Thursday, June 16, 2005

Review Of Batman Begins

**spoilers beware, as usual**

Does everyone in Singapore have the flu?! Watching movies in the theatre is proving to be a health hazard.

But still, I stoically braved the germ clouds swirling around me, and received a great payoff.

Batman Begins is, to put it simply, a magnificent film.

Not in terms of cinematography - dark, depressing, filthy and wet.

Not in terms of visual effects - next to none.

No, I love this movie because of its minimalist approach - strong actors, a beautiful script, impeccable direction - all of which come together in a perfect mesh of masterful story-telling.

No point delving into the plot details unless you've been living under a rock this past year. Let's talk about the players instead.

Christian Bale excels as the tortured protagonist. The old soul from Empire Of The Sun has always made bold choices in his career ( except for the foppish Laurie in "Little Women" ). His performance in "American Psycho" was absolutely chilling, and he infuses Batman with that same intimidating glint in the eyes. Bruce Wayne isn't an easy role to play, but Bale manages to succeed very admirably. Definitely the best so far.

The supporting cast boasts so much talent my head was practically spinning. Michael Caine as loyal butler Alfred, Morgan Freeman as genius inventor Lucius Fox, Liam Neeson as vigilante warrior Henri Ducard, Gary Oldman as police sergeant ( and later Commissioner ) Gordon, even Rutger Hauer ( check him out in "Ladyhawke" with then-unknown co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick - a real treasure ).

Standouts, however, aren't even A-listers.

Tom Wilkinson, aka quietly unhinging dad from "In The Bedroom", is perfect as a drug-smuggling mob boss, complete with Brooklyn accent and a whole lot of attitude.

My favourite, though, is Cillian Murphy, an actor I don't think I've ever even seen until now. His Scarecrow is almost tacky ( mask comprising an old tattered sack, weapon of choice a hallucinogenic powder ), but he swings between composed psychiatrist Dr. Crane and crazed lunatic with such skill it's just a huge pleasure to watch. Just as I spotted Colin Farrell in "Minority Report", I'm predicting great things for Murphy in the near future. Wouldn't want him to get typecast, but villains might actually be his forte.

Katie Holmes is a nice distraction to round off an otherwise all-male ensemble. She didn't flex her acting chops much here, but I've seen her do better elsewhere, so you may want to rent a few a few of her other shows if you're curious ( e.g. Abandon, The Gift, Dawson's Creek ).

Chris Nolan became one of my favourite directors after "Memento", the same way Steven Soderbergh did with "Traffic", and M. Night Shyamalan with "Sixth Sense".
Nolan demonstrates awesome vision, especially in scenes depicting horrific images - all those hallucinations induced by Crane's drugs, and a nail-biting chase at a harbour where Batman picks off targets like a vampire swooping down from the sky.
He handles the emotional content deftly, and draws the most gentle yet powerful performances from the entire cast.

In a word, WOW.

It just wouldn't be right to leave out any mention of the script, which was co-written by Nolan himself. I haven't heard such poignant dialogue in quite a while - especially in a film about a caped crusader ( although "Spiderman 2" comes to mind ).

One of the best lines that I remember:
"Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding."

Take a moment to absorb the sheer poetry. :)

Was hoping to catch "War Of The Worlds" before I leave for Italy, but it may not be possible if this intractable exhaustion continues.

The good news is, something's being done about it. And about time too.

Eye For A Guy 2

I haven't been writing about this much lately, but truth be told, I really feel for Howard, who came in second in the final episode.

All I can say is:

1. Wolfgang isn't my idea of the better guy, but Denise made the right choice.

2. What's with Denise's sudden onset of tics and uncontrollable shoulder-swaying? A little irritating, but could just be nerves.

3. Howard seems like a sweet fellow - heck, even my mom likes him. Judging from the votes for the upcoming Eye For A Girl series, he looks set to be the next Bachelor. Here's hoping he'll find a nice lady, whichever route he chooses.

Great Medical Disasters by Richard Gordon

This is a darn fine book, I must say. Hilarious, educational, occasionally shocking, but always beautifully written, it's got me staying up way past my bedtime - not that it makes my reading any faster.

Am now in the 'Germ Warfare' section ( other categories include 'Disastrous Doctors', 'Malpractice Madness' and 'Sexual Entrapments' ), which deals with Typhoid Mary, tuberculosis and the Spanish flu, the last described as "a malign Puck" which "girdled the earth".

More terrific quotes to follow - I have to log off soon to catch "Lost". :)

My New Weapon

A metallic blue Nikon Coolpix 5900, purchased in less than 30 minutes at a Funan Centre shop which is extremely well-known within medical circles. Lots of freebies, great service ( if you know the right names to mention ), and ahem, surreptitiously lengthened warranty periods.


Reading his blog entries made me realize that... he was being boring ON PURPOSE.

Why did he even ask me to dinner in the first place then? Yeesh.

The Days Are Numbered

14 left and I'm outta here. Throw your worst at me. Nothing can possibly get me down. :)


It's the Turned-Thirty Syndrome.

Just did something that might blow up in my face, but went ahead with it anyway.

I must admit I'm feeling quite proud of myself. :D

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