The internet doesn’t need more arguments, yet that won’t stop me. I’m going to weigh in on some (young)age-old Batman debates:
Issue 1.) Which is better: “Batman” (1989) vs. “Batman Returns?” A divisive issue since their release. Generally speaking, if you enjoyed the first one, you were disappointed in the second. If you were bored with the first one, then you prefered the second. I’m in the first camp, and I’ve given way more thought about it than I ever should have. Because, really, neither is a cinematic triumph. Both have story problems, they make questionable choices concerning the characters, and they seem more concerned with style than with substance. So when dealing with this level of film, I think it’s best to look at it simply, and I’ll say that the original film works better than the second. True, “Returns” has some darker elements, and some weirder humor, and even my personal favorite version of Catwoman. But that doesn’t mean it works. At all. Often times the argument in favor of “Returns” is for those elements, but I think they actually weigh the whole thing down. As I’ve said many other times, “Batman” works because it’s a crowd pleaser. The crowd forgives lapse in logic (Vicki just shows up to the Batcave, Batman rarely stopping* crimes, etc.) because that forgiveness is rewarded with a happy ending. With “Returns,” the audience is asked to work really hard to follow along, like the characters, understand the weird plotting, and their reward is a gross anti-climax with 2 deaths, possibly a third, the unmasking of Batman and a penguin funeral. Its climax is both uncharacteristic of the comics and just plain strange.
Issue 2.) Which Is Better: The Burton Movies or the Schumacher Movies. It’s a common belief that Schumacher is a hack who should have never done Batman movies, and that Burton’s sensibility best suited the tone, therefore resulting in better films. I’m not going to invite trouble by saying Schumacher is a better filmmaker, but I think his skill level is much closer to Burton’s than people give him credit for. At least in terms of Batman movies. Basically, I think both have a Batman win and a Batman loss in their canon, and while the “Batman & Robin” loss is a greater one than “Batman Returns,” I believe the quality of “Batman Forever” is close to the level of “Batman.” Yeah, it’s a little lighter. That doesn’t automatically mean it’s worse, and the camping around of Jim Carrey is no worse than the scenary chewing of Jack Nicholson. What I’m trying to say is that drawing a hard line between them is a foolish, which assumes that one guy hit two homeruns.
I think we’ve accomplished a lot today.
*I get this one, but I don’t think it’s as major of a flaw as the fanboys would have us believe. Take the opening scene, where the young family is mugged in the alley, seen by Batman, who proceeds to beat up the muggers. First off, it is very difficult to anticipate a crime. You wanna talk “realistic,” Nolan fans. That’s realistic. You just can’t do it. So following the flow of the movie (which is an important key to enjoying the movie), Batman may have just happened upon seeing that crime and instead of rushing to help the family decided to go get the criminals. OK, we go to the rooftop, and the muggers are divying up the money when Batman shows up and kicks the crap out of them. I’ve heard people gripe that he didn’t even turn the criminals in to the cops, which is TECHNICALLY true, but in the next scene, the cops are there, rounding up the muggers. I think we can safely assume that the mother called the police and Batman gave an uncredited assist.
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Recently, a number of things have lined me up with the work of Stanley Kubrick. A viewing of “Room 237” led to a viewing and discussion of “The Shining,” which lead me to seek out more discussion on that movie, which brought me to a number of podcasts, and as you might suspect, there is a lot of type- and airspace dedicated to Stanley Kubrick. I’ve been picking the general brain of the world.
Without getting into a whole thing here, I’d say my relationship with Kubrick’s work is at an admiring level at best and a confused level at worst. I recognize his work intellectually, but have never FELT it as it would seem some people have. For instance, I can recognize “2001” as some kind of cinematic masterpiece, but I don’t feel it in my bones the way I do about, say*, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” There’s a true distance I feel between myself and Kubrick’s films. I find many of them fascinating, but would never pretend to list them in my personal favorites.
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Tags: bad movie taste, best movie comedies, dr strangelove best comedy, dr strangelove best film, dr. strangelove, film classics, good writing strangelove kubrick, great film kubrick strangelove, kubrick strangelove, stanley kubrick, stanley kubrick theories, stanley kubrick's dr strangelove, taste in movies
A few weeks back I had my day made when the Rollin’ Clones (the UK’s preeminent Rolling Stones cover band) started following me on Twitter. I was only upset to see that they weren’t playing in the States any time soon. I suppose I could travel… But that was just for starters.
Long time people who know me may have heard of my recent obsession with “The Star Wars Minute” podcast, wherein two+ nerds dissect, digest and analyze “Star Wars” one minute at a time. It’s a fun podcast, as they play a nice balance between trivia, nostalgia and personal stories as well as picking apart the movie inch by inch. They put out a call for anyone to share stories or ideas on their hotline 8DAY-GREEDO, and not only did I contribute, but my clip got picked! You can hear me on Minute 98: “Fake Wedge,” where I talk about R2D2’s girlfriend.
Fun fact: a bit of audio I contributed but was NOT used was how – as a kid – I was always confused as to who says the line “That’s impossible, even for a computer” to Luke. It’s supposed to be Wedge, but – as I said on the phone – he looks really different in profile and not wearing a helmet. I thought I was just channeling my childhood confusion, but it turns out (as the title of that episode might tell you) it’s NOT the same actor! It’s his voice (though Wedge’s voice was dubbed in this film), but as I learned on “Star Wars Minute,” the scene was shot with another actor due to scheduling problems or something. See? Trivia and it’s helpful!
Now if I can somehow hook-up with the “Fatman on Batman” podcast, I will have completed my life’s work to be tangentially connected to my three favorite things.
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Tags: cover band, podcast, Rollin' Clones, rolling stones, Star Wars, Star Wars Minute, tribute band
Something I wrote got read and recorded and now you can hear the recording.
I’ll explain: I’m in a writers group called Deadline Junkies. We meet once a week where we (usually) hear about 30 pages of a script from 3 different writers. I say “hear” because each writer prints his or her pages, then casts the part from our stable of capable actors.
I had the pleasure of such a night when I brought my sample/pilot script for “F.I.G.H.T. Car,” the story of a crime-fighting talking car who was cutting edge in the 1980’s, but has been re-activated in the 2010’s to discover his features are now standard issue.
I want to say the read went well. And it did, in as far as it was very enjoyable. The actors were great and they sold the jokes harder than I probably wrote them, and everyone listening (writers and actors) seemed to enjoy it. I’m only qualifying the read because I believe the point of a staged reading in a workshop is to get effective feedback on how this script can be improved. I did get some of that, true, but the real fun of this link is the actors’ performance. It was a really fun night.
So, if you want to listen/watch, my friend and founder of Deadline Junkies Adam Strange put together this demo reel. He also has a link to the notes I received so you can get an idea of what goes on there. And if you’re curious about the group, go to this link. We meet every Tuesday night at 7:30 at a theater in Sherman Oaks.
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Tags: adam strange, best writers groups, burbank writers group, deadline junkies, deadline junkies writers group, hollywood writers group, valley writers group, writers group, writers group los angeles, writing group, writing group los angeles
Henry has shown the first true signs of interest toward “Star Wars,” so I had some parenting decisions to make.
Backstory: for his birthday in August, he received a Lego Speeder Bike set (complete with Biker Scout, Stormtrooper and two anonymous Rebel soldiers) and a Jedi Starfighter as featured in the prequels. He took right to the Legos, and upon asking how the speeder works, I showed him the Endor forest chase scene and immediately piqued his interest.
The Jedi Starfighter was another issue. He refused to open the box, which featured not only a spacebattle between the starfighter and the Slave I, but a very determined/angry Yoda, lightsaber drawn, in the corner. “I don’t like that,” said Henry, and insisted that it stay out of his room. I think it was somehow too real for him or something.
Filed under: Movies, Parenting, Star Wars | 1 Comment
Tags: parenting tips star wars, patton oswalt prequel rant, Prequels, raising kids with star wars, star wars kids, star wars original trilogy, star wars parents, star wars prequels kids, star wars prequels parenting, strong star wars opinions prequels
It’s really happening. On Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at approximately 18:20PM PST, my four-year-old son requested we not only watch a “Star Wars” movie, but that we make lightsabers out of cardboard tubes.
I had the worst poker face in the galaxy.
Filed under: Parenting, Star Wars | 2 Comments
Tags: cardboard toys, diy light saber, diy lightsaber, diy star wars, diy star wars light saber, diy star wars lightsaber, diy star wars toy, kid lightsaber, lightsaber aluminum foil, make a lightsaber, make your own lightsaber, parenting tips, star wars toys, toy lightsaber
I haven’t actually put a vinyl record on a platter and lined up the needle in probably 14 years, but I recently had the pleasure of visiting my friend Norman and his newly tricked out turntable. He’s a bit of an audiofile and a collector, which means he’s amassing (and in some cases re-amassing) a sizable vinyl collection to play in pristine quality. We chose to spin “Let It Bleed,” an album I know very well, but have never heard on vinyl. I don’t want to equate this experience to, say, seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on 70mm, but it’s probably pretty close. I mean, I already love the band, so it’s not like this was a transformative experience. I didn’t run out and buy a record player myself, but I did get something from sitting on the floor and playing a great album in its original state.
Further romanticizing the experience, spinning vinyl versions of your favorite albums allows for a more intimate experience than MP3s, or even CDs. You can see it happen, the music. I don’t quite understand it, but I can see the record blipping the needle. It feels more organic, if not more participatory. I can’t operate a laser myself, but if the electricity went out, I could still spin the record and make a sound come out somewhere.
We also sat and listened to the whole thing, which makes things feel more special, because really, how often do I do that? I had a friend to chat with, discuss how the drums pop in “Gimme Shelter” with, note the overall tone with.
The biggest discovery was noting how special that intro to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” truly is, as though that needs repeating. It’s easy to forget with 30 year old, over-played songs, but when you’re in a studying mood, and you’ve let yourself get engrossed in the songs, you can’t help but notice. I know that intro by heart, yet this time hearing it I actually sat up. It is so jarringly, beautifully different from the preceeding song AND any other part of the album. It seems to announce itself as important, and not in a forced way. It’s declaring itself an album closer. It is an act break. As powerful and wonderful as “Gimme Shelter” is, there’s something passing about it because there are songs coming after. With “You Can’t…,” there will be nothing after, and it seems to acknowledge that. There’s power in that acknowlegment.
That’s it. I recommend doing this.
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Tags: greatest band in the world rolling stones, let it bleed, let it bleed rolling stones greatest album, let it bleed stones, Music, records, rolling stones best, rolling stones let it bleed vinyl, rolling stones vinyl, stones bleed, vinyl records