Sounds clever doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not.
Basically, I am of the belief that you cannot form a proper opinion about a movie until you’ve seen it twice. Case in point: if you look back you’ll see that when I watched Iron Man for the first time I said that I liked it but probably wouldn’t put it on the movies to see before you die list, and didn’t rate it too highly amongst the other Marvel films. However, now I’ve watched it again (a couple of times) I’ve pretty much completely changed my mind! Definitely a firm favourite for me now and making it’s way onto the list. There’s also been films I wasn’t too sure about first time around but having seen them again I think I misjudged them. Sin City springs to mind. Twelve Monkeys takes most people a couple of goes too, but that’s mainly to get your head round it.
I think part of it is that the first time you see a movie you’re trying to keep up with the plot and the characters and so you can miss little things like throw away one liners or cool set design that you’ll pick up second time around. Of course some times though, you’ve got to trust your instincts. You will have to pay me a whole lot of money to make me sit through the Mamma Mia or Lost In Translation again, while at the same time it didn’t take me more than one viewing to realise that Lord of the Rings was a brilliant film.
More often than not I find that films I thought were only OK to begin with get better the more you watch them, but things can go the other way too. The sequels to The Matrix and the Pirates follow ups both came out in a wave of PR and special effects that had you going in the cinema, but the plot holes get wider once you get the DVD back to your sofa. Not that I dislike any of those films, just perhaps not as into them as I was the first time. I’ve already written about how hype can affect your opinion of a movie with The Dark Knight, and from what I hear of Avatar so far, it seems like that will be another one which loses some of the magic once it’s out of the cinema, especially since so much stock is tied up in the effects.
There’s more than a few places on this blog where I’ve written I need to see a movie again before completely making my mind up (The Eternal Sunshine debate rages on). It’s not so much for the films you either love or hate, it’s the ones where at the end you can’t quite decide how much you like it. My advice is watch it again. You’ll probably find it’s better than you think.
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Tonight I found myself with some free time on my hands, which is becoming increasingly unusual for me, so I decided to re-visit the most hyped film of last year: The Dark Knight.
Raving about the brilliance of the film is old news, but I realised as I was watching it that there was no way it was ever going to live up to the expectations people had for it. Don’t get me wrong, I think its a great movie, and Heath Ledger is in a league of his own when it comes to performance, but I too fell victim to the hype and found myself rating this movie higher than perhaps it deserved when I first saw it in the cinema.
The cast is something to be envied, including star turns by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and the special effects are pretty awesome. Christian Bale also plays well, although I find his “bat-voice” increasingly difficult to take seriously. The main problem with the film is its length; clocking in at 2 hours 25 mins which I think must be something of a record for comic book films, and there are sections that feel slow, mainly because you’re just waiting for Ledger to reappear on screen.
*update: I thought it was long, then I saw Watchmen!*
It falls foul of the same problem that Spiderman 3 had: one two many villains. Even though the signposting for the transformation of Dent into Twoface is a delight to comic book geeks, it feels like the final half hour is actually another short film tacked on at the end, which could legitimatley have been saved for a sequel, especially since the actual ending is so clearly gearing up for one. In general the plot is good, but there are sections which are confusing. I’m still not that sure what’s going on in the car park at the beginning with all the copycat batmen….
Basically it boils down to this: The Dark Knight is an average film catapulted to mega-success simply because of Heath Ledger. I would like to believe that if the tragedy which brought the film into the media spotlight had not happened, the film would still have enjoyed the same hype on the basis of what really is an astounding performance. The scenes in the jail are creepily reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs and everything about the characterisation is completely unique. I guess we’ll never know, but it just goes to show that when tragedy is involved even critics draw in their claws and choose to overlook faults in favour of seeing the good.
Case in point: I’m a Marvel girl, I’ve never liked DC or Batman, mainly on the basis that he has one of the lamest costumes in superhero history! But I desperately wanted to see Dark Knight. Now, I have always been a Heath Ledger fan, and that was a big part of it, but I can’t help wondering if I’d have heard so much about his performance if he hadn’t died. I still maintain that it was for Brokeback Mountain that he deserved the Oscar.
I love Dark Knight, and I think everyone should see it, but without Heath Ledger, I don’t think I’ll be fighting to see the next one.
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I (unsurprisingly) managed to cause a miniture uproar by slamming Lost in Translation, being reminded that it is wonderfully “subtle” with beautiful cinematography. I’d like to fight back with a review of a film which embodies both these characteristics while also having the crucial factor that is missing from Lost in Translation; a compelling plot.
Essentially, Brokeback Mountain and Lost in Translation are very similar films; both are stories about two people who can’t be together, but while one of them shuffles along with little to capture the emotion, the other is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.
The strength of this movie lies in its director and its cast. Ang Lee’s cinematography is truly mesmerising, with shots that would look just as at home on the wall of a photography gallery, but this is combined with career making performances from Ledger and Gyllenhaal which make the story so thought-provoking and so tragic. Ledger in particular, manages to portray so much while saying so little. This was the movie he should have got an Oscar for, although he will get one for Batman.
The score of Brokeback is also brilliant, written by the relatively unknown Gustavo Santaolalla and adding that final detail that makes this movie one of the best ever made.
So here is an example of a subtle plot and sweeping cinematography put together to make a film which has a real effect, and definitely one that I think everyone needs to see.