Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

It hardly seems appropriate to post a review of The Dark Knight Rises today given the horrifying events in Aurora, Colorado. I had plans to write about how Bane seems an insufficient villain, his audio so loud that it places him in an almost different world from the characters (this unrelated from his mask), how Catwoman actually comes out as the strongest character in some respects, how the start-and-stop narrative ends up rushing the ending (the countdown from 23 hours...12 hours...five minutes until the bomb goes off flies by much too quickly, casting aside much real anticipation - or worry - for the end result) and leaves the climax without any of the urgency we found in The Dark Knight, a far superior film that still suffers from an inflated narrative, similarly to TDKR, but is saved by its characters. But that will have to do for now. I don't imagine anyone will object. I simply can't find the gumption to explicate on any of this at the moment. Anthony Lane has written a piece on the shootings, their relationship to film, their senselesness, etc. It is a reflective piece, not perfect, but certainly more important than speaking of the shortcomings of a film which became the stage for such a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Aurora. Continue reading...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reviews in Brief: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

by James Hansen

It would be easy to attack “visionary” director Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter for its gross historical implications – its trivialization of slavery, Gettysburg, not to mention Lincoln’s own personal matters (his relationship to Mary Todd, the death of his infant son, etc.) Glenn Kenny has gone so far as to claim “It constitutes a moral sin, if not an outright moral crime, and commits a grave insult to history.”

Fair enough. But perhaps what is most shocking about ALVH is its complete cinematic incompetency, even on the most basic level. It isn’t merely that the film bounds from vampire slaying to actual historical events, thereby leaving its own revisionism in the dust, but that the movements happen so quickly and so insignificantly, that they are constructed so sloppily and, frankly, embarrassingly, the film never reaches a high level of absurdity to allow for the pomposity of visually confusing fight scenes amongst a sudden fleet of crazed horses, a misbegotten invasion of a Louisiana plantation to save Lincoln’s African American companion (no matter the vampiric annihilation of seemingly hundreds of slaves), or nighttime raid of a railroad that methodically burns to the ground. Instead, ALVH hops, skips, and jumps over everything it sets up leaving a trail of emotional and narratival confusion. With storytelling this lazy and images this haphazard, the most baffling thing about ALVH isn’t its premise or its historical sins, but rather that a major studio ever let it out of an editing room. Continue reading...