Michael Caine

Quills

Year: 2000
Directed By: Philip Kaufman
Written By: Doug Wright

RYAN’S REVIEW

I studied history in college and during one year took an entire course on The French Revolution and then another on the Napoleonic Era. I had a very enthusiastic and talented teacher and it was one of my favorite courses throughout college. The French Revolution was nothing short of insane and as we progressed through the semester each day was like going in for another chapter to a story that got crazier by the day. It was in that class that I first saw a clip of this film. Our professor showed it to us when we discussed the real Marquis de Sade. Being the movie enthusiast that I am, coupled with my sincere and serious interest in the class, I went out and bought my own copy. This film has been part of our collection for a very long time but isn’t watched that often. It’s never been a film I loved but I find the performances in the film impressive and it gave me the one and only “Q” within our collection giving us at least one film for every letter in the alphabet.

Anyone who wants to say the world is going to hell these days need only look to the past to see that they know nothing of hell. The world is as it always has been but people love to think that when they were growing up that everything was perfect but more often than not that is not the case. Take today for example, in an era when women can discreetly read obscene books like 50 Shades of Grey on tablets and sales sky rocket. It could be said that the success of such a perverse novel could suggest that morals have gone out the door. Yet a movie like this shows us that there has always been a market for perversion in society. The Marquis de Sade was a very real person whose works left a significant mark that will always be remembered in certain circles. He’s not a historical character I have ever cared to research but I am aware of his notoriety.

As the Marquis de Sade Geoffrey Rush gives a performance worthy of the Academy Award nomination he received. I don’t care for the level of perversion in this film, which is all the work of Rush’s character, but you can’t help but marvel over the acting. Rush is a terrific actor who I think wasted too much time at the behest of Disney and those silly Pirate films. He did that for his kids though and I think that’s pretty cool, I just didn’t care for that franchise myself. Nevertheless Rush is a fantastic actor who delivers an impressive performance in this film. As the Marquis he is unrelenting and devious to the most ultimate level. His wit is matched only by his desire to create chaos. His success in creating chaos is the product of his perseverance. It’s as if the devil himself is within the man pushing him to insight the masses and further the madness engulfing the revolution.  He is not the only great actor in this film though.

I have long since been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix despite how strange the man is in his personal life. Phoenix is the type of actor who can make you believe, but he is also the type that dances on the line of life far too much. I have literally feared for years waking up to an overdose story in the news about Phoenix. That hasn’t happened and he might be a completely different person these days for all I know. I hope I am wrong in that impression because I think Phoenix is one of the best there is out there and would hate for him to follow the footsteps of his brother River Phoenix. He delivers a great performance in this movie but he does that nearly every time he takes the screen no matter what kind of role he is playing. In this film he takes what might have been a simple role and brings something extra to it. He has an ability to convey so much more than he can do with just words. In his character you can see his longing and the internal struggle he has within himself. He a strong character haunted by temptations he uses the resolve of his character to resist.

In the role of the lead actress is another fantastic performer in Kate Winslet. Winslet has always been on a level above her peers and not vain enough to force another impossible figure on society. What I have always loved about Winslet the most is her honesty as an actress. I love her character in this film the most because while she s the vessel for the Marquis she is still the most innocent of the characters. She is curious and mischievous in a manner that befits a young lady who is simply testing the waters but she never really does anything wrong. She is the object of the Abbé’s lust and the reason for his tormented internal battle. Her affection for him isn’t wrong though, she isn’t bound by the laws of God to maintain celibacy. She may find the Marquis work interesting but she never acts on any provoked desires herself. Nevertheless it is always the innocent that suffer in these situations as she is the victim of a simpleton who is provoked by the perverted works of the Marquis. It is tragic what happens to her. Those who blame her and allow it to happen are far more evil than any of the crazies in the asylum. She made mistakes but she was just a foolish girl and didn’t deserve what happened to her.

Michael Caine is one of my favorite actors but this is easily my least favorite role he plays. He is top notch in the part, of course, but this character is so wicked. The fact that he can play such a part only shows his range as an actor. As Dr. Royer-Collard he is hard and prudent, but his anger comes from his own hypocritical nature that he keeps in the dark. The man that his young wife sees during the night is the man that he hides from the world as he administers his harsh justice to the insane and perverse. His cruelty comes from his own hatred for who he really is and like all people of that nature he indulges in his desires despite the image he tries to put. A man like the Abbé whips himself to purge away the evil thoughts; the good Doctor simply applies that torture to the victims at his disposal.

If I remember correctly my professor in college said that this movie was a great example of the Marquis and the time period it was set. The only discrepancy I recall was that in the film Napoleon is shown, in typical English fashion exaggerating his lack of height, but Napoleon’s rule did not correlate with the days of the Marquis. Given the opportunity to touch on Napoleon I would like to bring up his portrayal in this film. There is a camera shot at one point from under his chair to show his feet dangling as a suggestion that Napoleon was really short. While Napoleon was by no means tall he was of average height. The common misconception about his height came from the way he was depicted by the English during his conquest. They needed something to criticize this man that beat the pants off of them every time battle was joined so the caricatured as a borderline midget. In history we know that the victors are the one who write the history thus Napoleon is remembered a short tyrant. While we have great historical documentation of Napoleon’s rise to power and rule the British ideas about him still dominate how he is depicted culturally. Napoleon did lose, but it took probably the greatest joint effort ever by an entire continent to stop him, and even then had he had the proper resources he may have won at the Battle of Waterloo. It’s been 10 years since college so don’t quote me on my memory but I would encourage anybody to research Napoleon themselves. As interesting a man as the world has ever seen.

I have owned this movie for ten years or more and never in that time have I ever suggested or recommended it to anyone. This is a terrific movie for anybody who wants to see powerful performances from great actors but a horrible movie for any tender hearted soul. This movie is as vile and perverse as anything I own. I own it for what I think to be very reasonable circumstances but otherwise I think it may sit on my shelf unwatched till the end of time now. I think the movie would be worth the time of anybody bold enough to sit through it but I can’t foresee any reason why I would ever watch it again and won’t suggest that you give your time to it either unless there is a specific reason to do so.

NEXT MOVIE: Rain Man (1988)

The Prestige

Year: 2006
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Priest (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

After Christopher Nolan knocked our socks off with the start of a brand new Batman franchise in 2005 he immediately followed it up with this little nugget. A film with a spectacular cast, a story that kept us guessing the whole time, and an ending that blew us away. This movie, more than any other at a time when I was just learning who Nolan was, convinced me that this guy was for real and somebody to keep an eye on. I had yet to see Memento at that time, and while I had seen Insomnia I gave it little thought and made no connection. In 2006 I was young and eagerly looking for a new favorite filmmaker two years removed from both Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino disappointing me in the worst of ways. There were the Coen Brothers of course, and I liked several others as well but this movie officially ushered in a new player to the ball field.

Christopher Nolan is not my favorite director today but he is part of a handful of directors I am always excited to hear have something new coming out. Nolan is a smart director who keeps his filmmaking crew together for most of his films. That continuity, as much as his mind and capabilities, goes a long way in making his movies a head above the rest. I have recently been disappointed by Nolan as I thought Interstellar was painfully awful. However I still have faith in him despite that long and uneventful film I anticipated so much. There are people out there who have the audacity to call Interstellar great but they are only lying to themselves. That movie was garbage, but Nolan’s prior track record speaks for itself. This movie was awarded to Nolan over others because Christopher Priest, the author of the book, specifically wanted him. Nolan took it and hit the ground running to produce another good film in the downtime between the groundbreaking and moneymaking giant of his Batman franchise. Aside from his Batman films, Nolan’s movies are typically the type that make you think and will keep you guessing. What better story to do that with than one about magic and illusion? As we come to the actual prestige of the movie what we find is not only shocking and surprising but a haunting reality for both magicians.

This movie also played a big part in my becoming a fan of Christian Bale. Bale had been around for some time but I had never given him any credit until after I saw Batman Begins for the first time. I still wondered then if he was just good in that particular movie but this film proved he could do more. Bale has since gone on to achieve even greater success over the years but I will always remember this role as the one that officially caught my eye and made me realize his potential. In this film I couldn’t get over how awesome it was simply to see Batman and Wolverine on screen together. This movie came out the same year as the ultimately disappointing X-men Last Stand, but it wasn’t Hugh Jackman’s fault that movie sucked. Jackman is always great as Wolverine and I thought he was great as the charismatic side of the two feuding magicians in this film.

The rivalry between Jackman and Bale in this movie progresses into darkness early on. Their hatred and competitiveness drive the intrigue of the movie as much as the mystery of their magic does. As each man raises the stakes the audience edges closer to the edge of their seats. Ultimately the climax of this feud is satisfyingly dark and perverse with neither of the two winning but only destroying one another. Magicians and showmen who become what they practice are such interesting men. The pressure on the showmen like Jackman to continue to impress and keep the audience interested can drive them to dire straits. Then there are the true wizards, like Bale’s character, who have an early understanding in how to fool the entire world with an act that is always on. Magicians have to keep you guessing and a movie about them has to do the same.

As good as Jackman and Bale were in this movie their performances are made even better by a stellar supporting cast. In the sunset years of his career Michael Caine only seems to shimmer brighter. An obvious favorite of Christopher Nolan, Caine has been able to stay in the spotlight with great parts in most of his films. I am a huge fan of Caine and love every opportunity to see him on screen. He has an aged dignity and air of respect to him that often reminds me of my own grandfather who is very endeared to me. They are the exact same age and while they don’t look or sound anything alike it’s about the way they carry themselves and the presence that they hold that make me connect the two.

Andy Serkis plays an important part in the film and for once we actually see him, as opposed to simply his movements and voice via motion capture suit. Serkis is one of the most talented actors out there that nobody ever actually sees. He has an extraordinary talent for acting in the advanced technologies of the modern movie era. Among his resume are roles like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series, King Kong in the 2005 remake, Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes franchise, and he will be adding a new one at the end of this year with a role in J.J. Abrams new Star Wars film. I once saw a behind the scenes look at Serkis performing in the motion caption suit as Gollem on the set of the second Lord of the Rings film. It was like more than ten years ago when I saw it but to this day I still marvel over watching him perform that scene. An incredibly talented actor who has such unique skills. It’s nice to see him in the flesh now and again though. In this movie he brings an eerily creepy character to the film that adds to the intrigue of it all.

The part Serkis plays is the main assistant to a real life man of mystery, Nikola Tesla, played by a man who himself is oddly mysterious, David Bowie. As an undertone to the movie is the battle of minds that went on at the time between the electrical pioneers of Thomas Edison and Tesla. I know little about both of these men in truth but this movie does motivate me to look into the real history. Seems like there is a really interesting story there that I missed out on along the way.

I suppose it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Scarlett Johansson plays a significant role in the film. She is a very beautiful actress but I have never really felt there was anything that set her apart from say Piper Perabo who plays a smaller yet equally as important part in the movie. Johansson has found much more success than Perabo but I tend to think this is the work of agents more than it is talent. In the movie industry pretty faces are a dime a dozen and at the mercy of whatever popularity they can mustard in the years given to them. The window is short when time is the enemy of what keeps you in the spotlight. I find most people consider me crazy when I mention not being a big fan of Johansson. I don’t really know what it is but I just don’t see it. I tolerate her in the Marvel films as Black Widow but I can’t even get behind her in a role like that. There is nothing wrong with her performance in this movie, but I just don’t see her as anything more than a pretty face. However, that being said, this film can only be considered a success for her.

This is a really cool movie but I don’t love it with multiple viewings like I do most of my favorite movies. I don’t think that has anything to do with the film though and everything to do with its content. Magic and illusion is an art that is only really effective the first time. The more you see it the more you figure it all out and the excitement is gone. This movie is a terrific film to watch for the first time. The intrigue will draw you in and the climax will knock you back a few steps. This movie is important to me because it got my attention and encouraged me to see more from Christopher Nolan. It’s not his best but at par with what he is capable of and the par for Nolan is a step above the norm for the rest. This is an interesting movie with terrific performances and great all around effects. It is more than worth your time to see and I think it’s one anybody will enjoy.

NEXT MOVIE: The Princess Bride (1987)

 

 

 

Inception

Year: 2010
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie hit theaters back in 2010 Amber and I were front and center, eagerly waiting to see it.  I distinctly remember sitting there thinking about how I really had no idea what this movie was actually about.  The advertisement was specifically vague and didn’t offer much insight into the plot.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what it was about though.  It was the new Christopher Nolan movie and it was going to be awesome.  With Nolan, the fact that it is going to be awesome is practically guaranteed. Needless to say, the movie was awesome and I went on to see it in the theater three times overall. That’s a steep number by today’s standards but it says something about how incredible the film is.

This movie hits on all levels.  It’s made by one of the best in the business; it has an outstanding cast, and a story that is truly original in a time when original ideas aren’t hitting the big screen. This movie came out when 3D ruled more than any other time.  For this movie to be so visually dazzling without that effect says more than can be put into words about the director.  Christopher Nolan has been on the rise for some time and this was to date the best he has done. As for the 3D effect I will say this, it was badass when James Cameron did it but everything else has been only a waste of time.  Nolan is a director smart enough to know that and he specifically doesn’t use it in his film.  Clearly, he doesn’t have to. In this movie he made something that can’t be matched, and the scenes without gravity are truly incredible.  Nolan also has an interesting ability to convey violence without actually showing it.  This ability allows him to get the PG-13 rating coveted by studios because of the extra money it brings in.  If I remember correctly this movie was an idea Nolan created in his youth, and he waited for the technology to be available to film it.  I was ill when I first heard about this movie because I was impatiently anticipating the next Batman movie and the making of this would only delay it.  When I saw the movie I didn’t mind but it only made me anticipate Nolan’s next film more.  Too much in fact because I was really disappointed with The Dark Knight RisesMy disappointment over Nolan’s final Batman notwithstanding I still believe in him and I will be excited about any film he is involved with.

The cast of this film is jam-packed with talent. It begins with the lead role of Cobb.  In which Nolan chose to cast the best in the business.  Leonardo DiCaprio in my opinion is the cream of the crop, greatest actor of his era hands down.  His track record speaks for itself and how he has managed to not win numerous awards is beyond me.  The Academy doesn’t like him for some reason but that doesn’t change the fact that he is the best there is. He has worked with nearly every important director out there and he has been in some of the best movies I have ever seen.  I think he is a bit out shined in this movie by some of the others but if anything it’s only because being great comes so natural to this guy. DiCaprio performs his part so deftly it’s easy to take his talent for granted. DiCaprio may be the best in the business but in this film Joseph Gordon-Levitt outperformed him.  I have watched Gordon-Levitt since his days on Third Rock from the Sun and I am thoroughly impressed with how his career has blossomed.  He owns it in this movie and deserves to be remembered forever for the performance. This was the first movie I had seen Tom Hardy in but he left an impression as well.  I am a big fan of Ken Watanabe and obviously Christopher Nolan is too because he casts him often.  Nolan likes Cillian Murphy as well and I think that’s cool because the guy fits into all his movies perfectly. I always liked Tom Berenger and really liked seeing him in a significant role in a new movie. This was one of the last movies Pete Postlethwaite appeared in before his death, he was a significant loss as he has been part of many good movies.   Last but not least, although his role was small Michael Caine still managed to bring plenty to the film.  Nolan has cast him in every movie he has made over the last several years and for good reason.

The female leads were just as good as the male.  I had never heard of Marion Cotillard before seeing this movie but I am aware she has had a long career in foreign film.  I think she was terrific in this movie. She has a look that can turn you cold and her character is wildly unpredictable. I was also unfamiliar with Ellen Page but I think she brought a lot to the film too. She infuses the cast with youth and fits the part of the college student well. Most people know her from the film Juno, but that it still sitting on my “to-watch list” and has been for some time.

The biggest thing that makes this movie great is that it’s a movie unlike any you have ever seen before.  It has a wildly imaginative story that is truly original in an era where most of what is hitting theaters are remakes and continuations of outdated franchises.  I think this movie proves there is still a place in the industry for original ideas, whether they confuse half of the viewers or not. This movie did seem to confuse a lot of people but I don’t know why.  It may be a bit much for the close minded viewer but I didn’t have any problem at all following it.  In the end when the Cobb’s top keeps spinning I think that it suggests that he is in fact still in limbo.  The fact that he walks away before seeing it fall simply means that he no longer cares if he is or isn’t in reality anymore.  He would rather see his kids again regardless what it means.  Cobb may have never come back to reality but it was possibly still a happy ending for him despite that.

This movie was very successful when it came out two years ago and for a while became the thing everybody talked about.  If you managed to miss it then it is more than worth your time to try to see it now.  With an excellent cast, one of the best directors out there, and a story that thinks outside of the box it is definitely a must see.  I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this one. It reminds me a lot of my favorite movie of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I like the intricacies of this film. It is so in depth and if you aren’t paying attention to every minute, it is easy to get lost. This movie was made for movie lovers. The ones that watch and take everything in. The ones that are judging every scene, every sentence, everything. This movie is unexplainable; all that is explainable is that it is worth watching. Period.

This is one of my favorite ones to write about. I really like this poster. The world is turned up on itself, which is pretty much what happens when you dream. The laws of physics do not apply. I like the allusion to this in this poster. The font choice is bold and red is a perfect color. Once you have seen it, or even if you have seen this trailer, you can almost hear the “BOOOOOONNNNNNGGGG” sound when you look at the title. The only thing I think is unfortunate about this one is that the cast is standing in the street like that. I understand that they were trying to give as much billing to the characters as possible, but they have them standing around in the street and it looks like a Christian Rock group’s cover photo. Just my opinion, of course…but I don’t like it. It’s campy. Otherwise, this is a beautifully done poster.

NEXT MOVIE: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Dark Knight Rises

Year: 2012
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer

Like many people I have been a huge fan of this franchise over the years.  I have spent over three years waiting patiently for this movie and had every certainty that it would be awesome.  The news that broke with the release of this film was tragic.  It was hard to sit down in the theater today without thinking about what had happened to the innocent people in Aurora.  To make matters even worse there is hardly anything this film will ever be able to do to distance itself from that tragedy.  It will be forever remembered as the movie that people were watching when that mad man decided to do something so awful.  It’s unfortunate that a second Batman movie has come with such darkness looming over it.  No matter how great this franchise has been I fear it will always be shrouded with sadness and disaster.  We did our best not to think about the news when sitting down to watch the movie, but it wasn’t easy.

In all the time I spent following this movie through production I never had any doubt that it would be awesome.  I have absolute faith in Christopher Nolan after seeing his first two installments.  I also thought the cast is too great to disappoint. Bale makes a great Batman and guys like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman can only make a movie better.  I also liked all the new characters made up of several actors from Inception and Anne Hathaway. I watched all the trailers as they were released and they served to build my anticipation even more.  It looked just as good as the others and seemed to offer more adrenaline and excitement as well.  However I have to admit that after sitting through the TWO HOURS AND FORTY TWO MINUTES I left feeling more disappointed than anything else.

I think this movie was far too long, and there was not enough action, or Batman for that matter.  Thinking back over it on the way home I don’t even know that I would even say this movie was about Batman at all.  I hate that he was so Howard Hughes like in the beginning. I think it is ridiculous that he goes from needing a cane to walk around to suddenly suiting back up as Batman.  I won’t go too far in this discussion because I don’t want to share spoilers.  I am not out to discourage others from seeing the movie I am just in straight up SHOCK right now. I am in shock at the fact that I find myself so disappointed, I really believed it would be otherwise.  There is just not enough of Batman in this one, he has no new gadgets to work with aside from “The Bat” and we do not see enough of the rebuilt Batcave.  Batman is almost like a side character in this one jumping into a larger story about Gotham as a city.

I thought Tom Hardy was great as Bane but I do not think Bane was really great.  I think he could have been great but we don’t really get to know him well enough.  What are his actual motives anyway? I understand the why in the end but it doesn’t seem good enough to me.  I think Anne Hathaway was terrific as Catwoman too but like Bane I think she could have been better. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman both saw smaller roles and I don’t think either shined as they have before.  Caine more so than Freeman. I love Michael Caine, but he is usually the comic relief in this franchise and here I only saw him as a bleating drama queen.  These great characters were pushed to the background to an extent in favor of the newbies Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard. I think this was a mistake but I do think Gordon-Levitt was great.  He continues to rise as an actor and he stole the screen for most of this movie.

If the franchise does not intend to make a fourth installment then much of the story in this movie seems unnecessary.  I have read time and time again that this is the last film of this franchise. Both Nolan and Bale have both said they were done no matter how much money is on the table and I believe it coming from them. So why did they waste so much time in this story the way they do?  I know without doubt we will see more Batman movies in the future but I don’t see much reason to have hope for them at the moment.  The studio will look to make more money and the film will suffer for that reason alone. They will “reboot” it again and we will see a whole new cast the next time around.  That is what will most likely happen but at the end of the day anything is possible.

I think if you are a Batman fan you should go see this movie, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it more than I did.  I am shocked and at a loss of words over how disappointed I am. The word flabbergasted comes to mind.  The more I think about it the more disappointed I am.  I think the movie lacked the intensity of the first two films, and the clever writing that tied everything together so smoothly.  I think that we would have seen a much more incredible film had Heath Ledger never died because I think the story obviously would have continued with the Joker.  We will never know though, and this will be what we always have.  If you are reading this and disagree with me please reply with an argument.  I might need to be talked into seeing this one again, and that too is so disappointing.

I would like to mention as well, The Avengers was a better movie and I think it is now without doubt the best movie this summer had to offer.  Click on the title to read our review of that movie, and if you haven’t seen it there might still be time to catch it in the theaters.

UPDATE #1

This movie was easier to stomach a second time around when my expectations weren’t so high.  I still stand by everything I said above but I can see now that it is not as awful as I implied the first time.  I think my biggest problem is that I just didn’t like the story in general and expected more.  Bruce Wayne is just so weak in this movie.  I think a movie that directly followed its predecessor involving a Batman in his prime fighting some new villain as well as cops would have been much more exciting.

I have read that there is a possibility of Joseph Gordon-Levitt taking on the role of Batman and continuing the franchise.  I really like this idea although Gordon-Levitt really doesn’t have the stature to don the cape and cowl. I think it would be a much better plan than him simply being a Batman-less Robin despite his size.  I do not know what Warner Brothers is doing as far as their Justice League movie goes but I think they have to find a way to connect everything in order to compete with what Marvel did with The Avengers.  Using Gordon-Levitt as Batman would be a good way to get that done.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Year: 1988
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, and Paul Henning

RYAN’S REVIEW

I mentioned in my review of Criminal that I usually enjoy movies about con men and that is especially true for this film.  I wouldn’t say that I loved this film or that I think it is awesome, but nevertheless there is a lot to like about it and it’s always fun to watch. I wouldn’t call this film exceptional by any means but sporting the duo of Steve Martin and Michael Caine makes it something special. Throw in the fact that it was directed by Yoda and you have something that is easily worth your time.

The part of Yoda in the Star Wars films was played by Frank Oz.  Oz has also been known to direct films of his own from time to time and has made some really good movies.  This movie, as well as What About Bob?, are really good examples of his work.  I am not sure why Steve Martin has not been able to transition his talents with the times but it seems now that all his best work is long behind him.  He is the center of so many great comedies throughout the 80s and early 90s but has had such a struggle making hits in his later years.  Michael Caine is the complete opposite however, seemingly getting better with each film that he makes of late.  Caine is like a bottle of fine wine, not only does he get better the older he gets but he makes every movie he is involved with better.  Caine carries an air of dignity and class with him that he is able to put on display in all the films he is part of. He has the good fortune of being a favorite of director Christopher Nolan currently and can be seen in many of his films.  Nolan is possibly the greatest director currently out there so getting a definite role in all of his films is quite the accomplishment.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a timeless comedy, it will be fun and funny for as long as people continue watching it.  These kind of con artists will undoubtedly always be part of our society and they will always spark the curiosity of movie goers when films center on them.  This is a comedy so we can enjoy the antics of these men without having to deal with the dramatic consequences these people bestow upon their victims.  I think both Caine and Martin are outstanding in the film and Frank Oz comedies are usually quite fun. I always enjoy watching this movie and I think it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love Steve Martin. I think he is one of the funniest people I have grown up watching. I like this film as well. You get to see a younger Michael Caine, which is awesome considering most people our age know him, but can only remember him looking like an older man. This film is a silly movie about con men. It isn’t an academy award winner and it won’t have you peeing in your pants laughing, but it is definitely worth your time and is a good movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Donnie Brasco (1997)

The Dark Knight

Year: 2008
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: David S. Goyer, Jonathon Nolan, and Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

A good sequel should be a bigger and better version of the original.  One would think that Batman Begins would present a challenge because it was such a great film in its own right.  It seems small in hindsight now, and that’s why The Dark Knight is so great.  It’s so overwhelmingly awesome that you forget how great the first film was.  Christopher Nolan has been on fire and this movie was just another great movie he’s made along the way.  Every movie he has made has been incredible, the only reason this movie was so much more successful was because people love Batman, just as people love Spiderman.  The reboot of Spiderman will probably make just as much money as the original trilogy when it is all said and done.

I remember when I heard Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker I could not believe it.  I had been hoping for Paul Bettany who had been rumored for the role and had just played a great villain in The Da Vinci Code.  Brokeback Mountain dominated jokes and cultural references around the time of the announcement so the choice wasn’t well received all around.  Then his death came out of no where only months before release, it was so sudden, it was almost too hard to believe it was true.  Then his performance hit the theater screens and he went from the Brokeback Mountain guy to a legend, a martyr for the movie industry just as James Dean was.  He received a post-mortem Academy Award that was well deserved but he probably never would have received had he lived. Heath Ledger was one of the greatest bad guys of all time, he actually scared me with his portrayal of the Joker, it was the master stroke of his career.  His death is unfortunate for many reasons but especially for this franchise because Nolan could have made this movie another 10 times with Ledger and Bale again and again and it would have continued to be incredible.

Ledger was so good in this movie that his performance tends to make you forget how good everyone else was. Bale is great again as Bruce Wayne and Batman, his Batman voice was again criticized. Maggie Gyllenhaal filled in nicely for Katie Holmes who turned down more money to reprise the role. Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent and then later as Two-Face. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman all return to their respective roles. It is easy for actors to shine when they are part of something so great.  The Dark Knight is such an all around good film, and as always it starts with a great story.  The Nolans and Goyer came up with a great idea and they packed it full of action from beginning to end.  Nolan has a great talent for making something look and feel R-rated without it being so.  His movies have little profanity and little graphic violence. The consequences in all are great and the violence is there but it isn’t graphic.  No doubt that is a skill Warner Brothers has noticed and will continue taking advantage of for as long as possible.

You don’t need me to tell you that this movie was great, no doubt you have already heard that from others.  If you haven’t seen it you should see this and its predecessor.  They are both great films and I look forward to the closing of the trilogy.  The early teaser for next summer’s finale is short but offers a lot to look forward to.  Bane is the villain seen in the trailer, played by Tom Hardy.  The third installment will also feature Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard in roles that are probably misinformation.  Most likely they are playing the son and daughter of the villains in the first film, Carmine Falcone and Rhas Al Ghul. No matter who they are I have no doubt that Nolan will impress us again with his third Batman film. Liam Neeson is rumored to have a cameo return to the franchise which should make my wife happy.  Either way Rhas Al Ghul will return, Josh Pence has been cast as a younger version of the character, giving merit to the notion that Marion Cotillard is actually playing Talia Al Ghul. I have added the teaser trailer to this post following Amber’s review, if you haven’t seen it yet then definitely check it out.  The Dark Knight Rises will be awesome.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I LOVE this movie. This was a no questions asked, we are going to the theater on opening day to see this movie. The hype was already crazy for the movie because of the death of Heath Ledger. What a sad story. If he could have only seen what an amazing job he did all put together. He was one of the scariest bad guys of all times, hands down. If you didn’t know who he was before the film, I very much doubt you could have guessed it was him during the movie. This role, in my opinion, was his greatest. It was intense and thorough and he played the role with such precision.

The story line is very strong and leaves you wanting more in the end. The makeup was out of control amazing, especially for two-face. I know they probably used some computer animation for that, but still I thought it was believable and by far the craziest two-face I have ever seen.

My one and only problem for this entire film is the Batman voice that Christian Bale uses. I am not picking on him, it is true that I am not his biggest fan, but c’mon…that Batman voice was WAY to over the top, I really hope that he tones it down for the next one.This movie is worth watching over and over, and you can bet your bottom dollar we will be in line opening night for the next installment. I am becoming a Christopher Nolan believer.

NEXT MOVIE: Beetle Juice (1988)

Batman Begins

Year: 2005
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: David S. Goyer, Jonathon Nolan, and Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie caught us all by surprise, I don’t think anybody was expecting much from another Batman film, and the franchise reboot was a new and unfamiliar idea in 2005.  I had never even heard of Christopher Nolan.  I was aware of Memento and had heard good things, but I had not actually seen it.  I knew of Christian Bale but he was by no means an A-list actor and not very well-known at the time, most of his movies didn’t have wide theatrical releases. These films are good but little known, films like Equilibrium, American Psycho, and The Machinist.  The Machinist wasn’t great or anything but to see what Bale put himself through is really amazing.  Nolan and Bale both became house hold names with this movie and that notoriety was well deserved.  They took a franchise that was in the dump and turned it into one of the highest grossing franchises of all time, one that will rival Spiderman in the end, if not completely surpass it.

I followed this film very little during its production because I was so disappointed with the last Batman movie, Batman & Robin.  I did not think the franchise could come back from that and not knowing the two biggest names in this movie I assumed that it wouldn’t be very good.  I was happily proven wrong though.  Amber and I were at Myrtle Beach and went to the theater to see it on a whim.  I was blown away, I usually know so much about a film already before I go in I have certain expectations that are usually right on target. This movie caught me off guard, but this is the kind of surprise that I can appreciate. This movie is easily one of the best comic book films ever, and a movie that will always be remembered.

Christopher Nolan is one of the most exciting directors out there right now, I think he is the most exciting one actually.  There are many great directors out there making great movies, but Nolan is different.  At the center of all his films is a great and interesting story and his Batman is no different. David S. Goyer, who has been involved with several great comic book films wrote the script along with Nolan and his brother. Batman Begins is very well written and the performances are fantastic. Nolan always has many great actors on hand and he makes good use of him.  I am a big fan of Ken Wantanabe, who Nolan has used more than once, he has a small but excellent part in the movie.  Michael Caine is a Nolan regular, he makes a fantastic Alfred. Katie Holmes is the ever necessary hot chick.  Her part was actually originally written to be Harvey Dent, but they needed a female lead so they made subtle changes to the script and changed the name to Rachel Dawes.  Cillian Murphy, another Nolan regular is great as Scarecrow.  Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer are all great.  My wife would be mad at me if I didn’t make a special point to mention Liam Neeson, he is her favorite actor of all time, she is in love with him.  Finally, Christian Bale as Batman.  Some people criticize his voice as Batman but I think it was necessary for the role.  Bale is great as Bruce Wayne, looking every bit the part and owning it.  He is good as Batman too but he does lack an upper lip, making him look a little funny when he gets close-ups.

I am always running into people who tell me they have never seen this movie, less these days but it still happens regularly.  I am shocked by that, especially since everyone has seen The Dark Knight.  If you haven’t seen this movie then you are in luck, because you have something great and exciting to look forward to.  This movie is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not one for watching movies on vacation, but Ryan talked me into seeing this with him on our very first beach trip together. It was totally worth it. I thoroughly enjoy this film. I love the plot line and how we learn about how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. It holds my attention throughout. Ryan and I have this inside joke that he tells everyone that I am completely in love with Liam Neeson. I think it stems from Love Actually, because I love the character he played in that film, but now it is an everlasting joke at me that I am in love with him. It kills me, but he finds it funny and continually finds ways to tell everyone, including you all. In any case, I think he plays a great character, and with every good movie there is a twist at the end. So this one is a definite must see.