Spoiler Alert: Cruella



Film: Cruella

Release: 2021

Director: Craig Gillespie

Written by: Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, Steve Zissis

Based on the Novel: “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith

Main Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Hauser

Cruella.

In the film, an orphan reclaims her lavish birthright. Embracing her dark side along the way. Chipping away at the reason behind an overpowering alter ego… that’s slightly talented.

Cruella was dazzling. An unexpected triumph, yes, but a very beautiful story.

In general, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I thought it popped visually, that Emma Stone was brilliant. Powerhouse brilliant. I loved the soundtrack, I loved the clever dialogue, I was enamored.

In deeper terms, the story is about Alter Ego. About playing the social hand one is dealt in youth, and finding, in this case, a better game to play altogether. 

To fully examine Cruella herself would spoil the movie in a way that is quite unforgivable at this stage of my film review project. 

However, I can assure you that the dialogue was so clever that statements twisted upon each other easily. With, at times undeniably humorous, but always plot driven overtone.

I can admit that I completely dig the soundtrack.

But honestly…

Emma. Fucking. Stone.

She passed powerhouse performance at the fountain in the park roughly an hour through the film and I was far more riveted then I planned to be after that.

Not to be outdone…

Emma. Fucking. Thompson.

You hated her. You would think she had been typecast into the imbecile teacher from Hogwarts if you misjudged her entry into her first scene, but when you realized she was a fish out of water fashion mogul with the envy of London but the idea portfolio of a trout, you understood you were supposed to hate her. And she let you like an actor should.

But back to Emma Fucking Stone who’s voice narration was, and I quote my notes, “classy, flawless, and rich in the required accent.”

I was mimicking her on smoke breaks during the film and in conversation with my family as I watched, hardly interrupted, at my desk.

I wasn’t prepared for Cruella. I mean that of the alter ego. The former girl who had attempted to be a model child, Estella, was agreeable. But the Cruella she grew into… the fashion statements, the party crashing, bold, vengeful fashion stunts through the rising action were- agreeable, yes, but- the words I’m looking for are; “shocking”, “fierce”, “fashion-transcendent”, even.

Surprisingly enough, my favorite “stunt” included a garbage truck. 

(See the film.)

Thumbs Up.

Oh, and I have to mention, that any time you can add to the stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance to make an honest point, you have played the game of dialogue well. For even if it isn’t a stage in balanced psychology, any mania-prone animal who can understand the science of grief would agree that if one added the stage of Revenge, it would be a much more complete process. 

My kudos to the writing team, on that note.

Be Well.

Spoiler Alert: The Dark Knight



Film: The Dark Knight

Release: 2008

Director: Christopher Nolan

Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane

Main Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman


The Batman hanging on to the van is not Christian Bale.

But this is no time to muse…

“Who Rachel spends her time with is her business.”

-Bruce Wayne

“Batman has no limits.”

-Bruce Wayne

The recast of Rachel Dawes was controversial around the time of release. (Note release date) Maggie Gyllenhaal grew on me through this movie. But I haven’t seen her in anything else since this film.

And Katie Holmes was brilliant in Batman Begins.

In the first 20 minutes, we hear the most famous quote in a superhero film of the last decade:

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent (played brilliantly by Aaron Eckhart)

The Joker’s Apparent Ambition:

“It’s simple, we kill the Batman.”

The “Gotham Team” of Gordon, Dent, and Batman Apparent Ambition:

“We’re going after the mob’s life savings.”

The second most famous quote in a superhero film comes just 10 minutes later, this time from The Joker:

“Why so serious?”

The Gotham Team want’s Lao, the mob’s money, and then the Joker.

Strange how the Joker must prove himself worthy of Gotham’s attention. As a startup criminal no less.

What is Christopher Nolan up to?

Reframing the idea of Batman. Keeping a few key elements the same, this reinvention paints a complicated Bruce Wayne. In the animated series from Warner Bros. Bruce Wayne is not complicated, he is a tool for tale of Batman. Here, Batman has an entire life, much more like the Batman of, say, Batman Returns.

Nolan may have seen more cinematic Batman than cartoon Batman. I’m just thankful he didn’t put him in Adam West style tights and give him terrible dialogue.

But who steals the show and at the most tragic of real life costs is the quite unforgettable Heath Ledger. About that, I’d like to say that no star rests in peace. They rest in memory. No life you’ve enjoyed ends with you here not thinking of them ever again. When a mark is made, it lasts. Like Heath.

One hour into the movie, just before the assassination attempt on Gotham’s mayor, and this fragility of life hits me. What’s darker than that? Being alive isn’t a choice we make. But staying alive is. Before I carry on with this review, I’d like to mention that if you or anyone is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help for you. The National Suicide Hotline is available 24 hrs. Just call 800-273-8255 and speak with someone today.

Concerning the dark side of Harvey Dent: He lived up to his own words. He lived long enough… to be desperate enough… for the cost of his efforts to come to the point he was ready to kill. Once Gordon went down and Rachel became… vulnerable… Gotham’s white knight started to dim in his brightness.

Bruce Wayne: “People are dying Alfred, what would you have me do?”

Alfred: “Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman. He can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make. The right choice.”

***

“The night is darkest just before the dawn.” – Harvey Dent

Though Dent was trying to explain that Batman would have his day to answer for the damage he’d done to Gotham.

So how does Batman come back from this shame?

Dude. Batman is in no real trouble. In this movie, Batman almost let’s Gotham know its been Bruce Wayne all along. And he would have if Dent didn’t claim to be the Batman during that press conference the above quote comes from.

Dent gives Batman a second chance. And the film’s action begins to rise more dramatically.

Spoiler alert: The Joker shoots the Batmobile with a rocket launcher (bazookas are out of cinematic style nowadays). The vehicle doesn’t survive. But Batman does.

The Caped Crusader isn’t even mad about it.

Measure for measure, Batman flips over The Joker’s semi.

Enough play by play.

You want my opinion? I have a tattoo of the bat symbol from this particular trilogy. Not because I’m a huge fan, which I am, or because I needed the ink, which I did. But because of the need to feel pain that wasn’t in vain. To scratch the itch on my forearm when I couldn’t afford long sleeve shirts to roll up. A friend of mine did it but he didn’t know my main reason was to cut myself. It’s not exactly my wrist, but it bled satisfactorily enough.

My point is, Batman is with me forever. So is the Joker. And Bane, and Catwoman, and the Scarecrow, and the list goes on.

I give this movie a thumbs up. For Nolan’s cerebral creative genius. For the sheer thrill of the ride. A ride that’s hard to catch in film sometimes. And sure, there have been other films that have killed it’s actors. Some have killed their crew. 

This one killed the hero’s girlfriend too.

Beat that.

The Dark Knight will remain one of history’s greatest films. In summation, I dare you to watch it again.

Be Well.