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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Batman 911?

I just watched the new Batman Begins trailer on MTV’s site (I won’t link because it’s a maze) and with Ra’s Al Ghul saying “Gotham must be destroyed” and Betty (okay… she’s called Rachel Dodson… but she’s playing a Betty) talking about moral choices in Gotham and when the Batman himself says that Gotham is not beyond saving… not to mention all the military equiptment…
Is Batman Begins going to be a comic-colored commentary on the issues of 9/11? Is Batman going to teach us how the U.S. should behave in the face of maniacal, if rationalized, terrorism?
Maybe that’s the pitch and not the movie. But in this trailer, it’s pretty unmistakeable.

30 Responses to “Batman 911?”

  1. Dan R% says:

    I thought the MTV trailer is the best of ’em so far…
    I hadn’t looked at it that way though. Batman should stick to stopping the bad guys and leave the politik out of it.
    As for Christian Bale, what’s wrong with his voice in the trailer? He’s not Kevin Conroy…maybe it’s just bad mixing.

  2. Mark says:

    Its Batman. I really hope it doesn’t try for a “message”.

  3. L&DB says:

    Sorry Mark, Batman has always had a message. About
    perserverance in the face of unbelievable mental
    torment and adversity. Why exactly would it be
    wrong for Bats to have a message in it anyway? People
    get so elitist about films sometimes. Or fill a
    brother in because I might be making a rash judgement.

  4. lazarus says:

    I think Batman has always been about more than perseverance. Even before Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, Bats was always more anti-establishment than some of the other superheroes (despite being in cahoots with Commissioner Gordon). Let’s not forget that his whole raison d’etre is revenge, against a faceless enemy. He can’t find his parents’ killer, but he puts the guy’s face on every criminal he takes down.
    This is, I think where Nolan becomes a perfect choice. Memento and Insomnia both has protagonists in very deep shades of grey. If this film has more of a “message” than the other two, more power to him. It would be a nice change after the cheesy “New Yorkers United” bit in Spider-Man 2. I cringe every time I think of that “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us” garbage.

  5. lazarus says:

    Now I’m thinking that part I was talking about was from the first Spider-Man film, not that it makes much of a difference.
    One final thing I thought of is that both X-Men films were parables of a sort. The first one, taking a cue from its source material was a thinly veiled comment on racism. X-Men 2 had parallels to the public’s perception of AIDS victims. Both films were a hell of a lot of fun, AND dealt with some serious issues, political ones to an extent. Even if neither said much that was original, it didn’t hinder the films but rather enhanced them.

  6. GdB says:

    Dave, Having not seen the film, I think you’re reaching. Goyer wrote the script, and from my understanding he adores the character so much he pretty much told Marvel that he was taking the project no matter what. I think he really had his fanboy cap on and wanted to add the touches the real fans missed from the Burton films.
    I think Golan is a pretty hard core fan too. I don’t think either of them would risk F**king this up with fans for some 911 subtext.
    Now if you want to talk about F**k ups, how about how WB decided against what sounded like a completely badass fanboy’s wet dream of a Batman VS. Superman movie, only to make way for a new Superman movie (Why do I get the feeling this is going to be Singer’s requisite failure that every major filmmaker eventually endures when establishing a body of work). In that story there was this amazing fight scene written where Batman kicks the shit out of Superman in the first half of the flick.
    It read amazing.
    Did anyone else read that script?

  7. bicycle bob says:

    x men 2 was a gay story. how they don’t fit in, have trouble with family, etc etc. figures because brian singer is huge into gay issues, rights and the like. makes me wonder how superman is gonna deal with the gay issues he’ll bring up and base the movie around

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    I suppose you could make that argument bi-bob, but everything that I have ever read about X-Men (including, if I’m not mistaken, comments from the filmmakers themselves) states that it is addressing racism.

  9. KamikazeCamel says:

    1. Gdb, you haven’t seen the film either so…
    2. Dave was was merely pointing out that in THAT SPECIFIC TRAILER if looked as if certain issues were being touched upon
    3. Batman Vs Superman? That would’ve blown, seriously. Especially considering they’re both, ya know, good guys battling evil.
    Thats kinda like “Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever” and you think Ecks and Sever are gonna battle it out for an entire movie but as soon as they meet they team up to battle the bad guys.

  10. Ben Grimm says:

    Batman’s raison d’etre is not revenge, it’s guilt… Because he was there when it happened, but didn’t do anything to stop it.

  11. Terence D says:

    Batman’s guilt and thirst for revenge go hand in hand.

  12. bicycle bob says:

    stella ur blind if u don’t see the gay themes in x men 2. the whole thing with iceman and his parents? the comics were about being different. race, religion, etc. the movies are about homosexuals.

  13. Mark says:

    Singer is a gay man. Thats why all his movies are going to have gay themes and actors in them. Nothing wrong with it if he keeps making entertaining and profitable films.

  14. teambanzai says:

    Gay or racial they’re pretty much the same issue discrimination. And besides who cares?

  15. Joe Leydon says:

    Of course, back in the 1950s, a few psychologists insisted that the whole Batman and Robin relationship was a homosexual wish dream. (And let’s not forget Lenny Bruce’s routine about The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Mandrake and Lothar, etc.)

  16. Stella's Boy says:

    Maverick and Iceman.

  17. Angelus says:

    Gay movies are always the worst. Thats why indie movies never cross over. No average American cares about their plight, what they think is funny, or anything. Sounds harsh but its just the truth.

  18. lazarus says:

    And that would explain the resounding success of Will & Grace? Or Ellen DeGeneres’s shows?
    X-Men wasn’t ABOUT homosexuality. The first one had parallels to the civil rights movement, with Professor X representing King’s non-violence creedo, and Magneto sharing Malcolm’s “by any means necessary” stance. The second film had a very obvious subtext about the AIDS virus and how people affected by it are treated. Bicycle Bob is right that the “coming out” scene between Iceman and his parents was meant to comment on the way gays relate to their families.
    But again, if the movies are still well-written and directed, and provide great entertainment, the guy can do whatever the fuck he wants.

  19. jeffmcm says:

    X-Men 2 had nothing to do with AIDS. The premise had to do with a father (Brian Cox) rejecting his son after finding out he was a mutant and going on a genocidal anti-mutant rampage. If you think that means it was about AIDS then you are assuming that homosexuality=AIDS victim which is homophobic in itself.
    Gay movies typically don’t do well because of one fact: bad filmmaking. Degeneres and Will & Grace have succeeded because of the talent of their writers and their lack of overt, in-your-face agendas…just like Bryan Singer.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    And I would love it if we had a substantive Batman movie for once, instead of watching entertaining cartoonish freakshows (like Burton’s) or dismal cartoonish freakshows (like Schumacher’s).

  21. lazarus says:

    There are two separate parallels going on with X-Men, jeff. The idea that the mutants have contracted some kind of disease and should be shunned relates directly to the misconceptions about HIV-positive people or those with the full-blown AIDS virus. The desire to keep people away from them for fear of contamination is something that should be oddly familiar. The scene with Iceman relates more to homosexuality and coming out, and this isn’t something explored in the rest of the film. It was played for laughs, and is more of an amusing reference.
    The Brian Cox subplot with Wolverine was only one part of the film. You’re forgetting about the continued storylines dealing with the public’s fear and attempts to ostracize, register, quarantine, etc. If you can’t see the subtext here you’re pretty blind.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t remember anything in the film regarding contracting diseases or contamination. Give me an example.
    Right now in this country gay rights are much more controversial than AIDS victims’ rights. Why would Singer limit his film to a smaller issue?

  23. JckNapier2 says:

    You of all people… you’re always the first to (correctly) dump on people who try to find 9/11 illusions that just aren’t there.
    Minor spoilers for those who know NOTHING about the main villain:
    Ra’s Al Ghul wanting to destroy the world is fact long established since 1971. He’s a hardcore eco-terrorist who wants to wipe earth of humanity so that the green lushness of earth can be restored and prosper.
    If anything, the trailer bothers me as it seems to overly pander to the female audience, framing the entire Batman mythos as a chance for Bruce Wayne to make things well and good for his former lady love. And, I gotta say, of all the clips I’ve seen… I’ve seen exactly one shot of Commissioner Gordon. Why is the marketing department so afraid of this critical character? And if you’ve seen that TV clip, am I the only one who thinks that Chicago cop Jim Gordon is speaking in Gary Oldman’s natural British accent?
    As a hardcore Batman fan and a big fan of the first two Burton films, I’m not terribly impressed with any of the footage I’ve seen. Yes, I’m sure the action will be spectacular, but I don’t like the Bat suit, I don’t like the natural, downright boring look of the villains (why does Ra’s Al Ghul look like a zen master? Surely Ken Wantabee could adaquetely play a mixed-race arabic character as well as Sean Connery or Peter O’Toole or Christopher Lee), and Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne makes him seem like an out and out prick. Obviously, no version of Batman is going to be how I want it to be, nor should it be. But, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll even enjoy the film as a simple movie, let alone a tonally and spiritually accurate adaptation. How ironic would it be if it turned out that Burton got it right the first time, 16 years ago?
    Scott Mendelson
    Scott Mendelson

  24. JckNapier2 says:

    You of all people… you’re always the first to (correctly) dump on people who try to find 9/11 illusions that just aren’t there.
    Minor spoilers for those who know NOTHING about the main villain:
    Ra’s Al Ghul wanting to destroy the world is fact long established since 1971. He’s a hardcore eco-terrorist who wants to wipe earth of humanity so that the green lushness of earth can be restored and prosper.
    If anything, the trailer bothers me as it seems to overly pander to the female audience, framing the entire Batman mythos as a chance for Bruce Wayne to make things well and good for his former lady love. And, I gotta say, of all the clips I’ve seen… I’ve seen exactly one shot of Commissioner Gordon. Why is the marketing department so afraid of this critical character? And if you’ve seen that TV clip, am I the only one who thinks that Chicago cop Jim Gordon is speaking in Gary Oldman’s natural British accent?
    As a hardcore Batman fan and a big fan of the first two Burton films, I’m not terribly impressed with any of the footage I’ve seen. Yes, I’m sure the action will be spectacular, but I don’t like the Bat suit, I don’t like the natural, downright boring look of the villains (why does Ra’s Al Ghul look like a zen master? Surely Ken Wantabee could adaquetely play a mixed-race arabic character as well as Sean Connery or Peter O’Toole or Christopher Lee), and Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne makes him seem like an out and out prick. Obviously, no version of Batman is going to be how I want it to be, nor should it be. But, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll even enjoy the film as a simple movie, let alone a tonally and spiritually accurate adaptation. How ironic would it be if it turned out that Burton got it right the first time, 16 years ago?
    Scott Mendelson

  25. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    i haven’t seen a gay person in the flesh are they really like those folks in Friedkin’s Cruising?

  26. JckNapier2 says:

    sorry about the double post. It’s been a long day.

  27. KamikazeCamel says:

    Trust me, the only people who hate “gay movies” more than straight middle-aged men is, well, gay men.
    I hate them because I’m not a fan of making things into agenda items purely for the same of it (see Nathan Lane’s tv series where he was a politician or something. Why did the character need to be gay? no reason, and if they weren’t bogged down in that stuff it may have been half decent).
    However, if a movie that involves gay characters is also well-made and acted and so forth and is actually a good movie and not a no budget and try and actually be about something (like I’m hoping Brokeback Mountain will adhere to) then I’ll gladly watch it.
    And, X-Men 2 clearly has a gay undercurrant. Nobody of race has to sit down with their parents and tell them they are a certain race. “Mum, dad… I’m hispanic.”
    …?

  28. jeff mcm says:

    Now that I’ve seen that Batman trailer, I can imagine the subtext Dave sees as being in there… but I don’t think it’s an overriding allegory. But it does look like a richer, deeper Batman movie than we’ve ever seen before.
    And there’s a fire-breathing horse! I wish he rode that around town instead of the mega-Hummer.

  29. Chester says:

    I too have finally gotten to see the new trailer, and it’s the first promo that has left me genuinely enthusiastic about the film. While the movie may not necessarily turn out to be the most original piece of work, it looks extremely coherent, consistent and adult-friendly. Even that junk-pile Batmobile is starting to grow on me. My favorite thing in the trailer? The ninja-star Bat-erang.

  30. Mark says:

    Friedkins Cruising is one of the scariest and horrifying movies of all time.

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin