Neverland of Superheroes and the World That Doesn’t Grow Up

Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT and Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN represent the peak of the superhero genre, and for the public the most resonant superhero works to date, even if they couldn’t be more dissimilar in styles. Their aesthetics are a contradiction of the other, with Snyder’s images working through a fashion that is colorful and outrageous, with numerous superhero costumes and engaged by considerable CGI; Nolan’s contains a tactile realism that is mostly naturalistic, where real stunts are preferred and costumes aren’t popular. Snyder’s filmmaking is also occupied by cultural music and slow-mo techniques, and Nolan’s is more distant and less vivid. Yet, their stylizations aside, in terms of subtext and thematic thesis, these two couldn’t have more similarities.

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ED WOOD: How Tim Burton was made into Wood because of Batman and Helped Uncategorized Cinema

It has been documented that one of Tim Burton’s toughest times were the productions for his Batman films: 1989’s BATMAN being his “least personal film,” after getting overwhelmed by other interests from the studio, and 1992’s BATMAN RETURNS, in a reverse reaction, more satisfactory for Burton but being a controversial episode that made the filmmaker more of an unpopular name for the studios and public. Indeed, after finding his original Batman film to be the most detached one of his career, it is no wonder that the main demand for his sequel was creative-control. The freedom allowed him to change much more his superhero follow-up, almost from point to point in comparison to the original one, relocating his sense to a different vision – or rather, a return to his more traditionalist style: constant use of miniatures and some obvious constructed sets, a difficult narrative, an odd tone and macabre characters. He was crucified by the fanboys and the studio for his change in vision. As it turns out, “A Tim Burton Film” label isn’t that different from “An Ed Wood film” label.

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THE PRESTIGE: 1901: Prologue to Science-Fiction

The most enduring image in Christopher Nolan’s underrated noir thriller, THE PRESTIGE, for me is the one from the enormous, mysterious box. The appearence of it is menacing; it is the slow approach of the camera, like the intimidated people around it, and the score’s economical but dooming theme that serve it a spellbinding aura. The box is reminiscent in a lot of ways to the strange, mystifying monoliths in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, as both of their presences are ominous, and their existence incomprehensible. The people who are around them aren’t able to understand or fully identify them, and thus these objects remain as enigmas. Both of them are mysteries, but mysteries about our humankind and the future, which predicts men’s gradual insight into a place where we will understand and build these things. They represent men’s evolution into something Godly.

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James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR begins on a field of human skulls in a destroyed society. The film cuts to a guy working late in night on a garbage truck – i.e. human’s dependence on machine – and out of this, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is born and looks out from a rooftop to see a technological-strong society. It is a revelatory shot from Cameron and a Biblical recreation with a twist, as it is a technological paradise that is found by the naked robot and, in this, men are the God. The opening is a rememberance of the rebellion that men had on earth after their primitive origins and a suggestion that in the future the same revolution will be of the machines having it on men, as a cycle of creations substituting the creators; human skulls replaced by robotic bones – a point that is underlined again in the sequel’s opening with the robot’s face replacing John Connor’s after a fire. Continue reading

CR and QOS: The Bond Attitude

Is it about attitude and showboating coolness? I’ve found rather odd how even the biggest advocators for Marc Foster’s QUANTUM OF SOLACE seem to admit that CASINO ROYALE is a better film, almost as if it was a given. And I’m one of them. It is almost as if Foster’s film succeeded in what it attempted, but ignored something that made the previous film impressive. Unable to exactly point out why that is, of what I can find one important difference between them is, indeed, the attitude to portray the main character, James Bond (Daniel Craig). With director Marc Foster, Bond is a driven, down-to-business type of agent that we never quite see too much flair of. He’s always in a beaten up state, and there’s never much else to see other than what we need to see about the plot. Where in CASINO ROYALE, on the other hand, Bond basically has an attitude to himself in prestigious places, with director Martin Campbell using Bond in association to all things royal, as the title obviously indicates, adding a level of admiration to the character’s life. Perhaps that’s the Bond-esque thing that was missed in Foster people seemed to criticize.

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In the previous post about THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, I made mention of Benjamin’s (Brad Pitt) ambiguous nature and the film’s invitation to identify with the events depicted. They’re about us, and our lives, letting a personal portrayal to be pasted in their events and experiences. This point is vital to understand the film’s essences and its various motifs, which are more than a Hummingbird. Hurricane Katrina’s involvement and the short but evident reference to times of 9/11 have been two elements that have been criticized as superfluous, but they’re actually relevant to this idea of personification in the narrative. That the film doesn’t delve into a commentary about them and doesn’t use them as anything further than details of time and place for the characters’ experiences is, in fact, the point.

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David Fincher’s THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON flies over our history (from the first World War, to Katrina) never making a social commentary, but instead leaving us to make our own, to recognize these different points in our lives and the manner we’ve lived it. Benjamin (Brad Pitt) is a cool and ambiguous individual with no distinctive trait to categorize him in personality. He’s something of an indefinite person, perhaps even emblematic. He’s a vague enough of a character to be each of us, a la Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers) in Hal Ashby’s BEING THERE, and to see our lives in him. But he is also different enough to show us a different perspective from our living, such as with Daisy (Cate Blanchett), who could actually be the diary’s author considering how much of her life is written by Benjamin. He is a sort of consciousness, narrating each person’s life along with his. 

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