The Dark Knight Rises

I enjoyed Batman Begins but I absolutely loved Batman Returns; I still think it’s one of the best action-thrillers ever. And having seen a conversation with Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas at the Produced By Conference this June (did you know they made their first film for $6000 only in 1997….) I was looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And what a film it turned out to be. I can’t really explain the plot, but I can tell you it’s the most amazing, disturbing, discombobulating piece of theater. And I don’t just mean that it’s a flawless artwork – though it absolutely is. Every scene is meticulously rich in detail. It’s the political dimensions to the film that are so thought-provoking – the anarchy, the random, vicious violence, the one percenters on trial and chucked into the streets or arbitrarily judged and executed by a braying mob. No, not a fun ride at all. But brilliant nonetheless.

Of course from a locations point of view, Gotham City is New York City and it looks great here – even though a lot of the actual filming took place in Pennsylvania, California, London and elsewhere. Wayne Hall is Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire in the UK, prompting the BBC to predict massive tourism increase to the property.

I should add: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is just outstanding. Outstanding. It’ll change your opinion of her. Joseph Gordon-Levitt too. Outstanding. Only downside: Tom Hardy. It’s like Sean Connery meets Darth Vader.

Get Smart

A lot of the criticism of Get Smart – the Steve Carell / Anne Hathaway spy comedy – is that it doesn’t live up to the original tv series. But having never seen the tv show, I’ve no idea what they’re talking about. All I have to go on is a smileworthy movie with likeable stars (though hardly exuding crackling chemistry – inspite of the plastic surgery sub-plot she seems about a decade too young for him) and a thoroughly silly but happy plot.

Carell plays Maxwell Smart, a data analyst for a top secret government agency called CONTROL. Think Andy Stitzer with better gadgets. Following an attack on CONTROL’s hideaway HQ, the identities of all its agents are collectively compromised, meaning that the earnest Max is finally called upon to enter the field. I’m not really sure what happens next, but there’s a lot of explosions, funny dancing, some sky diving, and some hammy bad guys. Teamed with the beautiful Agent 99 (Hathaway) they trek to Russia on something of a goosechase (Red Square looks nice though) and end up at the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, where a nuclear bomb’s timed to go off in the last few bars of Ode to Joy. Oh joy.

Undeniably daft. But what a remarkable looking building is the Disney Hall – it’s like the shed skin of the slimy monster in Deep Rising. Who knew?