Thursday, January 1, 2009

Film #100, and The Best Movie of 2008: The Fall (and Its Most Overrated Movie: The Dark Knight)

In the spring of 2008, I was wandering around New York City when I saw a stunning poster plastered all over a city wall.

Always on the lookout for new movie posters (which trump trailers as my preferred way of being notified about new films), I saw this masterful work of art glued to these battered bits of particle board and exclaimed inside "WHAT IS THIS??" I read the fine print. At the top, it said "David Finscher and Spike Jonze Present." Two heavy-hitter directors, that's for sure...but they just were generously lending their names as helpful "presenters" of the project, much like David Lynch did with Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, for instance. Still, I was impressed they liked this movie enough to do that.

And I read on. No one I knew was involved...and then I got to the writer and director credits. Tarsem Singh (pictured below), acclaimed director of arguably the best music video ever, REM's "Losing My Religion," was at the helm. I then knew The Fall was going to be an event. Singh's 2000 release The Cell was a flawed but strangely beautiful movie. However misbegotten it was (and I did have many problems with it), I knew when I saw The Cell that at least a new and ambitious autuer was upon us. But, by 2008, I had totally forgotten about Tarsem (as he was known earlier, in his MTV-Award-winning days). He had seemed to have disappeared from the moviemaking scene in the intervening years. So I got a rush when I saw that The Fall, after a long 2-year run as a film festival staple, was soon to hit theaters. I knew nothing about the movie's plot, and wanted to know nothing about it. I knew only that it had to be seen.



The Fall is the best movie of 2008 for a number of reasons. It reminds us of the power of imagination. It highlights an unusual relationship, beautifully played by two largely unknown leads. It is visually stunning (to say the least). And, though it is a period piece, set in the 1920s, it has a lot to say about the sickly current state of movies.

Now, I must go off on a tangent.

In a year that gave us not only the coddled, overrated The Dark Knight, but also Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Punisher, another James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace), another Indiana Jones movie (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and The Spirit, (not to mention TV's Heroes), I think its safe to say that the Superhero meme has taken over moviedom. And there's more to come, with Watchmen now being touted as the movie we should be most looking forward to in 2009 (yawn).


But what do superheroes mean to us moviegoers? Do we or should we care about them as characters? Take, for instance, Bruce Wayne--in my view, this is hardly a person about which we should give two shits. Honestly: it's hard to muster up any feeling whatsoever for spoiled rich boy Bruce Wayne and his dim, ineffective grappling with mental illness, and with the admittedly unfair and bloody death of his parents. Even The Dark Knight itself is clearly uninterested in him; unlike in the vastly superior Batman Begins, there's not one shining moment for its star, Christian Bale. Let's face what we all know to be true: The Dark Knight would not be memorable at all were The Joker not in it. Subtract the late Heath Ledger's truly incredible supporting performance from the mix and The Dark Knight melts into a shapeless mess. But this should come as no surprise. At its heart, in whatever form it takes, the Batman franchise is REALLY all about its villains; this makes Christopher Nolan's new take on Batman not so far away from its campy 60s-era TV progenitor, for which millions of viewers tuned in each week to see Vincent Price as Egghead, Cliff Robertson as Shame, Cesar Romero as The Joker, or Burgess Meredith as The Penguin (the show's impressive guest star roll call could go on and on). Already, love-blinded fanboys all over the net are frothing at the mouths as they speculate about who'll be cast as Batman's next big screen nemesis, with Marion Cotillard (Oscar winner for last year's wonderful La Vie En Rose) intriguingly being submitted in some corners as the perfect Catwoman.

See, the villain is definitely the thing. All the movie's irritating fans crow about is how "relevant" The Dark Knight is to our present socio-political climate, comparing it ridiculously to The Godfather Part II in terms of highbrow quality. Namely: they like to make correlations between the chaos-loving Joker and the terrorists bedeviling our collective psyche these days. But the terrorists aren't in this thing just to create upheaval (though it might seem as such by the less attentive among us); they've got they're own reasons for creating the mayhem that they do--some of them are even understandable (if reprehensible). To match their politically- and culturaly-motivated efforts up to The Joker's merely-for-sick-fun actions proves a particularly dim worldview is endemic amongst Batman fans.

I have to posit this thought as well: if Bruce Wayne is such a great guy, instead of spending all his money on thrillseeking battles with nasty people, why doesn't he give some of his trillions to the more downtrodden denizens of the world? The fact that so many movie fans hold the "hero" of The Dark Knight up to such high regard tells me one depressing thing: they think make-believe guys in tight suits who kick the asses off bad guys are MUCH more interesting than guys who might direct their efforts and their cash in much more conventionally constructive directions.

The amazing thing about Christopher Reeve as Superman was that, throughout his charming and heartfelt performance, he convinces us that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same person. Therefore, we cared. Not so with anyone who has played Batman in the movies. Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and Michael Keaton as Batman? Two different people. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Christian Bale as Batman? Two different people (and, yes, I realize that, in both cases, this is by design, but so what? It still distances us from the character, and stands as a fundamental flaw in the Batman persona). Dismissing the Val Kilmer and George Clooney Batmans outright, this makes Adam West the ideal Batman, 'cuz he's a campily square, unctuous ass with or without the blue leotard. But let's remember: Chris Reeve as Clark Kent and Chris Reeve as Superman? Same lovable, idealistic, moral guy. Thus, Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) and Superman II (Richard Lester, 1980) remain, for me, the best superhero movies made to date (not including Indiana Jones and James Bond movies; both are superheroes, yes, but cut from differing cloths).

With that in mind, Iron Man remains the finest all-out superhero movie of 2008--much more comprehensible and enjoyable than The Dark Knight--because it convinces us that Tony Stark is identical both outside and inside the Iron Man suit. This is only one reason why Iron Man is superior to The Dark Knight. And also: again, The Dark Knight would be a blah movie without The Joker. But who remembers the villain in Iron Man? No one. Why? Because the villain isn't the point there. The point is Tony Stark, our hero (humorously flawed as he is). He's the center of attention. And Robert Downey Jr's funny, gutsy, smarty-pants performance is the jewel in the movie's crown.

Now, why am I talking about Iron Man and The Dark Knight so much in a review that's ostensibly about The Fall? Simple. The Fall, too, is about superheroes. But it casts them as vulnerable humans. AND it takes care to recognize what worth such characters add to our lives. These are exactly the elements that superhero movies need to survive and thrive.

The Fall takes place at a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920s. Roy (Lee Pace) is a different kind of superhero--a silent movie stuntman. But he's been explosed to a glum reality: he's not indestructible. He's been seriously injured while performing superhuman feats for the camera. Now he's in this hospital, recovering not only from paralysis, but from a broken heart as well. It is the latter malady, in fact, that has festered and become more serious. Jilted in romance, Roy now wants to take leave of life by suicide. Only problem is, his damaged legs won't allow him to procure the morphine needed to ensure his death.
The Fall is very much also about lies and their intrinsic relationship to storytelling, so it shouldn't come as a shock that Roy feels forced to LIE to someone in order to get his precious morphine. That someone is Alexandria, played by the mesmerizing Catinca Untaru. Alexandria is a vivacious, intelligent 6-year-old with an arm that may or may not have been broken by an abusive father. While poking around the hospital, she strikes up a conversation with Roy, and the two become fast friends. Desperate to connect with someone, Roy also targets Alexandria as someone who can be easily manipulated. So he regales and slyly blackmails her with episodes from a floral fairy tale involving six incredible men: The Blue Bandit (played by Emil Hostina at first, then later by Pace); explosives expert Luigi (Robin Smith); master of knowledge Charles Darwin (Leo Bill); an all-powerful Indian (Jeetu Verma); a mystical swordsman (Julian Bleach); and a muscular African slave (Marcus Wesley). This unforgettable team of heroes band together on a hunt for the head of the evil Spanish Governor Odious (Daniel Caltagirone), who's horribly (and humorously) wronged them each.

Roy's telling of this story -- or, more specifically, Alexandria's imagining of it -- provides The Fall with its most stupendous imagery. Some reviewers faulted the film for not making this part of the movie more clearly plotted. But the fact is that the fantastical portions of The Fall do not constitute the film's point; they are, after all, representations of a story that's being made up on the fly, for ulterior motives, and as such the story's holes intentionally appear. These are lusciously fun scenes to watch, but Tarsem Singh clearly wants to interest us more in how the bond between Roy and Alexandria is to play out. That said, just take a look at this gorgeous gallery of images from the fantasy sequences in The Fall and tell me, with a straight face, that this is not a movie that NEEDS to be seen.




Pace and especially Untaru are mesmerizing in their roles. In reading about The Fall, I've discovered that Singh actually tricked Untaru--who was too young to take direction--into delivering much of her performance, filming when she wasn't aware that the cameras were rolling. This doesn't make her showing here any less perfect. Untaru, with her chubby face and big eyes, delivers for me the single best bit of acting of 2008. And Pace is nearly her equal! Their funny, quirky, emotional scenes together are unforgettable.

I love how The Fall ends up being a movie about the movies. It makes the connection between the wonder moviegoers must have felt at watching the world's first films being projected right in front of them, and the wonder most of us present-day moviegoers want to feel again. And I love how, even though it's a superhero movie, it's quick to remind us that even superheroes must die. And I love that the film is basically an extended homage to The Wizard of Oz (each of the fantasy characters also appear in Alexandria's "real" life--just like The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, The Wicked Witch, and The Wizard were "played" by people in Dorothy's Kansas).
Here at 2008's end, I'm wondering still why I'm not hearing more about The Fall. Why is it not on more year-end top ten lists? And why is it not in serious contention for the Best Picture Oscar? It's the year's biggest independent movie, fully financed by the money Singh made by directing TV commercials and music videos (the globetrotting Singh worked for four years on the film, and must have set a record for the number of locations used: the hospital scenes were filmed in South Africa, and the fantasy scenes were filmed in--get this--India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brazil, Los Angeles, France, the Fiji Islands, China, Romania, Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Nepal, Egypt, Argentina, and the South Pacific's Andaman Islands). It clearly sports the year's most opulent production design (by Ged Clarke), costumes (by Bram Stoker's Dracula Oscar winner Eiko Ishioka), music (by Krishna Levy), makeup (by Leon Von Solms), and photography (by Colin Watkinson). And, written by Singh, Dan Gilroy and Nico Soultanakis, it easily stands alongside Charlie Kaufman's also-underseen Synecdoche, NY as 2008's most original movie (even if it is a remake of an little-seen 1981 film called Yo Ho Ho). It's a mystifying crime of colossal magnitude that The Fall isn't being seen and loved by more people. It certainly has more brains, heart, and pure gumption than that lazy ol' Dark Knight.

23 comments:

MovieJake said...

THE FALL was the most daring, cerebral, embracing and beautiful film of 2008. Who wants to watch that? Bring on Delgo 2!

yabbadoody said...

I've been saying the same things about the recent Batman and Iron Man movies in passing conversations... and I truly dug The Cell, if only for it's other-worldly qualities and daring, opulent imagery.

BTW -- I feel 'Batman' as a franchise is ripe for a great fall. Personally? I think he's done... as in overdone, uninteresting, and now perhaps even cursed so that the bad guys will always win, regardless of whatever he chooses, regardless of the outcome.

That's just not 'superhero' stuff for me, and this seems so for all of the reasons you mention. He's a stuffed carbon-fiber-metal suit with a nasty-voice modulator, lots of expensive gadgets and moral quandries nobody else seems to care about. His exalted position in social life means little to anyone else, and seemingly even less to him with each new episode -- so where then is his moral imperative?

I believe you're correct in perhaps assuming that his lust for crime-fighting isn't really propelled by notions of justice, but rather pure pathos -- revenge in fact, and quite oddly misplaced.

It's been more like a pissing contest between 'Supercop' and the baddest-ass villain currently available in Gotham, propelled by a revolving 'cage match' mentality with each new release. This trend seems to have culminated in The Dark Knight, despite Ledger's performance.

And ditto -- whomever cast Adam West for the tv show was an effing genius, way ahead of their time. Great stuff, and humanistic.

Many props to Christopher Reeve for living a life of example, and here's to (perhaps?) others learning to follow in those footsteps.

NoirishCity.... said...

Hi! Dean,
All I can say to you about the film "The Fall" is Thank-you!...
...for "introducing me to this film!
Happy New Year! Dean, to you and the "boys!"...here's hoping that you have a good one in 09'

The "Dame"

Anonymous said...

Man, you nailed it.

"The Dark Knight" is easily the most overrated movie of the year. I'm dumbfounded by the number of ten-best lists it's turning up on. I wonder how much of it is sentiment based on Heath Ledger's performance (which is quite good) and how much of it is an effort to be hip and populist at a time when movie critics are being shown the door at a lot of daily newspapers. For a while, I thought it was only David Denby, David Edelstein and me who were underwhelmed by it.

When Heath Ledger is off-screen in that movie, it sags. It's overlong, incoherent and bombastic. The theater I saw it in had the volume at Metallica-concert levels. And what was up with that awful 80s-looking haircut that Aaron Eckhart wore in that thing? No big city DA I'm aware of would sport something like that.

--Brad Hundt

Kotto said...

with all due respect, i couldn't disagree more about a film. while i will concede it's a cinematographer's, production designer's, art director's and costumer's wet dream...the fall is also a screenwriter's nightmare. IMHO, the story is painfully trite, contrived, hollow and show-offy (in other words, it's precisely what you'd expect from a hack music video director).

despite being slightly better, it shares a lot of flaws in common with gilliam's tideland - both films that desperately wish they could capture the magic of a child's imagination (ala pan's labryinth). in the end, both feel as if they're little more than an adult's imagining of what a child's imagination must be like.

as for TDK, i think you're kinda missing the point. bruce wayne is an anti-hero, NOT a moralistic superhero in the vein of (yawn) superman. just like he is in miller's graphic novel, the line between whether he's as bad as bad guys, is very thin.

i concede, the movie wouldn't be much if you took out ledger/joker but you could nit-pick every movie ever made if you reduced it to worthlessness by taking out one key element (imagine star wars w/o darth vader). but what's the point? the joker IS in the film, just like darth IS in star wars.

for mewhat made TDK one of the best films of the year is that, ultimately, it ISN'T a mere superhero movie. the screenplay is layered with volumes of subtext intended to comment on our current social/political climate, making it resemble something like the godfather more than anyone in tights. there's a lot of parallels between michael corleone and bruce wayne and perhaps this muddled morality is what turns people off...but for me, this is what makes it cut closer to home.

i think my blogging partner kuraz made some points in TDK's defense worth considering as well.

i suppose in the end it's all subjective, but i think what makes wayne interesting is that he's far more complex than you seem to be willing to give him credit for. it might not be your cup of tea, but i like my heroes prefixed with an "anti" and all the complicated issues that come with it

Tony Dayoub said...

Kotto,

We'll have to agree to disagree on The Fall. But I have something to say about TDK (and this is directed more at TDK's cult than yourself, K).

I liked TDK somewhat, but I really don't think it's lost on Dean or anyone else that Bruce Wayne/Batman is a complicated antihero ala Michael Corleone. That's the point. A lot of TDK defenders act like this should be a major revelation to anyone outside the fanboy mafia. However, anyone well-versed in cinema can see the subtext easier than a Joker-sized hammer headed for the top of one's head.

And Heath Ledger's performance? It's great, as I noted on my blog. But it's been elevated to an unusual height by his unfortunate death. I mean there's a petition going around from Heath Ledger fans asking that the character of the Joker be retired from any further Batman movies. Get a life, nitwits.

The problem with TDK, and the reason why I can't call it one of the best of the year, is basic. The third act seems like it was edited by an amateur. Any momentum built up by the film is lost because of the viewers' inability to coherently follow anything after Batman turns his night-vision on, a major problem when trying to figure out what's going on in multiple levels of a building in which Bats is fighting. Even the mediocre Daredevil did a better job with this effect.

More issues with TDK's lack of coherence in its editing are discussed in a series of posts at Jim Emerson's scanners

Kotto said...

tony (and dean): i will concede that TDK has been over-hyped, but i think that might have something to do with 2008 being a rather thin year for movies. by comparison to the hollywood dreck out there TDK seemed to be a giant among gerbils.

i will also concede that the last 45-minutes drags a bit and doesn't feel entirely coherent with the rest of the film. nevertheless, i've watched TDK 3 times now (twice at home) and (for me) it stands up to the small screen as well as it did on the big.

i think a film as wildly successful as it was is doomed to suffer from a backlash...but to steal a lyric from a sloan song: it's not the band i hate, it's their fans.

Tony Dayoub said...

"i will concede that TDK has been over-hyped, but i think that might have something to do with 2008 being a rather thin year for movies. by comparison to the hollywood dreck out there TDK seemed to be a giant among gerbils."

True, if you only watch Hollywood dreck. But if you keep up with the non-mainstream films, 2008 was pretty rich. Che, Synecdoche, New York, Waltz with Bashir, The Wrestler were but only a few examples of the year in film.

"...but to steal a lyric from a sloan song: it's not the band i hate, it's their fans."

You said it.

Dean Treadway said...

I couldn't have said it better myself, Tony. Thanks for stepping in there.

But I do need to add a couple of things:

1) Travis Bickle is an anti-hero. Hud is an anti-hero. Even Michael Myers is an anti-hero. Batman is not. I don't see anything he's done in either of the two movies that warrants him being considered any darker than Superman. What, so he's screwed up in the noggin? That doesn't make him an anti-hero. He's still out there fighting the good fight, with the police on his side, spending millions in the process. He's an asshole, really, but he's not an anti-hero. Just because TDK ridiculously tries to frame him as one (sending him on his bike at the end) doesn't make it so. You've just bought into the hype, Kotto, I'm afraid.

2) The Joker is NOT the film. The film exists for a good 20-30 dull minutes before he even shows his face, and plods on for another 35 or so minutes after he's gone. It's a SUPPORTING performance, remember. I will concede that he's the ONLY good thing in the film. But that's not saying that he IS the film.

3) I added a new paragraph to my story in your honor, Kotto:

"All the movie's irritating fans crow about is how "relevant" The Dark Knight is to our present socio-political climate, comparing it ridiculously to The Godfather Part II in terms of highbrow quality. Namely: they like to make correlations between the chaos-loving Joker and the terrorists bedeviling our collective psyche these days. But the terrorists aren't in this thing just to create upheaval (though it might seem as such by the less attentive among us); they've got they're own reasons for creating the mayhem that they do--some of them are even understandable (if reprehensible). To match their politically- and culturaly-motivated efforts up to The Joker's merely-for-sick-fun actions proves a particularly dim worldview is endemic amongst Batman fans."

As far as THE FALL goes, I've stated my case about its worth clearly in my article. I'm unwavered by your dislike of the film. I chalk it up to an emotional problem. But I'm glad you saw it.

Kotto said...

tony, i try to keep up with everything and in 2008 very few slipped thru my fingers. "Che, Synecdoche, New York, Waltz with Bashir, The Wrestler were but only a few examples of the year in film" but NONE of them come close to no country for old men, there will be blood, the assassination of jesse james, control...to name only a few. if TDK was released in 2007 i don't think it would have cracked too many critics/bloggers top 5 lists.

Tony Dayoub said...

I must see Jesse James, I admit. And you're right about There Will Be Blood. But I'll stack any of mine against your other ones any time, Kotto.

Kotto said...

dean, i think the problem with your anti-TDK bias might have something to do with the fact you don't seem to remember it. "2) The Joker is NOT the film. The film exists for a good 20-30 dull minutes before he even shows his face, and plods on for another 35 or so minutes after he's gone."

- TDK opens with the joker's bank heist. ok fine, he's wearing a mask...yet if that's your argument, then this devil's advocate will remind you batman wears one throughout the entire movie.

and for the record, i don't remember ever saying the joker WAS the movie. he's obviously a very memorable part of it and the film would suffer w/o his presence, but that's a moot point no different than saying star wars wouldn't be as good w/o darth vader or citizen kane without an inanimate sled.

as for not being an anti-hero, i suppose that's an argument that holds water IF we only define an anti-hero as someone who kills. i don't. he operates in a moral/ethical grey area, disregards laws, breaks bones and lives by the credo that bureaucracy has failed to combat crime, therefore his vigilante actions will have to. he's a cynic, a skeptic, a critic, arrogant and narcissistic. reminds me of one of my other favorite anti-heroes: bobby dupea (another example of anti-hero with no blood on his hands).

Kotto said...

and dean, ad hom attacks do little to prove a point. personally, i don't think you did state your case clearly about the fall.

the tacked on ending with a montage of clips from silent films hardly makes this a film about films. in fact the ending is so abrupt, limp and half-hearted that there's no real justification for roy's sudden change of heart. he's a manipulative coward who pines over lost love (boo-hoo you pussy, who hasn't had their heart broken? do we all put a gun in our mouths and pull the trigger?) and his last pathetic stab at pulling his jock up from around his ankles hardly feels sincere except to service a nice, neat character arc that serves the purpose of a "huh?" happy ending.

and the colorful collection of eclectic characters/heroes he's assembled and developed for two hours all meet such empty boba-fett fates that it begs the question: why bother with them in the first place if they're so readily disposable? the answer is obvious: he doesn't care about people, he cares about impressing us with spectacle.

the fall watches like a two hour demo reel screaming to be noticed and desperate to be applauded. but the truth is, traveling to 17 countries to make a film isn't impressive, it's revelatory, calling attention to a ego-centric director determined to show off. a great film doesn't need 17 different countries to make it impressive...but alas, the fall does.

pomp and flash aside, it's story is overwrought with so much formulaic tripe that it begs to be compared to a calvin klein ad or any other 30 second to 3 minute clip that tries to tap into our basest emotions in a vain attempt to manipulate us.

the entire "love" story is non-existent, in fact i can't even remember seeing the woman roy was so devastated by. there was no motivation for his (literally) crippling love, no development for his actions and little more than a few cute moments with a girl who the director brags about tricking into getting a performance. furthermore, what kind of a director would brag about tricking/manipulating an actor into a performance? one with little respect for anyone other than himself.

but roy's love story IS irrelevant, just as the little girl's is. singh uses these devices to try to convince us there's something important going on, but the truth is, he uses both stories as a vehicle to get back to what's really important to him: showing us the wildly imaginative and visually stunning set pieces he's put all of his efforts into crafting.

there's a reason this film barely registered a blip on the radar: it's an empty film full of dazzling eye candy. in ten years from now TDK will still be talked about, but the fall will be completely forgotten (just as it was completely overlooked).

Kotto said...

tony, as far as schmaltzy love stories goes i'll take 2007's once over the fall any day of any year. who needs to shoot in 17 countries over four years when you can shoot in one city on a few video cameras over the course of a few weeks. once is proof that a good story is a good story regardless of how impressive or, as in once's case, unimpressive your visuals are.

Tony Dayoub said...

Kotto, I think you're getting yourself so wound up that you forget that The Fall isn't Roy's love story. It's the little girl's story of faith and imagination.

Also, no one's comparing it to 2007's films, just 2008's. We'd have an endless conversation if we could keep shoehorning in films from previous years just to make our respective points.

Kotto said...

tony, i beg to differ. i believe it's the story of how a director wants to manipulate his audience into believing it's a story about a little girl's imagination.

singh doesn't understand people, he understands images and this is precisely why he seems incapable of depicting people w/o resorting to cliches instantly recognizable to audiences.

this is how advertising works, it's a shorthand means to cut to the chase...but in a 2 hour narrative this knee-jerk sentimentality not only feels insincere, it tends to insult one's intelligence.

now i'm not saying it's a terrible film (as you'll see on my blog, i rated it a 6/10) and it does indeed have some merit (chiefly, its visual aspects). perhaps getting "wound up" has more to do with my exception to the hyperbolic fervor both you and dean are expressing (which prompted me to watch it - yes i want my 2 hours back! even my gf had the presence of mind to bail on it after 30 minutes).

perhaps i'm guilty of playing devil's advocate (again) since this variety of excessive praise seems (to me) reminiscent of the same TDK fanboy's praise dean can't seem to voice a requisite amount of contempt over.

for the record (whatever that is), i do like TDK and I might possibly consider it the best comic book film, but it's NOT in the same league as the godfather part 2...even if it does share some commonalities.

to butcher kant, beauty is one part fact, one part opinion, both of which are colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer. to be fair, i've only seen the fall once and perhaps it was tainted by my state of mind. on the other hand, i've seen TDK 3 times and have read many convincing arguments why it deserves to be praised. so far i haven't read anything convincing about the fall besides what i already knew: that it's a visual beast.

Kotto said...

tony, my reference to once wasn't to compare 2007 to 2008, it was to draw attention to how much can be done with so little and that ultimately, good story always transcends good visuals...at least in narrative filmmaking.

Kotto said...

dean, regarding your reference to other anti-heroes i overlooked your mention of hud. my mistake. in other words: disregard my assumption you were referencing only anti-heroes with blood on their hands.

Dean Treadway said...

Well, there's no way I can change your mind about THE FALL, obviously, Kotto, so I won't waste my effort. It's a shame you couldn't see the movie for what it is. My guess is you couldn't just go with this tale about LIES and STORYTELLING--perhaps you made the decision not to cotton to the two main characters early on. You decided one was a pussywhipped wimp (and yes, lots of people kill themselves over unrequited love--where have YOU been?). You decided the other was a stupid little girl barely worth your time. And the "superheroes" in it weren't super enough to survive to THE FALL 2, so you dismissed them, too. Really, I think you're confused as to what the film is about. It isn't about the lost love. It isn't about the group of heroes. It's about a relationship between a suicidal man and a lonely little girl who's taken a shine to him. I wouldn't classify my love of the movie as being on the same shrill level as those that love TDK. That cult is as vocal as they come (about a movie that didn't need praise, since it opened at 2300 theaters simultaneously). THE FALL, on the other hand, is a movie that's loved by a few, and deserves at least to be seen by a few more; I'm doing whatever I can to see that it gets seen. You might have not liked it, but lots of other people do and will.

Your criticism of Singh as a showoff because he decided to eschew CGI and actually show people the world rings hollow. I guess you would find it more humble if he had just done the whole movie in front of a green screen. So lemme get this straight: Nolan ISN'T showing off, spending $200 million or whatever on a labyrinthine Batman movie, but Singh IS by spending 1/10th of this sum on a movie that's 10 times better looking. Hell, so what? Gimme the showoff any day. Nothing in movies is about being humble. If it were, we wouldn't be seeing any of them.

Kotto said...

dean, i must be doing a horrible job trying to make my point because you've completely misinterpreted me. before you take any more liberties with my assessment of the fall, let me make it clear: i DID like roy (coward or not), i DID like the cute little girl and even someone as clueless as me could figure out that the movie is SUPPOSED to be about their rel'ship. the theme of storytelling and lies wasn't hard to miss either since (in the precious little screen time allotted to developing the ACTUAL characters of the film) singh wasted no time hitting me over the head with his themes/motifs. my point is (and has always been): the human relationships in the fall completely lost out to singh's wholehearted commitment to his visual flights of fancy.

as for red herrings/straw men about CGI, again...not the point i'm trying to make. spectacle is spectacle and storytelling is storytelling. who cares what you do or how you do it as long as the story is given precedent. i find it ironic that if the fall truly is a film about storytelling, it would fail so miserably at trying to tell the one central to it.

i really don't think i'm off base criticizing this movie for being a spectacle about storytelling instead of being a spectacular story. singh definitely dazzled us with a visual spectacle and, based on our two positions, it seems some were seduced by it and others were not. so be it...although i'd be interested in hearing your opinion after a few more sittings. i'm convinced this is a movie that will not stand up to multiple viewings. only time will tell.

Dean Treadway said...

Seeing it twice in two days at the same theater and being moved equally by it both times is proof enough of its worth for me. End of story. Final word.

Kotto said...

not quite...time between screenings and seeing it on the small screen are good tests to a films durability. a lot of what we see/feel is affected by time/space/mood/etc., so in the end only time will tell.

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