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Entries in Batman (67)

Monday
Jul142014

Best Shot: Batman Returns & The Dark Knight

...Or, as I call them: Catwoman (1992) --what? the names not taken since there is no other movie none nuh-uh called this -- and The Joker (2008).

Yes, it's true I intended to watch all 8 Bat Movies before the big event tomorrow night (pick a Bat-Film, any Bat-Film) and select a best shot from each. The idea that I was going to be able to watch eight films, most of them over 2 hours long and write about each of them individually in the space of a week is so ridiculously delusional that maybe I need to be locked up in Arkham Asylum? 

But I knew which shots I would choose from both Batman Returns and The Dark Knight without a rewatch (and that's not common for me). Even while watching the movies the very first time in 1992 and 2008 respectively my amygdalae be all "We likey. This moves us. Never forget!" 

Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer shot by Stefan Czapsky)The Joker (Heath Ledger shot by Wally Pfister)

The reasons to love these two shots and pair them are legion. They're twins in every way I can think of and "Holy Split-Zygote!" does the Batman franchise ever love twins.

We're the same, split right down the center.

Two silent images in madhouse conversation.

Both images are solo shots, weird little character-beat reveries within much fussier action punctuated sequences. In fact, in lesser director's and editor's hands it's easy to imagine them left on the cutting room floor altogether as they're more visual grace notes than story beats. Both images are animalistic, the cat doubled playfully and the dog hanging out the car window to feel the breeze, the only thing missing being his tongue. Both images have no dialogue, they're just hypnotic snapshots of two actors at the peak of their gifts lost in their own inspired headspace fully inhabiting fantastical people. Perhaps most impresively, both images happen to reflect their movies and auteurs, too. Tim Burton's Batman films are a mix of pitch-black night, elaborate production design, playful flourishes and cartoonish verve... all accounted for in this image. They don't take place in the real world - notice everything swallowed by darkness behind Catwoman. There is no real world; Gotham is a soundstage. Chris Nolan's Batman films, in contrast, are a mix of late night restlessness, gritty realism, and told with a straight face and dark majesty... all acounted for in this image. The Joker may be otherworldly but he's intruding in ours; Gotham is Chicago, filmed on location.

Finally, and this is no small matter, what Michelle Pfeiffer and Heath Ledger were doing in both of these movies in roles that haven't always inspired actors or even been taken seriously by them is art, pure and simple. These star turns are film-elevating stylized tragicomedy, so highly peculiar that they could have only come from inspired character actors, so mesmerizing that they could have only come from movie stars. This Catwoman and this Joker are filled with such vivid specificity that though these roles which will surely be played by dozens more actors in the next 100 years, they will always belong to Heath and Michelle. 

 

And now... the main event see all the images chosen in the Best Shot party.

Wednesday
Jul092014

Best Shot: Batman (1966)

Happy 75th Anniversary to the world's favorite f***ed-up orphan billionaire!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot returns on the evening of July 15th with a special free-for-all episode in which you choose whichever Batman feature film you want to look at and post your choice for its Best Shot. We link up. It's our way of celebrating Batman's 75th birthday. I opted to start at the beginning. No, not Tim Burton's high gothic smash but the special feature edition of the 1960's TV series, which was filmed after season 1 wrapped (the props were reused for follow-up seasons)

BATMAN (1966)


Batman (1966) has a ton of sight gags. I'm not claiming that any of them are particularly well-executed but my favorite bar none is Batman's lunatic run holding a lit bomb that he can't find a place to dispose of. It's what would happen if you crossed Batman with a Mr Bean skit. But that joke isn't freeze frameable since it's all in the montage / length. Since this is the only Batman feature that's an intentional comedy (someone will cover Joel Schumacher's movies I'm sure) I had to choose something humorous for my best shot. Nothing is funnier in 60s era Batman than the OCD labelling of everything. It's not enough to have everything shaped like the Bat symbol and called 'Bat-this' and 'Bat-that' but the Bat-name must also be displayed in big letters ON the item in case the hero forgets who he is or what props are (but remembers how to read). Even the four villains (Catwoman, Joker, Riddler and The Penguin) get in on the act with their own labelled shelves in their submarine HQ.  

In the movie's opening maritime rescue setpiece Batman dangles from the Bat-Copter on the Bat-Ladder (yes, there's a label on the last rung) when suddenly he emerges from the water with a shark dangling from his leg nine years before Jaws made that a universal nightmare. Batman tries to go all Lara Croft on its ass, but lacking her mad shark-punching skills many years later, Batman needs Robin to save him (but he's not in a hurry about it since he's Adam West and he likes to make each sentence into 3 sentences.)

Best Shot

Hand.    Me Down.    The Shark Repellent Bat Spray.

Robin climbs down the Bat-Ladder (no one is piloting the Bat-Copter. Just saying). Instead of just handing his Sugar Daddy the Bat Spray Shark Repellent --  it's not like the shark is going to leap legs for Burt Ward's chicken legs when it's already got an Adam West thigh --  the Boy Wonder pauses to be all acrobatic about it and hangs upside down to pass over the spray.

It's super dumb and I love it. 

[Gluttons for punishment can check out a few more shots I loved after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul032014

Batman & Superman: The Complete Series & Body-ody-ody

na na na na na na na na ♬ ♬ ♬

 

Warner Bros has announced that all 120 Episodes of the camp 60s Batman series are coming to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time in November. This is awesome news (so many stars were in that show) but what about consumer choices? May I please order Batman: The Incomplete Series with only the Batgirl & Catwoman episodes at a discounted price? That's how I watched the show as a child. If the Batgirl cutout above didn't come swinging into frame during that nananananana theme song (as she did in episodes in which she appeared) I sometimes just turned off the TV and ran outside to play. True story!

My preferred Catwoman FWIW was Julie Newmar.... though as an adult my appreciation for Eartha Kitt in other venues rose dramatically so I'm curious if I would like her rendition of Catwoman more now?

Anyway it's all remastered. Look at how much the colors pop!

 

 

 

In other superhero news, the first still of Henry Cavill as Superman from The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Heroes in Love: Batman vs. Superman has been released. He stands erect, ready for any threat beyond the Kryptonite of Amy Adams' sheer indifference (Love her but my god that was terrible casting. Newsflash Hollywood: no actor is right for everything... even when they're at their most popular)

I just hope Henry Cavill's trainer has concentrated on his lower body a little more this year. I know we were all supposed to drool over the body-ody-ody in round one but I found it weirdly and displeasingly top heavy, like at any moment he might fall over from the girth of that Super Torso atop those Only Human legs.  

Wednesday
Jul022014

Best Shot Schedule - Final Episodes

The first half of the 5th season of "Best Shot" began with the most robust participation ever. I hope we can kick it back up to that notch for these final  episodes. Here's what's on tap so adjust your queues and join the fun... 

we're risking two enigmas in a row...

Tues July 22nd UNDER THE SKIN (2014)
Scarlett Johansson arrives in alien form in this hypnotic visually driven and disturbing motion picture from disappearing act Jonathan Glazer (Birth, Sexy Beast). If you saw it in theaters you'll want to revisit and if you didn't, you're in for a unique experience. [It arrives for rental and sale on DVD/Blu-Ray on July 14th.]

Tues July 29th CRIES & WHISPERS (1973*)
Since we're celebrating 1973 all July to coincide with the Smackdown, here's your Best Cinematography winner. Ingmar Bergman's extraordinary movie about sisters and death. Cheerful! 

*IMDb lists this as a 1972 picture claiming it was released in '72 in the States (and it's true it was nominated for the Golden Globes that year). I haven't done the research but that's mighty confusing since that would seemingly make it ineligible for Oscar play in 1973. It premiered in Bergman's own Sweden in March of 1973 and was a huge out of competition sensation at Cannes in May in 1973 and was up for five Oscars for 1973 (by some accounts, it was Bergman's biggest hit of all time stateside) so I consider it a 1973 picture. Curiously Sweden made no submission for the Oscars in 1973 though this film would probably have trumped the beloved winner, Truffaut's Day For Night.  

Tues August 5th TBA

Tues August 12th SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1959)
I've been waiting for an opportunity for us all to jump in on Anne Marie's "A Year with Kate" action, so here's our most visually elaborate chance. Her awesome series hits this landmark gothic this week. Since the Tennessee Williams films was directed by four time Oscar winner Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve) and stars Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor (both nominated for Best Actress!) and Montgomery Clift that's five great artists of the cinema all grouped together for our sensationalistic amusement in this insane story of predatory homos, evil mothers, and more... with some of the best taglines the cinema ever gave us outside of Susan Hayward pictures:

...suddenly last summer Cathy knew she was being used for something evil!"

The one they're all talking about"

These are powers and passions without precedent in motion pictures."

[Amazon Instant | Netflix | iTunes]

August 19th TBA

August 26th TBA

September 2nd TBA - SEASON FINALE

Any suggestions. It gets harder and harder to find movies readily available on multiple platforms now that Netflix keeps losing Instant Watch titles beyond endless B to Z grade movies and doesn't care about their DVD business. Can you believe that Collateral, for example, which is only 10 years old is not available for rent on Amazon or iTunes? And not Instant Watchable on Netflix either. I wanted to do that one but I don't think enough people would participate given its bizarre scarcity.

Wednesday
Jul022014

Bob & Carol & Depp & Tilda

The New Yorker on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice by Paul Mazursky. I love that movie so much
NYT RIP the influential filmmaker Paul Mazursky (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, An Unmarried Woman, Enemies: A Love Story
THR The Academy sues the estate of art director Joseph Wright. His family auctioned off his Oscar for My Gal Sal (1942) for $79,200. (God, imagine how much an Oscar for a famous movie or actor would get!) But auctioning off Oscars is a big big no-no. AMPAS freaks out every time.
Bryan Singer tweets a treament of X-Men: Apocalypse


Daily Mail Johnny Depp on the set of Black Mass. Lots of old age makeup
X-Finity Matt Bomer implies that his Montgomery Clift biopic is on indefinite delay
The Wire Joe talks that Eric/Jason sex scene on True Blood and what a failure the show has been in terms of the gay. Co-sign every word.
The Black Maria on the Hunger Games of the 70s, Roller Ball
The Dissolve in the greatest summer blockbusters
Comics Alliance revisits Batman to look at Vicki Vale, the 1989 version of "Strong Female Character". (I totally forgot Ms Vale was an acclaimed photojournalist - not that it matters)

The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that’s really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way... She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of "Batman", touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness.

Towleroad Adore Delano continues to hit it hard in that tiny assured-media-interest window post RuPaul's Drag Race. Party!
Clothes on Film wonders what happens to contemporary costumes when the movie wraps. Featuring The DescendantsBrick and Silver Linings Playbook
Variety Tom Hardy reunites with Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant 

Tilda = Best
Tilda Swinton has proclaimed that everyone should see Julia because Tilda has great taste. She's so extraordinary in that movie and she should've won her second Oscar for it. (Sorry Oscar nominees of 2009 but you just don't compare)

I made a film with Erick Zonca called JULIA of which I am extremely proud: in the United States it had a very small release by a great little and passionate distribution company called Magnolia.. but there was only so wide they could release it.. PLEASE look for that one.. it is something else.. and I LOVE it.

Her Reddit Q&A is often hilarious. Consider this response to whether or not she's a clone of David Bowie.

The laboratory gave me strict instructions to issue no comment

I'm so proud that I've been a fan of Tilda since Edward II (1991) so she's MINE. I am so proud to have given Tilda the gold medal right here for Julia. The Film Bitch Awards are awesome. *pats self on back* Should really watch that movie again.

Monday
Jun302014

Beauty vs Beast: Masters & Johnsons Of Sex

JA from MNPP here - I know I'm among my people here at The Film Experience when I stand up in front of you all, tap the mic, clear my throat, and admit that I, Jason Adams, being somewhat sound of mind and body (okay that part's questionable), am straight-up no-holds-barred infatuationally addicted to an actress. Her name is Elizabeth Anne Caplan, she goes by Lizzy, and she is basically everything. How could anyone say anything mean about Amy Adams, right? Adorable, kind, nose-wrinkling Amy Adams? Well I would roll Amy Adams up feet-first and stick her in an envelope and mail her to Timbuktu never to be heard from again if that meant I would get to see Lizzy Caplan play Lois Lane in a Superman movie. That's where we stand.

So today is my beloved's 32nd birthday, and so we're giving her today's "Beauty Vs. Beast" poll. I'm not sure how many of you are watching Showtime's Masters of Sex but I hope it's tons upon tons, because it's a great show stuffed with rich characters from top to top to bottom to bottom and every which way of sexual power dynamics. Michael Sheen's doing terrific work as the Platonian Ideal of the nightmare doctor with a god complex, but yeah... I think I've made it clear where my vote's going. You?

 

As always you've got one week to vote and to make your case for your pick in the comments. Oh and if you want to see the new trailer for the second season of Masters of Sex, which is back July 13th, watch it here.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we shot the Bat Signal over Gotham in honor of 25 years of Tim Burton's original movie and made you choose between Michael Keaton's dark knight and Jack Nicholson's candy-colored villain - it was tight-going with the Batman and the Joker fluctuating who was on top but in the end goodness vanquished evil and Keaton strolled off with 51% and the victory, heading off towards a bright future involving slinky cat-suits and lots of licking. There was a lot of diccussion about the Bat-Men versus the Jokers (Jokeri?), which Sad man summed up thus:

"Team Batman 100%. If it was Heath's Joker then I'd pick Joker. Also Keaton > Bale."

Wednesday
Jun252014

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

The great character actor Eli Wallach didn't quite make it to his centennial, dying at 98½ but at least he lived long enough to get an Honorary Oscar a few years back. The Academy honored him for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters" even though they'd never nominated him.

I'm sure AMPAS didn't mean to include "Mr Freeze" on the Batman TV series as one of those characters but that's the one that's indelible for me. Is that wrong? When I was a child that show was always on through the magic of syndication. But Mr. Freeze was recast frequently (curiously enough two other Oscar favorites also played the chilly bad guy: three time nominee Otto Preminger and Oscar winner George Sanders). They rarely showed episodes in order so the memories of the faces get all jumbled up. 

He made a lot of career noise with his onscreen debut in Baby Doll (1956) for which he was Golden Globe nominated. But several fine characters and classics would follow like The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How the West Was Won, The Moon Spinners, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather Pt. III.


What do you remember most about this actor?