Friday, August 4, 2017

I Bid You All A Very Fond Farewell

My dear, dear friends and readers:

It has been 2 years, 1 month, and 13 days since I first launched Lover of Lembas.

I can actually remember the day pretty clearly--I had just finished my school year three days prior and was looking forward to a long summer.

I was thinking about Lord of the Rings as I normally did at that time and my family was lounging around the house enjoying a nice Sunday evening.

I knew they weren't in the mood to chat about my most recent obsession, so I tried not to bother them.

I logged onto my school Google account where I remembered seeing the Blogger feature and had run two very small book blogs for a couple months.

Maybe someone on the internet would be interested in talking about Lord of the Rings?

2 years, 1 month, and 13 days later, I have met quite a few people willing to talk about the Lord of the Rings; people who knew a lot more than I did, people who thought about things in a different way and shared their opinions and interpretations with me.

After 335 posts exclusively about The Lord of the Rings, I wrote my first post--The Infinity Dreams Award--not particularly about that subject.

Slowly but surely I began to write about all kinds of things I love: my Les Miserables phase, my Phantom of the Opera phase, tons of book reviews, my favorite movies and general life experiences.

Lover of Lembas had become a personal blog that was a place for me to share my life and communicate with people who I otherwise never would have met.

Soon I had enough viewership to host a giveaway and was able to send a reader a Lord of the Rings coloring book.

The blog went through so many phases and different changes in design and concept.  It was always changing and molding, though having such a constant way of writing for the past 2 years, 1 month, and 13 days has been something that hasn't changed in awhile.

These next couple months are going to be so weird, then.

You see, Lover of Lembas has had it's run.  It's accomplished it's goal.  It went from a half-baked scheme and random idea on a Sunday afternoon, but it never died.  This is one of the longest-lasting projects I have ever pursued and, hey, I'm not gonna hide it: I'm really proud of what I've done.

That makes it really hard to say what I'm going to say next.

I will be removing Lover of Lembas on September 2nd.

You can't imagine what a strange change this is going to be for me.

I will deeply miss posting every day, talking to all you wonderful readers, reading all your beautiful blogs and thinking of ways to improve my own blog.

I'm close to tears!

The reality is that Lover of Lembas has had it's run and going forward, I need to begin to eliminate as many concerns in my life and that includes worrying about a daily blog post.

I know for sure that I will never forget Lover of Lembas and it will always have a special and fond place in my memory.

I really don't know how I can do justice to the end of this era in my life, really.  I can't think of any words that adequately convey the deep gratitude and extreme happiness I take in the memories around this blog.

Lover of Lembas will end in the same way it began: in dedication to J.R.R. Tolkien and all he has done and how he has effected my life.  I chose September 2nd as the date to permanently log Lover of Lembas off the web in memory of Tolkien.  It's a small gesture, but it's symbolic for me.

I can't go without saying goodbye, so I encourage you all to leave a comment and let me say my final goodbyes to each of you personally!

I truly don't know what to say.  I will miss this place immensely and my new friends most of all.

I suppose I'll let Tolkien finish things for me, since he seems to have a way with words ;)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Happy Birthday Christopher Nolan!

Alright, it is July 30th, 2017 which means today is Christopher Nolan's 48th birthday!

I have had a really good time watching and reviewing each of his films and I hope you've enjoyed reading them also.

I think it's safe to say that Christopher Nolan is a gift to cinema and the movie world would be way duller without him.

Image result for thank you gif

I mean, who would have made epic films of space travel and family that you can watch with your friends?

Who would have created such a beautifully filmed movie full of different levels of thought and unpredictability?

Without Nolan, how would we have seen the pledge, turn and prestige of the best superhero yet?

Without Christopher Nolan, who could have brought the actual pledge, turn and prestige of a magic trick onto the big screen in such a brilliant way?

Who could have turned Al Pacino into such a convincing homicide detective and covered his human story to the same level?

Could anyone have hoped to tell a layered story of a man with amnesia in such an appropriately disorienting way?

Is it possible that anyone could have told such a compelling story about a man breaking into other people's houses?

I think not, and for that reason, I am so happy that Christopher Nolan, my favorite director is around to accomplish those tasks for us.

I think I speak for all movie lovers when I thank him for all he's done and wish him a happy birthday!


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Interstellar

For the penultimate post of this Christopher Nolan week, I'm going to link you to my various posts on Interstellar today :)

My original review of Interstellar is here!


My updated review of Interstellar after a couple months here!


And finally, my analysis of the soundtrack of Interstellar is here!



Friday, July 28, 2017

Inception

Alright, alright, alright!

We are so close to the end of Christopher Nolan week!
  1. Dunkirk Trailer Reviews and Expectations/Dunkirk Review
  2. Following (1998)
  3. Memento (2000)
  4. Insomnia (2002)
  5. The Prestige (2006) 
  6. The Dark Knight Trilogy
  7. The Dark Knight Trilogy Pt. II
  8. Inception (2010)
  9. Interstellar (2014)
  10. Happy Birthday and Recap
Today's post is going to be much shorter than the others have been because I've already written a lot about Inception, and the same goes for Interstellar tomorrow.

Both of these films are incredibly innovative, though provoking and well planned out.

You can read my initial Inception review here!

Here are some further videos about Inception I've really loved and recommend.







Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dark Knight Trilogy (Pt. 2 of 2)

Sadly we should wrap up our discussion about the Dark Knight films if we want to be able to get to all the wonderful Chris Nolan films we have to review by the end of the month.  I'm positive that I will have more to say about the Dark Knight films in the future though, so keep checking into this blog for unscheduled Batman posts!

If you're new to the blog or maybe just came here for Chris Nolan Week, be sure to enter your email in the bar to the right so you can stay up to date on all the posts coming up.  You can unsubscribe at any time and it delivers the posts in nice little emails.

Okeee, yesterday we talked about some themes and connections within The Dark Knight trilogy and Christopher Nolan's other films, so today I want to stay right on top of only his Batman movies and review them purely as films.

Batman Begins


Image result for batman begins

Batman Begins is my least-loved Batman movie of the three.  That's not really saying much though because I like all three so much.

At the very beginning of this movie there is a lot of action sequences beautifully executed, but since this was my first exposure to Batman and I didn't know that I cared about him at the time, I wasn't super invested in whether or not he was winning.  Also in his Liam Neeson fight sequences I knew that he was going to be fine because how else would the movie go on?

Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors and I thought he did a great job as Henri Ducard although his weird mustache thing drove me insane.

Image result for henri ducard

Once we were back in Gotham City, I really liked the part where Lucius Fox was introduced and started helping Bruce Wayne collect some bat-gear and pretended that he wasn't catching onto the fact that Bruce intended to become Batman.  

I feel like me saying Michael Caine is a good actor in this movie isn't even appropriate since so many people have said he's never put on a bad performance and is one of the greatest actors--and I guess I agree for whatever my opinion's worth!  He has a sweet old-man persona and is kind of like Bruce Wayne's grandpa.

Related image

I've gotta say, I didn't have any background knowledge about Batman before seeing this so in the flashback scene where his parents are shot, I was completely surprised and caught off guard a bit.  I thought that it was just a scene where his parents I dunno, teach him a lesson about criminals or I don't know what I was thinking.  But then they both just got shot!  It was crazy!

Batman becoming Batman and saying "I'm Batman" was my favorite Batman moment of Batman Begins.  ;)

Image result for im' batman gif

The most memorable moment in my mind besides "I'm Batman" was when Batman saw the homeless man Bruce Wayne had given a coat to and goes, "nice coat," before like shooting off into the distance.

Those are the cute little one-liners I think Ben Affleck's Batman keeps trying to do, but you can't force moments like that.

Commissioner Gordon was super awesome and a great actor, particularly when it came to seeing him so confused but kind of intrigued by Batman when he first showed up.

Katie Holmes is really pretty in this movie, but when I look back I do notice that everyone was right; her performance was pretty lackluster.  Luckily she doesn't have much of a role in the movie so it doesn't drag it down but it is pretty disappointing.

Scare Crow wasn't mildly scary in my opinion, and at one point I got really confused about what his plan was and started zoning out.  I hope to go back and re-watch all of this soon so I understand what happened more clearly.

Image result for scarecrow batman begin

The Dark Knight


Image result for the dark knight


This is my favorite of the three for sure.

The "cold-open" involves these thieves with clown masks covering their faces as the rob a bank's vault.

I knew the Joker was going to be in this Batman because I haven't been living under a rock and I saw the "calling card" that was left at the end of Batman Begins, but I apparently am the least thoughtful person ever because even though the thieves were actually dressed like clowns and stuff, it did not occur to me that the Joker was one of them!

This introduction where each of the members of the heist turns against one another until it's only the Joker left standing with all the cash is a perfect way to introduce the character; he manipulates people and gets them to think they are acting in their own best interest when really they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Image result for the dark knight heist

I was really sad to see Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel in this movie.  I don't know why, but I just don't like her.  She's not as pretty as Katie Holmes I guess? 

There are so many favorite scenes in this movie all packed into one!

I liked the boat sequence, again showing the Joker's anarchistic ideas where he believes that all the people will vote to blow each other up.  I really like the optimistic moment for humanity when both boats refuse to blow up the other.  This scene also kind of shows the danger of pure democracy or mob rule--everyone voted pragmatically to blow up the other boat, but there has to be some sort of morality guiding the voting populace otherwise you will descend into the Joker's anarchy. Go humanity in this scene!

The interrogation scene is so intense and Batman beating the Joker around yelling "where's Rachel?" in his Batman voice was super gratifying.  As much as I wanted Rachel to not be in the movie anymore because she was bothering me, I didn't really expect her to actually die!  Especially in only the second movie!

Image result for where are they batman

But at least her death had some ramifications for the rest of the film involving Harvey Dent's transformation, and one of Alfred's uses of "the noble lie" that we talked about yesterday where he doesn't tell Bruce that Rachel had decided to go with Dent instead (horrible decision in my opinion but whatevs...)

It would take me eons to discuss everything in this movie, from the "everybody loses their minds" line to "I believe in Harvey Dent", from the flipping of Two-Face's coin to the bat pod.  As much as I love the Batmobile, the bad pod is so sleek, so awesome, so *bursts into flames from sheer epic-ness overload*

The Dark Knight Rises


Image result for the dark knight rises

So we finally got rid of Rachel and this movie opens up with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.  For what it's worth, Anne Hathaway does a great job and she does look very sleek as Catwoman.  I just don't like Catwoman a ton because she's been done so horribly in the past with no traits other than "wow look at that spandex" or something dumb like that.  At least this Catwoman kind of had emotions and a character arc at the end of the movie when she came back to help Batman.

Bane is a great villain because he tries to expand a little more on the Joker's idea of anarchy but Bane does it by returning power back to you "the people".  Well, that's what he says at least, but in reality he advocates complete lack of any governance where prisons are emptied, laws are ignored, and people just go insane.

Wayne is in a really horrible place after the events of The Dark Knight and he has to kind of hit rock bottom and build himself back up by climbing out of the Lazarus pit which both aesthetically and thematically calls to mind the well he fell in.  Why do we fall down?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Image result for batman well

So Bruce Wayne re-dons the helm of Batman and with his newfound strength both within and outside, he is able to more or less defeat Bane and his secret-under-cover friend who had ties with Liam Neeson's character and was trying to finish his attempt to destroy Gotham.

So Batman sacrifices himself to take the nuclear bomb out over the ocean as far away from Gotham as possible and let it explode and kill him rather than all of Gotham.  Unfortunately, he claims that his vehicle doesn't have auto-pilot so he has to do it personally.

He spends a lot of time saying goodbye to Catwoman that I feel might have been better used by driving the nuclear bomb as far away as time would allow, but whatever.  Then he reveals his identity to Gordon which was iconic and I like that scene.  At first when he said it, Adam looked at me and was like "do you get it?" and I was like, "um, no?" and then the flashback came and I understood and kicked myself for not recognizing Gordon as that initial police officer in Batman Begins.

Image result for a coat on a young boy's shoulders batman gif

Everyone believes that Batman is dead, but in reality we discover that he had fixed the autopilot and is living it up in this cafe with Catwoman, where he sees Alfred and they acknowledge each other and carry on in a cute way.  I always knew that Bruce Wayne would survive, so I was half-way on the edge of my seat but didn't let myself get too worked up because I was certain he'd be fine...right?

Also you should have seen my face when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was revealed to be Robin.  I just turned my head 90 degrees slowly to stare in the distance and then slowly turned back to the movie.  Look at that crazy slight of hand the movie did there!

Image result for i like your real name robin gif

All's well that ends well!

I wonder how the people of Gotham dealt with the fact that Bruce Wayne was gone from Gotham for awhile, then as soon as he returned so did Batman.

Then Batman went on the run for awhile, and Bruce Wayne also stopped interacting with the city in any way.

Then as soon as Batman came back, so did Bruce Wayne.

Then Batman dies and Bruce Wayne also dies with no explanation?  

How have they not caught on!?


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Dark Knight Trilogy (Pt. 1 of 2)

The Dark Knight Trilogy of movies is probably Christopher Nolan's most widely known project.  It consists of three films: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.  Recurring stars include Christian Bale as Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and within individual films, Heath Ledger, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Aaron Eckhart and Marion Cotillard all make appearances.

Image result for the dark knight trilogy

The first of these films was released in 2005 to skeptical audiences still reeling from the last Batman movie, Batman & Robin which was pretty much universally condemned as horrible.  Batman Begins however had a different take on the much loved character and was far more realistic than any other super hero films had been up to that point, something much appreciated by audiences.  

Related image

The Dark Knight opened in 2008 and the hype for that movie was off the charts.  Following Heath Ledger's tragic death (he played the Joker) before the release of the movie, anticipation grew even hotter.  This film was critically acclaimed as the best super hero movie ever made and spawned countless iconic phrases and looks.

Image result for everybody loses their minds gif

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) had a tough task following up on the former two movies, particularly The Dark Knight.  Tom Hardy acted as the primary villain, Bane.  Despite several twists and turns, an emotional ending and a dramatic story line, it is generally accepted that, though a great movie in it's own right, The Dark Knight Rises didn't quite live up to it's predecessor.

Image result for the dark knight rises

Nevertheless, each of these movies are iconic and three of the most popular superhero movies ever.  They dragged DC Comics from the pitiful...pit...they were in at the time and changed the aesthetic of movies in the future.

As much as I would love to talk about each of these films individually, I only have scheduled two days to cover the Dark Knight Trilogy in order to finish Christopher Nolan week by his birthday (July 30th).  For that reason let's discuss some over arching themes and stuff that stretch over all three movies.

First of all, I want to connect all three movies to another movie of Nolan's we have discussed, The Prestige.  

Image result for the prestige

Curiously, both The Prestige and the Batman movies star Michael Caine and Christian Bale proving that Christopher Nolan regards them as talented actors for one thing.

As Michael Caine's Prestige character explains, there are three parts to any magic act (and therefore, as we discussed, to any movie or story).  Oh, would you look at that!  The Dark Knight Trilogy also happens to have three parts!

The three parts of a trick are:

The Pledge (for instance, showing a regular bird)
The Turn (making the bird disappear)
The Prestige (bringing the bird back!)

Let's match those up to the Batman movies and see if they fit.

Image result for the pledge the turn the prestige

The Pledge: you introduce something to the audience.
Batman Begins: introduces Bruce Wayne as Batman to the audience, explains his backstory, his motivations, his aspirations.

The Turn: you somehow alter something from it's original state to an unexpected state.
The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent is altered from his original state of being a respected member of society into being a two-faced evil guy; because of this, Batman is altered from being a heroic vigilante to being someone the police believe is a murderer and have to chase down.

The Prestige: you bring back the original thing.
The Dark Knight Rises: Batman's innocence is revealed and he is restored to the trusted Batman Gotham had in Batman begins.  Not only that, but later Bruce Wayne returns to normal Wayne-ery when he leaves the Batman persona behind him.

So these movies are pretty similar in structure which I find pretty interesting and it makes sense since the magic tricks used in The Prestige are sort of a metaphor for story telling and film making in general.

Image result for makes sense gif

The trilogy also has parallels to other Nolan films.  Like Inception, Memento and Insomnia, these Batman films question the idea of a "noble lie" and the importance of truth.

At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman takes on the responsibility of Harvey Dent's death so that the people of Gotham can believe the "noble lie" that Harvey Dent their hero died a good man and that Batman is actually the bad guy.  He believes that this idealized vision of Harvey Dent will inspire the people of Gotham to carry on in his memory.  

So Batman lies to the people.  And to a certain extent, this works out really well.  This results in the Dent Act which puts away a lot of criminals and keeps Gotham pretty safe.  Is the movie trying to say that lying can be acceptable under certain circumstances?

This idea is brought up in the other movies I mentioned as well.


Image result for inceptionIn Inception, Cobb sort of tricks his wife by incepting an idea into her mind.  This is really manipulative of him, and in the end, it ends up driving his wife away from him and leading to her death.  In this case, the "noble lie" Cobb told his wife back fired and was really bad.  

Also in Inception, it's left ambiguous as to whether or not Cobb made it back to reality.  If he did stay in the dream world just so he could be with his family, isn't that just a lie he is telling himself?  But is that a bad thing?

Image result for memento

In Memento, Leonard constantly lies to himself by leaving false clues about his wife's killer so that when he forgets what he lied about, he will take the clues he left as facts and continue hunting the killer in order to have something to live for.  He lies to himself so he has inspiration to keep going.  Is this a bad thing?  I mean, it results in the death of innocent people so yeah?

Also in Memento, Leonard creates a huge story about this guy named Sammy in order to pretend that Leonard wasn't responsible for his wife's death even though he totally was.  He lies to himself so he won't have to deal with that grief.

Image result for insomnia movie

In Insomnia, Al Pacino's character is certain that someone is guilty of a crime, but is frustrated by a jury who can't see it.  He plants evidence in order to convince them of the man's guilt.  Is this okay, since it was sketchy means to attain a good end?  This film sort of does give an answer, and that is "no".  In the end, Al Pacino's character warns Hilary Swank's character "don't lose your way" and prevents her from lying to preserve Al Pacino's reputation.

Again, I'm not sure that Nolan's films intend to give us any clear answers about any of these questions.  One thing is for sure: the Dark Knight Trilogy has a lot in common with other Nolan movies when it comes to structure and themes.  What do you think?  Is the noble lie really noble?  Can you find any more parallels between the Dark Knight Trilogy and the way a magic trick is set up?

Check back in for more Nolan movie goodness!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Prestige

Remember the Christopher Nolan Week line up:
  1. Dunkirk Trailer Reviews and Expectations/Dunkirk Review
  2. Following (1998)
  3. Memento (2000)
  4. Insomnia (2002)
  5. The Prestige (2006) 
  6. The Dark Knight Trilogy
  7. The Dark Knight Trilogy Pt. II
  8. Interstellar (2014)/Inception (2010)
  9. Happy Birthday and Recap
The Prestige is a film by Christopher Nolan and stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine.

With a cast like that, you simply know that this film is going to be amazing, right?  I can tell you unequivocally that it's a fantastic movie, available on Netflix, and ready for you to watch.  Don't read this review please if you haven't seen the movie because you will be very sorry if you get spoiled!

Beware!

Image result for the prestige movie poster

After Bale's character accidentally causes the death of Hugh's character's wife, Christian Bale's character, Borden, and Hugh Jackman's character, Angier, who are both magicians, try their hardest to steal each other's tricks and outperform each other.  Their antics grow increasingly violent and bleak as the stakes grow higher and their personal lives grow harder.

The story opens with the last couple scenes of the film which really capture the viewer's interest.  How did all of this come about?  What could possible have happened between these two to cause such a circumstance?  It was an excellent choice to open with this ending and really draws the viewer in.

Michael Caine's character explains the three parts of a magic trick: the pledge, where the magician displays a rather benign and ordinary object or person; the turn, where the magician somehow alters the ordinary; and the prestige, where the magician brings the ordinary back.

The entire movie more or less follows this simple trend and cleverly interweaves the plot with these aspects.

Image result for the prestige you're not really looking

The beautiful part of this movie is that the entire movie is laid out for you--the twist ending and all!--but you don't notice and choose to ignore the facts that are obviously right in front of you because as Michael Caine's character says, "you're not really looking; you don't want to know."

This is true: when watching movies we've always been trained to suspend our disbelief and ignore things that don't necessarily what we already think is happening.

Imagine being an audience member watching a magic trick on stage.  They notice something flickering behind the curtain and it looks a little out of place, but they look away.  To know what is actually happening behind the curtain will ruin the trick and amazement for them, so they ignore it.  There shouldn't be any flickering--it doesn't fit with what the magician promised.

Image result for the prestige you're not really looking

Now imagine watching a movie.  You see two shots that don't match up correctly and they have a continuity error.  Instead of looking into this, we've been trained to just say "oh it's just an editing error" or something and you look away because you don't want to ruin your movie experience with this one cut that doesn't fit with what the movie seems to be saying is happening.

Now picture sitting through a two hour movie with...

  1. a character who never says any words and there is no explanation for why this seemingly important character who is Michael Caine's character's parallel never speaks
  2. a wife who can sense a distinct split in personality between her husband and routinely shouts "this isn't you" at him
  3. an opening narration that says "we were two men at the start of a great career"
  4. a magician who dedicates himself to his act by pretending to be something he's not (a cripple) in order to fool his audience whose trick only Borden can figure out for some reason
  5. a man who can't recall what knot he tied inexplicably almost as if he wasn't really there
  6. a recurring trick where a canary is killed and its brother reappears to fool the audience
  7. a seemingly impossible trick where a man transports himself 
  8. a man's wound bleeds later than it is supposed to--almost as if it was a second wound gotten later or something
  9. Michael Caine's character insists that Borden is using a double but no one believes him
  10. a man is hanged but then reappears apparently alive
...and still not catching onto the fact that indeed Borden is a double.  It explains the randomly silent character (Fallon, the other Borden twin), Sarah's clear sense of the days when Borden loves her and when he doesn't (based on which twin she is with), the two men at the start of a great career (the Borden twins), Borden being able to figure out the crippled-magician's trick (because he is similarly dedicated to his trick to the point where it takes up his entire life), Borden not being able to figure out what knot he tied (because the other twin was responsible), the canary which foreshadows the death of one Borden twin while the other Borden reappears, the way that the impossible transporting man trick would be accomplished, the reason that Sarah complains that Borden's wound seems to have reopened (it is the second Borden who has injured himself after the first Borden in order to remain identical), why Michael Caine has been right all along and how Borden reappears after his death.

Do you see how many clues were left throughout this movie?  ALL THE CLUES.

Image result for realization gif

But like Michael Caine says, you're not really looking.  

This movie shows just how similar movies are to magic tricks.  The film distracts us from the clear hints to the twist right before our eyes with beautiful film making, great acting and super editing just as a magic trick on stage might distract us with flashy lights, a beautiful assistant, flamboyant acting, etc.

This is a masterful way of drawing such a comparison and it's a very impressive movie!

Did you catch on to the twist?  Label your comments spoilery if you're going to have a spoiler in it--this movie has such a wonderful twist I want t make sure it stays a secret for anyone who hasn't seen it!

Just like with Memento, I don't really like the movie poster for The Prestige.  I think this fan-made one is way better!

It reflects the two Borden personalities very subtly by showing both birds, one dead and one alive acting as the prestige.  It also includes the tantalizing tagline: "Are you watching closely?"

Image result for the prestige movie poster