The Dark Knight Rises

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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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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Continuing a yearly tradition that began at the defunct movie blog Spout, this is my 5th annual list of mostly original yet highly unlikely Halloween costume ideas. You can take any of these suggestions if you want, especially if you want to avoid having the same outfit as another person at the party you attend, and particularly if you want something that needs a lot of explanation — these tend to be good conversation starters for people looking for excuses to hit on you. Mostly, though, the following ideas are not to be taken too seriously. Some are really just stupid jokes. But they’re primarily intended to visually remind us of some of the trends, criticisms, immediate icons and zeitgeist of the past year in film. For instance, last year‘s “Forrest Gump wearing an X-Men uniform” costume illustrated 2011’s penchant for Gump-like revisionist history in blockbuster movies. And back in 2008, there was a costume called “Nuke the Fridge.” Sadly, in looking over 2012 for this year’s ideas, I realized that it’s been a very weak year for movie references worth calling back. Where are this year’s “nuke the fridge,” Antichrist fox, “Why cookie Rocket?” and “Winklevi”? Before too long, I might need to spin-off a TV version of this tradition to make it easier on me and more interesting to readers. Because we all know film culture is dead anyway, right?  

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It has been a real treat, hanging out with you all here on Film School Rejects this week, but today I head back home to CriterionCast.com. I won’t be leaving you empty handed, as there have been some excellent links, images and clips going around today that you all should certainly check out.

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Tom Hardy has had a break-out few years, pulling himself out of the ensemble obscurity he found himself in even in larger movies (don’t pretend you picked him out of the line up in Black Hawk Down). Sure, he was solid in the Guy Ritchie and Guy-Ritchie-like films, but it wasn’t until Bronson that he really emerged as a major force in the film fan world. That’s when he became a household name in households that have Terry Gilliam-signed Brazil quads hanging in their foyers. Fortunately, he was able to translate that insider appeal into broad-based worship by stealing scenes in Inception and becoming the man that broke the bat in The Dark Knight Rises (which, ironically, means a giant part of the movie-going world still doesn’t know what he looks like). He’s proven himself fearless, and like many actors, he’s had an unusual road to get to the top. In a way, he’s a That Guy character actor who’s become a leading man, so let’s take a short, strange trip into the roles of his rising career. It begins in the ancient time of 2001.

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The Dark Knight Rises

UPDATED: Eagle-eyed reader John Couture notes in the comments that the release date has since been deleted from the WB YouTube page. Was it a mistake? Did someone jump the gun too soon? We’ll let you know when a more official word is out! Considering that Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises came out way back in July, you’d be tempted to think Warner Bros. was fresh out of trailers for the film. Wrong! The studio has now (quite slyly) put up a new trailer on their YouTube page, one which teases that we should be on the lookout for the film to hit Blu-ray and Digital Download soon. Tantalizing, right? Well, the studio also put the film’s home video release date in the description of the trailer, so it seems like we might not need to be as eagle-eyed as the video lets on. The Dark Knight Rises will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital Download on December 3, 2012. So far, there’s no word on any special features, but we’ll keep you updated when they are announced, perhaps via a well-placed billboard or a viral campaign. Check out the “trailer” for the home video release for The Dark Knight Rises after the break.

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Culture Warrior

The upcoming election might make the air feel a bit more politicized than it usually does, but there’s one arena that is investigated and interrogated for its supposedly partisan leanings far more often than every four years: the mainstream entertainment industry. Hollywood and prime-time television are continually called into question for supposedly left-leaning tendencies. Hell, there are even entire websites that profit off the flimsy thesis that Hollywood is an evil institution devoted to the full-scale indoctrination of feeble young minds into sullying the name of Ayn Rand and buying Priuses (Priusi?). However, the latest accusation made toward Hollywood as a liberal indoctrination machine came from an unlikely source: Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine. While it’s interesting to hear these points articulated from a self-defined liberal rather than a conservative culture warrior (yes, I’m well aware of the irony of my column name when I write stories like this) who stands to benefit more from the critique, Chait makes several of the same stumbles that conservatives encounter when voicing this familiar argument, like failing to provide a stable definition of what institutions the term “Hollywood” describes or an adequate explanation for the process by which an institution made up of mostly liberal people actually translates into liberal products.

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All in all, this was a decent summer. There were plenty of highs and lows, with zero grand achievements for either sides of that scale. We could argue endlessly about what movies lived up to the hype or which ones totally blew it, but where’s the fun in having that conversation for the thousandth time over twitter? What we all should be discussing is the important stuff, like, how sad Damon Lindelof‘s Twitter feed could get this summer or how many ounces of man sweat we think Matthew McConaughey shed in Magic Mike? These are the real topics worthy of discussion, ’cause who cares why Vickers didn’t run a few feet to the right to easily save her life in Prometheus? Or how on earth Batman survived that nuclear blast when we clearly saw him in The Bat before the blast? These are details we all need to let go of. What you all really need to know is who came out as the winners and losers of this summer season, and I’m here to tell you who.

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Behind the Hollywood Sign

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the nightly movie news column that cares… We begin this evening with an image from “Behind the Hollywood Sign,” a photo project from photographer Ted VanCleave that takes you up close and personal with Hollywood’s mountain-top moniker. It’s a gorgeous set of photos by any standard, and a great look at one of the iconic markers of the film industry.

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Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was king of the hill for three weeks, but this weekend found it at the bottom of an inescapable prison. By “inescapable prison,” I mean in 3rd place with another $19.5m and a cumulative $835m worldwide gross, so no one is eating soup and cabbage at Warners or anything. The Campaign – featuring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis punching babies for votes – took 2nd with an opening draw of $27.4m domestic. The unsurprising winner, however, was The Bourne Legacy which scored $40.2m here in the States and a worldwide total of $48m. That’s a better opening than The Bourne Identity but it’s a bit behind the two other franchise entries. Again, not surprising. In slightly smaller releases, the Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones marriage drama Hope Springs came in 4th place with 1,000 or so fewer theaters, taking $15.6m. Travis Pastrana’s stunt-fueled Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D took $1.1m from 800 theaters for a debut at 13th place, but in super limited releases, Julie Delpy’s follow-up 2 Days in New York brought in $27,000 on only 2 screens, beating the per screen average of every other movie this week. A close second on that front? The US release of Max and the Junkmen (Max et les Ferrailleurs) which earned $13,000 off just one screen at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center, only 41 years after its original release abroad. [Box Office Mojo]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to having a bit of fun before sending you off to bed. And we don’t care if you ate your vegetables, we’re always down for dessert. We begin this evening with a first image from Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, in which Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion play Verges and Dogberry, respectively. It’s that film Whedon just sort of made. He does fun things when he’s not making the highest grossing movie of the year and all that.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies and other interesting things currently being written by someone who is far more enthralled with Olympic gymnastics. He also watches beach volleyball, because why not? We begin this evening’s somewhat slim edition of News After Dark with the first look at Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in The Girl, HBO’s look at the storied relationship between the director and his one-time muse.

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Do we define ourselves by the art we love? Why do we get so defensive when it’s attacked? To answer that, I invite critic Eric D. Snider (who recently received a death threat for his fake, negative review of The Dark Knight Rises) to ask if he can empathize with the kind of passion that leads someone to get angry with a stranger on the internet who disagrees. Download Episode #142

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a column about things and stuff. Mostly movies, a little television, all worth reading. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better assortment of things to read without having to dig through the same story 35 times in your RSS reader. We do that part for you. We begin this evening with a first look at Cloud Atlas, the upcoming film from the Wachowskis and director Tom Tykwer. This one features a man (Tom Hanks) who comes into contact with an emissary from an alien world. They both look frightened.

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The Dark Knight Rises

On Monday our own Robert Fure presented you with his list of 11 Things That Didn’t Work in The Dark Knight Rises. And our beloved commenters demanded balance. How could we possibly deliver such bias? Little did you all know that the following day would bring my own assessment of 11 Things That Did Work in The Dark Knight Rises, citing all the things that Christopher Nolan did right in his quest to close down his Batman trilogy. But now that all doesn’t seem like enough. A two-hour and forty five minute film can’t just be an assembly of parts either great or terrible. It’s not a coin to be flipped from one side to the other. There’s nuance in there. Details that exist in the gray. There are at least 11 Things That Were Just Okay in The Dark Knight Rises. And once we’ve listed those things, we’ll have covered it with true balance. Obligatory Warning: The following points are meant to be discussed following a viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. Nothing will be held back for the sake of spoilers. You’ve been warned. 

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about… well, the title is pretty self explanatory, is it not? We begin this evening with a shot at some concept art for The Wolverine, the James Mangold directed, Hugh Jackman starring film that has some high hopes following the mess that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. We can see some Japanese prison things, some samurai stuff and all kinds of amber hues. So far, so good.

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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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The Dark Knight Rises

For most films, one viewing and one review is more than enough. It’s rare for a film to come along that — no matter how well it works — demands a second viewing and perhaps additional discussion. The Dark Knight Rises is certainly one of those films. This has a lot to do with the fact that it’s closing Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy. A trilogy that I saw the other day was being hailed as “The Godfather Trilogy of Our Generation.” That’s taking things a bit far, but the emotion and fan dedication around this trilogy is certainly unprecedented. At least since that story in a galaxy far, far away. Yesterday our own Robert Fure gave you a list of 11 Things That Didn’t Work in The Dark Knight Rises. And he’s some great points. There was a lot that did not work. As I explained in my own disappointed review last week, this film is a right mess. Christopher Nolan made plenty of uncharacteristic decisions in bringing his trilogy to a close. But upon a second viewing this weekend with a group of friends, I realized that The Dark Knight Rises is too big a movie to be one way or the other. I still absolutely stand by every word of my review and agree with the points that Robert brought up yesterday, but I feel as if there is an entire list of things that did work. Because this is that kind of movie. Big enough to have plenty of good to go with the […]

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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 Dark Knight Rises

According to Box Office Mojo, The Dark Knight Rises ended its weekend run with $160.8m in domestic box office, which means it outdid all the other Batman movies, but failed to break any other records. If there were a battle between the superhero titans, The Avengers definitely won it with its top-of-the-hill $207m opening weekend. Not that it should matter to fans, considering these ultra high numbers mean Marvel isn’t quitting any time soon, and Warners is nowhere near done with Batman. After all, The Dark Knight went on to score over a billion dollars and become the 4th highest domestically grossing movie of all time (without inflation adjustment). It’s high up there, and its sequel just outdid its opening weekend by $2m. There’s no doubt that the third in the series has a great starting pace to clear a billion as well. Plus, its foreign take so far is $248.8m which is far above The Dark Knight’s opening worldwide score of $199.7m. It cleared by $2m domestically, but the opening foreign box office was almost double this time around. So, absolutely no one was surprised this weekend by the large numbers. The Catwoman spin-off rumors can begin.

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