Monday, July 23rd, 2012
40

'The Dark Knight Rises': And Michael Caine Wept

Elmo Keep: So, THE BAT?

Maria Bustillos: Yes.

EK: I celebrated my 103rd birthday somewhere in the middle of this film.

MB: You look so young for your age!

EK: Thank you. It is the remarkably smog-free air we enjoy.

MB: This movie was very interesting to me as a political document.

EK: Because it was about Occupy?

MB: Yeah? But really, beyond that.

EK: That the powerful people must keep all their money and control, because look OTHERWISE ANARCHY?

MB: DING DING DING

EK: DDDDDDDD:

MB: Little people! Listen and obey! You are better off with us bazillionaires looking after your tiny little interests!! We will be ripping you off for the duration, sorry!—but not blow you up with nuclear bombs! (unless we are accidentally infiltrated.)

In short, a remarkably accurate portrait of today's America.

But. I really didn't understand the villain, Bane. In the very first moments of the movie one of Bane's henchmen is all ecstatically martyring himself, but the motives behind his fanaticism remain entirely opaque—for over two hours! Race purity? Nationalism? Religious zealotry? Is Bane a demagogue, a dictator or a plain old terrorist? Why would anyone follow such a mumble-mouthed no-face stadium-exploding bad guy who goes around wringing people's necks just to pass the time?

Also, I had no idea who played Bane, until after the movie!? That totally handsome guy!

EK: But let's not see his face! Which is crushingly beautiful.

MB: I was so mad when I found out! I love that guy.

EK: Brutiful?

MB: Broodiful.

EK: This is just one instance of the huge amounts of assumed knowledge about the Batman universes that this film takes as a given the audience has possession of. In the comics Bane is a criminal mastermind whose backstory goes towards explaining all this, but we only get a very small glimpse of this very late in the film, which amounts to essentially no motivation for us to peg his actions on.

MB: It bears mentioning, also, that the real center of the movie's political faux-populist rage is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. The ex-hooker with a heart of gold who steals only from the rich, whom she hates. "There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne," she whispers lustily. "You and your friends better batten down the hatches, 'cause when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us."

This hamfisted observation is critical because there is a suggestion here, incoherent as it is, that the Occupy movement is a mob of dangerous lowlife who would willingly follow a crazy, violent criminal. Whereas in reality the Occupy movement is a gathering of pissed-off regular people, a lot of them very young, plus Amanda Palmer bawling over her ukelele.

Later in the movie, Selina Kyle is sprung from the neo-Bastille. But when the whole city's been smashed she is all full of Regrets, and she wishes so bad she'd just trusted in Bruce Wayne, like we all should. #pfft

EK: But also, forget about that because it's about Daddy Issues.

MB: Yeah. Michael Caine, PLEASE do not be weeping in such an irritating manner.

EK: I think that the lack of emotion from all other people in these films was funneled through Michael Caine in that moment.

MB: "I failed you" and I'm like hell yes you did.

EK: Do you know what Christopher Nolan films really are, in disguise? They are the least fun KISS show you have ever seen. Explosions! Costumes! Theatrical voices!

MB: I'm quite fond of "I Was Made For Lovin' You."

EK: Dude, that is a top-shelf disco cut.

EK: There is no rock music in Christopher Nolan's world. So sad about these Bat Movies, no Prince! No weird prog-glam U2 single. You can sort of imagine Christopher Nolan being like, “I do not dally with your pop music.”

EK: Instead: the ceaseless, unending score. It never let up.

MB: BOOM BOOM BOOM violins BOOM singing SUSPENSE violins

EK: The set-piece upon set-pieces upon set-piece just glazed my eyes over in the way that perhaps happens to people who need to consume more and more out-there porno? You know? Diminishing returns accelerate fast in this film.

MB: It is a bombardment, to be sure. And clumsy. But there are huge questions here, about genius, responsiblity, "giftedness" or "talent," power and authority. It's not just a Renny Harlin movie.

EK: I agree that these ideas are there if you look for them, but they feel so tacked-on to me, they don't come off as very meaningfully explored. I feel like I am staring at a Magic Eye puzzle and the wonderment and greatness of these movies is never revealed to me. I realize this could be a failing of my eyeballs.

MB: Well, it's nowhere near the movie that Inception is. But everybody was saying it was SO terrible that I was surprised to find it far more Meh than Yuck (except the politics, that really is incredibly Yuck.)

EK: There are vast tracts of this film which are very actively boring. It's so bloated with players and twists it's hard to care when it does try and raise an interesting idea.

MB: One other very, very upsetting thing caused it to be NON BORING to me even in the slow (round prison) bits.

EK: Yes?

MB: Are you sitting down?

EK: OH I AM

MB: Christian Bale bears an ever-more-uncanny resemblance to Geo. W. Bush. Round about the bloodless lips in particular. This realization caused me to go RIGID WITH HORROR IN MY SEAT and TRIP OUT, even during the boring cylindrical jail parts. YOICKS.

Then I discovered he was Oliver Stone's first choice for the W movie!!!

EK: WHAAAAAAAAAT.

EK: So, I thought there was one interesting idea that was briefly raised in this film: When Bane breaks Batman, he's given a perfect comic book line when he says, "Victory has defeated you."

And I think this is a psychologically question rich to explore, what motivates people at the heights of powers? (More power.) Though this is not at all particular to rich and powerful people, or athletes at the top of their game, or artists at a creative apex, or whoever. I mean for each of us, what keeps us moving through the world once we attain something for ourselves, if we do?

But this didn't go anywhere! Likewise the idea of rebirth via destruction, which is largely the reason the League of Shadows plot exists. We had to burn the village in order to save the village. This is an extraordinarily prickly philosophy to espouse.

Batman's motives are all purely narcissistic until he evades a nuclear explosion.

OR DOES HE??

MB: He totally fixed the autopilot so's he could escape incognito for no reason whatsoever with Anne Hathaway?

EK: They were in love, obviously! From meeting twice!

MB: ?!??! You clever little kitty-cat, you! She looked terrific on the neato motorbike, though.

EK: Oh man, she was so great! She enlivened all her scenes, so fun. She seemed the only person aware she was in a comic-book universe.

MB: Not just us either, nearly every reviewer loved her.

EK: Because she is visibly enjoying herself. Everyone else seems to think they are in Hamlet.

MB: To Ham Or Not To Ham. But Anne H., so fun. So pretty. Her hair, for pete's sake, deserves an Oscar of its own.

EK: HER EYES OMG she is a hot tamale, that lady.

MB: THEY ARE ENORMOUS POOLS OF VOLUPTUOUS PROMISE or something.

EK: Impish. Which is perfect for a jewel thief.

MB: Okay, the cute 'n' naughty, it got on my nerves a little but I didn't even care, once she got on the motorbike. And "came back" to the fight, like Han Solo.

EK: People have absolutely impeccable timing in these films.

MB: hee

EK: The most uncanny abilities to pin-point each other in Manhattan. Dan Kois was tweeting this to much hysterical laughter yesterday, he was so mad about it!

MB: What a mess, seriously. But I have another, equally important question for you.

EK: Yes please.

MB: The people of Gotham. What an incalculable mess they are. Who would bother to save such a sorry, brainless, helpless herd.

EK: EXACTLY.

MB: The people of the real Gotham are NOTHING like this. If any masked weirdo tried any such thing on the real Gotham, I guarantee you, Alex Pareene would eat him alive all by himself in like five minutes.

EK: But there are no stakes invested in Gotham's being in peril, either.

MB: Heartbreakingly beautiful to look at, but tragic, I also thought, as if Nolan believes we're looking at the decline of the place.

EK: Because we have no idea of the machinations of the city beyond the moneyed few and the police. And of course the poor orphans.

The fact that everyone meekly retreated to a ghetto or relied on being shunted on to a bus did somewhat reinforces the hopelessness.

MB: The pessimism made me angry. As though it were saying, there is something rotten at the core, here, something that not even the willing rich, like Bruce Wayne and Christopher Nolan, can fix. (But they're our best hope!)

EK: "There can't be despair without hope."

THEY DID NOT FOLLOW THEIR OWN CLUNKY RULE HERE.

MB: YEAH. As it happens, the real Gotham is busting with rage and brains and juice. The whole real world is, even.

But this movie harks back to the absolute worst legacy of the Bush years. The "little people" aren't needed, weren't wanted, in setting things right. Just leave it to Dick Cheney.

EK: The filleting of protest. This implication this is a meaningless endeavour to undertake.

MB: PLUS there's a long and honorable tradition in comic books of ordinary citizens behaving in a heroic way, a trope that has emerged in nearly all the best speculative-fiction films, e.g. Galaxy Quest, V for Vendetta etc. etc. I mean, V for Vendetta is the real Occupy movie.

EK: Robin is meant to symbolize that this hope isn't lost (and also to ensure the future of the franchise). He is the new guard. He is Jason Gordon-Levitt and I will watch his spin-off against all better judgment.

MB: Yeah, he is a Man of the People. I had thought he was supposed to be a Teen of the People, but whatever.

EK: He is unsullied by corruption in a traditional comic hero sense.

MB: Another thing: Nobody expects the French Revolution! HUGE problem again, from a political and plot perspective. Total failure to suggest, or evoke, or relate anything to, the French Revolution. Much as I loved Cillian Murphy as the kangaroo judge.

EK: Again, dreamy eyes. They are very powerfully equipped in this guy's gorgeous face.

MB: Pale and cold, full of subtle fire and whatnot.

Anyhoo, as the movie opens, we're told that organized crime has all but disappeared from Gotham City; next thing you know there's a mob of latter-day Mesdames Defarge sending people onto the icy river to drown. It's not clear why.

The incessant quoting of A Tale of Two Cities in a movie ostensibly about a kingpin of organized crime! And the END. Why the hell they are equating Bruce Wayne with Sidney Carton?! Who offed himself to save the dude that his True Love wanted more. Sickest story ever. That was the most tacked-on, insulting part, from a literary POV.

The dumbness, the sloppiness, it made my brain hurt.

EK: Also mine. Just drop this stuff in to garnish with the illusion of depth.

MB: And all this is to say nothing of the utterly ridiculous bankrupting of Bruce Wayne by (a) his foolhardy investment in fusion-semifreddo-slash-dangerous-weaponry and/or (b) Bane's clever hijacking of the Stock Exchange which, hwa?! Why did they have to be in the building?? Shouldn't this wheeze have been a little stealthier? Couldn't they have just gotten hold of some "rogue trader," like they do IRL??

So that Bruce Wayne, and he alone, is literally bankrupted by having his fingerprints stolen and a bunch of fraudulent puts placed on his behalf wtf?

EK: There are many times when filmmakers have taken on huge ideas and have been given huge budgets to do so and they did not produce the kind of dross we are getting in big ticket cinema right now. This film cost a quarter of a billion dollars.

MB: They've gotten too big, I reckon. Too many people to hire, too much pressure on too few at the top… plus there is so much merchandising that goes with it, plus all the furren considerations.

EK: Can we try maths? At which I am terrible! Terminator 2 cost $100 million in 1991

MB: That was a big deal, I remember.

EK: The Dark Knight Rises was $250 million. So are these movies being made for about as much as they used to be? Or considerably more?

MB: This calculator says that $100 million in 1991 is $158 million in 2010, inflation-adjusted.

EK: !!!!!!!!!

EK: An extra $100 million. That is insane amounts of money. That is so many great smaller films.

:(

Like Moon, $10 million

MB: It seems to me like they can more guarantee big revenues in EMEA and Asia from blockbuster movies with explosions? Just from random travel observations, it seems like those are the movies they go for, abroad. Maybe Moon won't play in Asia?

EK: Which again is about treating people as stupid.

MB: Maybe more like finding the thing everyone likes? Culture-blind stories? An explosion is an explosion in any language.

EK: "Better make it simple enough for them foreigns to understand!"

Do you think it's enough to just "raise" these ideas? As in TDKR paying lip services to Occupy? We can easily argue against art that is didactic, but where is the line—is simply planting vague notions enough?

MB: Yeah so it's like, fuck subtlety altogether, that is not what will bring in the simoleons.

EK: FFS

EK: Did you read this piece about Nolan movies being like videogames?

MB: I did not!

EK: Basically it boils down to: think of his films as games, not films.

This is presented as a defense against their criticism, but to me it reinforces the problem: if I accept that they are like games, then they fail as films. These aren't interchangeable mediums: we do not participate in the outcome of a film narrative. A game is immersive and the player has agency to affect an outcome. Taking all the cool visual and visceral elements from games and mashing them into films is I think the exact reason why Nolan’s movies can feel so empty.

MB: This time I can really get behind that analysis.

EK: They feel so empty because we have no way to participate to tie up the million loose ends.

EK: There's this idea of responsibility that loves to be reinforced in these superhero narratives. "With great power," etc.

MB: Speaking of wearying. But, yeah.

EK: These films are so, so huge. I mean, almost the entire first world will see them. And to that end, I feel like the filmmakers have a responsibility that goes with the weird and enormous privilege of reaching that many people. Of taking their money and their time.

MB: I'll say. It's on them to lead the biggest conversation we have.

EK: And this might seem foolhardy and lame perhaps, to wish for them to be at least a little bit vigorous. A little acknowledgement that actually, people aren't stupid.

MB: That's why it's so amazing when a movie like The Lives of Others breaks out.

EK: Yes. Something vital, a tiny jewel like that can sometimes slip through. But these films, these Bat movies, or Prometheus, or whatever tentpole juggernaut we choose, people will see them no matter what. So don't waste that chance to communicate something other than, "Obey the law! Let rich people invest your money!"

MB: Or you have something that is nominally pretty dumb, like Alien, but that also has a ton to say about our various messes we are in, geopolitical, social, racial and so on.

EK: Exactly. And which engages in gender politics without being boneheadedly explicit about it.

MB: A legit message that goes all the way through. What do you think are the best juggernaut-movies, that way?

EK: Terminator 2, which is on the surface a total war porn movie. But which is also thrumming with that tension between technology and the wish to destroy it.

MB: Oh yeah. The greatest female lead in all of speculative fiction, I strongly feel.

EK: Yep. AND her arms! I still fantasize about one day possessing guns that impressive.

MB: ALSO a sexy love story, in the first one.

EK: Very strong contest between Sarah Connor and Ripley.

MB: No contest for me. I mean, I love Ripley but there's so little nuance there. Whereas Sarah Connor is a lover, and a fighter. AND a Mom. Believable all three ways.

EK: Yes, that is true. Ripley has no sexual life (other than horrible, horrible rape threats and David Fincher = the worst) in the cold space future she inhabits.

MB: It's dark up there! She is nice to cats anyways.

EK: CAT LADY PROGENITOR

EK: So we should really be celebrating the end of this infernal Bat person!

MB: He's totes alive!

EK: OR, it is INCEPTION?

MB: No such luck, bwana.

EK: It was Michael Caine's wish fulfillment?

MB: No! It's the real deal.

EK: I'm choosing to believe the opposite because that is unbearably stupid.

MB: Why bother to make that kind of investment in the mere wish-fulfillment of a secondary character? And yeah, it is unbearably stupid. But the ending wasn't set up as a believable martyrdom.

There was too much back-pocket option going on with the alleged busted autopilot and blah blah. This was a pretend ending, I feel certain.

EK: DOING MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX SCIENCE.

MB: I know!

EK: This is the way this Batworld world ends: with both a bang and a whimper.


Previously: 'Spider-Man' And 'Prometheus': The Not-Even-Mildly-Amazing Blockbusters Of Summer


Elmo Keep is an Australian writer living in Ballarat, Victoria. Maria Bustillos is the author of Dorkismo and Act Like a Gentleman, Think Like a Woman.

40 Comments / Post A Comment

Danzig! (#5,318)

Had me at the Galaxy Quest big ups, lost me at "something that is nominally pretty dumb, like Alien". Thing just took a nosedive right at the end.

God, I know it's neckbeardy as hell to point this sort of thing out, but a lot of the weird fanaticism and motivation stuff w/r/t Bane and his faction in TDKR has to do with the fact that (minor spoiler!) he is now the de facto leader of the League of Shadows, the apocalyptic ninja cult from which Bruce Wayne got all his skillz. It's weird that this film "comes full circle" from Batman Begins because it felt like The Dark Knight came from an entirely different series than its predecessor, and also because it's very hard to remember anything about the first movie if you hadn't seen it recently. There are references to the Harvey Dent sitch but overall this film could've easily been the direct sequel to the first movie.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Danzig! Very interesting, thank you. I thought they really squandered the League of Shadows story, there. WHO were Bane's followers, though, after all the bridges have been blown and whatnot?

Danzig! (#5,318)

@barnhouse Apparently he's so charismatic under that mask that he's able to conscript the 1,000+ inmates of Bloodgate Penitentiary without much fuss.

One really weird thing about the politics of the film (which were largely uninteresting, fwiw, for the really problematic political stuff this Summer, wait for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 to come out, it's also written by David S. Goyer), something the writers alluded to, is that the people of Gotham are nowhere to be seen during the siege. It's implied that people are reveling in Bane's false movement (ransacking swanky apartments, etc.) but it's never examined at all. The city feels weirdly deserted aside from a handful of orphans, the cops, and the criminals. Batman's flirted with fascist allegory since Frank Miller essentially commandeered the character, but the fact that the Batman goes on and on about My City and My People, despite the fact that neither of those concepts seem to represent any real people, is really, really sketchy.

@Danzig! : I'd point out that I really enjoyed Bane when he headed up Secret Six, but that's a neckbeard too far even for me.

@Danzig! But I don't think Bane made any sense as the leader of League of Shadows (or the leader's lackey). They showed Bane as protecting the "innocence" of the child; then I guess he's fighting the corruption and lies of Gotham… but he's going to blow them all up in 5 months anyway? What's the point? What did he/Talia WANT from Gotham?! Just to destroy it! Didn't make any sense to me.

Gurren Lagann (#5,066)

@Danzig! You are the first person to accurately summarize how I felt about the movie. What's weird is, the night before I saw it, I re-watched Batman Begins because I had seen TDK 10 times but BB only once, and man, am I glad I did. TDKR calls back to BB so many times but almost never to TDK. Watching the first one right before added so much to the new one. But I remember getting out of the theater and thinking how incongruent it was with the second one. I'm curious why they did that, and also curious about whether or not the trajectory of the third movie changed after Heath Ledger's death.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@Gurren Lagann Someone told me that the film would've stayed more or less the same, with the exception of the Joker standing in for the Scarecrow as judge of the kangaroo court.

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

Re: Occupy

I don't feel like Occupy was being demonized as TDKR mostly cautions about how those ideas can be hijacked for more dangerous purposes. Don't forget that it was corporate greed and corruption that had someone bring Bane to Gotham in the first place. Outside of the Wayne family, the rich aren't exactly given a glowing endorsement throughout the whole series.

jfruh (#713)

Should Tom Hardy's Amazing Accent (which is apparently modelled on a recently deceased Irish Traveller bare-knuckle boxer champ) be given a special Academy Award for Best Accent? Sometimes when I was in the middle of an endless monologue I would think "Well, at least Tom Hardy is going to say something pithy and entertaining in that accent, soon."

Also, at least they really let Tom Hardy do his own dialogue, despite the fact that you never see his mouth and it was almost certainly dubbed in later! There is a rumor that David Prowse, the body of Darth Vader, spoke all his dialogue on-set and wasn't aware that his voice would be replaced by James Earl Jones' until he saw the first Star Wars in the movie theater.

But yes there were so many ENDLESS EXPOSITION SEQUENCES that were LUDICROUSLY WRITTEN and they turned me off, over and above the weird fascistic politics of the whole thing. I've heard people refer to the Nolan-Batman as more "realistic" and I certainly felt that way about the #2, not because anything in it was like anything that would happen in real life but because most of the talk seemed like talking humans would do. I really had enough in this one of people staring off into the middle distance and dropping some plot/emotional backstory on us, which is not something one encounters often in real life.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@jfruh Bane is 1/10 Yoda, and 9/10 a really drunk John Cleese. And 13/10 Andrew Lloyd Weber, or at least Paul F. Tompkins' impersonation of him.

I have friends who are refusing to see this movie because they made Bane a eurotrash Bond villain (in the original comics, he's latino).

jfruh (#713)

@Danzig! Huh, that is interesting! I've never read any of the Bane comics, so I knew nothing about the character going in (except that he once broke Batman's back, so that wasn't a surprise). This explains why Tom Hardy, in explaining his accent choice, said "it's still Latin, but it's Romani Gypsy instead of Latino", which, haha, that is not correct sir, the Roma languages are Indo-Aryan and English and the Romance languages are much closer to one another than either is to Romani. Is the comic book version of his mask supposed to be a Lucha Libre thing?

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Danzig! @jfruh However bad a philologist the man may be, he sounded fantastic I thought. Also these comments are AMAZING do go on. (There really was a Lucha Libre thing happening!)

Did it drive you guys as nuts as it did me how they have all these tanks and automatic weapons but it still turns into a fist-fightin' melee?!

(@Danzig! your comment above re: the people ransacking, exactly, that is just what made me so miz.)

jfruh (#713)

@barnhouse Did it drive you guys as nuts as it did me how they have all these tanks and automatic weapons but it still turns into a fist-fightin' melee?!

Yeah, like when the phalanx of cops armed with revolvers and batons charged at those crazy tanks and the first few were machine gunned and fell down but everyone else made it through?

There is a weird bloodlessness, literally, to the violence in the movie, I thought. Lots of people die, but there's no blood or gore. I found this even more unsettling in #2, the one with the Joker, because the violent bits in that one were extremely unsettling to me psychologically (perhaps just because I was more immersed in the film — I really did like it a lot) but because there was no blood or guts somehow it was still "PG-13" violence.

Also re: the French Revlolution bits, I both loved and hated Cillian Murphy's surreally enormous Pile O' Desks atop which he held court. It looked fantastic (and so did he!) but is a weird cartoonish intrusion into a production design that, for all the insanity going on, really did try to ground things in reality.

@jfruh Re: the lack of blood. This is how a movie where people are sent to their death on thin ice, a man's neck is broken by another man by hand, etc gets a PG-13 rating.

anildash (#487)

"So sad about these Bat Movies, no Prince!"

It's still not too late for Batdance 2012 Dubstep Remix.

jfruh (#713)

OH ALSO: This is an incredibly third-hand account, but a relative who works in the movie industry claims to be friends with someone who worked with Chris Nolan on something, and he supposedly told this friend that Batman's use of crazy cell phone monitoring tech in #2 was meant to be a grudging endorsement of the Bush administration's post-9/11 need to monitor communications to stop terrorism. To which my response was, "Yeah, well, the difference was that at least Batman caught the fucking Joker."

Danzig! (#5,318)

Bullet point thoughts about this movie:
- Way too much plot (this seems to be a trend), so much that stakes are never really established and the whole "Gotham the anarchist fortress-enclave" thing feels inconsistent, weird and insubstantial. 5 months apparently pass in movie time but it feels like 2 days, tops. Haircuts don't change, beards are meticulously trimmed, garbage collection is incredibly efficient, and a rather small group of ninja mercenaries seem to be nowhere and of no danger to anyone until the plot needs them, when they show up in force.
- Anne Hathaway good! Not just because sexy, either. I like Anne Hathaway. The fact that she was allowed to be charismatic was a definite plus.
- They really needed to decide what city Gotham actually was, because it was clearly Manhattan but also not at all?
- Nolan needs to stop casting Marion Cotillard because she is being hells of wasted on his expository dialogue. She's just reading lines, come on.
- It also took this movie for me to realize that Christopher Nolan has an incredibly drab visual style.
- Also, and this is something we knew for awhile, he cannot shoot hand-to-hand combat and needs to stop trying. Marginally better than TDK, but most of the fistfights were essentially shot in close from the chest up.
- I actually really liked the ending. I'm not a Batman fanboy but I can appreciate some well-put together mythmaking. It was the only part of the movie that really worked like gangbusters for me.

hershmire (#233,671)

Whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was disappointed by the new movie. I pointed out the gaping plot holes and empty themes to my friends after the film and they almost lynched me.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

@hershmire are you kidding? Gaping plot holes, empty themes, and two dimensional characters are what make AMERICA GREAT OKAY

BadUncle (#153)

All I know of the Dark Knight universe is from the Frank Miller mini-series establishing Batman as a violent vigilante. Bane? Who??

Danzig! (#5,318)

@BadUncle Yeah, finding it v. confusing that an out-of-context panel from Miller's take on the character is making the rounds on Facebook as a… statement against gun violence? I don't know, the fact that Batman detests gun usage is supposed to mean something (several panels later it's revealed that he and his band of psychotic vigilantes have been severing the hands of petty thieves)

SystemD (#236,240)

"…the Occupy movement is a mob of dangerous lowlife who would willingly follow a crazy, violent criminal. Whereas in reality the Occupy movement is a gathering of pissed-off regular people, a lot of them very young, plus Amanda Palmer bawling over her ukelele."

I find Occupy a little earnest because many of its supporters are too naive to be sincere. Earnest people can be duped by demagogues because their support is based on passion not knowledge. So, yeah, Occupy is people with their hearts in the right place, but that doesn't mean they can't be duped by a violent criminal through their MINDS. Think your statement's a little naive.

Bittersweet (#765)

@SystemD I'd try to argue with you, but I have no clue what you typed up there. "I find Occupy a little earnest because many of its supporters are too naive to be sincere?" Wha? That's like saying I find Wall Street a bit world-weary because many of its members are too cynical to be jaded.

And being earnest does not automatically presuppose being uninformed.

I did like "Moon" quite a bit.

deepomega (#1,720)

Totally disagree with the political analysis, though! I think this was a remarkably subtle thing. The theme of the movie seemed to be more about corrupting good people/ideas – e.g. the whole thing with Bane being enabled by corporate maneuvering, and also Batman's arsenal being used against Gotham, and the part where the actual villain was, you know, the millionaire who was throwing lavish charity balls in the first act. (Which Wayne specifically mocks!) It's not about Occupy, except for how Occupy is a populist movement – it's about how populism can turn into a different kind of collapse. And also how Batman really SHOULD have trusted Gotham more, given some of his toys to people, etc. rather than just locking it away and hoping nobody ever found it.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@deepomega an interesting, not-totally-impossible reading, but one that complicates more than it resolves, for me. Where does this leave Selina Kyle's radicalism? Humbled by the turn events have taken, does she find a new, smarter way to fight corruption and make a fairer world for everyone? Nope, she throws her voluptuous lot in with the gazillionaires.

The worst is the total absence of credible ordinary Gothamites having any kind of opinions of their own. The producers have no understanding of/interest in a multiplicity of voices, evidently. Which are what makes up a real city (the real Gotham, especially.)

Bane: revealed to have been a mere henchmen of the plutocrats, one ostensibly motivated by love (an innocent love, the love for a child.) All of a suddenly we're in some kind of Bad Seed haywire plot twist at the very end?

techmo (#11,038)

@barnhouse Wasn't the "credible ordinary Gothamite" who voiced his own opinion and, presumably, that of the people the JGL character? Isn't he the real hero of the movie (i.e. I don't need a mask, I don't care if they know who I am). That was my takeaway at least. Gotham doesn't need Batman or millionaires. It needs good, honest and ordinary people fighting for justice. I suppose the counterargument would be the ending in the cave but I chalked that up as a nod to fanboys.

P.S. I always love these Yakkin about Culture pieces even when I disagree with them.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@techmo TRUE and yet not. JGL represents the ordinary man (and I totally ID'd and wanted to believe this) until Commissioner Gordon recognizes and anoints him as a fellow genius-insider. Then he's part of the power structure, no longer outside it. The final scenes of the film find him ascending to Valhalla or whatever, basically. Like a Super-Bat-promotion(?)

deepomega (#1,720)

@barnhouse I completely agree about the absence of ordinary Gothamites. Super weird, given the obsession TDK has with "regular people" and whether they are fundamentally good or evil. And I think all of these ideas were mushily handled, could've been a LOT more aplomb. And, ugh, yes the Bane twist at the end was insane and stupid. Why was Tahlia even here?? Really awful use of a twist.

But I liked the bits with Bane revealing that Gordon had lied to Gotham to prevent prisoners from getting paroled – that was nice, and I don't think it's clear that we're supposed to think he was right to do it.

techmo (#11,038)

@barnhouse Fair points, especially regarding the bat-promotion (he'd get some pretty kickass rec letters). But I took the shedding of the uniform thing as an example of getting out of the power structure. Add that to the fact that he's not fighting the superheroes for the last half of the movie. He's trying to save the ordinary people in the city. Bruce Wayne stopped donating to the orphanage because he was an out of touch billionaire consumed with his own personal problems. JGL was always there. Maybe I'm giving that part too much credit but I guess I don't buy the weatlhy/powerulf/intelligent vs. "the people" conflict as the real story line here. The uber wealthy/powerful/intelligent people are all basically awful!

barnhouse (#1,326)

@techmo @deepomega entirely agree with all this. Hence verdict of Meh; kind of equal parts boring and thought-provoking. I particularly perked up during the Ambiguous Morality of Gordon scenes, which were indeed great. Oldman=always heart-stoppingly human.

annejumps@twitter (#233,527)

"Jason Gordon-Levitt"

Really

sam.i.am (#12,168)

I'm really uncomfortable when a movie featuring a streetfight between ordinary people and police officers engineers the situation to make the police officers sympathetic.

"Also, my name is Talia."

Congratulations. Would you like a cookie?

jfruh (#713)

@sam.i.am POSSIBLY RELATED POINT: Right after this May's Chicago NATO summit, which featured the usual running battles between baton-happy cops and protestors who seem fairly down with getting into fights with cops, I visited Chicago and went to a White Sox game, and at one point the announcer asked us all to give a standing O to some cops who had been on the NATO protection detail who had been given free tickets. And most people did!

@sam.i.am : CALL ME TALIA, PIGS.

joshc (#442)

Of all the stupid parts of this very expensive movie, I think that the part that I found the most braindead was the stock market bit. I'm no financial expert, but I'm PRETTY SURE that all trading is suspended the minute that armed gunmen siege the floor, not NINETY MINUTES later (which also happens to be night time, despite the attack happening in the morning just because night chases look a lot cooler).

jarek (#236,251)

@joshc Yep. That scene was there only for guns terrorizing suits and CSI computer porn. The only way the scenario presented could work is if their super fancy hacking program was able to first route around the suspended trading and then fake the records to include the trades as entered sometime in the past.

Even then, a big-shot billionaire loses half of their money the day after a big Wall Street shoot-out and noone connects the dots? Stock exchanges trace and unwind trades entered in conditions much less dramatic than this.

statistics_lie (#14,052)

Joseph, not Jason!

stuffisthings (#1,352)

I'm glad someone else had the same opinion as me.

That's what the Internet is for, right?

trenches (#219,719)

Did anyone else notice that, during the scene in which Bruce Wayne is eMicrofiching Selina Kyle, the word "HEIST" is spelled "HIEST" in a newspaper headline? WHY????? Oh – is it like a symbol of the cultural complacency Bain targets? In which case: Bain = Andy Rooney?

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