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Archive for the ‘Liam Neeson’ Category

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

20 Jul

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises – directed by Christopher Nolan. Comic Book Action Adventure. Batman wants to retire. but no; the forces of virtue and of evil must be met. 164 minutes Color 2012.

★★★★★

A tragic aura dogs the claws of Batman, or at least dogs the velvet slippers of Bruce Wayne, and it’s fragrance imbues all who come in contact with him, from Michael Caine, who plays his loyal godsbody all the way to Anne Hathaway who plays the Catlady, a sort of second story jewel thief whose wit almost cuts through the sorrows of our hero, valiantly played by Christian Bale. Hathaway supplies the only comic relief of this piece and the actress is brilliant at it; one sighs with relief whenever her impudent self appears before us. As to the rest of the cast, they are the best actors in the world. Gary Oldman as the chief of police with a dark secret of his own; Tom Hardy as the heaviest heavy in all hell; Marion Cotillard as the billionairess out to save the day; Morgan Freeman as the keeper of the flame of Bruce Wayne’s fortune and dangerously advanced experiments. Then we have Matthew Modine as the cocky cowardly cop and Liam Neeson who is the cause of it all and Joseph Gordon-Levitt terrific as Batman’s volunteer helper. And the reason all is well with the acting is that the script is tops, with many diversions and excursions, examinations, and analyses, blasts and bombs and a flying bat jalopy and leaps and bounds, and so many long corridors of interest and imagination that one is lost, until the story finds one again at the end, the ends, the loose ends. I shall spoil nothing by saying that the obvious difference from this and all other Batman movies, aside from the superiority of the script, is that the big branagan at the end, and lots that lead up to is, is shot in full daylight. Batman was ordinarily a nocturne, wasn’t it? The Dark Knight operated only in The Dark Night? Because? Because why? Because he was a bat!

 

 

Before And After

06 Jul

Before And After – directed by Barbet Schroeder. Drama. What happens to the parents when their young son is accused of murdering his girl friend. 108 minutes Color 1996.

★★

This is the worst film script I have encountered for major actors to perform. What makes it so? There is in it not a single character with personal eccentricity of any kind, with the exception of Alfred Molina as the lawyer eating a subway sandwich at the first interview. Otherwise, nothing anyone says would anyone say under the circumstances. What they say they would say only under the circumstances of a TV show. “I must save my son!” is not what a man in the situation would utter, unless he had watched this film. But that is what poor Liam Neeson is given to say, over and over, and it doesn’t wash. Neeson is an actor of perhaps not much intelligence. He is usually given the role of an honest lug, a role that might also promise the intelligence of luggness if the actor’s instrument had it to offer. With this piece missing, we never care about Neeson’s character, and his being married to Meryl Streep is, of course, inconceivable. His character is simply a violent dope from beginning to end; whatever soft sentiments he has to show they are still violent, crude without being primordial. But actors have a hard job; they have to act; it’s their breath as well as their bread; at times they perform material for the sociological virtue it seems to have; or not infrequently they have to just take what’s available. The fault lies not with Neeson, but with the script, which, if I may lavish it with praise, is false, cheap, and manipulative. Then too, the boy is miscast. He may be a good actor, but the trick of adopting inertia as a histrionic mode is mistaken, and the young man looks 106 not 16. I am surprised that Meryl Streep, a fairly shrewd judge of material, could not see what is being fobbed off here. In creating character, style is everything, and style always consists in the extraneous, and that comes from the writing. If there is not that, the actor has nothing to work with. Streep is not a personality actress like Katharine Hepburn. Without a strongly marked personal character of her own or one to play she is curds and whey. There is no fault in that; it’s just the instrument she has. But give her a role with some spice, and her gift awakens.Otherwise, as here, she has challenges it is not, by its nature, meant to rise to.

 

 
 
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