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« Take Three: Danny DeVito | Main | Olympic Weekend: Her Majesty, Mrs Urban, and Mr Bean »
Sunday
Jul292012

Catwoman and Marie Antoinette Would Just HATE Each Other

Shortly after writing about The Dark Knight Rises I got all frustrated remembering how audiences are ignoring the bracing terrific French drama Farewell My Queen so I couldn't resist doodling about them together. Enjoy!

That arthouse drama about The Terror would make for an eye opening double feature for fanboys, an educational footnote if you will, for Chris Nolan's awkward political metaphors about the unruly 99% and how hard they are on those put upon benevolent 1%ers!

Speaking of bags upon bags of money and who's got it... this weekend's box office charts.

Box Office Fifteen
01 THE DARK KNIGHT RISES $64 (Cum. $289) Review
02 ICE AGE 4 $13.3 (cum. $114.8)
03 THE WATCH $13 *new*
04 STEP UP REVOLUTION $11.8 *new*
05 TED $7.3 (cum $193.6)
06 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN $6.8 (cum $242) Review
07 BRAVE $4.2 (cum. $217.2)
08 MAGIC MIKE $2.5 (cum. $107.5) Review
09 SAVAGES $1.7 (cum. $43.8) 
10 MOONRISE KINGDOM $1.3 (cum. $38.3) 

11 MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION $2.5 (cum. $62.7) 
12 TO ROME WITH LOVE $4.2 (cum. $12.9) Review
13 BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD $2.5 (cum. $4.1) 
14 MADAGASCAR 3 $4.2 (cum. $209.5)
15 THE AVENGERS $2.5 (cum. $616) Review

Just outside the top 15, French import and international feel good hit The Intouchables is really rising. It's about to hit $5 million in the US and still expanding. Outside of TDKR, the most crowded theaters (i.e. per screen average) were for two indies in very limited theatrical release: NC-17 rated Killer Joe (with Matthew McConaughey and Gina Gershon based on the Tracy Letts play) and Ruby Sparks with Paul Dano as a writer and Zoe Kazan as his creation. 

What did you watch this weekend? Besides The Olympics of course

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Reader Comments (26)

Stop perpetuating the false idea that Rises holds a message in support of the 1%

It's ridiculous and you know it.

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthatguy

i do not think there's anything false about suggesting that the Batman myth, as told by Nolan, perpetuates a fantasy of Benevolent Billionaires who are only in it to save normal citizens from themselves and each other (in all three movies)... which is a frustratingly dangerous message nowadays given what actual Billionaires are perpetuating.

but anyway. Catwoman and Marie Antoinette. I think it's funny to smoosh them together :)

July 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I enjoyed the doodle and speaking of audiences ignoring a film, isn't it sad that La Pfeiffer’s latest People Like Us bombed more than anyone expected, grossing $4.3 million on more than 2,000 screens on its opening week.
That was a pathetic per-theater average, but it’s also a slight surprise given the extensive marketing for the film that led me to hope it could be a modest success amidst all the big-budget, big-star films.
Sadly, I was wrong, as was Dreamworks, and the film was off the film world’s radar in a matter of two weeks.

That must have been a blow to Michelle, who’s been working extremely hard to reinvent herself as a supporting actress. I just hope she fares better with Malavita!

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Banks

OMG Joe! Do you one our beloved Nathaniel to jump off a window?

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Joe Banks: Luc Besson? Don't bet on it. The Professional was seventeen years ago now and he hasn't fulfilled that films boundless promise.

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

People Like Us bombed because the premise couldn't be summed in a sentence.

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

Peggy Sue -- i appreciate your concern but the fact that Pfeiffer keeps working lately, even if the pfilms pflop is enough to make that balcony jump MUCH less attractive.

Volvagia -- have you forgotten THE FIFTH ELEMENT so quickly?

July 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Brief hijack: I just watched The Fifth Element recently for the first time in seven or eight years, and that is one great movie. Such panache! It's absolutely crazy to think that it didn't get Oscar nominations for its costumes and art direction. And the fact that Milla Jovovich got a Razzie nomination is utter madness. She's terrific!

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

Liz -- yeah, i love Milla in that one. I generally like what i've seen of her period tho i've never seen any of those Resident Evil things.

July 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I watched The Dark Knight Rises. It was great!!

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

That's a decade and a half. The Messenger? Angel-A? That creepy Arthur and the Invisibles series? The Lady? All his productions including Colombiana? Like I said: The Professional was promising, but that's mostly been unfulfilled.

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I saw Killer Joe. "Best Movie of The Year". Matthew McConaughey is nothing less than tremendous. He deserves an oscar nom for his work. He is the only villain i can compare to Harry Powell from Night of The Hunter. Seriously Bane is nothing compared to killer joe cooper. I can't wait for you to review it. Please do it soon.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I'm not sure if I totally agree that TDKR is totally 100% pro-billionaires, anti-99%. It seems to harbor classic American attitudes about wealth - believing in the positive powers of capitalism via philanthropy and innovation while still mocking individuals that belong in that system. All of the movies have made visual jabs at the rich for being greedy, horny, and extravagant - the smug, insipid Congressman hitting on Selina Kyle and then following her around like a dog, the brief cutaway to the masked guests cracking open crabs gleefully, Bane's "then what are you doing here?" when the stock broker tells him that there's nothing to steal, and let's not forget that one of the initial villains, Daggett, is your classic greedy bad guy archetype. Wayne is seen as the exception to that system, not necessarily the epitome. I wouldn't say that Nolan goes so far as to argue that wealth and benevolence automatically accompany each other, but more than rich and powerful individuals ought to carry that responsibility. And don't a fair amount of the heroism belong to the "common" people - Gordon, John Blake, the caretaker at the children's home?

That aside - can we get a Yes/No/Maybe So on the trailer for "The Master"?! Been dying to discuss it!

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercici

I did a double feature on Saturday of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom. I was satisfied. I expected Scanners-level head exploding caused by the jump from apocalyptic drama to quirky comedy, but the forced 40 minute break at the theater gave me just enough breathing room to re-calibrate.

Beasts is lovely. I'm not sold on the brilliance of the young lead's performance--so much is done with voice over while she stares or wanders around--but I buy into the bleak and beautiful vision of The Bathtub. The arc of the community is fascinating in that Whale Rider, wiser elder/young upstart against the world kind of way.

Moonrise Kingdom is cute. It's silly. I much preferred the scenes with just the kids, especially the two leads, to any of the adult nonsense. I think the balance was off but I understand why the narrative shifts were necessary.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Cici -- We already did The Master trailer ...Good points on the Batman wealth stuff. Definitely things to consider

Josh -- i had to miss the critics screening of that. hope to see it soon.

July 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Just re-watched North By Northwest in theater and enjoyed it. Also this time I found Eva Marie Saint's character (Eve) reminds me of Scarlett Johansson + Julie Delp. LOL

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

Julie Delpy, opps

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

I have to agree with cici here. It's not that I don't think Nathaniel's interpretation of the politics is invalid in any way -- it's certainly one message we could deduce from the film -- just that it doesn't take into account some of the more complex aspects of characterization in these films (which is what makes them so brilliant to start!). I sense that it's easy to see a Bruce Wayne/Mitt Romney parallel because we have no distance from those current politics so it's sort of the first thing we could reach for.

Recently, I wrote my master's thesis on a topic closely related to political and protest literature and I have a few tidbits to add from my research.

Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin, to take two examples, believed that the highest forms of literature (films included) to fulfill a social protest function were forms/styles in which the messages were not simple and often more difficult to discern because they avoided some of the romance archetypes in fulfilling their narrative goals, thus providing the readers or viewers with a more lasting impression and a more indelible mark on their thinking. These types of pieces work so well because they challenge the conventions of morality as depicted in art and they mirror the non-literary world in more accurate ways.

In the Batman reboot, the primary drive behind the films in the first place was to provide a more flawed and unstable soul to what is essentially a romance genre. I believe that TDKR's political messages are more complex than we're giving them credit for, even since Batman Begins. What has always made these new Batman films so captivating has been Nolan's insistence on providing sympathetic villains with many admirable viewpoints. Remember this Joker line from TDK? "If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all 'part of the plan.'" It's an incredibly relevant point. Where is our indignity for the plight of common people? Why aren't we outraged? Why do all the dominant institutional elements of the Earth drive us into the ground? In that sense, the Joker and Batman were fighting a common enemy: dominant institutions. If you think about it, they're both Marxist freedom fighters, just with different tactics and world visions.

The problem is that then you find yourself agreeing with the Joker -- but isn't that affecting in some way? That his motivations are also in us, yet we have the sanity to suppress them? (this is why the film has so much immediate resonance with the James Holmes shootings -- not because the film had a causative relationship with the killings or because of the coincidental nature of the the film showing and the shooting -- it's the fact that James Holmes could be anyone, really, just like the villains of Batman).

Where Nolan (admirably) draws the line is at the point of disorder and violence. If there's a moralistic point where Nolan ceases to continue challenging the viewers' ethics, it's when the villain resorts to senseless violence as an indirect means to achieve what are nonsensical goals. Further, there is the implication that it's the very madness of the world, the illogical nature of capitalism, that has driven them toward mad, yet calculated actions. In Nolan's Batman, I doubt the message is as simple as saying that the 99% (and this one-to-one comparison itself is pretty unfair to the 99% and to the imagination of the writers) is an unstable and dangerous force that needs to be saved by benevolent and level-headed billionaires. Everyone has complicating character factors. Bruce Wayne is an unstable, selfish, vigilante thrill-seeker interested in the perpetual revenge of his own parents. Bane is part of a class of incarcerated citizens that is institutionalized to believe in the world's inherent lawlessness and unfairness. If anything, these are poignant leftist messages about what happens in a world where an egalitarian social drive is left out on the curb. It's a cliche, if anything, but there is a lot of dualism in Bane, Batman, and Ms. Kyle that make their symbolic presences unstable and up for interpretation. It's not that the movie has a vision for how it wants our world to be; the movie IS our world, interweaved with our mythology.

Besides, would Mitt Romney fly his jet out over the ocean with a nuclear bomb strapped to it? Probably not.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

What cici said.

And The Fifth Element rocks.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Saw The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. I thought the characters and politics were incredibly muddled, but Anne Hathaway was very good, and the editing was defiintely a step up from the often inscrutable previous film. And it looked really great in IMAX. But on the whole, I was just meh about it. I just can't bring myself to care about any of the main characters, much less the people/city of Gotham, who are apparently more eaily led than sheep.

Last weekend was much better: Beasts of the Southern Wild is such a special film.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Tim --- love that last bit. I certainly DON'T think that Romney & Wayne are comparable... I just think it's an inherently conservative film and it's fantasies are always centered on trusting that a billionaire can save us. But i like that you're digging deeper. The crazy thing about politics is the more extreme you get to either side the more you come full circle left becoming right and right become left (like Fascism itself which has elements of the extremities of both) and the even crazier thing about politics is the closer people get to the center (where you can't even tell the difference between them) the more they seem that the other is their polar opposite.

it's all very fucked up.

But I have to vehemently disagree on this point:

Everyone has complicating character factors. Bruce Wayne is an unstable, selfish, vigilante thrill-seeker interested in the perpetual revenge of his own parents
If there's one thing Batman has never been painted to be in these films it's "selfish". He is a vigilante yes, and unstable, but his actions are ALWAYS for the greater good. He's the definition of selflessness, really, giving up any semblance of a healthy normal life to make his city better and safer.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

But, per Alfred's critiques in TDKR, you don't get the sense that there's a fine line between Wayne's self-satisfaction and his seeming benevolence? I think I do.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I saw "Ted," which is exactly what you think it will be, and pretty funny if a little long. But you also get to see Mark Wahlberg walk around in tight t-shirts for an hour and a half so that's a plus.

Then I finally saw "Certified Copy" based solely on your constant recommendation of it on this blog, Nathaniel. I totally get why. It was kind of amazing (took a little long to really get going) and Juliette Binoche was definitely amazing! That last scene with her on the bed - heartbreaking. I can't believe she got ignored in Best Actress for performances like Glenn Close's, which was at times almost laughably unbelievable. But thank you so much for highlighting it. It would have been completely off my radar if not for you.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

"It's fantasies are always centered on trusting that a billionaire can save us."

But to say that would be to say that the entire premise of Batman, not just Christopher Nolan's Batman, is conservative to begin with, no? There's really no other way to alleviate the fact that Bruce Wayne is able to do what he does because he can harness the time and wealth to do so. The same with Iron Man. And just to add to Cici's point - Bruce Wayne tells Gordon at the end of TDKR that "a hero can be anyone, like someone putting the coat around the shoulders of a child to reassure him" or along these lines, and the ending implies that the mantle of Batman will be assumed by Blake, who is in every sense of the word an Everyman, a former policeman and orphan who grew up bereft of wealth or privilege, reiterating the "heroes come from everywhere" point.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Also, Tim makes some incredibly intriguing points, which makes me think back to that great conversation between Bruce Wayne and Rachel in Batman Begins (still perhaps my favorite of the trilogy!) where Rachel lambasts Wayne for thinking of only selfish revenge for himself and urges him to fight injustice within the system instead. Of course, she means injustice that comes from organized crime, not necessarily corporate fatcats, but nevertheless it provides the point that Batman was not a morally stringent person to begin with; selflessness was a conclusion he arrived at after the intervention of his childhood friend.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

But lastly, I want to thank Nathaniel for providing such a chill outlet to discuss this rationally and intelligently with others! Certainly I could never do this on say, IMDB. Ugh.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJ
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