Thursday, June 23, 2005

Whew. Haven't blogged in a while.

I was sick about a week back; was in bed for 3 days. I don't even really know what it was; I was very weak but couldn't keep anything down and generally just felt miserable. Got a lot of reading done, at least. 4 books during one particularly long day. There must be some bug or something going around because lots of people were sick when I was and others are sick now. Hope it's nothing serious.

Getting onto Neil Gaiman's blog made my week, though. And the blogad I was quoted in is now being used to sell more... well, blogads.


I loved Loved LOVED Batman Begins. I love it to bits. I have seen it twice. It is fantastic.

The first Batman was a monumental event in my life. I didn't even get to see it in a theater (we couldn't watch movies, they were too expensive). I was in Boston, 9 years old, and it had just come out on Laserdisc, and it was one of the first Laserdiscs we ever got and I ever saw and that might've helped because it was clearer and sharper than a movie screen seemed to be and it just blew my little 9-year-old brain away. It melted my eyeballs and made my jaw drop. I'd read Batman comics before then but the movie turned me into a huge fan; that year I got A Death in the Family and The Killing Joke (which was probably my first exposure to who would later become my favorite writer, Alan Moore, though at the time what was most impressive was that there were naked breasts in it). I got all this ridiculous Bat-merchandise (wallet, mug, plaque) I can't even remember all of it. I even have a picture with the Batmobile, when it came to Boston for some car show. One of my prized possessions, and still my favorite Batmobile.

Anyway, Batman Begins. It rescues the character from the ass-raping of Schumacher and Goldsman. In my mind the last film was Batman Returns, but that was way back in 1992. So that's a pretty long wait. When I first heard about this film being made I tried not to get too excited. Nolan hadn't made a film I didn't like yet, but he'd never worked with a budget like this before. Screenwriter David Goyer wrote some excellent JSA stories but he also wrote the Blade trilogy (and directed the last). Besides which, DC kept fucking up its characters in movies: LXG, Catwoman, and then Constantine. So I held off reading up on it, just watching trailers and the like. Boy was that a good decision. It was good to be surprised by Linus Roache as Thomas Wayne (an unexpected, but inspired choice), Rutger Hauer, and Tom Wilkinson. The flashback structure in the first 3rd works well. Whenever it takes a slight turn towards something I might not like, it rights itself eventually by leading to a great point. It stays in continuity mostly, but its changes are understandable. Doing the beginning of Batman affords great opportunities for drama, moreso than in other parts of his "career" because you can show Bruce Wayne making mistakes, learning as he goes. He's not yet that sure of himself, that capable, that confident in his abilities. So it's right that in his first meeting with Gordon, he can't quite pull off the "disappear-without-a-trace" trick until later when he's Bats. And if you notice, everyone seems to be smarter than him; he receives some kind of lecture from pretty much everyone, but he takes the necessary lesson from each lecture, even the one from Falcone the mob boss. The cast is terrific, except for Katie Holmes who, while not bad, is out-acted by almost everyone. There's an appearance by one of the best Batvillains, Mr. Zsasz. The score is good: moody and heavy at the right moments, stirring and frantic when it needs to be. The Batmobile is inspired by the one in Dark Knight Returns (and the whole movie is heavily inspired by Frank Miller's other Bat-classic, Year One [calling the bats is lifted directly from that book]). There's some kind of secret, special delight in seeing a story you're so familiar with from countless retellings and interpretations being done right, while seeming fresh at the same time. And in a different medium, no less. Cillian Murphy was a great creepy villain. Particular kudos to Gary Oldman who made a great Jim Gordon. He's an underrated actor; I wish someone would exploit how good he'd be at comedy. I love the scene of Batman's first "appearance," which is treated as a horror scene from the POV of the criminals. Just how it should be. I also loved him beating the crap out of a would-be killer in the background while Katie Holmes is in the foreground with her taser. The closest thing to a negative for me is that when Bale does his Batman voice, it sounds like he's really trying to lower it and be intimidating, when for Michael Keaton it just seemed to come so naturally.

Basically, at the end of it I'm just so glad they got it right, you know? I didn't realize how much I'd invested in it subconsciously. I think if it was terrible I would've been really depressed, because if someone like Christopher Nolan can't do it, what hope is there? I actually cried in one part, not because of any particularly emotional scene but just because it was so good and I was loving it. it's that shot of Bats standing on the corner of some skyscraper like a gargoyle, nothing but silhouette with the camera circling the building. I was still quite nervous at that point, because I was having so much fun but absolutely dreading that it might somehow fuck up into some stupid Hollywood shit by the end. So when the credits came on I breathed a sigh of relief and my whole body relaxed and I felt elated and like a 9-year-old again, wanting to read the comics.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is fun, great at times but sometimes a bit off in others. It's in the spirit of the book, though, which is good. It also continues the tradition of Hitchhiker's being different for every medium it penetrates. There are characters and events not in the book, but I'm not complaining; Adams wrote the script himself (though didn't complete it since he died). It's almost a little too faithful to the book sometimes; wildly digressing is easier in prose than in film, because it loses flow and can get dangerously close to tedious if not carefully done. Whereas in prose, you as reader can control flow. Or at least, the speed at which you read. I must say, though, that the scene where Arthur met Trillian at the party and they bond was, for me, very romantic. It's very short but there's just this terrific authenticity/silliness to it that struck a chord with me. The fact that I love both Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel helps.


Wimbledon's begun, but I have to go to Neva's to watch because we don't have Star Sports. Nadal's out, unfortunately, losing in the 2nd round to Muller, though grass isn't really his turf so it's understandable, and he's young yet, only 19.

Did you see the video of Tom Cruise getting squirted with water? I didn't even find it funny, but you can't not watch. It takes all he's got to keep from slugging the guy. When someone tries toweling his face he shoves it away with just a little too much force and you can tell he's just about to explode if not for all the cameras and people.


Goddamn, I do love a simple poster with a bold graphic. This poster is worlds away from the earlier one, but still good, and just makes me want to see it more.

On to more film stuff:
A trailer for Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener, his first film since City of God. It's an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel, which comes as a surprise since he was talking about a different kind of film as a follow-up to City of God when he was here for Cinemanila.
A teaser for Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, his first film since The Pianist.
A new trailer for Terrence Malick's The New World, his first film since The Thin Red Line.
A trailer for Curtis Hanson's In Her Shoes, his first film since 8 Mile.
A gorier trailer for George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, his first zombie film since Day of the Dead.
A teaser for Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, his first film since Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas(!).
A preview of Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, his first film since Vanilla Sky.
A trailer for Takashi Miike's Yokai, his first film since last Thursday. Just kidding.
A new trailer for Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean's Mirrormask.
A trailer for The 40-Year-Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell.

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