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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in The Dark Knight (25)

Monday
Nov032014

Beauty vs Beast: Chris Nolan's Anti Heroics

JA from MNPP here with this week's latest "Beauty Vs Beast" tourno, wherein we ask you to choose between a good guy and a bay guy (half of those words should have meaningful quotation marks around them -- good, bad, what does it all mean???) from the halls of movie-dom and explain why you're on this or that team. This week Chris Nolan's got a new picture coming out so I figured we'd hit up one of his flicks; I contemplated a couple of other choices (DiCaprio versus Cotillard? Pearce versus Pantoliano?) but it just comes down to one in the end, doesn't it?

Going back to The Dark Knight does have a couple of knocks against it for this series - Nathaniel was just bemoaning the internet's blanket-coverage of superhero movies a few days ago, for goodness sake, and also we've already done a showdown between a Batman & Joker when we looked at Tim Burton's 1989 flick back in June. But but... but, ya know? If I'd gone with Bale vs Hardy, it just would've felt like a chance missed - the shadow of Heath Ledger's performance towers too great. So we gotta go with...

 

As always you have seven days to clear your throats and make yourselves heard - are we with the compromised brooder or the gleeful maniac - in the comments, so have at it. Die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, y'all.

PREVIOUSLY We finished up our four weeks of October "Final Girl" series with John Carpenter's Halloween and sure enough the girl smart enough to turn a wire-hanger into a weapon won our hearts once again. Said brookesboy of Laurie Strode, ultimate final girl:

"Gotta go with Laurie. Thanks to the virtuous precedent she set, all teen heroines with virginal fortitude who came after were spared the slasher's wrath. Their resistance of carnal pleasure guaranteed their safety, at least until the sequel. Thanks, Laurie. I'm sure the knee socks helped."

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.

Thursday
Jul252013

Shot in Chicago: Movies that capture the spirit of the city

Tim here, rejoicing over the fact that our good host Nathaniel is in my very own Chicago this weekend – we have a movie night planned tomorrow! – and to celebrate, I wanted to showcase some of my city’s best and most dubious moments in the cinematic spotlight. Therefore:

Three Chicago-based movies that truly "get" the city
(no documentaries; that would be cheating, no matter how much Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters are 100% essential Chicago movies)

Mickey One (1965)
The film that Warren Beatty and director Arthur Penn made right before Bonnie and Clyde is even more besotted with the French New Wave, but stylistic excess doesn’t get in the way of a really special hyper-naturalistic depiction of the city streets as they existed almost half a century ago. I cannot, of course, speak to the veracity of what’s onscreen, but the film’s documentary aspects shine through even under the sordid thriller aspects of the plot and Penn’s fractured filming style. Of all the classic movies filmed in Chicago – and there are a few – none do such a great job of suggesting what the neighborhoods looked like way back when, before building and gentrification made their mark.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec222012

Screenplays of '12. Pg 12. "The Dark Knight Rises" 

New daily! I'll be sharing page 12 of every screenplay I've received for 2012 Films. With commentary! Until you get bored. Which maybe you already are? I thought y'all would love the last entry on Zero Dark Thirty but there be crickets.

The following scene is our introduction to the sole bright spot in Chris Nolan's final Batman film. That'd be Anne Hathaway as Catwoman if you were momentarily confused. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I gave the film a positive if unenthused review. It did not age well within the summer, let alone the year. I'd easily name it Chris Nolan's worst film (though I have not seen Insomnia). But anyway... PAGE 12. 

INT. SITTING ROOM. EAST WING, WAYNE MANOR - CONTINUOUS

The Maid looks at FRAMED PHOTOGRAPHS OF RACHEL, THOMAS, and MARTHA WAYNE. Some are half-burned. She notices an ARCHERY TARGET, ARROWS stuck in it. She reaches out - WHAM! AN ARROW STICKS IN THE TARGET - the Maid spins around, FLUSTERED. Wayne, at the other end of the long room lowers a COMPOSITE BOW. Picks up his cane.

                    MAID
I'm, I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Wayne.
It is Mr. Wayne, isn't it? 

Wayne nods, gently. Limps toward her.

                    MAID (CONT'D)
Although you don't have the long
nails...
(nervous laugh)
Or facial scars...

She trails off, embarrassed. Coy. She seems very young. 

                   WAYNE
Is that what they say about me?

                     MAID
It's just that... nobody sees you...

Wayne approaches, slowly. He nods at her PEARL NECKLACE...

Aren't you glad I didn't bore you with the first half of the page which is a scene with Marion Cotillard? Good Chris(t) but Nolan didn't do her any favors by casting her in that picture.

So let's all just focus on Awesome Annie (VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP)

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec052012

Webcomics and New Movies

I've been aiming to launch my new Actressland series for months and despite the first strip, it will be an ongoing narrative rather than stand alone gags (usually). If only there were more hours in the day?! So, my mind has been on webcomics. Here's a couple of recent strips on movies I enjoyed.

Hijinks Ensue is a funny geek-oriented comic with lots of sci-fi and pop culture referencing. Here's the first part of their piece on Skyfall 

For the punchline click over to Hijinks

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is generally good for smile and occasionally it's very clever. That said Joe's taste is super narrow; no jokes about anything that's not a blockbuster. I love the recurring homages to cupcakes though, like this one... 

 

Other webcomics that feature movie-related moments regularly or are movie-themed: Multiplex (about a group of movie theater workers); The B-Movie Comic (Honestly, I can't follow this one); For the Reels (parodies); Theater Hopper (very long running biographical series that recently ended) ; The Chicken and the Egg (parodies); Hark, a Vagrant! (more obsessed with literature than film but always hilarious)
. If you know of any others feel free to share them in the comments! 

Friday
Nov302012

Visual Effects Finalists: Superheroes Rule, Subtlety Drools

Yesterday the finalists for Oscar's Visual Effects prize were announced. In the end there will be five nominees but for the next month ten films can dream of winning the nomination before the great culling on January 10th, 2013. Once again we see a preference for computer generated imagery with only Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises as obvious examples of films which tried mightily to rely on in-camera practical effects and stunt work. At a recent "Evening With Christopher Nolan" here in NYC (more soon) Nolan revealed his preference for in camera work with computers relegated to touch up work. 

Did you know that that infamous collapsing football field that led into the seige of Gotham was actually, in part, a collapsing football field (!) and not a figment of a computer artists imagination!? 

Snubs: Generally speaking you can expect the more subtle fx work to be shut out each and every year. This is why Skyfall probably won't be nominated in the end. But my eyes were instantly drawn to the absence of Looper which is a shame, since it's most effectsy sequences, like that finale in the cornfield, were weirdly hypnotic and even the tiny touches like the frequent telekinetics were unfussy and unshowy but totally served the film. Plus, it's a good film which is more than can often be said about nominees in this category. It's also strange, at least in a multi-year context, to see The Impossible miss the finals when Hereafter's less impressive tsunami (in a less impressive film at that) went on to actually be nominated. More traditionally nominatable CG heavy movies shown the door were Battleship, Men in Black III, and Dark Shadows.

Which 50% of the films still standing will prevail? 

still hanging. I hate this film more and more in retrospect.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Avengers
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • John Carter
  • Life of Pi
  • Prometheus
  • Skyfall
  • Snow White and the Huntsman

Your guess work in the comments, please.

Thursday
Oct252012

Feline Oscar Twins: Anne & Michelle?

In the hall of fame of superhero/villain catchphrases “oops” (Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises) never stood much of a prayer against “me-ow” (Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns), nor could the dark side self importance of 2012’s “there’s a storm coming Mr Wayne” ever best the sexier playful 1992 ‘dark side?’ retort “no darker than yours Bruce”  But catch phrases aren’t everything...even when you've got zingy ones like "life's a bitch now so am I" In the great Catwoman wars of popular culture, it’s always in some ways a draw. Every generation and every aesthetic gets their own James Bond and so it goes with all enduring characters which win several iterations. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle may never claim the easy universally agreed upon “Best Catwoman Evah!” victory you’d expect given Pfeiffer’s mammoth performance (give or take Heath Ledger, the most psychologically precise, overachieving & seismically inspired in superhero cinema) but what can you do? Before The Dark Knight Rises premiered I braced myself for the onslaught of “best catwoman ever” pieces which I knew would proliferate. In truth they would have even for a  performer less dazzling than Anne Hathaway’s.  Out with the old and in with the new is, generally speaking, the law that governs pop culture. It’s just How Things Work.

Catwoman watching Catwoman. Feline staring contest in 1...2...

With the recent news that Anne Hathaway would be campaigned as Best (Leading) Actress for the role, a strategic move which has been taken more seriously than I was expecting given that she has no prayer in hell of a nomination for everyone’s favorite good/bad girl in spandex, this Hathaway/Pfeiffer story wouldn’t leave me.

Twenty years back when Michelle Pfeiffer lept into the feline role vacated by Annette Bening she nailed the role winning “best in show” reviews, winning a massive new army of fans, achieving her biggest box office hit, and sailing on to an Oscar nomination for the year (albeit not as Catwoman). Leap forward a couple of decades and history repeats itself four times over…. Well three times over for now but we all know Anne Hathaway will make it four-for-four once Les Miz hits.

It's worth thinking about Hathaway and Oscar through the prism of Pfeiffer. It's not a perfect identical twin situation but the similarities don't end with "what happened with Catwoman." At the time of Batman Returns/Love Field Michelle was a 34 year old previous Oscar nominee who had been famous for 10 years and had already co-starred in one very major also-ran Best Picture nominee (Dangerous Liaisons). At the time of The Dark Knight Rises/Les Miserables Anne is a 30 year old previous Oscar nominee who has been famous for 11 years and has already co-starred in one extremely major also-ran Best Picture nominee (Brokeback Mountain). Both actresses played Catwoman in the summer and followed it up at Christmas time by starring in something more typically Oscar-friendly, Pfeiffer in a civil rights drama and Hathaway in an epic musical. 

On top of all of Fantine's problems... she never return her DVDs to the video store

But here's where the similarities end and Hathaway's Oscar story may have a much happier ending. For one, Anne Hathaway's Catwoman arrived in a culture that has moved past viewing superhero films as "fluff" and is therefore less shy about recognizing acting achievements inside of them. For another, the eventually nominated performance by Hathaway is likely to be "the right one of the two" whereas Michelle was chosen for the wrong performance -- not that she isn't very good in Love Field, but it's not the inspired no one else could do this work that her Selina Kyle was. Finally and most obviously Les Miserables will be no Love Field, a film that was barely released and was largely only acknowledged -- if it was acknowledged as all -- as a vehicle for a Michelle Pfeiffer nomination. If you want to stick to the Pfeiffer narrative Les Miserables is far more likely to be Hathaway's own Fabulous Baker Boys... only this time there's no Jessica Tandy in sight to steal the statue away from a glorious actress in the full bloom of her star power.