Richard Kind

Baby Catwoman in Gotham

Remember that scene in the middle of The Dark Knight Rises where Batman and Catwoman are riding in a horse-drawn carriage through Robinson Park? She says, “I wish we had met sooner. Just imagine: wouldn’t that have been wonderful if we had known each other when we were little? Little Bruce-y and little Selin-y.” And then there was the flashback dream sequence to when they were in a nursery as babies together. And now we’ve got a whole show spun-off from that scene. It’s called Gotham, because “Batman Babies” wouldn’t have been as cool. And it features a little Bruce-y and a little Selin-y, plus a little Ossie and a little Eddie and a little Pammy and a little Jimmy. At least that’s how it feels. In reality, the upcoming series (which has just been picked up for a full season) that looks at Gotham City before Bruce Wayne grew up to be Batman is about a tradition and a trend. The former goes back many decades with comic books, as most popular characters have had “lil” and “baby” incarnations. Even Bat-Baby existed for an issue in 1962. The latter is the soon-to-be-over-saturated concept of giving movie villains their own prequel TV shows. There’s Hannibal and Bates Motel already. Oh, and it fits in line with the already over-saturating idea of filling the TV channels with superheroes. 

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Movies based on true stories are rarely — if even ever — 100% accurate. To make it an engaging story for an audience, obviously some dramatic license must be used. And for the time constraints of a feature, there has to be a good deal of condensing and abridging and in many cases exclusion. For the full accounts of real life, we may have nonfiction books or magazine articles or the Internet, and these more extensive and comprehensive tools are easily accessed after seeing the film in order to get at the greater truth. Movies based on true stories are more like teasers of true stories. And like most advertisements they have to stretch reality to pique our interest. Argo is certainly that kind of teaser. But are people giving Ben Affleck‘s latest too much credit in the accuracy department? I keep reading stuff about how the actor/director aimed for realism (see the post from yesterday about the film’s sound design), which may be the case in terms of tone and technical accomplishments such as period costumes and production design. There is quality to the recreation of time and place, if not all facts. Meanwhile, many critics are calling this film “stranger than fiction,” which is very misleading given just how much fictionalizing went into the script in order for it to have themes and a whole lot of suspense (too much, in my opinion, near the point of feeling like self-parody).

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Remember when Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, and Tate Donovan all got together to make a movie about a fake movie being made in order to rescue hostages being held in Iran? This trailer is one more slice of proof that Affleck knows what the hell he’s doing behind a camera, especially when it comes to the slightly funny world of serious issues. Instead of crime-riddled Boston, this time it’s the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a fake script called Argo and a crazy attempt at rescuing 6 people. It’s Ocean’s Eleven except the stakes are real, and they’re life-or-death. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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I’ve already written a couple of different stories about the casting process of Ben Affleck’s next film as a director, Argo. His CIA drama includes an impressive list of names like Alan Alda, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, and Affleck himself; and it tells a globe-hopping story that should push the limits of what Affleck can do as a director like nothing else he’s made up to this point. I’m really looking forward to it. So I’m pleased as punch that Warner Bros. has sent out a press release which not only states that filming is set to begin, but also confirms a few more interesting last minute names to fill out the cast. Joining that bevy of powerful presences up top will be veteran character actor Michael Parks, who recently has been used by directors like Kevin Smith in Red State and Quentin Tarantino in the Grindhouse movies, Clea Duvall, who’s been in movies like Zodiac and 21 Grams, Richard Kind, who you’ll recognize from things like Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Coens’ A Serious Man, and Tate Donovan who has done, well…uh, not much that I’ve liked. Still, add them all together and that’s a seriously awesome group of actors. I’ve done the plot synopsis thing on this movie before, but for the sake of posterity, let’s take a look at Warner’s official word on what this movie is about after the break:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on his ghostbusting gear to take on the two big spiritual flicks in the theaters. He suffers through a tsunami in Hereafter and struggles even more to get through Clint Eastwood’s latest Oscar-bait flick. Then he sets up a stationary video camera to capture any strange goings-on while he sleeps. He plans to sell the film to Paramount as Paranormal Activity 3: More Shots of Nothing Happening.

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The sort of movie for which the critical cliché “tone poem” was invented, Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter evokes an eerie serenity in the face of death. With three interlocking storylines centered on our awareness, perceptions and ultimate acceptance of the afterlife, on what the notion that you start dying the moment you’re born really means, the picture ought to cast a particular, carefully controlled spell. Yet Eastwood, an adept handler of “meat-and-potatoes” narratives and more naked emotions, fails to transform the precise, melancholic sensibility at the heart of Peter Morgan’s screenplay into an affecting cinematic experience. Long-winded, ponderous and without much in the way of compelling drama, Hereafter sputters across three countries, filled with haunting imagery but never offering the visceral, subtle transcendence of a film by a more adept chronicler of spiritual sensations.

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