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The Dark Knight (2008)
Falls short of greatness
I finally watched it this evening and i have to say i was thoroughly entertained. no question about it. However, The Dark Knight falls short of greatness for several reasons. But if anything about the movie is great, then it has to be Heath Ledger's performance as the joker. I think he is the reason why some people are (wrongly) jumping on the bandwagon to label TDK as the greatest movie of all time. At best it might be the greatest superhero movie ever made but i wont pass any judgment on that particular point.
I give this movie a 7 and that is mostly because of the entertainment it provided and ledger's joker. I can't possibly give it more than a 7 after seeing how unconvincing the Harvey Dent/Two-face character became towards the end. His transformation is hardly given enough time and as a result is totally unconvincing. As far as i can remember, it was not foreshadowed either, nor did his actions later on make any sense (e.g. why would he let Joker go free but decide to kill Maroni (the mob leader)? because according to Two-face, "the Joker is just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash." lmao! give me a break!) Okay next up is the ferry subplot or whatever you might wanna call it. I've seen some people branding it as "useless". I beg to differ. I think the subplot/scene had great potential, only if the director/scriptwriter chose NOT to resort to the typical "good overcomes evil" thing which is prevalent in Hollywood and i guess in Disney and superhero movies in particular.
First of all, although none of the ferries blew each other up, the point that the Joker was trying to prove was well-proved (at least to the audience). Because, think about it. The ferry voted and as much 400 people were FOR blowing the other ferry up while ONLY 150 people were against it. however, when it came to actually press the button of the detonator, nobody had the guts to do it. Fair enough, but how in the world does that prove the Joker wrong? If anything, it proves that not only "deep down, everyone is as ugly as him", but they are cowards also! Therefore, to pass it off as some kind of a "good vs evil" thing where good wins the day is a futile attempt. And last but not least, the idea of all of Gotham's notorious thugs and criminals suddenly becoming moral beings with no intention of survival was laughable.
You see, this is where the Joker should have had his "moral" victory over Batman. The people in the ferries should have killed each other. And in that way, some kind of a balance would have been established and The Dark Knight would have truly become a "dark" film, because as we know, in the end Batman does not let the Joker win by taking all the blame on himself. And that brings me to the next point.
The ending was forced and didn't make much sense. So the highly principled DA of Gotham goes nuts after his fiancé's death and after losing half his face and then, ACTUALLY KILLED a mob leader and corrupt cops? And Batman takes the blame for this? lol WHY ON EARTH would people hate Batman for killing a mob leader and corrupt cops? Again, makes no sense.
So these are the few things that bugs me most and I'm not even gonna start with the pretty poor script with its flaws and stretches (which are quite a lot even for a superhero movie). As for the entertainment value, yes i was entertained as I've said before but i have to say that i found the action sequences to be very ordinary. I think at the end of the day, it is Heath Ledger who makes it a (slightly) better movie than Batman Begins. I can't say Christian Bale gave a good performance because frankly, he didn't have much to do! But it's a shame that we won't be seeing Heath Ledger in a Joker makeup again. It breaks my heart. If I give this movie a 7 out of 10, I would have to give Ledger a solid 10. I hope he at least gets an Oscar nomination.
Brick Lane (2007)
Okay let's see. First of all, I didn't think much of the book. The book was alright but the film is so bad that it doesn't even do justice to an okay book! The following is not a criticism of the book, rather a list of observations about the film only.
1. In the book, Monica Ali (author of the book) did NOT even suggest that Nazneen was sexually frustrated before her extra-marital affair. Now, one might argue that it is safe to assume that Nazneen was indeed sexually frustrated given the circumstances and you know what, I would probably agree with that. HOWEVER, we got to ask ourselves that if it is so obvious and realistic for Nazneen to be sexually frustrated, then why didn't Monica Ali choose not to highlight it so much? She did not because she DID NOT WANT it to be just another story about a woman with an unhappy sex life which leads her to cheat on her husband etc. I guess we can give kudos to Monica Ali for that.
But what about the movie? In the movie, the director has included a sex scene where she shows a completely disinterested Nazneen as her husband penetrates her. So what's the problem? The problem is that this scene gives out the impression that the dominant reason which drives Nazneen to be attracted to and have an affair with Karim is that she wants to satisfy her sexual desires. HOWEVER, that is NOT the main reason why Nazneen starts a relationship with Karim. (This brings me to the next point.)
2. Now, what is the real reason Nazneen is so attracted to Karim? Well, it is very clear in the book. Nazneen finds her husband Chanu to be a loser in life and an embarrassment. She finds her husband to be a total failure. She finds her husband to be a "weak man" and this bothers her. So when she comes across Karim, she is amazed by his smartness and his confidence. Nazneen thinks that Karim has a place in the world. She thinks Karim has great achievements (unlike her husband) and she immediately falls for it. However, as time passes, Nazneen realizes that Karim isn't really an accomplished man after all! In fact, if anything, he is much "weaker" than her husband. Therefore, it makes sense (in the book) when Nazneen tells Karim "We made each other up", in the crucial scene where she breaks the news to Karim that she doesn't want to marry him.
HOWEVER, in the movie, when Karim asks Nazneen "What did you want?", the answer that Nazneen gives to Karim is "I just wanted to feel like I was at home." Now, first of all, this is NOT the reason why she got involved with Karim and secondly, how on earth would an extra-marital affair make Nazneen (a God-fearing Muslim) feel at home?? Seriously, what was the director thinking!! This is not even believable! And lastly, if all Nazneen wanted was to feel at home, then her previous comment "We made each other up" doesn't make sense.
3. One of the most interesting aspects of the book was that Nazneen eventually starts to respect and perhaps even "love" her husband Chanu. Nazneen finally realizes that Chanu is actually a man of good heart and a loving and caring husband. She realizes that although Chanu can be quite self-delusional at times, he is not so stupid as she thought him to be. But most importantly, Nazneen also realizes that being a "strong man" isn't all there is to a person. And this is why, she starts to respect Chanu as a person and "love" him as her husband despite all his shortcomings.
HOWEVER, the movie hardly focuses on this change that has been taking place inside Nazneen. It tries to settle it in only one scene where Chanu intellectually confronts Karim in the Islamic meeting and wins the battle. But unfortunately, it simply wasn't enough. And that is why, when Nazneen tells Chanu that she loves him, it comes out as insincere, feigned and unconvincing. It is a huge let-down when you compare it with the emotionally charged scene in the book.
4. It is important to note that it wasn't only Nazneen who underwent a change. Chanu changed too! HOWEVER, the movie does NOT address this at all! Why exactly does Chanu want to leave England? What is it that is troubling him? Why can't he just "fit in" like many of his own generation? Unfortunately, the movie does NOT answer any of the above questions. Keep in mind that 9/11 only increased the tension Chanu was already feeling inside, it wasn't the cause. Chanu was struggling to reconcile the past with the present, the British colonial presence and plundering in the subcontinent with today's multicultural Britain. At the end, he realizes that he would never be able make England his home and he has to leave.
5. If you've read the book, you know that Monica Ali did NOT want to make a case against arranged marriage. At the end of the day, Nazneen was certainly better off than her sister who ran off with a guy to have a "love marriage" and ended up being a prostitute. If anything, Monica Ali shows that it is possible for arranged marriages to work out and "love marriages" to go terribly wrong. Perhaps that wasn't even what she wanted to convey! Perhaps the book simply isn't about arranged vs love marriage after all! HOWEVER, the movie doesn't adequately focus on Nazneen's sister (hell it doesn't even do justice to Nazneen herself) and therefore, it once again comes off as one of those anti-arranged marriage movies.
In short, the movie either ignores or fails to focus on the most interesting and unique aspects of the book. I would be pretty angry if I was Monica Ali.