘disappeared’: taken away from their families and never heard from again.

It emerged that many of the remains were buried in the Atacama desert, the driest place on the planet, and the wives and sisters of these political prisoners still venture out to find and lay to rest their loved ones.

The film manages to finely mesh together these two themes, looking up, and looking down. Both sets of people are searching for evidence of things past, in order to in some way shape their perception or understanding of the present.

It barely scratches the surface of the horrors of the Pinochet regime, but it’s an enthralling film on many levels, and is one of the best I’ve seen this year.

And for once, the trailer captures the film perfectly – in less than 2 minutes. 

 

The Hunter

A man takes on a job to venture out into the Tasmanian wilderness to seek out an allegedly extinct animal.

But this is no friendly, cuddly save the animals plot – this is huge corporate greed which will stop at nothing to get what it wants.  As he searches for the Tasmanian tiger, the hunter (Willem Dafoe), realises that he is not the first to have taken on thie mission, and that his actions are being watched. His experiences challenge him to reflect on his own ethical views, and reach a dramatic decision.

The plot builds very slowly, but by the time the end has been reached, there is only one course of action he can take, and I think most of the audience is with him.

Broken down into actual events, I came away with the feeling that this was orignally a much more complicated plot, oversimplified to maintain a slow pace. Dafoe is well-cast, but for me, the themes were too under-played to have the impact that lurks just under the surface.

7 Días en la Habana (7 Days in Havana)

The description of this as a ‘portmanteau’ film almost put me off immediately. But having visited Havana several years ago. curiosity got the better of me so I decided to give it a go.

Each of the 7 sections of the film is directed by a different person, and takes place on a different day of a week in the Cuban capital.

I noticed some vague crossover of characters between some of the sections but not all, which left me thinking that the sections were more connected that I was actually picking up, so I left with the impression that I had missed something.

And the other issue with having seven different directors is that the weaker segments really do stand out.

I enjoyed being reminded of Havana and some of its ticks and traits, but I left feeling that the directors were trying to best each other with their take on Cuban life.

Colourful, but somewhat underwhelming.