Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight - Batman

Hmmmm... Not such a great film. In fact I thought it pretty mediocre. Great actors but weak story with twists and turns that were weak and felt squeezed in at the last minute. It was unbearably long - around 2.5 hours. No great stretches for Michael Caine or Morgan Freeman - same characters they have played before - especially Mr. Freeman! Gary Oldman is a great and versatile actor but his choice of character as the police commissioner was boring and lifeless. Christian Bale is also a limited and stiff actor with little charisma. He is the latest Hollywood hunk who is a profile actor - meaning he is more concerned with his profile as it relates to the camera then really digging into his chosen persona. Yet the reason for this films great success is the deceased Mr. Heath Ledger, an actor extraordinary. He became a real sicko for this dark film. Sadly his great and eerie performance was wasted on this boring and grim new franchise of the Batman cartoon character. I am so sick and tired of all these dark and irritating Gothic style films. They are as boring as Gothic influenced people. I guess it's a sign of the times when such a violent and dismal movie is so popular. Maybe it's a reflection of the dismal state we find ourselves in being in two wars with no end in sight and an economy in the toilet. This and the overwhelming popularity of violent video games (bigger $$$ then movies!) and violent TV shows. TV Shows such as all the Lawyer shows and forensic shows, all that begin with a slaughtered Woman or Man in a dark and dismal location such as a back alley in a dark, dirty city such as Gotham and or NYC or Miami. The ironic paradox is that crime is down nationwide over the last 30 years. But people live in fear more then ever before. These are obviously the results of the successful take over of America by the fear mongers both in the government and in the mass media post 9/11. When I saw the dismal and dark film previews aimed at this Batman demographic before the film started, my stomach turned and a sour puss expression took over my face. They all have a modern dark tone and lack of color - just enough color as not to be considered black and white. When I saw what they were doing with the remake of the "The day the Earth Stood Still" I was really annoyed! In that 1950s well made film the alien character was the good guy protagonist just trying to help out humans who were on the verge of self destruction. (what else is new?) The antagonists were us - the stupid and violent Americans who live in fear and solve all disputes with a gun or a bomb. Yet in the new crappy and Gothic boring version, the crappy actor Kaneau Reeves is starring in the newly revised version as a creepy, unlikeable and no good alien character and poor beautiful decent yet limited actress Jennifer Connelly got stuck opposite him as the leading sympathetic female role. Just a sign of the times when the evil Hollywood machine milks these dark days we find our collective psyche to be in and produce total crap like this for the sheep like masses to consume. Bad vibes and no imagination - (other then some really nice visuals done by the best CGI people in Hollywood) - are how I some up this below average film. Dark Knight is a very appropriate title for a dark and worthless film that only adds to the problems and offers no solutions to the dark and full of fear quandary we humans have created for ourselves. I don't understand all the fantastic reviews - the contemporary critics are all obviously bought and sold and have no real integrity or informed or valued critiques to offer us anymore. Every piece of crap film that comes out is hailed as great or a must see - give me a break! If you must see Mr. Ledger in this his last great but depressing performance (because it surely did not help his depression in real life thus pushing him over the edge toward his suicide) then just wait to rent it and save some of your hard earned money!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mongol movie review

Wow - what an epic film! Movies made on such an epic sweeping scale are rarely made because of all the things that can go wrong as well as the fact that it will have to have a pretty big budget to pay for big scenes with many extras and costumes etc.(war scenes in particular) It is not much different from planning a military campaign. The obvious major difference is everybody is acting and gets to go home at the end of the day. But the actual planning and mapping out of a such a sweeping over time story with many locations and actors/extras such as this is truly a brave endeavor on everyones part - especially the folks who invested their money to make it a reality. Well - it paid off! This film was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film and it definitely earned it. Russian Director Sergei Bodarous has an amazing eye for majestic sceneries within nature's scape. He seems to be influenced by the Asian aesthetic value of wide open panoramas that engulf the viewer. Led by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano as a young Gehngis Kahn before he took over half the world. His incredible wife was played by an authentic Mongolian actress Khulan Chuluun who was excellent and very beautiful and very powerful . Most of the cast were real Mongolians and were excellent natural actors in front of the cameras. It felt like a documentary sometimes because of the comfort level these native Mongols displayed in front of the camera. A major difference from the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt overly conscious of their jaw line in relation to the camera angle - stiff and very unnatural school of acting that dominates most of Hollywood's leading Men and Women. The child actor ? who played Genghis as a youngster was very cool for a boy so young. Although the story line did repeat itself maybe a few too many times such as Genghis's captures and escapes from the Mongol gangs, the over all strength of the actors performances and the core love story between him and his wife outweighed these few overly repetitive storyline choices. I also wonder how much of this is based on fact and how much is artistic license stretched to the maximum. I have a hard time believing that Genghis Khan was such a honorable person. He killed, raped and pillaged his way around the world. A recent scientific study has stated that around 8% of all Chinese (1.5 billion people) have some of Mr. Khan's genetics in their overall genetic make up. This is testimony to his intense lust that contradicts his monk like dedication to his wife in the film. Story tellers must be careful not to glamorize cold hearted killers such as this Genghis' Kahn and others such as Alexander the not so great. After all what is so great about killing, raping and pillaging people? Although to be fair this story was the about the"Rise of Genghis Kahn" which basically leaves off after he has taken over all the different tribes of Mongolia and it is the beginning of the Mongolian Empire which eventually stretches from Eastern China to all the way to Eastern Europe and all lands in between. It was refreshing to be able to enjoy such a sweeping and majestic epic film on the big screen in the biggest screen viewing space at the Sunshine Theater in the East Village which specializes in showing high quality independent and foreign films.

SantoGold's Central Park gig

Hey Bloggers,
Just caught Santogold's Central Park gig yesterday. It was blistering hot and sticky here in NYC but that did not stop Ms. Santogold from putting on an excellent and professional show. She definitely lived up to all the hype. I only knew 2 songs and one video going in to this show but the rest of her tight but not very long show (no encore!) were also pretty strong for the most part. I can understand the comparisons to MIA. They move and resemble each other from a distance and they both mix an eclectic mix of music influences that work. The major difference being cultural. Whereas MIA uses more world music influences infused with western contemporary dance music, Ms. SantoGold has a strong 1980s influence mixed with cutting edge beats and samples via her crew. Not the wimpy 1980s groups like the Cure and The Smiths and all the other fruit Cake romantic English stuff like Spandeau Ballet etc. but more like edgy, underground alternative bands like America's Missing Persons and UK's The Police. Her voice is very similar to Ms. Bozio's of Missing Persons. She and her crew have an understanding of melody and dynamics which is rare nowadays. Some of her set/songs would be great songs to cruise cranking in your car on long trips. It was a truly eclectic mixed crowd which is why I love NYC and Artists like Ms. SantoGold who build bridges between different socio-economic groups based on extracting different elements from a variety of sources that cover a lot of musical turf. I also must mention her great back up Women dancers who were very powerful in their military style choreography and presentation. Especially cool was the amount of time they remained perfectly still - a very Eastern use of Zen like non-movement and the power that it carries in a hyper movement modern world. It harked back to Public Enemy's use of military type back up performers back in the day yo'. I must say I was slightly disappointed that she did not do a encore but if her goal was to leave us hungry for more - it worked! You were totally AWES! (short for awesome) Anyway - if you or any of your people ever read this blog, you should contact me because I have a great song that would be perfect for your band and I know it would be a big hit -it has hooks up the wazoo!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Welcome to my NYC Critique Blog!

Dear Blogosphere,

Welcome to my new Blog. I was one of the very first Bloggers but I burned out very quickly as I was young and too busy to sit in front of a computer and blab my life away. But now I am older and go out at night much less and have time to sit in front of a computer and blab my life away. Actually this is the beginning of my career as a critic of all things but mostly the fine arts to begin with. Music, Film, Art, Literature etc.. As I have a pretty impressive resume in the Arts and Entertainment fields and have lived in NYC going on 20 years, I feel I have a more valid viewpoint then your average critic who is usually well educated but talentless. I am both well educated and have a ton of talent. But enough about me. Let's get to business.

Let's start with the best medium of our time which is film/movies. Being only 100 years young is one of the reasons films can still astound and be a profound story telling multi-media device. With the advent of CGI, it has risen to new levels. Also the cutting edge 3D films presented by Sony Imax are amazing use of technology to tell stories. Yet decent CGI does not insure a great or even mediocre film. Such is the case with the latest Hulk movie. It stunk. A real bomb. Horrible. Please don't even rent the DVD. I read this comic when I was a kid. The Hulk was funny. To see the brilliant scientist David Banner turn into the primitive yet sensitive and funny Hulk was the whole thing for me. Hulk would talk like a funny cave man at his enemies. He would always say things in the third person such as "Hulk smash you!" or "Hulk not understand" or "Hulk Lonely". Funny and sometimes sympathetic simple statements. The comic book Hulk was a likable and funny Frankenstein. The movie Hulk was more like a distant and cold King Kong. The script was boring and every scene was so predictable and the film seemed more a slow and very linear video game you know by heart. No imaginative twists or turns or surprises in the story line at all! Really bad! Could Marvel Studios not afford to hire the best script writers in Hollywood? Liv Tyler is a horrible, limited actress. She could get away with it when she had perfect skin and no real dialog like in the Lord of the Rings trilogy but she needs some acting lessons real fast. Why did Edward Norton not put up a fuss about this crappy script? He is one of Hollywood's leading hot Box $$$ office Men. He is even a decent writer himself as he proved in Selma Hyack's fine film about the Mexican folk Artist Frida Kielo which was well directed by Julie Taymore whom we shall forgive for her Across the Universe debacle as a well intentioned bomb. She bit off more then she could chew with the Beatles music. Anyway surely Mr. Norton is in a position to say something to the Director and Producers? Robert Downey Jr. did make a fuss about the Iron Man script and he had to audition for it as well and thus was in a much less bargaining position then Mr. Norton. I think this tells you something about Mr. Downey's integrity and his good instincts on what stinks and what does not. Iron Man was excellent. Decent story with some nice twists and turns as well as a good moral about the ugliness of War. Also great use of CGI. Excellent casting. Mr. Downey brought a refreshing loose and not stale or stiff acting style to his self made mechanical super hero. Mr. Bridges was a great antagonist and Mr. was a a great straight Man for Mr. Downey's smart alec style. Gwyneth Paltro was bearable. I'm not a big fan of hers. One of the worst ripp offs in Oscar history was her beating out Kate Blanchette in Elizabeth for her boring role in Shakespeare in Love. What a bi-est Hollywood insider travesty that was! Poor Kate! Well I guess you have had the last laugh with a much better career path and body of work. Back to the new Marvel studios franchise - one big hit - Iron Man and one big miss - The Hulk (for the second time!) Let the Hulk rest in peace Mr. Lee. Your company will break even or may even make a small profit in spite of your failure. It's amazing what bombs will get made for the many millions in Hollyweird. At least you got it right with Iron Man.