The Dark Knight

Inception

You’ve probably already spotted the Esquire UK post called “Films Stupid People Think Are Clever” where the likes of Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are given the shortest end of the stick. It’s a worthless article that represents the easiest kind of contrarianism: People like these things? Let’s say we don’t like them, but not really explain why. Now, I’m a reasonable un-stupid person by all the traditional rubrics. My IQ is three digits, my SAT score was four, and I’m probably one (maybe two) practice sessions away from being able to walk and chew gum simultaneously. I’ve read books like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and I think I’ve understood them. They’re about girls, right? Just kidding. I’m also smart enough to recognize that Esquire’s trolling traffic-magnet doesn’t deserve a response. Or at least not an angry one. The thing is, I’m dumb enough to take any opportunity to rethink why I see films like The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty as fantastically intelligent (even clever). Contrarianism, even the lazy kind, can be good if we use it to challenge ourselves in the right way. If it’s a chance to examine why I’m stupid enough to appreciate these movies, count me in.

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Impersonating a Cop in Termiantor 2

Let’s be cops! Well, not real cops, because despite what Police Academy teaches us, not everyone is cut out to wear a badge and uniform. No force is so desperate for recruits that they’re going to let such incompetent people off the street enroll in their training program. Being a cop is really hard. And dangerous. And takes a certain amount of intelligence and skill and tact. Of course, the real world is currently (continually) proving that there are bad cops all around, almost to the point that the latest buddy cop comedy, Let’s Be Cops, seems ill-timed. But this isn’t a movie about real officers of the law. It’s about two guys impersonating police officers, complete with seemingly authentic costumes and seemingly authentic LAPD cruiser. Somehow they’re not spotted as frauds immediately and thrown into prison. I don’t know the genuine amount of time one could get away with pretending to be a cop, but this isn’t the first movie to make us think you could impersonate a police officer for a long while. Even if you’re committing crimes the entire time. Check out the guide below to see what we’ve learned from the movies as to how to go about “being a cop.” 

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Movies live orchestra

Would bringing live music back into theaters improve your experience of watching a film? Or would it feel like an old timey distraction? Eight-seven years ago, before movies were able to synchronize sound to the actual picture, having live musicians and orchestras perform as the film played was the norm. The Artist showed audiences how silent films relied on the music to convey the feelings and emotions of the actors on screen in lieu of dialogue. But as film (and the film industry) moved into 1927 – film technology began to advance and recorded dialogue and sound synchronization became the way of the future as theaters began swapping out orchestras for speakers. But should theaters bring live music back to the movie going experience? We say yes.

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Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds

Near the end of The Incredibles, Syndrome — who’s been hyperaware of the ruinous trope — is caught monologuing. It’s not his downfall, but he’s also not one of the smartest movie villains. He simply knows the usual hamartia. You might call it pride, you may laugh at it, but the monologue is an important part of understanding where a villain is coming from and revealing all the gory details of a complex plan. At the least, it’s almost a narrative necessity for a movie that focuses solely on the hero. The thing is, intelligence is not a pre-requisite for being a movie villain. It actually doesn’t even seem to be that important when you dig through all the  mustache-twirlers out there. Even menacing baddies like Voldemort aren’t particularly smart, just evil and nose-less. Is also isn’t all about getting away with it. That’s definitely a nice touch, but the key to an intelligent villain is creating a deeply involved plan that works (or would work) despite an impressive counter-force. Simply put, a smart villain demands a smart hero.

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IntroWorstPlacesToWork

Forget Weyland-Yutani or Initech; statistically speaking they are fine places to work. Hell, you think Cyberdyne didn’t have a stellar employee benefits package, or at least decent break rooms? Sure – everyone dies, but day-to-day it’s not that terrible. In the movie world, there are far worse jobs out there. These are places that – from one day to the next – level out as the worst possible places to be employed.

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Man of Steel

Warning: there are mild spoilers ahead for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Haven’t seen the movie yet? Go see it, then come on back. Man of Steel couldn’t have a more perfect release date. This Sunday is Father’s Day, which makes it a very appropriate weekend for an action flick about a superhero with two dads and the wisdom imparted by each of them. Meanwhile, today is also Flag Day, and while the latest Superman movie isn’t overbearingly jingoistic, it is significant for explicitly returning the character’s national allegiance. “I’m about as American as you get,” he says when his loyalty to the U.S. is questioned. The line wouldn’t be so notable if it weren’t for the way the previous live-action movie we got, Superman Returns, represented the hero. When Perry White (Frank Langella) references a familiar catchphrase by asking if Superman still stands for “truth, justice and all that stuff,” that made many conservative fans upset. Never mind that the original “American way” version wasn’t even introduced until years after his comics debut (on the radio show in 1942 and then resurfacing on the 1950s TV series). “The truth is he’s an alien,” said Returns co-writer Dan Harris in 2006, “He was sent from another planet. He has landed on the planet Earth, and he is here for everybody. He’s an international superhero.”

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David Goyer

Do you remember back in 2002 when Kevin Reynolds—the guy who made Waterworld—made a movie called The Count of Monte Cristo? It starred Luis Guzmán and some other dudes? The one about the guy who breaks out of prison and then uses a treasure he gets told about to pose as someone else and exact revenge on those who wrongly imprisoned him? Well, it’s a little known fact that this story didn’t actually originate with the 2002 film. It was actually written by a guy named Alexandre Dumas (sounds Italian) quite a bit earlier than 2002. An even more obscure fact is that Dumas is the same guy who wrote that Three Musketeers movie that Paul W.S. Anderson made in 2011. Or something, I dunno, all of these Hollywood guys are tough to keep track of. The point of this helpful and informative history lesson is that we’re about to see another retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, one that’s going to have very little to do with Kevin Reynolds or Luis Guzmán. THR is reporting is that David Goyer, the guy who wrote The Dark Knight (but he didn’t actually create Batman, that was another guy, I think Stan Lee?), has just signed on to hop into the director’s chair and give us his take on Dumas’ story from 1844 (that’s earlier than I thought, was his script written pre-Code?).

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Do you wonder why so many people are sooooooo obsessed with Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies? The new documentary Legends of the Knight may not directly address that specific question, but it does explore the ways in which the character resonates for so many people and inspires them to be stronger individuals. The fact that the Caped Crusader is just a regular guy (well, a regular rich guy) without any magical super powers who has experienced tragedy in his life apparently makes him more identifiable. This film will present stories of fans, including those with handicaps, for whom Batman is not just hero but also a motivational figure. “Batman has become contemporary mythology,” says the film’s producer/director Brett Culp in a press release. “We want to show how enduring stories like this shape us. Our goal is to inspire everyone on the planet who loves Batman to embody his spirit, engage with the world, and make a difference.  Together, we are Batman.”

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  The James Bond series is something of a hub in the course of film and pop culture history. As iconic as it is on its own, it tends to be informed by other material as often as it does the informing. In the beginning, for example, the movies were highly influenced by the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Author Ian Fleming even wished for Hitch to direct the first movie adapted from his 007 novels. And Cary Grant was famously sought for the part of Bond, which would have been interesting had he continued with the second film, From Russia With Love, given how much it calls to mind North by Northwest. Instead, little-known Sean Connery embodied the character, and after the first two installments made the actor famous, Hitch cast him in Marnie. As usual, the director capitalized on a movie star’s pre-existing notoriety, his screen value, which makes it quite difficult for us to see Connery’s Marnie character, Mark Rutland, as anything but James Bond as a wife-raping publisher. Hitch went another step with his next film, Torn Curtain, which was an admitted direct response to the 007 films. He wrote to Francois Truffaut in 1965: “In realizing that James Bond and the imitators of James Bond were more or less making […]

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Ever wonder why people usually don’t wear elaborate costumes in real life when they are out killing teenagers or robbing banks? Chances are it’s because the whole damn point of wearing a disguise is to draw attention away from your face. Of course that would be no fun in movies. No one wants to see a crime committed by someone wearing an off color ski mask – so costume designers tend to get a little… creative, and sometimes the result can be downright horrifying.

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Sam Mendes Directing Skyfall

After hearing a few filmmakers go back and forth about whose work is less important, it feels really good to see a noteworthy director give such praise and credit to a peer. In an excellent piece at IndieWire, Sam Mendes explains why Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight helped influence his take on James Bond in Skyfall. “It would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say,” said Mendes. “And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with The Dark Knight, it’s not even set in our world. It felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11 and played on our fears, and discussed our fears and why they existed, and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without The Dark Knight, might not have been possible.” That topical relevance is something that’s been building in the franchise ever since Daniel Craig took over, although it’s certainly the case that older 007 outings spoke specifically to the era they were made in, for better (From Russia With Love) or for pop culture worse (Moonraker). Mendes’ further comments seem to confirm that studios have caught on to the reality of making darker films during a time when […]

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Justice League Alex Ross

Development has really been heating up the over that Justice League movie. A few months ago, Gangster Squad writer Will Beall was hired to handle script duties, there was word Warner Bros. was eying Ben Affleck to direct, and then we got a director short list including the Wachowskis, Ruben Fleischer, and, who could forget, Brett Ratner. Today the project became even more real, thanks to a resolved legal dispute. The Los Angeles Times is reporting the studio is gearing up fast for a 2013 shoot and a 2015 release, which would pit the film up against The Avengers 2. After that, mostly depending on whether the film’s a hit or not, Warners would then follow up the film with a reboot of Batman and solo films following whatever heroes they decide to put in the movie. So if any of you have been holding your breath for a Hawkman movie, then perhaps your big dream may finally come true.

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Jaws

Ah yes. It’s that time of the year, folks. The only month where it’s slightly less mean to jump out at a child while wearing a clown mask. The vandal’s holiday… cretin Christmas. It really is a special time for all of us horror movie fans. So let’s light some candles, get our favorite Misfits album out and start this party. They say that nothing can ever outdo the imagination – something that is most evident when it comes to terror and death. It’s not what you see that scares you – it’s what you don’t. It’s why we fear the dark. So while gore is great fun, it’s nothing compared to something merely implied.

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As most of us no doubt know, it’s hard enough just to live with yourself after committing a gruesome murder – let alone dealing with logistics of the body and police and all that jazz. Thank god the act itself can be done pretty easily these days – what with all the guns and knives and catapults we have access to. Of course the problem is that your victim is always going to see it coming when you’re wheeling out your homemade trebuchet, which is why the best weapon is the one that’s right under their noses. The moving pictures know this, and have given us some remarkable kills with very unremarkable items in the past… Oh also – be warned now, the following is pretty gross.

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Jurassic Park Mosquito

Movie trailers are one of the few things in the industry that you really can’t improve upon with technology. It’s just editing – that’s it. Nothing else can make a trailer better besides skill. This is also why it seems like they generally get better every year (not always the case though). It’s difficult to nail down exactly what makes a teaser trailer effective, which is why we’re going to focus simply on intensity. It’s the best part, especially when a film is already anticipated from the start due to being an adaptation or a sequel. So here we go – fifteen movie teasers that have your heart pounding before the feature presentation even begins.

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Boiling Point

The trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel recently made it online after rolling in front of the related DC property The Dark Knight Rises. Reactions have been mostly positive to the somber looking film, with words like “restrained” being laid upon it. Many have chosen to highlight the apparent effect that Batman producer/director Christopher Nolan has had on the Superman story. The trailer for Supes does seem to harken to a more Batman Begins esque story rather than say, Superman Returns or Green Lantern. Hey, the Batman movies were good for the most part right? Having Christopher Nolan involved is a great idea, right? Well, not if you want your universe to do anything other than implode.

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Over at /Film, they’ve posted an excellent (and very detailed) map of Batman’s own Gotham City, thanks to Brandon T. Snider‘s all-new “The Dark Knight Manual.” Laid out in a traditional style, the officially approved map is one heck of a tool when it comes to contextualizing Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy and just where the action of his beloved blockbusters plays out, and it’s a true must-examine for all Batman fans. But it’s not the only richly imagined comic book city out there – DC Comics in particular has crafted some notable fictional cities over the years, and seeing them rendered in such a manner is the stuff geeking out is made of. A little bit of digging around the Internet turned up a number of comic book city maps worth a look (though none of them as official as Snider’s look at Gotham), including takes on Metropolis, Smallville, Central City, the locations of the Mega Cities, and even a map of Manhattan that includes “real” locations for a number of important Marvel Comics structures and sites. Take a look after the break.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises (and other Christopher Nolan films). Christopher Nolan is the first director to make more than two Batman films. In the past, a second Batman film has provided a space for filmmakers to explore their excesses. In the case of Batman Returns, Tim Burton was able to further develop a vision of Gotham as an elaborate fairy tale. Batman & Robin was Joel Schumacher’s venue for exploring Batman as full-blown camp. For Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight manifested a mammoth vision of the summer superhero blockbuster by way of Jules Dassin and Michael Mann, where the Gotham setting gave way to an intricate, sprawling matrix of a metropolis that contains an eternal struggle between order, chaos, and every gray gradation in between. Until Nolan released The Dark Knight Rises, however, a Batman story reaching a third and final act was without precedent in the hero’s manifestations within the moving image. Not only has no previous director articulated a vision of the Caped Crusader in three parts, but no film, serial, or television show has attempted to bring a definitive end to their particular version of the superhero’s arc. The Batman of the moving image is one that largely exists in perpetuity. That Nolan has attempted a completist, closed vision of the Batman universe is relatively anomalous. Despite The Dark Knight Rises’s virtues and shortcomings (and the film has both of these in spades), perhaps the major reason for the film’s comparably […]

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The Joker

Here’s a funny joke. The final scene in our countdown of the Scenes We Love from the modern movies of Batman and friends doesn’t exactly feature The Dark Knight himself. In fact, his only presence is in conversation. Everybody’s talking about him. The bat and his many ways to make Gotham’s gangsters run for cover. There’s one man, a crazy clown, who talks about killing The Bat. And it’s his entrance that is truly special. Heath Ledger would go on to win an Oscar for his work as The Joker, and this moment would live on not only as the best of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, but of all the movies in which the Caped Crusader patrolled the streets of Gotham.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With temperatures on the rise and Comic-Con officially over, there is one place comic book fans can still find solace in the middle of these hot summer months – your local movie theaters. Christopher Nolan is poised to complete his epic Batman trilogy with the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, set to hit theaters this weekend. Not only will Christian Bale be returning as Gotham’s caped crusader, he will once again be joined by his trusty butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), his business manager/tech wizard, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Batman champion, Commission Gordon (Gary Oldman) – to name a few. And in true Nolan fashion, some other faces familiar to the director’s work will help round out this final battle with Inception alums Tom Hardy taking on the villain role as Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as hopeful police officer, John Blake. But Nolan’s affinity for working with those he has before does not stop at the cast. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight composer Hans Zimmer (whose score for Inception was one of the most memorable of 2010) returns to finish out the trilogy as well. While most of us will have to wait until this Friday (or for you late-nighters, Thursday at midnight) to see the conclusion of this heroic tale, Zimmer’s score (now available) takes us there now.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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