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“It has been said that to write is to live forever. The man who said that is now dead.”

Month: July, 2008

The Dark Knight…

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

If you’d asked me how The Dark Knight was right after any of the 2 times I went to see it in the cinema, I would only have 1 word for you: “Whoa…”

Finally, everything you’ve heard, everything you’ve hoped for, is here…is true. This is Batman like never before.

I’m telling you, Christopher Nolan of Memento just can’t do no wrong at the moment. His Batman Begins was already very much the definitive Batman movie, so with such impossible expectations & anticipation from the entire globe for this second installment, what does he do? He blows us all away with some exceptionally sublime & original directing. The Dark Knight not only surpasses every of our over-hyped expectations, it is the mother of all superhero movies.

“Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Where do I even bloody start? Nolan once again pushes the limits of the superhero realm to be as realistic as possible. It does not get any closer than this. The storyline is gritty, complex & darker than ever, & the action scenes are spectacularly gripping. So many things were happening at once, with such a stunning plot that was so well-executed; I almost forgot to breathe. Not contemplated with that, Nolan even had a few turns & surprises along the way, just to completely knock the socks of us all. It was perfect, making The Joker the logic response to the Batman, & make no mistake, despite the fabulous & shocking Harvey Two-Face story (Nolan’s interpretation of how Dent became Two-Face was both original & more realistic), the face-off (direct or indirect) between Batman & the Joker throughout the entire 152 minutes is the real deal, making The Dark Knight chaotically beautiful & a complete glorious anarchy of a movie. Gotham City was brought to life in a much more vibrant way, allowing us to explore an alternate yet recognizable reality, & boy were Batman’s slender kevlar & gadgets cool this time. I absolutely loved how the Batpod was actually ejected out of the self-destructing Tumbler! & oh, Batman can turn his head now, lol! The one-liners of the script were well-structured & affecting, capturing our collective anxiety over the resurgent politics of hope.

“Let me get this straight. You think that your employer, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is spending his nights running around the city beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck.”

A lot has been said about the late Heath Ledger’s The Joker, so what can I say anymore? He was spectacular. Completely overturning & overwhelming Jack Nicholson’s version, Ledger comes up with a psychopathic terrorist version that not only scares the balls off you, but is strangely captivating &…funny. He balances the Joker’s sadistic nature with an enigmatic sense of wit, making his last complete performance an Oscar-deserving one. Who could ever forget the Joker’s scenes such as the disappearing pencil magic trick, his perfect Joker laugh, the lip-licking, the delayed hospital bombing scene, & lines like “very poor choice of words”, “you complete me” & “wanna know how I got my scars?”. Oh yes, Ledger sure was mind-blowing, & most importantly, The Joker was a worthy & mighty foe to Batman, in a more psychological way. Nolan does extremely well in structuring & prioritizing, pushing aside how the Joker schemes & plots his terrorism acts, instead concentrating on the bigger picture of how The Joker plotted the downfall of Gotham through the city’s white knight, Harvey Dent.

“The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

But, truth be told, no one was overshadowed. The cast was astonishing, yet again. Christian Bale was imperiously suave as Bruce Wayne, & as Batman was pushed to the limit, even losing his cool during the interrogation scene with Joker. Michael Caine returns as Alfred, & though he had lesser screen time, his interaction with Wayne was still as engaging & hilarious as ever. The same goes to Morgan Freeman, who seems to be appearing in every movie these days. I was most impressed however with Gary Oldman, who turned in an outstanding performance as Lt.-turned-Commissioner Gordon, justified by a much bigger role this time around. Most surprising of all was Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. I was not too excited when Eckhart got the role of Harvey Two-Face, but wow, he sure amazed me with his performance as the fallen hero of Gotham. The only disappointment for me from the casting & the entire movie in fact, is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes. Despite her being an improvement over Katie Holmes, I just can’t help but prefer someone like Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Connelly or heck even Rachel McAdams to play Dawes, especially since Dawes was a central role to the origins of Two-Face.

“See, I’m not a monster…I’m just ahead of the curve.”

What made my favourite superhero’s big screen movie even better were Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard. While Batman Begins’ scores were majestic, they were quite incomplete. This time, Zimmer’s heavy influences throughout the main themes are much more powerful, gloriously dark & thrilling. The Joker’s theme starts off the soundtrack album, & it was experimental, complex, & bloody brilliant. James Newton Howard’s contribution is more distinct this time with the Harvey Dent theme. All in all, a fantastic film score that enhances the film’s strength by a complete mile.

“You thought we could be decent men in an indecent world. But you were wrong; the world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance.”

I can say without doubt, that The Dark Knight not only kicks every other summer movie’s ass (yes, even Iron Man), it is well on it’s way to being the mammoth movie of 2008. It is currently #1 in IMDb’s Top 250 list & certified bloody 95% fresh in Rotten Tomatoes. It’s orgasmic to see my favourite superhero being brought to the big screen the way Nolan does it. Oh yes, The Dark Knight was a triumphant masterpiece. I left the cinema, twice, in full awe & respect for Nolan’s genius intelligence, a thunderous applause for the cinematography as well as the casts’ performance, & a tinge of sadness for a great talent tragically curtailed.

“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now…and so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a dark knight.”

Oh by the way, if you are looking for something different, please do try Once.

It’s a very independent, low-budget love story that is completely honest, sincere & charming. Revolving around a guy named Guy (Glen Hansard of The Frames) & a girl named Girl (Marketa Irglova) who both share the love for music, the film is not like any other musical, featuring some of the finest indie music for some time. However, be prepared to cringe at what is possibly the world’s most bashed-up acoustic guitar that ever survived & remained playable.

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Saying Good Byes…

Hoi! Stop blaming PETRONAS & start asking what the hell the Government has always been doing with the billions Petronas has given to the country!

& so the harrowing 32-week internship comes to an end.

As the last weeks overwhelmed yours truly so much, working his ass off till late hours while at the same time rushing to prepare the many paperwork, reports & the big final presentation for his university, anyone would have guessed that come the last day, it would have been like a huge relief for him that work life is coming to an end & now the author can look forward to returning to…um, Tronoh…wait a minute, did I just say look forward?

Even on the very last day of internship, I was rushing to finish up work, having such a short time to make the rounds to Level 48 and 49 of TM Tower to say my good byes to everyone. I didn’t even have time to join the other interns that were brought up to the helipad on the final day. But then, as the dust settled at about 8-9pm, & after my long talk with my supervisor cum Senior Manager, as I sat down to pack my things in my cubicle, preparing to type my good bye e-mails to those closest, it hit me how much the people in MBM have affected me & my life. Without going into details & much melancholic recollections, I am just utterly lucky & grateful to have encountered people like all my department members, the “aunties” in Level 49, & the girls; Anida, Pey Wen, Liz, Michelle (as well as motherly ex-Smart Theng Theng). Makes you think that sometimes perhaps even if the work kicks your nuts real hard, it’s the people that really make work life go past bearable into memorable. Kinda applies to UTP too ain’t it? It was also hilarious how during my farewell lunch, almost all of my division members fit into our very own 10-seater Vito van to go to lunch, with my German VP & my Senior Manager being made to sit at the rear seat!

As I leave all these wonderful people behind in hope that paths will intertwine some day, she has finally returned from overseas. & that, my friends, is a very good reason to smile.

~~*~~

Okay, so Hancock sort of bombed at the 2nd part of the movie. Not even the rather funny jokes in the 1st half or Will Smith’s quite impressive one-man-show could save this from being a mangled cock-crap with even poorer CGI. Wanted was stylish & Jolie was looking old but bloody delicious, but still…bending the bullet a full 360 degrees in a small confined hall? That aside, the whole car scene takes the cake. Hellboy II: The Golden Army was a whole bunch of entertainment as Guillermo del Toro gleefully unleashes waves of all kinds of monsters in full unstoppable glory. There’s really nothing to complain about; Selma Blair’s hair was ultra-hot, Hellboy really got to kick-ass & got some nice face-bashing himself, & behind-the-mask master Doug Jones shone through Abe Sapiens, the Angel of Death & the Chamberlain. It’s no classic (who the fark cares?), but it’s Hellboy, & I loved it.

But it was among all these continuing onslaught of summer blockbusters that I came across something entirely unexpected. On the night of my final day of internship, as I sat down at my computer desk late at night fully drained & feeling the effects of a 8-month training, scrolling through my massive movies collection wanting to click on something stupidly funny (in the line of Superbad or Harold & Kumar) to get my mind off everything, I found myself double-clicking instead on Grace Is Gone.

I didn’t know anything about the movie aside from the fact that John Cusack was in it, & I read about that somewhere a while ago. Initially thinking I was probably gonna end up just browsing through it anyway, I instead found myself still stuck to the same position on my seat 1.5 hours later, with tears welling up in my eyes. Oh yea, this so-called manly big chump almost cried like a bloody big-ass baby. ALMOST, okay?

At the heart of this story is John Cusack’s Stanley Phillips, an average Joe daddy trying to find the appropriate means & moment to tell his 2 young daughters about the demise of their mother, while himself fighting to cope with the reality of the death of his wife. Struggling & unable to face the moment of telling his older fast-maturing 12-year-old daughter, Heidi (a remarkable Shelan O’Keefe) & 8-year-old Dawn (Gracie Bednarczyk) that their mother died in battle in Iraq, he takes them on a trip to Enchanted Gardens theme park. A incredibly sad movie that barely mentions the Iraq war or even Stanley’s soldier wife (she does not even have a scene), the whole story focuses on Stanley & his two daughters, & in the bigger picture, how the Iraq war affects concerned loved ones. Remarkably subtle & not obviously dramatic, the many poignant moments shared between Stanley with Heidi & Dawn throughout the journey to Enchanted Gardens builds up to the big-time tear-jerking moment when Stanley finally finds the voice to speak the painful words to his daughters. Grace Is Gone has no plot twists or spoilers; we know that the inherent pain of tragic loss is coming, & it becomes even more painful for us as that emotional core is dangled in front of us for 1.5 hours.

The storyline hinges on the magnificent performance by the cast. John Cusack gives the performance of a lifetime as a restrained father struggling to cope & to take care of his 2 daughters. Cusack’s Stanley hardly gets to show his true thoughts & feelings, as he sole duty & responsibility goes to his daughters. Shelan O’Keefe does more than holding her own opposite Cusack, almost outshining Cusack as she goes through a period of self-discovery with her dad throughout the journey to Enchanted Gardens, while Gracie Bednarczyk’s Dawn injects effervescence to counter the heartrending drama circulating the movie. & surprise surprise, Clint Eastwood composed the plain but touching music score.

Grace Is Gone does not force any political stance on the Iraq war, just a look at humanity, at how we might deal with the tragic loss of life, & reflect on the effects of war. It is simple yet effective, subtle yet beautifully poignant, sensitively low-key but packs a huge emotional wallop, & it will stay on with you after the end of it all.

July 17th, the Dark Knight cometh. Are you ready?

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