Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Nolan’

What’s with Christopher Nolan and his love/ penchant for quoting from classics. If it was Charles Dickens “A Tale of 2 Cities” that served as inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises, this above mentioned quote seems to be the inspiration for the latest Nolan pic, Interstellar. Not much is known about Interstellar. Shrouded in secrecy until the 2nd trailer that came out recently, especially in this age of the leaking of pics of initial scenes to build out the hype (yes, I am looking at Zack Snyder), the details that we know about the movie pretty much talk about the how earth cannot survive and a teary Mathew McConaughey heading out on his way for interstellar travel. With a November time slot for release, Nolan is playing well outside the typical summer blockbuster release window paving the way for hope that this might turn out to be a more balanced, human drama with a good story rather than a smorgasbord of special effects and cringe inducing dialogs.And not to be forget suitably operatic score by Hans Zimmer as usual

 

One business that seems to be gently heading into the night is specialty book stores. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been getting SMSs on massive discounts at Landmark. This seemed to be in line with the rumors that Landmark was shutting down. And lo, when I visited Landmark at Citi Center over the weekend, it was a grim sight. In the words of Matt Farrell in Die Hard 4 – “That’s why they call it a fire sale, because everything must go”. Everything was gone or going. Insane discounts – 80% off on most of the books. Vast empty shelves lining up the walls with a few books on the central displays being aggressively hunted by the few people who wanted to make the most of it (including yours truly), it reminded me of a corpse being pecked away by a group of vultures.

 

Everything Must Go!!!!! photo 2

This being the 2nd such fire sale of a large book store chain that I have witnessed (the first being Borders in NYC, a huge store in downtown where literally everything had to go, even book shelves at $50 and books at 50 cents) begets the thought on why are things in such a state. It is easy and convenient to blame a variety of factors. Disruptive innovation in the medium of sales through the likes of Amazon, Flipkart et al. Disruptive innovation in technology through the proliferation of ebooks, the convenience of which makes life infinitely easier. A general decline in reading habits and time (sheesh, I sound like an oldie but sadly, its true) is definitely another key factor. Also, the fact that it’s easier to watch a movie based on a book rather than read the book itself. An avid reader as myself, I have also been guilty of the first two. Its been ages since I went into a bookstore and from a purely convenience reason, of the 30 odd books I have read this year, just 2 have been hard copies. (To be entirely honest, I do end up buying hard copies of books that I really loved in the year as e-books, mostly the first book in a series)

That being all said and done, isn’t the purpose of a business in staying relevant in current times, linked to adjusting itself to market dynamics? With nimbleness being the order of the day for e-retailers, to mangle and mash what Louis Gerstner said, can the modern day elephants of book shops really dance? Staying true to my profession, the answer of course is, it depends and for more details, I would need a charge code :). Maybe the day of the large specialty book store is really done and the way forward is to

1) Potentially co-exist with other retailers (like what Crosswords has done).

2) Embrace concept of online book stores and formats and price accordingly given that a few controllable cost elements can be levered. After all, customer needs and whom they buy for are more often than not tied to prices

3) Aggressively open up smaller stores in airports and railway stations, after all those are the places for impulse purchases especially when you dont want to make conversation 😛

If nothing, book publishers and authors should be all the more concerned on how fast things are going down and the current situation involving Amazon and Hachette. Without taking sides in that battle, at the end of the day, it is a situation of one powerful entity trying to impose what it feels best for the customers (apparently) on an erstwhile powerful entity who is defending its position as being the best for authors (again, apparently). While there is truth on both sides, ultimately this protracted battle’s victims are reading customers and authors. A sad state of affairs indeed.

 

On a happier note, my scavenging efforts yielded 3 books

photo

 

1) Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons – A sequel to what is the best Science Fiction book I have read

2) Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson, Malazan Book 9 – Now that after 4 tries and 2 years, I have gotten done with Malazan Book 1, I feel myself strangely ambitious in completing what is at times the most frustrating, challenging and complex read I have ever had

3) The City’s Son by Tom Pollock – London. Underworld. Urban Fantasy. All checked

For books costing Rs. 1200, I got all of these for a cool 120 bucks. 90% off. Insane

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No direct spoilers but yes, if you read between the lines, you should get it. So beware J (especially those of you who have been hiding under the rock and have not seen the movie)

This is not going to be a review. Its far too late for that & quite a few of them have already surfaced & been devoured the way any prime real estate has been devoured by our politicians (see what I did there). These are things that I jotted down during the repeated viewings of the movie & finally got a chance to document it

1. First things first, TDKR is not TDK or Batman Begins. Given the collective expectations around Nolan & the movie, it was going to be a massive triumph just to get a movie out. In that regards, TDKR is a damn fine comic book movie but not a great movie that way TDK or Batman Begins was.

2. <<SPOILER ALERT>> That being said, you cannot help having a huge (I mean it, literally huge) smile at the end of the movie. Nolan may not have satisfied the critic in you but he definitely makes the fan boy in you take a major inner whoop & celebrate. All you can do is to restrain from yourselves from hugging the person sitting next to you & generally beam outwards in barely concealed joy <<SPOILER END>>

3. TDKR is pretty much the conclusion of a great journey that began in Batman Begins. While TDK is a movie of a lifetime, Batman Begins is pretty much the movie for me. Why TDKR is all the more special for me, is the way it ties in to Batman Begins. Liam Neeson in Batman Begins in his process of educating Bale mentions that the Batman needs to be something more, he needs to be “A Legend, Mr. Wayne” & that to me, is the theme of TDKR (even if telegraphed quite openly right from the beginning)

4. Too many things to gush about which have all been captured elsewhere. Nolan’s story, direction, ideas & action set-ups; Bale’s acting; A phenomenally awesome score by Hans Zimmer; The IMAX experience (This movie has to be seen in Imax); No 3D (yaay); Brutal combat sequences; The tie-ins to the 1st 2 movies

5. There are too many things that do not work as well in the movie as well. Bane’s motives; Bruce Wayne’s apparent recovery from all injuries (no cartilage eh?); The Put options trade (deserves a post on its own); Too many convenient appearances; the rushed relationship between Bruce & Miranda among others

6. I was among those who really did not want a Catwoman in the movie when the casting was announced (memories of that therapy-requiring horrible Halle Berry movie still surface despite being repressed deeply). But Anne Hathaway blows one away in a powerhouse performance. Slinky, seductive, capricious, & wickedly selfish, she steals every scene that she is in.

7. Tom Hardy’s terrific body of work continues as Bane. An extension of his roles in Bronson & Warrior, his representation as a physical opponent of Batman is perfect. He is brutal & reflects this in fighting technique as well. Despite the mask hiding most of his face, he packs enough emotions & expressions through his eyes than what Katie Holmes manages in the entire 1st movie

8. I was not really surprised at Joseph Gordon-Levitt knowing who Batman was. I had kind of rationalized it by imagining Joseph Gordon to be the kid who was with Katie Holmes when they are saved in the Narrows by Batman in Batman Begins. I had expected that of Nolan. But we all knew that kid grew up to become Joffrey Baratheon (& got bitch slapped by Peter Dinklage)

9. Michael Caine’s confrontation with Bale is one of the most powerful moment of the movie & brilliantly acted. Its also a moment in the movie where silence is used effectively. There is no background music in the movie. A brilliantly shot scene

10. That moment, the 1st sighting of Batman in the movie was really something. As the cop says to his junior, “Oh boy, you are in for a show tonight, son” perfectly sums it up. It reminded me of that scene in Superman Returns movie (Hey, I love that movie, ok?), when Superman reappears to save the out-of-control aircraft(An interesting comparison, Superman arrives to save the day when something really big goes down whereas Batman is more of an on-the-ground kind of guy, the stakes do not seem that high but yes, they are. Discussion material for another post, I guess)

11. The sequence when Selina Kyle disappears when Batman turns away was an awesome moment. Plus his dialogue J

12.Logically speaking, Bane is the child of 2 legacies; Ra’s al Ghul & Joker. Ra’s’ through the destruction of Gotham & the Joker’s through pushing people to act like a mob & make them lose the sense of all propriety. I guess that was the point that Nolan did not push the envelope on. Joker’s play on the 2 boats in TDK is probably one of the strongest parts in the movie. Through Bane, this could have been played along further. There are early indications of that when Selina Kyle whispers to Bruce Wayne during the ball to the discussion between the cops & the trader at the stock exchange. Nolan subverts that debate to a great extent by having the prisoners freed from Blackgate do the dirty work of dragging the rich from their homes onto the street, rather than the 99%. I guess a more powerful ambitious movie would be how Batman (or Bruce Wayne) restores the status quo of when the poor, the homeless, the 99% (metaphorically speaking) are with Bane for addressing the imbalance. Would he take on the people of Gotham to save Gotham? (But I am sure such a movie might not be run that well in the theatres)

13. I guess, this is the biggest problem I have with TDKR. Batman actually KILLS someone in the climax of the movie. That sequence when he shoots down the driver sitting next to Talia from The Bat. It again ties into the problem I had in Batman Begins when he does not save Ra’s from the speeding train crash. The acknowledged Batman lore in comics as well as the animated series is that the Batman does not kill anyone and goes out of his way to save people (even if they are the bad guys) (remember, the scene is TDK where he saves the Joker)

14. Overall though, this has to be one of the finest trilogies of all time or as the Guardian puts it, The Godfather of our times. If I were stuck in an island with a choice of 5 movies (or movie series) to take, this would be my 1st choice.

15. I really really really want The Bat & The Bat Pod!!!!!!