Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boffo! Bam! Pow!

What kid didn’t love those words? Plastered across the canted screen, Batman and Robin opened up a can of whoop-ass on a villain “du jour”. You would think these guys would watch the other episodes, where the henchmen always get their asses kicked. Oftentimes funny, in a tongue in cheek way.

Not so for “The Dark Night.” This movie is dead serious, and I mean “dead”. Really high body count, and a beautiful makeup job by Max Factor. There’s nothing subtly funny about this movie, except maybe the way Hollywood has embraced the ghost of Heath Ledger as the second coming of John Cazale.

Aside-of the six films John Cazale appeared in (the three “Godfather” movies (last one in flashback), “The Conversation”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Deer Hunter”), all 6 were nominated for “Best Picture” Oscars. This is a guy who could a) choose a great movie, and b) act (and couldn’t choose his women-he was engaged to Meryl Streep, the most overrated actress in Hollywood, at the time of his death). The fact that many of these movies also starred DeNiro, Pacino, Duvall and were directed by such esteemed directors as Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola probably helped, but when you reflect back on actors lost before their prime, think about John Cazale, who tragically died from bone cancer when he was 43, not Heath Ledger, some depressed prescription drug hound who was apparently “filling” one of the Olsen twins’ “house.”

Back to Gotham City-I guess I give the movie 3 stars, because if I don’t, I’ll hear it from you, and the Hollywood Establishment (big readers of “TCP”-The Critical Palate). Honestly, I like action movies, and I was really looking forward to this one, but there were a lot of aspects of this movie that didn’t resonate with me. First, Aaron Eckhart-am I supposed to think he can act? He is the least compelling actor in this movie. I was actually glad when the Joker did his number on him. And what’s up with Maggie Gyllenhaal? In a “Dick York-Dick Sargent” swap, she’s now Rachel Dawes, not Katie Holmes. I bring more to this movie than she does. And what’s up with Christian Bale’s voice when he puts the rubber suit on? You can barely understand him-it’s a low snarl, with some words thrown in, but hard to understand. Linda Lovelace was easier to understand…while she was “working”.

Nonetheless, I don’t regret giving the movie my 2 hours and 40 minutes. Lots of explosions and ass whooping, filmed in a bleak, colorless style. A real pick-me-up. The hell with Aruba…I’m taking my next vacation in Gotham!

Hollywood seems to be locked in on the “blockbuster” type movie, equating big-budgets with quality. I’m sure Batman was a lot of money, and since Heath Ledger killed himself before it was released, he must be great in it, right? Frankly, I don’t buy into the whole “tortured soul” thing, but most critics seem to be.

There are great movies out there, and they don’t have to cost a lot of money to make, or make a lot of money at the box office to be great movies (don’t get me started on the “Titanic” vs. “Good Will Hunting” debate. Let’s just agree that “…Will…” got screwed by the Academy because they felt they needed to reward James Cameron, the wife abuser, for his fine work on the “Terminator” movies). Just last week, I watched an extremely underrated “Eastern Promises.”

The combination of Actor Viggo Mortensen and Director David Cronenberg is similar to Scorcese and his muse DeNiro, or the relationship between Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen. First together in “A History of Violence” and now back together in “Eastern Promises”, I could watch this combination for years.

This movie was released last fall to critical acclaim, but alas, without the big car chases and explosions of a “Bourne” or “Batman” movie, it was destined to fade in the box office. I assure you, it is well worth your time to find this on cable or satellite. The Russian bathhouse scene alone is worth the price of admission. Don’t miss “Eastern Promises.”

You’ve been great. Enjoy the Flying Karamazov Brothers…


alluhrey said...

i agree with you that john cazale was a great actor. he was overlooked by the academy in each of his few but excellent performances.

but i take offense when you say that he couldn't choose his women just because he was engaged to meryl streep. she took care of him when he was diagnosed with cancer, stood by hom when he was about to be fired from "deer hunter" and was at his side when he passed away, after moving into the hospital to care for him. how dare you trivialize what many consider to be one of the greatest, though tragic real-life, love stories.

you may not like meryl streep as an actress. i do. i respect your opinion.

but when you conclude that about john cazale or meryl streep says more about you than either of them ---you are way beneath them in anyone's appreciation.

Eric Weinstein said...

Thanks for reading.