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whatever happens

April 2017

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whatever happens

Some of you already know this, but I'll put it here for the fun of it - my poor new car has some growing pains. Last Tuesday, I had to have a drive axel replaced. When they were parking it in the bay, the mechanic tore off the driver side mirror - that will be fixed, no charge, pretty soon. But poor Sally! (That's what my mom named her.)

This weekend I saw two very good, vastly different movies, Memoirs of a Geisha and Dark Knight. I'll put my reactions under two cuts, to spare some of you boredom.

So, in the order I saw them:


I actually did not think Memoirs of a Geisha would be interesting, which is why it's taken me so long to see it. And, truthfully, it lacks any kind of suspenseful pacing. Also, the major female characters were Chinese, not Japanese (what, Japan has no actresses?). However, those things aside, it was definitely interesting! I enjoyed it on three levels:
* First, I enjoyed it as a story - the universal story of a person whose spirit and determination bring her through all trials, to accomplish not only her goals, but her dreams as well.
* Second, I enjoyed it as an immersion into the beauties of a pre-tech Japan. The colors and cinematography, the loving attention to details, the haunting music, the costumes - all of it fit together in the best way, making me forget, for a time, where I was.
* Third, I enjoyed it on a very personal level. Some of you know my fanfic character Hikaru, and I couldn't help thinking of her while watching the movie. I'm pleased that very little in the book or movie made me re-think Hikaru's life - I read the book long after I created her, and I only corrected some details when I read it. Seeing the movie was like walking with her into her world, pre-Hiko. No surprises, no - my imagination is good, and people are the same everywhere - but deep pleasure.
Another thing I want to mention is my amazement at the luminous talent of Suzuka Ohgo, who played young Chiyo. I expect great things from this young actress.



Then to plunge from colorful radiance into the dark...! Specifically, into Dark Knight. Culture shock.

First let me say that I don't have anything new to add to what's already been said about this film. Everything I read or heard before I saw it was completely true. I liked it much better than Batman Begins, which feels now like a prequel to this film. I'm not sure how they'll top this one!

Christian Bale is turning into the next Harrison Ford, the iconic American action hero. (He's John Connor now - whoo hooo!!!!) I adore Bale and think that he can add intensity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, humanity, physical and moral strength, and sexuality into any role, without breaking character. Yeah. The other actors who have played Batman simply can't compare.

Heath Ledger was.... wow. Just wow. I'm going to pay him about the highest compliment ever, here, by saying that his performance allowed me to understand the Joker (a character I never cared for, until now) in much the same way that Derek Jacobi's helped me understand Hamlet. If he doesn't get the Oscar, it will be a sin. I hate that he died so young. As a member of the audience, I feel cheated out of all the rest of the performances he could have done and I could have enjoyed. (And Z: the pencil scene? EWWW. So cool.)

Gary Oldman was finally given something to do, and he did it with his usual brilliance. It always startles me how versatile he is - he can be horrendously villainous, and then gentle and heroic, as Gordon is.

Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine were, as always, a pleasure to watch.

I had a hard time with Aaron Eckhart. He's got the kind of face I really don't like, the kind of frat-boy cuteness that I want to slap, so I had trouble being objective. Still, I don't think his abilities came close to the others - but then, that's not a fair comparison. Those folks I've listed are brilliant. But with him in the role, I didn't grieve over Harvey Dent's fall, not really.

I won't miss Rachel. I'm not sure why I never liked the character - I liked the actresses well enough. I guess I'm just not comfortable with someone so obviously on the moral high ground.

One last note on actors: I got a real thrill to see an old favorite of mine in a minor role, Keith Szarabajka. He's always so good, and I loved seeing him.

As for the film itself, I honestly can't find more than a couple of minor nits to pick. The pacing was excellent - I hope Christopher Nolan is never replaced as director! - and so was the script. I loved the way the movie revolved around choices. It moved seamlessly between moral choices and choices of action. For example, Lucius' threatened resignation, and Batman choosing whom to rescue. In fact, the moral and action choices were almost always inextricably mixed. The moment when the detonator went out the ferry window will probably always be one of my favorite movie moments. Stunts and special effects were very cool (excepting the nitpicks below). Loved the dogs. Loved burning the money. Loved the hospital collapsing in a way horribly reminiscent of 9/11. Loved Jim Gordon Jr.'s faith in Batman's innocence. Loved the (ew) Two Face make-up.

Nits to pick? Just three. One, I wish it wasn't all filmed at night. But it is Batman, so... *laugh* Two, the obligatory car chase. *sigh* Can we not have an action film these days without trashing cars and trucks? Three, the fights were filmed in a way that was hard to follow. Yeah, the impression was supposed to be that Batman moves too fast to follow, but really, it was a bit MTVish.

These are nits indeed. This is a terrific movie, satisfying on all levels, even my more lofty intellectual ones.

Comments

I didn't like Rachel, didn't care much for the character in the first movie but she was okay to look at. I couldn't stand looking at the actress that played her in this movie.

I think my favorite action part of the movie was when Batman flipped the semi over. I was expecting him to lock up the wheels or something, but when it flipped I think I squealed out loud!

The best part of that? In order to make it as realistic as possible, they actually flipped over a semi in downtown Chicago.

(Anonymous)

That's awesome! I would have loved to be on the set for that.
That's awesome! I would have loved to be on the set for that.
Hooray you saw TDK! Isn't it awesome!
I loved the pencil scene, lol. And where he comes out doing that truly crazy person walk in the nurse uniform with the comedy moment looking at the remote. That was priceless.

My only nit picks is the start where the batman imitators come out, no explanation was made about why? And what was the scarecrow exactly doing? That was a very confusing scene which was never explained.

Besides that, the scene in Hong Kong where Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken as though they are one language. That irriates me in any american hollywood movie. They always treat them as the same when they are not. Argh. But that was pretty minor.

Overall very intense and I was surprised they killed off two face so soon. I thought they would keep him as a continuing villain. And its a tragedy Heath is dead, no more amazing Joker. I agree he definitely needs acknowledgement from the Oscars.
nice to know you see the geisha movie. have you read the book? if not you should, in my opinion the book is better. but then, i suppose i feel that way because i read it tons of times even way before the movie was released.
I read the book long ago, and liked it a lot! I am now reading it again, as an audiobook.
oh, nice. :)
i forgot to mention that it's nice you have a story similar to the plot of geisha. i love those sorts of storylines. someone mentioned to me that jane eyre has a similar story. have you read it? i havent yet, but when i heard that i took to reading eyre right away. :)

and as for chinese actresses being used in japanese roles... well, i honestly didn't feel very keen on zhang ziyi as sayuri. i never pictured her as sayuri and was really shocked when i discovered she had landed the role. i have a feeling that they got her because she is the best known asian actress in the west. but i liked the movie roles of hatsumomo and the chairman though. especially the chairman. :)
oh and of COURSE, suzuka ohga. she was perfect as little chiyo. i especially loved that look in her eyes after meeting the chairman for the first time, she looked really smitten. *sigh*

(sorry for the double-post)

(Anonymous)

oh and of COURSE, suzuka ohga. she was perfect as little chiyo. i especially loved that look in her eyes after meeting the chairman for the first time, she looked really smitten. *sigh*

(sorry for the double-post)