If you loved the blockbuster hit The Batman, then you’ll love this new portrayal of the Dark Knight. Filmed entirely in Black and White, the film is a departure from the colourful live-action films we’ve come to know and love over the years. But that bleak aesthetic suits the story Bryan Miller and Adam Nolan are trying to tell.
It’s been 27 years since The Godfather part II, the first of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy. Since then, the director has remained prolific, taking on auteur status for the modern era with his distinctive vision. Now, in The Godfather III, which premiered last month at Cannes and will be released in the UK on 18 February, he revisits the classic mafia story. Much has changed in the interim: Vito Corleone (Travis Bickle) is now a middle-aged father, and Michael (Al Pacino) is a sympathetic war hero, not a conflicted teen as he was in the first film. The third Godfather introduces us to some of the most interesting and well-crafted characters in cinema history.
High-Flying, Low-Budget Comedy
Released a month after The Batman, 1992’s Batman 92 was an obscure British comedy, low-budget but high-flying. Directed by Kevin Arnold and produced by Tim Burton, it’s a dark parody of the caped crusader, centring on the efforts of Alan Moore’s Watchdog to expose vigilantes. The film starred Robert Pattinson, previously best-known for his starring role in Twilight, in a story that takes place in an alternative 1990s Britain, where vigilantes roam the streets. The premise is almost ridiculous, yet somehow fits perfectly with Arnold’s wry gag comedic stroke.
More recently, the director has turned his hand to creating original pieces of work, in a variety of genres, from fantasy-adventure The Dark Knight Rises to arthouse noir Django Unchained.
Classic Noir Comes to Mobile
If you thought that 1990 marked the sunset of the Golden Age of Cinema, then think again. The coming of 3D and IMAX changed everything, and we’re now in the midst of a golden era of narrative film, characterised by classic, vintage Hollywood films, gritty crime dramas and thrillers, and comic book adaptations. The studios that used to make those glorious films are still around, and they’re producing modern day classics with acclaimed auteurs, such as Joel Sands, the director of Mulholland Drive, coming soon to Netflix, and Simon Morris, the director of The Lodge (pictured above), recently signed up by Netflix too.
Underground Film Stars
One of the delights of The Godfather III is the way it seamlessly weaves together characters from different cinematic universes, using the tropes of both film and TV. Michael manages to enlist the help of the Bond universe’s James Bond, played with brutal charm by Robert Pattinson, to retrieve his son’s (John Oliver Stark’s) girlfriend. To my mind, it’s not just a nifty bit of character swapping; it’s a flawless example of how various genres and periods of film can work together, while also benefiting from some truly inspired casting. (Bond is the only character who isn’t a complete invention; we actually do meet the real-life counterpart to the James Bond character in The Godfather III.)
Mulholland Drive’s Visual Appeal
While we’re on the subject of films inspired by real-life events, let’s mention the darkly comic Mulholland Drive, a film that owes a debt to noir classics like Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1972) and François Truffaut’s Rules of Conduct (1983).
One of the most talked-about films of 2019, Mulholland Drive tells the story of Lacey (Emma Watson), a tempestuous young woman who drives a hard bargain with the owner of a vintage car shop, played by Michael Myers. (The shop owner is Richard Gere, in one of his earliest film roles.) She wants a vintage Corvette for the film she’s working on, and agrees to pay almost any price to ensure that her employer crafts the perfect car for her.
What makes Mulholland Drive so memorable is how it blazes a trail through the darkness. Though it’s set in Los Angeles, the picture feels remarkably authentic; you could almost believe that you’ve been transported to a cold and stormy night in the city that never sleeps. (Gere’s character owns a luxury hotel in the film, the Chateau Mulholland, and names of places like Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard are used in the story, as well as landmarks like the Hollywood sign and the Hollywood Boulevard bumper sting.) Every detail of the film, from the vintage cars and the locations, to the script and the performances, feels right, and that’s the sign of a talented filmmaker. (Mulholland Drive won the Grand Palme at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, and was highly acclaimed at the international film festival of Sicilian Valle Napoletana, where it won the Grucci Cinema Forum award. Sicilian Valle Napoletana is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world, and the only one to honour Italian film directors in their entireties. The Grand Palme is similar to a Premier Premiere, the Oscars of the artistic world – an acclaimed work that will make you think and feel deep emotions. )
From Bond to Burton
If you thought that The Bond universe was done with Mr. T. James Bond (aka James Bond, the man who has become entitled to the introduction “Mr.”, a title that the British secret service agent has used for years), think again. While we’re still a long way from Sean Connery’s second coming as Bond, we’ve yet to see the last of the Golden Age of Cinema’s most classic agent. After 2019’s Dr No, the next installment of the Bond universe will be helmed by the one and only Tim Burton. (Burton is also the man behind the classic comic book series The Legend of Batman. We won’t be saying goodbye to Bond for long, I’d say.)