George Clooney after “Batman & Robin”

George Clooney is a successful actor, director, and producer.  But the turning point in his career, he says, was appearing as Batman in the worst and most critically-panned movie in the franchise, Batman and Robin. [Read more...]

I judge the superhero movies

Well, to celebrate our anniversary and to catch up with our fast-disappearing summer, my wife and I constructed a “double feature” (anyone remember those?) by seeing BOTH Spiderman and Batman:  The Dark Knight Rises on a single Saturday, with a late lunch in between.   We had a good time despite the Batman movie.

The Dark Knight Rises is pretentious, ponderous, ludicrous, and lugubrious.  It makes me miss what I thought I was tired of–namely, irony.  The movie was so serious, so full of itself, even while its main characters were putting on silly costumes.  A super-hero movie can be philosophical or angst-ridden, but it needs to have at least some element of fun.

As the Spiderman movie shows.   (Normally, one waits several weeks or months between superhero movies, so seeing them side-by-side makes the comparisons stand out.)  The best part of that movie was the part I didn’t expect to like, yet another version of the origin story.  But this time the origin made much more sense even than in the comic book (I write and criticize as a fan), picking up on the motif of interspecies genetic engineering.  What the movie did especially well was in showing high school nerd Peter Parker gradually learning about his new superpowers.  What science fiction and fantasy can do at their best is give us a sense of wonder.  Juxtaposing the spidey powers (super strength, agility, ability to climb and hang upside down and swing on webs, sticky hands and feet) with the ordinary routines of school and family life was an effective way to stimulate the imagination.  Later we get to the obligatory and conventional friend-turned-monster, but that’s all right, given the genre.

So what about any political themes in the Batman movie, as we discussed on this blog?  It does pick up on the Occupy Wallstreet threat of an uprising against the wealthy and privileged, such as millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne living in stately Wayne Manor (to use the comic book language).  And it comes out decisively against the mob.  (The best scene was the sight of thousands of police officers coming out of the ground to restore social order.)  So the movie managed to be pro-rich, while still blaming the wealthy for  economic and social disintegration.  It presents the point of view of the wealthy-but-guilt-ridden-over-their-wealth.  That is, the new base of the Democratic party.

(That’s not why I disliked the movie.  That’s a perfectly defensible position and appropriate in many cases.  I disliked the movie for the reasons given in the second paragraph.)

Anthony Sacramone is back and making fun of Batman

The blogging maestro Anthony Sacramone, who used to be Luther at the Movies, is back, after one of his intermittent long blog vacations.  Read his notes on the new Batman movie.  Read them all, but here is a random sampling:

Ah! Some real action. Finally. Selina Kyle, aka Cat Womyn, played by Anne Hathaway, granddaughter of Miss Jane Hathaway, late of The Beverly Hillbillies, a true fact I found on Wikipedia after I cut-and-pasted it there, puts one in mind of what a young Sean Young would have done with the role had she not gone batcrap crazy. With legs long enough to make a crane fly cry and a freakishly narrow skull, Hathaway is both terrifying and strangely alluring, a wastrel who cat burgles in order to “feed herself,” although her 14-inch waist would lead one to believe she’s not very good at her job. Desperate to wipe the criminal-record slate clean and start again, this time as a medical transcriptionist in Scarsdale, Cat Person is obviously seeking both redemption and a spinoff movie to make us forget Halle Berry’s calamitous effort. Coming in at a weight of 125 pounds, Selina is nevertheless able to kick several 6-foot-6, 350-pound gangsters unconscious in a matter of seconds, when it took the 135-pound Bruce Lee a good while to take out Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Must be something in those Flintstone vitamins these gals take nowadays. . . .

Lionized by the conservative press as something of an anti-Occupy movie, The Dark Night Mooneth does demonstrate in vivid color what a revolution really looks like — a lot of show trials, explosions, hangings, and an added 45 minutes to everyone’s commute. Makes one feel sorry for Michael Moore and other Hollywood socialists, who I’m sure will be accosted on the streets with copies of Hayek and Burke after young libertarians leave the theaters on fire for counterrevolutionary activity.

(Progressive commentators, however, have bemoaned Citizen Bane’s failure to implement a “green” policy that would have demanded the purchase of carbon credits before setting off the big bang-bang. If you’re going to hold a city hostage, a la certain public-worker unions, you must at least have a recycling plan in place for all the attendant debris.) . . . .

This film is very loud. I tried signaling the projectionist with a sign (PROJECTIONIST: THIS FILM IS VERY LOUD) I always keep on my person, but my efforts were met with catcalls and boos from my fellow auditors. One even got up and screamed, “Sit the eff down you effing eff or I’ll effing eff you up!” That’s literally what he said. Must be a Baptist . . . .

Why is it that filmmakers love to blow up New York City? It must be the skyline, or maybe Mayor Bloomberg has decided to ban something again, like Mentos or something.

via A Strange Review: The Dark Knight Stinketh « Strange Herring.

Mr. Sacramone also posts about an upcoming movie about Hell, that guy who texted as he drove off a cliff, and much more.

You should bookmark his blog, Strange Herring, and visit it regularly.  I have been doing so for five months, just to see if he might have started posting again.  He finally has.

Violence according to pop culture

Part of Victor Davis Hanson’s thoughts about the Batman killings:

When Alien, Predator, or Terminator slice up or rip apart dozens, life just goes on. Bodies fly all over the screen and we are onto the next scene. Wondering about who actually was the 11th poor soul who had his heart ripped out by the Terminator is far less interesting than watching the latter utter some banality. The same is true of everything from Die Hard to 300—lots of real-life, graphic killing, but almost no pause and bewilderment over the staggering loss of life or the consequences of Target 12 or Victim G leaving life at 12 or 56. Killing is so easy not just because of robotic arms, RPGs, and computer simulations, but also because there are almost no emotional consequences from the carnage—a fact easily appreciated by the viewer, the more so if young or unhinged or both. The killer usually smiles or at least shows no emotion; the victims are reduced to “them,” anonymous souls who serve as mere numbers in a body count. Will Kane’s victims, in contrast, were known—evil, but still not anonymous and not mere sets for the sheriff’s gunplay.

For the diseased mind that is saturated with such modern imagery, there is fascination aplenty with the drama of killing, but no commensurate lesson gleaned from its sheer horror—at least in human terms of the devastation that such carnage does to humans, both nearby and in the larger community. In the awful mind of the rampage killer, he always must be the center of attention in the manner of his homicidal fantasy counterpart, his victims of no more account than are those decapitated, dismembered, or shot apart by Freddy Krueger or Arnold Schwarzenegger. How odd that we rush to the emergency room for a cut finger in the kitchen—stitches, tetanus shot, pain killer, bandages, a doctor’s reassurance—only to matter-of-factly watch horrific wounds on television that night with no thought that a .38 slug to the shoulder entails something more than our split forefinger.

And there is a further wrinkle to these hyper-realistic cinematic rampages. The killer, be he an evil “Joker,” the horrific Alien, or a hit man in a mafia movie, has a certain edgy personality, even a sick sort of intriguing persona—at least in the sense that his evil is sometimes “cool” in a way that his plodding victims, who simply got in his way, are not. In the abstract, we sympathize with the good, who became his targets; but in the concrete, the film focuses more often on the killer’s emotions, his language, his swagger.

The Joker spits, he puns, he acts disengaged and “cool,” while his victims scream and panic; we want to know why he acts so, and are supposed to be fixated on his strange clothes, face, and patois, never on the series of Joe Blows that are incinerated by him. Is it any wonder we know all about the orange hair of the suspected killer, but very little about the hair colors of any of the poor victims?

via Works and Days » The Demons of the Modern Rampage Killer.

The Batman killings

So what can we say about the shootings in that Aurora, Colorado, movie theater?

I’m sure we’ll learn more about the details–already I’m hearing different accounts–in regards to the 24-year-old James Holmes who is in custody for killing some 12 people and wounding more than 50 others at the Batman movie.

Was he a crazed fan, acting out the role of the Joker, as has been reported (and disputed)? Is it time, as some will no doubt argue, to repeal the 2nd Amendment?

Batman as conservative movie

Though, as we posted, the Democrats are making a big deal of the villain in the new Batman movie being named “Bane,” as in Romney’s Bain Capital, John Boot reports that the film is explicitly, unabashedly Reaganite, an overt attack on the Occupy Wall Street ideology:

If The Dark Knight was about the War on Terror, The Dark Knight Rises puts equal force and fury behind a tale about financial crisis and revolution. It’s the first Occupy Wall Street blockbuster, and that Christopher Nolan’s film was well underway before the OWS movement even got started is a tribute to his perspicacity.

The new film is a pleasure, sprawling in its storytelling, satisfyingly brawny, and occasionally moving, particularly in a terrific final act. In addition to all of that, the movie is so unabashed about its conservative message that you practically expect it to end with a dedication to Ronald Reagan. See if you can think of the last movie you saw that shows hundreds of big-city police officers lining up against a rowdy mob — and the police are the good guys. The movie is a counter-revolutionary document with as much damnation for populist revolt as Dr. Zhivago. . . .

Thanks to corporate intrigue [Bruce Wayne has] been marginalized at his company and he’s being hassled by a philanthropist (Marion Cotillard) who wants him to pour more resources into a failed clean-energy project involving a “fusion” reactor that is not only not working but can be converted into a nuclear weapon. With Gotham City at peace, Batman isn’t needed anymore, and thanks in part to the efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), he is regarded as a terrorist psychopath anyway. . . .

When Bane goes to work destroying Gotham City, he first heads for the stock exchange to cause a mini-financial crisis (which, somewhat strangely, morphs into a big action scene that is more enjoyable if you don’t think about it too much). As Selina Kyle warns, in a line that could have been written by Occupy Wall Street, “There’s a storm coming….you and your friends better batten down the hatches.” On cue, her associate Bane launches a full-on proletarian revolution in which the meek are given the support of his thug army as they strike down the rich, the police officers having been caged up. This Michael Moore fantasy, though, is treated with no sentimentality at all. Garbage immediately piles up in the streets and justice is dispensed a la Robespierre, with bourgeois dissenters being sentenced to death without trial. Only Batman, an aristocratic capitalist hero, can restore the balance.

Watching a businessman billionaire smite the forces of a nefarious rabble-rouser who purports to speak for the surly mob is a story line we can only hope to see promoted from the entertainment section to the front page this November. But until then, The Dark Knight Rises is a rip-roaring serving of wish fulfillment, the rare summer blockbuster with a lot of ideas in its head and all of them conservative.

via PJ Lifestyle » Batman, One Percenter?.

The movie opens today.  I’m on the road and can’t see it until I get back.  I’ll leave it to you readers who see it this weekend to let the rest of us know how it is.  Specifically, who is right about the movie?   Is it liberal or  conservative?


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