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    • CommentAuthormanglr
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2012 edited
    Caught a documentary, "The Queen of Versailles", last night. This had been making the round at Sundance and the festival circuit, and is just getting its release. It's a really fascinating piece, and occasionally really uncomfortable. It's the story of the couple behind the world's largest time share company, the ridiculous 90,000 square foot house they're building, and what happens when the economic crisis brings things to a screeching halt. It's difficult to think of a better metaphor for modern America, and portions of it made me want to wretch.

    Queen of Versailles Trailer

    Off today to see Takashi Miike's latest US release, "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai", which I've very much keen on.
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2012
    Really enjoying reading these interpretations of Batman. Has anyone heard Kermode's review of it yet?

    @TF - Blackwidow's buttshots pissed me off. Lamesauce.
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2012 edited
    @TF: Maybe we have different definitions, but it seemed to me that Catwoman got more than a couple leather-clad ass focused shots.
    • CommentAuthormanglr
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2012
    I was going to say that every time she straddled the Batpod.
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2012
    Saw the movie again this morning and stand by what I said but should maybe qualify it with this:
    The costume is the costume and she walks around and does things in it - but - the camera's never leery nor does it hold on her for any longer than it needs to - in fact, she's mostly shot in close up and from above the hips and when there is a full body shot she's very much in the shadows or if we see her butt it's because it's part of her leg as she turns to kick someone.

    She is straddling the Batpod due to the design of the thing but her ass isn't really in the air and when her ass is prominent the Batpod is in an action sequence; if you want to count those there's a couple but I'd argue that her ass is just there and not the focus. An example - she bends over on the Batpod to fire rockets at the tunnel wall but the instant her ass becomes prominent the camera pushes in past her ass and focuses on the wall she's looking at, other directors would have held the shot.

    I feel weird writing all that.
  1.  (10691.6)
    The hands down review of The Dark Knight Rises is at (that's movie spelled with the number zero not an o) and it comes out of Dublin with best blog creds. He has spent an enormous amount of time thinking about it and it shows. His other reviews are excellent also, but his TDKR is so above anything else written that they just might as well not have been written, it's that good.

    Nolan is steeped in post modern philosophy in it and this movie is so intelligent and aesthetic that it is breathtaking. I saw it at IMAX, my first time seeing a movie there. After reading Darren's review I expected it to be overwhelming so I wanted to see it in an overwhelming visual experience. I sat in my seat without squiggling for the 3 hours and was riveted.
  2.  (10691.7)
    Another long slow movie is Days of Heaven, Pocahontas, The Tree of Life all by Malick. I did like Mel Gibson's one on the Aztecs, etc. Name? A good film.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2012
    Someone mentioned The Ninth Gate.

    Bottle of Whiskey.
    The Ninth Gate.
    Angel Heart.

    *THERE'S* your Hellblazer film.
  3.  (10691.9)

    All of that's surface detail, though, and less significant than the fact that these movies have consistently made the female characters damsels in distress, fallen women who see the errors of their ways due to Bruce Wayne's superior moral leadership, or supervillains trying to blow up a city. I mean, I don't think it's really reasonable to laud TDKR (and, for that matter, the trilogy in general) over The Avengers because of a few choices of frame when there is a much deeper and more profound difference in how the two films treat their female characters. I don't really care about this war of directors that people have got going on, pitting Nolan against Whedon, but if you're going to start critiquing the two films in terms of gender, I'm afraid the Batman series just isn't going to come out on top.
  4.  (10691.10)
    I enjoyed The Dark Knight on the whole. I think it's a good movie. But I do think it's a movie that gets worse the more you discuss it.

    Part of the problem is that the Nolan Batman universe explains so much that, when something major is left out, it feels that much more grating. The most major one being the police's situation.

    Okay, so 3000 - THREE THOUSAND policemen are trapped in the SEWERS of anarchist-terrorist-martial-law Central Gotham. Bane somehow sets up a system that keeps them fed for FIVE MONTHS. When they finally break out, they're still in fighting shape. They get their freshly pressed uniforms (without Bane's lackeys mopping them up as they presumably go home or to the police stations to do so), and then they do a head-on rush against a heavily fortified position full of people who presumably still have grenades to spare.

    This, the way Batman gets back to Gotham presumably just by being Batman, the way Bane seems to be reading the script to get his Batman facts (though that's somewhat justified towards the end, when we find out that
    Talia Al Ghul has been getting the inside scoop on everything Bruce Wayne/Batman from her position in the Wayne corporation, brief stint in the Wayne manor and, presumably, from her dear old dad.
    )... They might be less glaring in a movie that spends less time and effort to ground everything in sorta-the-real-world. The cartoony Burton Batman might get away with the police situation. In the Nolanverse, it grates.

    I also had a problem with Batman himself at times. It's like he forgot to be Batman a lot of the time. Particularly disappointing during the first fight with Bane.
    Batman was not Batman in that fight. Batman doesn't enter into a slugfest with an opponent he knows has had the same training as him, while surrounded by his goons. When Batman takes out the lights, Batman gets into a better position instead of fumbling around in the open.

    Mind you, it could be said that that's part of the point, that he really wasn't Batman any more, that he was out of practice. Bane even comments on it... But:
    Right up until he actually FACED Bane in that sequence, he was perfectly Batman. He used the environment, he ambushed goons, he had plans. It's like the moment he saw Bane his brain went out and he was all "Durrrr fistfight nao."

    And yes, Bane did get a bitch death. I did appreciate his sense of efficiency just before said moment, but for all the lingering the movie did earlier (particularly in the prison), Bane just got snuffed out in an anticlimactic blink of an eye. And they could at least have called "Robin" something else. Change his last name to Drake, make his real first name Timothy. Or just make the first name reveal Timothy, for a comic book audience inside reference (because his last name is close enough already).

    It's amusing what expectations and an established universe can do for or against a movie. "Amazing Spider-Man" gets better with discussion because people had kinda meh expectations for it but it actually has more going for it, while Batman gets worse because the rest of it's just so danged good and established. Because "Rises" IS a good movie. Just riddled with niggles, that we care about because we care about the movie.
  5.  (10691.11)
    @abbeysbooks: article was a very good read. Thanks, muchly.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2012
    People. you need to see this movie if you can. It's been out in Scandinavia for nearly 2 years now, but it's only just being released in the US /UK

    Klovn is big in Denmark & Iceland. The ending of this film.... well it will literally take your beath away with "FUCKING HELL! did i just see that???"

    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2012

    I wouldn't argue with that and therein lies the reason the design of the camera shots was interesting to me.

    The characterisation of one film was stronger than the other - yet - one made space to gaze at the lead actress and the other didn't. I never really meant to jump up and down and shout about it - I'm just saying - there it is.
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2012
    They might be less glaring in a movie that spends less time and effort to ground everything in sorta-the-real-world. The cartoony Burton Batman might get away with the police situation. In the Nolanverse, it grates.

    I think this has been a problem with all the Nolan Batman films, actually - there's a bunch of goofy superhero stuff (Ras Al Ghul's ridiculously convoluted "drugs in the water supply and a microwave emiter on a train" plan in Begins, the batmobile turning into a bat-bike in TDK, Bane's Bond-villain level ridiculous evil scheme in TDKR), which the films have to kind of skirt around because of their desire to be grounded. I'd like to see a superhero film which takes an approach like Grant Morrison's current Batman books, where the goofy history of superheroes is treated as integral to their importance.
  6.  (10691.15)
    Oh, and another problem I had with Rises: The Wall Street scene.

    So, Nolan, you're telling me that the Gotham stock exchange... The stock exchange in a city that's been downright overrun with criminals, and which has suffered at least two city-wide panics thanks to special individuals within said criminals... You're telling me that somehow once you put a few guys with guns into that stock exchange area, they can irrevocably do anything they want there? There's no way for anyone to shut down the access of that building besides physically taking down the lines and mobile towers? No terrorist panic code placed elsewhere?

    At the same time, I didn't quite buy the reasoning for Bruce Wayne being incriminated during all that, but now I can't remember exactly what the details for that were, besides someone using his fingerprints for evil or whatever.

    All things considered, I think Rises is the Nolanverse Batman movie that prompted the most "What? No! That's dumb!" reactions from me.

    I will say that in retrospect, after reading a few other viewpoints, my complaints about Batman's behavior aren't all that valid. Batman's clearly a flawed individual in all the movies, and it could be said that in some of the situations (the Bane fight, for instance) he pretty much... chokes.
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2012 edited
    @ twentythoughts

    At the same time, I didn't quite buy the reasoning for Bruce Wayne being incriminated during all that, but now I can't remember exactly what the details for that were, besides someone using his fingerprints for evil or whatever.

    It wasn't about "incriminating" Wayne - it was about bankrupting him. Bane used the fingerprints and codes to cause "Wayne" to sell most of his stock, which eliminated his majority share in the company. He then used the money from the stock sales to make a huge number of foolish stock and margin purchases, thus flushing Wayne's money down the toilet. Also by doing this it opened the way for Talia to "rescue" Wayne by heading up the board, which gave her the needed access to the fusion device.

    @ keeperofmanynames

    All of that's surface detail, though, and less significant than the fact that these movies have consistently made the female characters damsels in distress, fallen women who see the errors of their ways due to Bruce Wayne's superior moral leadership,

    We can argue about Miranda being a woman in distress, but I never saw Selina Kyle requiring Bruce Wayne's leadership about anything or being treated as anything less than an equal of his. For my part I imagine that
    Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are functioning as a kind of Leverageesque couple, robbing from the immorally rich and giving to the deserving poor (which keeping a decent percentage for themselves, of course. Expenses and all.)
  7.  (10691.17)
    I think there's a lot to say about the three female characters in the trilogy, and I almost wished Nolan had divided them by movie so that we'd have a better look at each of them individually instead of having two movies to develop Rachel(for...whatever reason) and only one movie to develop Miranda and Selina Kyle.

    They seem to be fixed in memory, dream and reality, which then can tie into some of the larger themes. Rachel is perfected in memory and become an anchor, Miranda is a manipulative dream with no bearing in reality and Selina Kyle is the harsh reality that the world won't produce only one exceptional individual with the potential to do good, the only one who can save the people. It seems almost like Batman is driven by his memories and initially dreams that he can stand alone to save the world, and then realizes that only together with the help of others can he succeed.

    He employed them to a great thematic success, at least I found.

    Also, I'm a little confused at the comparisons between Black Widow and Selina Kyle. I guess because they're both meant to be strong female characters. My main issue is that only two of those words apply to both of them, while Selina Kyle makes away with the third alone.
  8.  (10691.18)
    @johnjones: Ah, yes, now I remember. And that gives me yet ANOTHER problem with the stock exchange scene. If that's indeed what they were doing there.

    Not only do they not shut down access to the stock exchange when it's FORCIBLY TAKEN OVER BY CRIMINALS, but they also approve all the crazy transactions that went on while the stock exchange was under the control of gun-toting maniacs? Nobody even bats an eyelash at the fact that Bruce Wayne (who, by the way, nobody even saw at the stock exchange, and seeing Bruce Wayne is a big deal at that point in Gotham) sold off everything from the place where gun-toting maniacs were holding everyone hostage?

    "Why yes officers, I noticed the gunmen, but I just HAD to get these stocks off my back and then squander the rest. I just kinda crouched under a table to complete the deal."
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2012
    @ InvincibleM

    The characters in Nolan's films are very much archetypes. If we go by your definition one's a dream, one's a memory and one's a personification of the real world (although I consider her as a reflection of Batman, much as Harvey was in DK), - while this might be thematically fine, especially given the mythological weight given to everything; none of them are dynamic, rounded characters when compared to Maria Hill or Black Widow who are driven in their own right while Selina needs Batman to believe in her before she does good.

    Miranda is motivated by gaining revenge for her father and Rachel, who begins as a moral centre, looses the moral superiority to Bruce's Batman and, after being the damsel in distress, is given the job of delivering a cure to Gordon.
    In the second film she looses the leadership qualities she showed in the first film to Harvey while she again, becomes the damsel in distress and Bruce’s waiting salvation.


    The lack of reality with the stock exchange; the shots that were clearly New York and not “Gotham”;
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “orphan intuition” and waiting for Bruce to make a third attempt at escape (he needs to do it without the rope!) all knocked me out of the movie - But - watching this I learned something about myself and Batman movies:

    I will go along with a lot of nonsense just to see Batman doing shit – which means that Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin must be even more dire than I can ever truly appreciate :-)
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2012
    @ twentythoughts

    The movie does mention that probably the fraud would be detected and sorted out eventually. In the meantime, it was perpetrated via computer
    (so Bruce didn't have to physically be there) and now that I think about it, the fingerprints were probably needed to gain access to the Bat-arsenal that Bane used to patrol the city.

    But yes, you're right. On reflection, the movie doesn't hold together very well. It's a dark, beautiful awesome dream. Poking at it causes it to collapse. But at least neither Batman nor Catwoman had nipples on their suits.