Required Reading: A Personal Roller Coaster Ride and Batman vs Batman

By  · Published on June 26th, 2014

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The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere.

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“A Personal Story: Peter Sciretta and The Forbidden Journey” – Peter Sciretta at Slashfilm speaks vulnerably about a difficult change he had to make to his life and the Harry Potter ride that awaited him at the end (or the midway point) of the tunnel.

“Summer of ’89: Batman” – Kenji Fujishima at Slant Magazine compares/contrasts a tale of two Gothams, prompting me to watch a double feature of Eyes Without a Face and The Dark Knight.

“Take the Joker in Burton’s Batman and Nolan’s The Dark Knight. There’s a telling difference in the way Burton’s Joker describes himself to Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) as an “artist” who deals in anarchy, compared to the “agent of chaos” self-designation of Nolan’s Joker; compared to Nicholson’s lordly lip-smacking (it’s as if the character takes great pleasure in savoring every crime he commits and scheme he plans), Heath Ledger’s demented clown is merely a portrait of crazed hysteria. (Even their villainous makeup reflects this, as Nicholson’s is more immaculate than Ledger’s messier own.)

Neither Joker is really imbued with much depth beyond their relation to the hero (though Nolan doesn’t even give his Joker the connection to Bruce Wayne’s early familial trauma that screenwriter Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren did in Burton’s film; Nolan’s Joker remains a glorified philosophical emblem from start to finish). Both, however, hold the same contemptuous view of humanity, and they express it in remarkably similar ways. One could see, say, the climactic two-boat “social experiment” in The Dark Knight as a vastly more sophisticated outgrowth of Joker throwing out wads of money during Gotham’s 250th-birthday celebration in Batman.

“How to Save Indie Distribution in 5 Easy Steps” – BitTorrent’s Straith Schreder (who I believe is the villain in the new TMNT movie) guest blogs for Indiewire to share thoughts on their experiment with Alamo Drafthouse Films and a new vision for digital distribution. The core issue? That none of this offers a safeguard against the oversaturated market that the piece evokes in its opening.

“The 10 Best Documentaries About LGBT History” – Daniel Walber at Nonfics offers a collection of titles to add to your queue, and his choice for #1 will probably not surprise anyone.

“Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and the rise and fall of Hollywood’s happiest couple” – Matthew Dessem at The Dissolve extensively chronicles why an inseparable pair of creators broke apart against the face of artistic immortality. An amazing read.

“The impending split seems to have liberated the duo in both good ways and bad. Their fights got worse; ashtrays and telephone books were thrown. Production assistant William Schorr remembered that after viewing dailies of Norma Desmond’s beauty treatments, which Brackett had written simply and Wilder extended into something grotesque and necrotic, the two men came to blows in the screening room. But besides being a masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard is also the purest combination of the best things both men brought to their partnership: Wilder’s cynicism, wit, and nastiness; Brackett’s doomed romanticism and sense that an older way of life was under assault by modernity. It’s hard not to see something of their relationship’s anxieties, watching Joe Gillis’ talent slowly throttled as he’s forced to collaborate with Norma Desmond.

The script came together that winter; Brackett, in one of his most crucial acts as Wilder’s producer, talked Gloria Swanson into appearing in the film, and over the spring and summer of 1949, Brackett and Wilder made their last movie. There were reshoots in January 1950, the film opened in August, and Brackett and Wilder’s career ended with another Academy Award, shared with D.M. Marshman Jr., for Best Writing, Story And Screenplay. Wilder and Marshman entered from one side of the stage, Brackett from the other (as Academy president, he may have been backstage), and Brackett and Wilder were finished.”

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector [email protected] | Writing short stories at Adventitious.