Tuesday, 21 August 2012

When Disney Met Pixar

I haven't yet seen Brave and judging by the trailers and reviews I probably won't see it for a while. These are just some general thoughts following the claims that Disney's acquisition has finally taken its toll of the seemingly invinceable Pixar.



In 2006 it was dramatically announced that The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar Animation Studios, and the animation film world, which was largely made out of those two companies, gasped and anxiously waited to see what would happen to Pixar.
The merge between Disney and Pixar was surprising considering the history of bitter rivalry between the companies, made worse when Disney, who handled distribution and marketing for Pixar before the merge, had a disagreement with Pixar following the release of Toy Story 2, and Disney's first attempt to buy Pixar in 2004 ended with Steve Job announcing that Pixar would no longer release films with Disney and that they were looking for another partner to work with. However, in 2006 with Disney's new CEO Robert Iger and a different approach, Disney and Pixar finally came together. 

It was expected that Pixar would change and trample under Disney's regime, but Disney needed Pixar, quite possibly more than Pixar needed Disney, so they can step into the world of computer animation and breath some life into their increasingly flopping films. Therefore, Pixar, which was always with the finger on the pulse technology wise and paraded a row of excellent and successful films both critically and financially, became precious and almost untouchable. It's as if the almighty Disney is tip toeing around Pixar, just as long as they continue to do what it is they're doing to bring in the crowds. 

And indeed Pixar delivered with fantastic and exceptional films like the brilliant Wall-E, Ratatouille and Up. And while I personally don't go crazy for Toy Story films, no doubt I don't know what I'm talking about and am a minority if not the only one. Even Cars and Cars 2, which received mild reviews was forgiven by critics, and made up for for with box office and merchandising success. Disney-Pixar seemed like a match made in heaven. 

What interested me at the time was that no one wondered what happened to Disney. Not only did they buy Pixar, a relatively small company at the time, for a crazy sum of money and the kind of conditions that makes you wonder who actually bought who in this marriage, but it Disney must have put a lot of eggs in that Pixar basket, because it seemed as if Pixar was not affected by the merge at all and only grow stronger. Disney practically made Pixar its animation department and the company that brought us classics like Bambi, Jungle Book, Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin and the only other animation film nominated for Oscar as best film, Beauty and the Beast, almost abandoned animation altogether in favour of a bizarre collection of live action films. Previously talked about hand drawn animation project got lost in between High School Musical and Pirates of the Caribbean films. Disney's own unique animation faded until it almost completely disappeared. With the exception of the lovely Tangled and the charming Enchanted, which while not animation is very much Disney in character, it feels like the animation giant is nearly swallowed by little fish Pixar, and I, for once, miss a bit of Disney.
 
It feels a little wrong writing any bad word about Pixar. I do love many of their films with a passion and there is no doubt that when it comes to animation technology the company who started as a part of Lucas studios and then was owned by Apple, have no competition, but then again that's kinda what always bothered me about Pixar. Their films are always so slick, smooth and shiny, it's like they are too perfect and daring to think that the Toy Story films are not all that is blasphemy. However, it looks as if Brave is the first film from Pixar to cause a big enough disappointment amongst critics to raise the question has Pixar finally changed following the evil Disney acquisition. 


I don't think Pixar has changed at all during its time with Disney, and I believe the drop in quality of Brave is a result of complacency and the comfortableness that come with the kind of critical and financial success Pixar has been enjoying and not a 'Disney effect'. From what I saw in the trailer as well as the reviews I read, nothing about Brave looks non Pixar-esque, and Pixar kept its own identity after the acquisition with such zeal that I find it hard to believe that things suddenly changed, Brave simply looks tired and banal and doesn't have the kind of originality one would expect from a Pixar film, but it doesn't feel like a Disney film, good or bad, either. It's been a while since any animation film felt like a Disney film.
 
I'm not an animation expert, I don't even like Anime, which until not long ago I was still referring to as Manga, I have a soft spot for DreamWorks animation, even when they are rubbish, I liked the first Toy Story and the other two bored me and I preferred the first and second Shrek and How to Train your Dragon to all of them, I like Wallace and Gromit, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and I love the Pixar shorts, sometimes more than the film they precede. Most of all I prefer my animation to look like animation, even the most primitive one, and not like an imitation of live action. So really what do I know? Only that maybe Pixar needs a little Disney magic right about now.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Conversation with David Shore


David Shore, creator of House, recently went on a holiday to Israel and visited a school to discuss with the students about TV making in the US. The event was hosted by Yair Rave, an Israeli film critic, editor, academic and scriptwriter. Some of the conversation was advertised in Mr. Rave’s blog and since I found it very interesting I thought it was worth translating to English and publish on my blog so others could read as well. For you Hebrew readers out there here is the original post. My few interjections will be in Italic. There is but a minor spoiler for season seven of House, for which I shall give warning.


David Shore was responsible for every word and every shot of the series House from the first episode to its last, 177 episodes later. For eight seasons he was the creator, executive producer in charge, the show-runner and on two episodes he was also the director. He created the series as homage to Sherlock Holmes stories that he loves so much - developed it and took it from its beginning to its very end. This week, two months after the series finale, he came to Israel to participate in some family celebrations: weddings and Brith [circumcision] (Shore has two twin brothers who became religious and live in Jerusalem and teach at Yeshiva Esh HaTorah). On Monday he came with his parents, wife, brother and nephew to "Maale" school, to talk with students about making television in America. I [Yair Rave] hosted the event.

So what is this credit, "Created by"?
"It’s the credit for the screenwriter who wrote the pilot. Even if I was wrote the pilot for House and then left the series, I would still get credit for creator. This credit is also our, screenwriters’, revenge against directors for their A Film By credit in movies. Director directs a film and it becomes immediately his film, so we, screenwriters, have the writers' creator credit on TV”.

There have been cases of people who wrote the pilot and moved on, but still got "creator" credit, even though someone else took over.
"True, but it became less common in recent years. You create a series that you want to see through. This is why I suggested House to the networks only after I was a show-runner of another series. If I offered them a series as a junior scriptwriter, they just might do it, but would not let me be in charge of it. American television is heaven for scriptwriters. They are in fact the big bosses of drama and comedy series. Directors work for them” (Shore says with venom, and suddenly you realise where House brings his cynicism: "I have a friend who works on another series, not ours, he told me that they call directors behind their backs, the people we give half of our money to"). 
 

Each episode of House was filmed in nine days. The director would arrive a little bit before, preparing, filming, editing and leaving. Shore and his team would give the director a finished script, which he wasn’t allowed to change, and after the director is done, Shore and his team would go into the editing room to correct what the he missed or ruined in their view. Though Shore, in moments humility, admits that the directors did come up with good ideas of their own here and there, they know how to manage the production professionally and on time, and a good director knows how to break up the pace and tone right, in the same breath he also says that the director on a TV series is almost the most superfluous about it. The show - runner makes almost all the decisions before and after the director. "Europe is a bit different," he says, "There the producer is the main boss."


Israeli TV series’ are a bit like very long features. Screenwriters finish writing and pass the scripts to the directors and pretty much are out the picture at this stage. The series’ are filmed across chapters. I mean you take a scene from Chapter 2 and then a scene in Chapter 13, that both happen in the same location, and not like yours, every episode filmed as a separate work.
"Perhaps your system has certain logic to it. If the series is pre-written, maybe it's the right way to shoot it. The American system, in which writers are running the show, didn’t happen because producers and networks love scriptwriters so much, but because over time they discovered it’s not possible otherwise. This train is so long, 22 episodes per year, and the longest part of this process is the writing, so if the writers did not run the business it would get stuck. That and the fact that the Writers Guild in Hollywood very strong. "

If you were to return to the US after your holiday and start working on season nine, tell me how would you start?
"I work a little differently from most other series’. Most series’ have an active writers’-room that works all year round and they develop ideas together. I gather the writers'-room a few times each year and then work with each writer personally. One reason for this is that we had twelve screenwriters. This is twice as many as most series’. I convinced Fox that I need twelve writers because our scripts need a lot of research, which is true by the way. We would meet at the beginning of the work, after the holiday, and first of all discuss what the main plot lines of the upcoming season would be. Although, each episode stood on its own, the series had seasonal plot lines. For example, [ when House and Cuddy become a couple, we debated how long would it hold, one chapter, half a season, full season? Once we decided on a complete season's story line, we were doing the rounds of the writers and everyone would make a pitch for two - three ideas at times. Each episode should contain a single medical mystery, and a story involving House. Sometimes I would see that one medical story fits a different story of House then I would suggest uniting the plots. We would finish the sessions having initial ideas for half a season, and every idea had a screenwriter assigned to it. Then each writer goes and writes a one page outline for their episode and sends to me. I would send them notes and they developed a three pages outline, then a fourteen pages outline, then the script. From idea to script is a process that takes several weeks. 
With twelve screenwriters, how you ensure that the language of the characters and their character will not change from episode to episode?
"We have talented writers. And besides, I am rewriting all the scripts myself."

Shore is not necessarily the best example for the average Film & Television student. He studied law and began working as a lawyer. He never learned writing for films, but writing for television interested him. So he left Canada where he was born, raised and educated, and moved to Los Angeles. There he wandered for two years, wrote sample script for agents and never saw a penny, until he found a job on Canadian series’ of all things, including the television series created by Paul Haggis Due South. From there he joined the screenwriting team of The Practice and Law & Order and in 2003 started work on developing his idea for House, under Paul Attanasio’s production company (Homicide: Life on the Street). That's the lesson he teaches students: Slowly. It took him ten years to work his way from a junior writer to have his own show. Ten years in which he went through all the jobs of the writing and production team of a US TV series and in which he learned from some of the top TV makers in America.

Now Shore has his own production company, which, just as it finished House, moved from NBC-Universal to a three years developing contract with Sony, which guarantees Shore an eight-figure sum. So he sits and develop. What? He doesn’t say, but promises that there is nothing specific he is working on now.

When you wrote House, what would you start the script with: the disease or the drama?
"We have three doctors who advised us, if you ask them this question they'll give you the opposite answer from me: that everything started with the ideas of diseases and symptoms they brought us, but usually we started with the drama. There was something we wanted to say, or a dramatic situation we wanted to achieve. Sometimes we started with a symptom: someone who wants to tell only the truth in an episode where House talks about the benefits of lying, then we went to our doctors and asked them to find us diseases that can match these symptoms. "
 

The opening titles of House lasted forever. Many people are credited as Executive Producer. What does it mean? All of these people have an input in series?
"You could say that the credit, Executive Producer (producer in charge) is more a matter of honor than of an actual role. Bryan Singer, for example, directed the pilot, and he got himself a contract that guaranteed him an Executive Producer credit for the whole of the series, same thing with Paul Attanasio, who was the man who closed the deals with the networks for us at the outset. The rest are people from the series that in their negotiations to continue with future seasons asked for this like Hugh Laurie and several veteran screenwriters. Scriptwriters can request a credit that specifies their seniority in the series. It starts from Staff Writer in the roller and can move to Executive Producer for the opening titles. "

What about changes in the script during filming? Would you allow?
"We have no such thing. First of all, improvising is not allowed. Actor should say what is written in the script. If an actor has a suggestion to improve, or if they have a problem with something, it's their job to come to us before the shoot so we can find a solution and put it into the script. But we do not work on the script during filming. Sometimes, in the middle of shooting, an actor tells me he has a problem with a line and I tell myself 'This is really annoying! We work weeks on these scripts, and work really hard. The can actually be some problems or it's not perfect , but we worked on it, then at least have the respect to be prepared, and if you have a problem with something in the script, you have enough time to discuss it in advance. "


This is a great answer. But what do you tell the actor?
"That we will do it twice. Once as it is written in the script and the second time as he thinks it’s ought to be, and decide to edit. In recent years, Hugh Laurie became sensitive to that and he actually stopped people trying to change a scene or dialogue in the middle of filming and told them that a lot of work was put into these scripts and that next time they should come more prepared for their role.

One of the things I loved House is the fact that quite a few of the episodes have a moral debate around an issue, and the episode presents various aspects of the matter and breaks down the issue into its constituent parts. Now when that I meet your brother, a yeshiva student, I wonder if he would send you discussions from the Talmud to turn them into dramatic ideas?
"No, it never happened. And a lot of people told me that there were scenes that reminded them of Talmudic discussions. It just goes to show that the Talmud has no exclusivity on moral debates.”
"One exercise I liked doing with my writers - I used to do this a lot, but towards the end I was too lazy - is to ask them to write a paragraph about a subject that matters to them. Then write a paragraph presenting the opposite position to theirs. The idea is that when House says something, whoever stands in front of him, usually someone in a guest appearance, would present a strong opposing argument that would be convincing. If everyone in front of House were idiots it wouldn’t be interesting. The thing is, that although we don’t like to think so, most people who think opposite from us have good intentions as we do - Well, maybe not everyone, but some smart people with good intentions, and the drama becomes more interesting when the debate is between two strong people. Otherwise it's just my preaching on my philosophy and not TV series. "

The conversation went on for over an hour and Shore talked about many more things. Some of the questions that appear in this post were asked by students and not necessarily by me [Rave]. There were quite a few specific questions related to the series, House himself and the finale, but I preferred not to present them here and focus on describing the work process of writing the series instead. The meeting was recorded on videotape, but we had sound problems. If they can be solved, I hope I can post later in the full meeting between the bull and the students.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Vertigo High


“Are you watching closely?”
“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call 'The Prestige'." (The Prestige, 2006) 


Recently Sight & Sound magazine caused a stir when it announced dramatically that Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has booted Orson Welles’ long serving Citizen Cane, which reins (or perhaps reined) almost all lists of this kind,  from the first place in the top however many critic’s poll list the magazine carries out annually. While I agree that Vertigo is a better film, in my view Citizen Cane is not even Welles’ best film, and I’m always happy to see a Hitchcock at the top of lists, these type of lists are usually quite meaningless to me, and I use them as a check point for how many films have I seen and what films I still need to see. Choosing a favourite film of one filmmaker is difficult enough, having to choose between Wells and Hitchcock, Felini and the Cohen brothers or Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg and declare one as the all time best film is inconceivable. 

Luckily I never had to face this choice, but the critics who took part in the Sight & Sound poll chose, for the first time, Vertigo. The result of this polls came at the height of the Hitchcock season following the amazing restoration work the BFI have done on some of his older films and with the genius' birthday on August 13th (I'm sure conspiracy theorists would find this timing suspicious). I have decided to ride this wave of hoopla around Vertigo and while I shall not attempt to rank it on any kind of list, I would like to take a moment and point out why Vertigo is indeed a masterpiece.

A while back on another kind of list (alas it is for Hebrew readers only) I was asked, as a renowned Hitchcock obsessed, to write a few words about Vertigo, which made the ninth place together with seven other films (amongst them Citizen Cane). I chose to use the above quote from the opening monologue from Christopher Nolan’s brilliant film The Prestige for I could not have written anything better sum up Vertigo in a few words. Indeed what is Vertigo but an astonishing magic trick and Hitchcock its conjurer?

I have read so much about Hitchcock and Vertigo in particular, I’ve studied and discussed the film to death and back, yet trying to write about it, I find myself unable to express the effect this film had over me and its importance. Everything I have to say seems so redundant when you can just watch the film and experience its magnificence. Or perhaps it’s because Fran├žois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock himself have already said it all, and so passionately, from Truffaut no doubt, and beautifully, in Truffaut’s brilliant book Truffaut Hitchcock.

In Truffaut’s book, Hitchcock tells how he explained to his leading lady Kim Novak that the visual impact was more important to him than the story, which is one of the reasons for his obsession with her clothes and hair. Apart from being still relevant today, when the story worship trend often tends to push cinema aside, Hitchcock statement is radical and one of the things that sets him apart as a genius of filmmaking.

Indeed, after exhausting the discussions about necrophilia, the dressing and undressing of Hitchcock's latest blond and the comparison between Hitch and his leading male characters, you are still left with such a powerful visual experience its images have become so iconic. 

It's funny, Hitchcock says in Truffaut's book that he was always bothered by a flaw in the story: how could the husband be sure that Scotty wouldn't make it up the stairs? It seems quite a gamble for someone who plans to murder his wife. This never bothered me, nor did it seem to bother Truffaut, because the murder story is almost insignificant. Instead Vertigo offers two very thrilling, yet quite different films within one. 

The first is a romantic film with added ghost story flavour and a tragic ending that makes it almost mythic. Hitchcock’s preference of suspense over surprise meant that he deviated from D’Entre les Morts, the book Vertigo was based on, and reveal the twist at the beginning of the second part of the film, and made it, quite suddenly, into a different kind of film, which at the same time changes and strengthen the nature of the story that preceded it.

Scotty, his vertigo and consequently his inability to prevent the falling of the people around him, are the thread that goes through the film and tie it together into the powerful masterpiece it is. While it is true that Scotty repeatedly fails to stop the people close to him from slipping away from him, quite literately, it is a different Scotty at the beginning of the film hanging to dear life, having to watch his colleague fall to his death as he tries to save him, to the Scotty who couldn't save the woman he loved and has to live with the loss for the rest of his life, perhaps he was trying to redeem himself for that first incident through her, to the Scotty who watched the woman who damaged him fall into her death at the end.

So much has been written and said about Scotty's obsession with turning Judy in to the dead Madeline and various meanings of it, all interesting and generally add even more value to this film. However, if I put those aside for a moment and go back to the first time I watched Vertigo, to my instinctive fist reaction to the reappearance of Madeleine on the screen, I felt, in correspondence to the opening quote from The Prestige, like I watched an unbelievable magic trick. Knowing and seeing how it was done made it, all the more astonishing, because as a great fictional character once said: "The fun is in knowing [...] If the wonder is gone when the truth is known, there never was any wonder." And for me Vertigo is a cinematic wonder.

    

   

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Legend Ends.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! 
WHAT YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE DARK KNIGHT RISES YET??? SHAME ON YOU!

Writing about The Dark Knight Rises proved more difficult than I imagined. It should have been easy since I love all of Nolan's Batmans with great passion and I consider him to be a present day Hitchcock, but it’s Christopher Nolan! I feel like I should take the time to carefully choose words to write about my favourite film trilogy.

I’ve never had much interest in Batman, or any other superhero, as a child, and my interest in them as a grownup was mild and superficial. I went to see Batman because it was a Tim Burton film and I loved it because of that rather than its Batman-ness. Similarly, it was because of Christopher Nolan that I went to see Batman Begins, however, this time I've developed an interest in The Batman outside the film and the wish to explore the character.

Batman placed the Batman and the Joker in a predetermined Burton-esque universe and they fitted in it beautifully. Christopher Nolan, on the other hand, built Batman and his world slowly, with a great deal of care and attention, from the beginning, as if there was never any Batman before. I almost wish that Nolan’s trilogy would have come first, then the Tim Burton films, with an added wishful thinking that he would have finished his own originally planned trilogy.

Risking controversy, I am going to make the dramatic statement that I think The Dark Knight Rises may be my favourite of the three films. Since I consider all of them to be nothing less than extraordinary, it says a lot. However, because I am crazy like that and oh so changeable, I should add that my outrageous above declaration may have a little something to do with the current nurturing of my obsession with The Dark Knight Rises and every time I watch the other two films I am still in awe of them and my favourite can alter at any time, which only makes this trilogy that much better. 

I think the love for The Dark Knight Rises is not quite as obvious and sweeping as it was with the other two films, especially The Dark Knight. Maybe it is one of the things that made me love it that tiny bit more. Batman Begins was the film that set the tone, recreated the hero and put Nolan on the map. Its impact is still so strong. The Dark Knight destroyed that hero and recreated a loved villain. It made The Joker one of the best onscreen villains of his time and Heath Ledger a legend. 

With great masterpieces like The Prestige and Inception in between, The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to both within the Batman sphere and within the Nolan one. The eagerness and anticipation sky rocketed. Such build up, The Dark Knight to follow, the fact that most trilogies have a history of disappointing third parts and the general scepticism and antagonism that box office popularity and critical acclaim brings, could have lead to a disaster were it any other filmmaker. But Nolan rose to the challenge and delivered an ending so thrilling that I found myself, once again, wishing that all films would be a little bit more Nolan.  

I won’t discuss, well not at length anyway, how wonderfully brave it was to make a Batman film with such hype and such budget and have so little Batman actually in it, because many have done so, but it’s not just that Batman’s presence is little, his significance and his role changed. On the one hand Batman’s absence is so strongly felt it hurts Gotham, Nolan took his time as we watched the downfall of Gotham city into real despair before he brought Batman back, on the other hand, Batman’s return involves emotional as well as physical pain to himself. Alfred, damn you Michael Cane for making me cry every time, sees the return of Batman as the inevitable death of Bruce Wayne. And indeed Bruce Wayne went through his own decline, so masterfully portrayed by Christian Bale, and quite literally broke. He had to decide he wanted to live before he could go back and fight Bane.

The comparison between Bane and The Joker is irrelevant and to say either one was better or worse is moot. They were both the right kind of villains for the film they were in. The Joker was the perfect 'agent of chaos', with no background or clear motivation apart from his urge to destroy, and as such he was brilliant. Bane is an enhanced and extreme version of Bruce Wayne and as such he too was absolutely brilliant and Tom Hardy managed to convey so much not just through his eyes, but his presence, his body language and the way he fought, I witness the transformation to anger, pain and sadness with every punch that echoed louder than any word could. 

The common ground between Bane and Bruce goes deeper and further than the League of Shadows, of which they were both part of at one point. As a child, Bruce fell in to a well and spent several hours facing his worst nightmare. His dad was his mentor and helped him overcome his fear with love and care. Bane spent the better part of his life in the pit from hell facing the kind of torture that makes Bruce's nightmares seem like child play. The closest thing he had to a father, Ra’s Al Ghul, turned his back to him. Unlike Batman, who left the woman he loved for dead, Bane saved the love of his life. 

Bane turns Batman back into Bruce Wayne even when he is wearing the suite, which is why, unlike The Joker and Commissioner Gordon, he never refers to him as The Batman, he strips him from his superhero identity and exposes him for who he really is, which is why Batman’s/Bruce’s secret identity becomes redundant as the film progresses and the line between them becomes blurry. Bane is physically stronger and essentially intellectually superior, neither Batman nor Bruce figured out who the real villain was until it was too late. If it wasn’t for Catwoman he probably would have died. 

Just like he reinvented The Joker, Nolan reinvented Catwoman. I love the fact that not once in the film, nor on IMDB for that matter, is Selina referred to as Catwoman, I never really liked that name, but at the same time it is clear that she is Catwoman. Though her body outfit did not differ much from that of Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, or that of Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers Assemble, there was something about the gorgeous Anne Hathaway that made her look elegant as well as sexy in it, like a career woman wearing a beautiful work suit. Her fight scenes were fantastic, not because they were sexy or that it's cool that to see a girl in a leather suit kick some ass, but because you can actually see the work she puts into every kick and punch on her face and body when she fights. Her fight scenes, even the small ones, are handled with the same care as those of Batman's and it’s superb to watch. Selina and Bane were the characters I missed most when they weren’t on screen.

Another new character was introduced in this film, John Blake and his development was a clever one. Blake is the heart and conscience of the film, pointing the finger at Bruce and Commissioner Gordon when no one else will. I don’t think anyone had any doubt that he is Robin, only in the end he actually skips being Robin to take over from Bruce and become Batman, like one of the many directions in which the comic books developed. Unlike Batman, Selina and even Commissioner Gordon, Blake has not been had a brush with darkness, his heart is still pure and he handles his personal tragedy better than them, it makes his disappointment of the people he looked up to so sincere and strong, but it also makes him possibly a better Batman.

Across the Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan created a hero and destroyed him only to rebuild him as a symbol. Anyone can be Batman can also mean anyone can create Batman. Of course there will be cynics who would see this ending paving the way for WB and DC to go back and milk that cash cow, and why shouldn't they? The choice is in the viewer's hand. Christopher Nolan, the one man who stands almost alone against 3D pressure from Hollywood (you didn't think I would leave that out did you?), the one who insists on film even when projecting and gets it, and the man who makes a Batman film which tells the story of Bruce Wayne, doesn’t exactly strike me as a man who would compromise on the ending of the trilogy that made him. Whether it's a calculated ploy or the ending Nolan always envisioned, in my view it fitted with the direction of the films beautifully.   

The Dark Knight Rises is the film in which I felt the Nolan most strongly, not that he wasn't present in the other films, but perhaps like Batman, he took his time and made us wait until he rose bigger than ever. The taking pleasure in telling the story and savouring it, the physicality and grittiness of both the phenomenal action on screen, which I think every action filmmaker should learn from, and the look of the film (in those few cinemas that still project film), which makes you feel like you can almost touch it especially in the enhanced experience of the right kind of IMAX, and most of all the structure, for Nolan’s dedication to structure is that of a fine architect and like no other filmmaker today, reached a stupendous climax in a fitting ending for this genus' groundbreaking trilogy.

The individual films are built with such consideration that they work separately, but when you put them together, they lean on each other to make a cinema Pantheon where I want to live.