Cinecast Episode 93 – Apples and Oranges

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Sorry for the delay here kids. Had some MAJOR technical difficulties over the past week or so (including after we recorded the show). It’s been some dark nights. But we’re back now. Well sort of. Our little audio widget is proving to be very uncooperative. I told Kurt not to feed it after midnight, but he responded, “fuck Joe Dante and his little superstitions” and did it anyway. The show can be streamed from this site only at the moment. Please use the little Audio button below, click the central Podcast display in the masthead (in between Featured Article and Reviews images).

This Episode: The Dark Knight (a bit SPOILERIFIC) and a little bit of Hellboy II.

Click the little Audio Icon until we get our Widget back in order:

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/episode93.mp3

Unwrap the complete Show Notes…

Show notes for Cinecast Episode #93

  • Intro music: :00 – 3:44
  • Opening B.S.: :44 – 2:09
  • The Dark Knight (with a bit of Hellboy II): 2:10 – 1:01:55
  • Closing: 1:01:56 – 1:03:39
  • Outro music: 1:00:40 – 1:05:24

Bumper Music by “The Blasters” and “The Why Store”


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Hellboy II

Row Three posts:
R3view
Viral Marketing Gone Insane
Product Marketing of Hellboy II
Ron Perlman talks Hellboy III?


The Dark Knight

Row Three posts:
R3view
A Dark Rant (After the Credits Podcast)
Michael Bay’s rejected Dark Knight script



 
A Ghostbusters essay at SpoutBlog
 


Comments or questions?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or email us:
feedback@rowthree.com (general)
andrew@rowthree.com
kurt@rowthree.com
– – Kurt’s BLOG

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swarez
Guest

Where the hell is the little "Audio" icon?

Shannon the Movie Mo
Guest

Top centre between featured and rotating review image/link?

John Allison
Editor

I've put the icon in manually. Some people may see it twice others will only see it once. I'll see if I can figure out what is happening to the player as soon as possible.

But yes like Shannon said. If you can't see the icon in the post itself you can always just use the player in the top header.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Tony Scott (NYTimes) on the why The Dark Knight is possibly the peak (meaning the beginning of a decline) of superhero flicks: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/movies/24supe.h

Henrik
Guest

Kurt don't make the mistake of claiming Frank Miller as an influence on The Dark Knight. Batman Begins was the adolescent Frank Miller batman, darker than dark, dumber than dumb. The Dark Knight is injected with the brains of Alan Moore (specifically the joker in this case), and Jeph Loeb. Both much better authors (and people) than Frank Miller.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Fair enough Henrik. I'm no expert.

swarez
Guest

Batman Begins is very much influenced by Miller's Batman Year One. Gary Oldman's look as Gordon is almost exactly like Gordon from that comic.

Henrik
Guest

That's what I said.

rot
Guest

I see the Funny Games correlation and maybe that is why I feel very strongly that the next installment needs to have Michael Pitt as The Riddler, further ingratiating itself to the Funny Games universe.

I know there was the suggestion of Catwoman appearing but the only way you can top this is with a Joker/Riddler combo, chaos and calculation.

On another podcast someone posed Paul Bettany as a candidate to play the Joker and I think that could work, although Crispin Glover comes predisposed to play him.

rot
Guest

Also Andrew, the deliberately obscured the driver in the chase sequence because that was Gordon.

Henrik
Guest

I definitely think Funny Games is way better than The Dark Knight. I can only dream of a Joker that is terrifying like the burglars in Funny Games. Alas, it still has to be accesible for kids, I fear The Dark Knight is as close to anything truly interesting that we're going to get.

And I doubt they will be able to follow it up with anything nearly as good. Alot of people seem to agree looking back, that it is the Harvey Dent-thread and character that elevates the film. I agree with this. But it's used now. There's no other batman storyline that comes close to being as interesting as the Harvey Dent one (which is saying something, since it's not really mindblowing stuff, nevertheless it's the best one). I wonder what they would put in a new one.

Henrik
Guest

"Also Andrew, the deliberately obscured the driver in the chase sequence because that was Gordon."

Of course, but I will give Andrew that it seems insanely weird for the co-driver just to go along with this mute, masked driver, and not alert anybody.

Kurt
Guest

@Henrik – because the script made the other cop not do the sensible thing. Actually a lot of TDK's schemes and convoluted events work for the sake of moving the story forward and no other reason besides.

Henrik
Guest

I agree. It's the major weakness of the film that for all its high-fallutin' moral dilemmas and its attempt to delve into complicated themes, nothing in it really makes any sense.

But I still liked it. Few movies make sense anyway, so it's sort of a given. With action movies, it's probably the case that not a single one of them made sense.

Kurt
Guest

Indeed. I'm sure there are dozens of exceptions, but for the most part, spot on Henrik.

Swarez
Guest

I'm wondering if the driver was supposed to be Gordon and they cut out some material that either gave it away too early or simply didn't work.

It was either something like that or Nolan did it on purpose to fuck with the viewer cause I'm sure everyone noticed how strange that set up was.

Ross Miller
Guest

Haha! Nice use of the opening song of From Dusk Till Dawn – started listening and was wondering, "Oh, that's the song from From Dusk Till Dawn, wonder why." And then he sings "it's a dark night" and I was like, "OOOOOHHH":P

…nice….

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

It's the lyric "people sitting on porches

thinking how things used to be" that tends to apply to the new Batman's films tendency to go some places that comic book movies haven't gone before that sold it. Plus the obvious chorus, plus I know Andrew has a tendency for guitar licks to 'kick-off' the show, so it was an easy sell to get him to use it.

Cheers.

Ross Miller
Guest

Plus there's NEVER a bad time to reference the awesome From Dusk Till Dawn:)

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

So, I took in THE DARK KNIGHT again the other day, and what struck me immediately is just how much it wears its message on its sleeve. It's actually kinda clunky compared to something like No Country for Old Men or Zodiac (I don't know why this should surprise me…)

Also, the once Aaron Ekhart becomes TWO FACE, his performance runs to shit. The clumsily handling stood out.

But a couple things I missed first time around:

The 'flaming obstacle' the Joker and company use to block the police escort/convoy of Dent was a Fire Truck on fire. What a great image for the Joker's schemes and plans. Can't believe I missed that first time around. Very Nice.

I think they are underselling the IMAX portion of the film. Wow, this looks fabulous, and there is a lot of changes back and forth from 2.35:1 to IMAX aspect ratio which was surprisingly not distracting in the least.

Finally, I noticed just how fabulous Christian Bale is as Bruce Wayne and just how 'meh' he is as Batman.

Ross Miller
Guest

@Kurt,

The Dark Knight was even better for me the second time I watched it. I gave it the full 5/5 the first time but there were all these little added bonuses, if you will, that just flew over my head the first time that were blatant this time. Plus most of the weaknesses, not that there were many for me, weren't as bad the second time either – the whole two boats conundrum, some of the things The Joker said that didn't make sense before, a lot of the sub-plots; they all seemed to work a lot better in the repeat viewing.

However my biggest problem STILL remains – how they finished/tackled the Two Face story. SPOILER AHEAD – They didn't allow him to become a pure "villain" as he is supposed to be. I mean when he turns from Dent to Two Face all he does is kill people who have done things wrong; corrupt cops and the people who (he thinks anyway) were responsible for what happened to him. His character felt kind of jammed in there, despite the necessity for him (if that makes any sense). Still it wasn't anything to weigh the movie down for me substantially and it's still the best comic book movie ever made and still a 5/5.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I might back my 4.5/5 down to a 4/5, but really, I hate Star Ratings. So ambiguous, and so boring to talk about.

Yes, the Two-face portion felt really, really rushed, I could have used an extra 30 minutes with no complaints.

Also, I have to say that my single favourite image from the film is the Joker in Nurse costume in front of the Hospital, jiggering with his detonator before walking away. Funny. Creepy. And Iconic.

Henrik
Guest

In any interested Batman story, Two-Face has never been a villain like people are apparently wanting him to be. Harvey Dent was always on the edge of the law, with his accident pushing him over to take matters into his own hands, and 'fix' the immediate problem with some violence.

I didn't feel it was rushed. And I was very happy with the fact that for once they had a storyline with a beginning, middle and end rather than the endless boring cliffhangers and tedious setups-for-stuff-that-may-or-may-not-be-done-years-from-now that these movies love.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Henrik "And I was very happy with the fact that for once they had a storyline with a beginning, middle and end rather than the endless boring cliffhangers and tedious setups-for-stuff-that-may-or-may-not-be-done-years-from-now that these movies love."

Well Said.

Ross Miller
Guest

@Henrik,

I see what you're saying but part of me really wanted a cliffhanger more than – SPOILER AHEAD – he just gets pushed off a building and dies (if he is indeed dead but you know; defeated). I'll never forget how spine tingling that final bit of Batman Begins was – "He leaves a calling card — …I'll look into it" That both tied the movie off as it's own but left it open too.

@Kurt,

Absolutely, the way The Joker walks out of the hospital and yes the part where the detonator doesn't work; pure genius. Tied for my favourite scene in the movie is the one in the interrogation room and the hospital scene between The Joker and Two-Face.

Ross Miller
Guest

@Kurt,

Did any of the problems you had the first time around lessen the second time? Did you stil think the boat conundrum part was a problem? At first I thought there would be no way either of the sets of people WOULDN'T blow up the other but watching it again I realised something – For the criminals even though they have killed people before and the like there's a difference between doing it while robbing a bank and killing over 500 people at once. It's effectively genocide, and when thought about not many people would be capable of doing it ie. The Joker is one of the select few.

And the same goes for the civilian boat only more so – they are NOT killers and therefore would have even more of a problem commiting genocide. Since they have no experience in killing people then how COULD they bring themselves to murder hundreds at once?

I think you mentioned it in the cinecast Kurt, it's amazing just how well a film with so many ideas and that's so pessimistic can do. I seriously thought this would make the least amount of money out of the big four (along with Iron Man, Hulk, Indy) but it's looking like it will make the most (it's already made over $300 wordlwide in just 9 days!).

Henrik
Guest

Not to mention all of the rules of the boat thing are made by a crazy madman who any rational human being will realize is not very trustworthy. I think the film didn't represent this point of view at all, which is bad, because seemingly on the internet they can't stop debating this little game, and how unrealistic the outcome is. Christopher Nolan had too much faith in people's ability to think for themselves.

I thought the ending for Batman Begins was easy, breezy and cheesy.

As for the money, the film did have outstanding trailers. Films with outstanding trailers (TDK, 300, Transformers come to mind) all do way more business than they should.

stump
Guest

Ross do you have any idea why certain movies perform well at the box office? I don't.

The discussion comparing HellboyII and TDK is interesting. Kurt is so far off. TDK is so over-inflated, sprawling. Kind of a mess; not a huge mess, but definitely not very tight. The lead actor performs a little on the weak side as well. I don't buy the "more lived-in" thing that Andrew mentioned – a movie needs to be focused…the Hong Kong sequence drags the story down. It doesn't feel like it drags the story, because it's fully of exciting, well shot action scenes, but it does nothing to advance the story…

Why is the not-believable stuff ok? It's not ok to me. I can't go with it. I questioned it. Maybe you didn't, Kurt, but I did!! …

I kind of wish the Fincher comparisons would stop. There are superficial tonal similarities, but these are very different filmmakers. Fincher elevated himself a while back with Fight Club; Nolan still hasn't done it…

When you guys talk about this movie going places no other superhero movie has gone, it seems like you're only referring to where it goes thematically and tonally, and just disregarding the art of filmmaking. In terms of how well the movie was made, talking about film craft, this is only decent, not really that great. I'd say Spiderman II and Hellboy II, and possibly X-Men II and IronMan did a better job at putting together tight, cohesive stories with consistent themes, strong acting, fun action, etc.

Rusty James
Guest

Stump, the Fincher comparisons aren't incidental. There are very specific scenes that remind me of Seven and to a lesser extent Zodiac. I suppose "consistancy" and "cohesion" aren't the film's strong suits. In that way it reminds me of Heat (I forget, is that a film we disagree on?) a film that is also bloated and unwieldy but that's one of things I love about it. It's sprawling structure adds to it's rewatchablity. And in both cases I think the contrived structure works to reinforce the story's themes. Both films are about law man types trying to tame a city that's as unruly and chaotic as their respective storylines.

No way has Brian Singer ever directed a film as good as Dark Knight. Not even close.

Ross Miller
Guest

A-hem, The Usual Suspects?

Rusty James
Guest

Shit, probably Singer's worst film.

Kurt
Guest

Yea, I'm with rusty on the Singer vs. Nolan. Nolan's films have been by far more interesting of the two. The Usual Suspects is entertaining, but it is a bit of a bauble. Many, many films have done the 'unreliable narrator' as good or better. Singer got a game cast and an interesting enough story, but the film is merely good.

@Stump – The way The Dark Knight puts its thematic content up front and center (perhaps a bit too front an center at times), and it gives the entire ecosystem of Gotham to let the thing play out. I loved that Batman felt like just another ensemble player in this film – and that Christian Bale is only so-so while in the suit (that voice modulator thingy undercuts the menace for me) is easily forgivable because there are so many other interesting characters and situations. And I don't really need realism or believability if the film is engaging me on some sort of mental level. While TDK isn't exactly a mensa-workout (it tends to underscore things quite heavily actually), it was refreshingly sticky for a comic book flick.

And it is the grim view of humanity that reminds me of David Fincher's work. Both the frailty of some folks, and the anarchic yet convoluted wiles of the killers (Zodiac, John Doe, etc).

All that being said, I sat down with THE PRESTIGE late last night and I think that is a darker more interesting take on things. I thought the period was richer than Gotham's Chicago look, and while that film also wears a lot of its thematic content on its sleeve, it also plays wonderfully with how far people are willing to go for what they initially think is the reason, but have other reasons buried in the psyche. I'd say that THE PRESTIGE is a better film than THE DARK KNIGHT (albeit marginally).

Now I loved The Dark Knight, and it knocked my socks off in IMAX, but I think the PRESTIGE gave me a greater sense of Wonder, especially the Tesla/Colorado Springs portions of the film, and I loved the temerity (and dark human outlook) of the final act of that film, the fact that it's revelation is more horrifying than wonderful is a testament of that films dark vision.

Ross Miller
Guest

Wow, I thought The Usual Suspects was universally LOVED. In my opinion it's a fantastic film, the tiwst still amazes me every time.

@Kurt,

I would regard it as the other way around – The Dark Knight is better than The Prestige, but marginally. Both of them have such class and sophistication about them, which makes TDK all the better for me because you don't usually see that with comic book films. I just love, like I said before, the pessimistic outlook it has; they definitely nailed the feel of what it SHOULD have been. I agree, Kurt, that it is reminiscent of the feel of Fincher's work (particularly Se7en and Zodiac) and the ideas (of The Joker) are similar to Tyler Durden's in Fight Club. Do you think that was Nolan's intention?

@Rusty James,

I think you nailed it with your comparison to Heat. That IS the very reason why I can watch that film (and now TDK) over and over again, because of it's sprawling nature. In my opinion that's the best way to tell a crime tale ie. have lots of accompanying elements with no real centre stage or main character.

Kurt
Guest

@Stump: The fact that The Dark Knight goes those places more with Tone and Theme over 'craft' (although There are many, many elements of TDK which are finely crafted) is refreshing enough and forgivable if the editing and some other elements are rough around the edges. Many of the last 5 years crop of superhero films are marvellously crafted, I don't mind a messy-but-interesting non-usual structure ever now and again, actually, I find it quite invigorating. I found the Dark Knight ticked my fancy as a thematic movie, not an emotional one.

The Harvey Dent / Rachel Dawes relationship wasn't sold, it was simply told to the audience. A couple scenes with them holding hands isn't enough to really make me believe. Contrast this with Naomi Harris and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice, where their sex-scene had such a level of intimacy and emotional grace-notes.

I actually got more of an emotional kick from the heavy handed emotional bits in Hancock.

That still doesn't stop TDK from being a very, very good film, NOT a super-duper-bestest-film-ever great one in my book, but very, very good and I think a high water mark for the superhero film.

Kurt
Guest

@Ross, no, I think that Nolan and Fincher just like to play in the same (quite large actually) sandbox.

This may be a bit controversial, but I think The Prestige is better because it is bloodier and more personal than The Dark Knight which is more the battle for Gotham's (and hence society at large) soul.

The prestige is more on the individual level, but it still has (and I love this aspect) the nature of when science is on the cusp of looking like magic. And the nature of what an individual can handle before the shut down or rebel against the 'awesomeness' of the unknown (barely known) aspects of nature. I liked that one of the recurring story elements is that in order to progress one has to really get their hands dirty and make some particularly nasty sacrifices. Personally, I'm not going to make those sacrifices myself, and (often, but not always) I watch movies to go places that I'd per personally unwilling (or unable) to go.

Ross Miller
Guest

@Kurt,

actually you make a good point about Rachel and Dent, in retrospect it wasn't as convincing as it probably should have been.

However I would still hold it MUCH higher than you do Kurt (still rating it 5/5, although I know you hate star ratings:P) and even some of the weaknesses don't hold me back from giving it that. It's just so great to see a film in such a genre have so many unusual and unexpected elements, I really hope it continues from here on out.

Ross Miller
Guest

***SPOILERS****

@Kurt,

With The Prestige a lot of the people get too hung up on the twist, it's not the WHOLE point of the movie. They seem to forget to mention all of the other fantastic elements – cinematography, tone, acting etc – and just say, "I saw the twist coming". When you think about the twist actually, even though it might have been a bit easy to see coming, when you REALLY think about it it's actually bordering on genius. Not just for the outcome of it but all the elements that make it up (kind of like a magic trick in general) ie. the focus and determination it would take for – SPOILER AHEAD – two brothers to live one single life and one having to sacrifice himself for the other. Just brilliant stuff.

Kurt
Guest

Because it is a 'magician' movie, that people are looking for an extra layer of trick – and that it is besides the point can get some folks hung up. The movie (amusingly) actually says this TWICE in the dialogue of the film, sometime it is that simple, but you've got to dress it up because the trick is not the interesting part. I think the movie gives up its 'trick' well into the film and again that is besides the point.

But. The fact that how it is done is actually incredibly marvellous and powerful and 'strange' adds to the craziness of the film.

And I really, really love David Bowie's Nicola Tesla who I wish was in the film more actually.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

While I'm on the subject of the PRESTIGE, I love how the two magician rivalry of the best illusion is echoed by the Edison-Tesla rivalry over the best application mode of electricity (DC vs. AC). The real Edison/Tesla conflict was apparently pretty nasty.

Ross Miller
Guest

Exactly. The movie goddamn TELLS you that a trick on it's own is simple and therefore if you knew it then the trick wouldn't be any good, worthless basically. It's the dressing up of the film's 'trick' that is the really impressive part. The more I think about that movie the more I love it. It was one of those movies that everyone raved about the first time around but gave it a lot of backlash because of, again, the twist being too easy to see coming.

And yeah that was a great aspect to the film, the fact that you know another rivalry (albeit not in the same field) is going on at the same time as the one we're concentrating on.

"The real Edison/Tesla conflict was apparently pretty nasty."

Of course it would be:P Think of what they were trying to invent and claim as their own!:P Now where would we be without THAT?:P

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Christian Bale movies with twists. The Machinist (directed by Brad Anderson) doesn't even attempt to hide its ostensible twist, because the twist is not even remotely the point of the movie. The twist (if done well) usually results in box-office $$$ and good word of mouth, but a good movie needs to be good beyond the simple twist ending to last in the popular culture…I think…Although I can't explain the resilience of The 6th Sense though…

Back to the Harvey/Rachel thing in The Dark Knight. They never, ever sold Wayne/Rachel in Batman Begins either. While many would blame the actress Katie Holmes, I think it was also the pretty shoddy screenplay of Batman Begins. Certainly it was one of the few things that were not 'fixed' in The Dark Knight. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a much better actress, and gives the assistant D.A. a bit more sass, but ultimately the script just glosses over any real intimacy/love/feelings between Dent and Dawes or Wayne and Dawes, it merely tells you, tells you, tells you. Bad filmmaking, that.

Ross Miller
Guest

I totally agree. It's vey rare for a movie to be long-lasting after 10, 20, 30 years…by just riding on the back of the twist. I actually really like The Sixth Sense (I know you don't) but I admit it's appeal has dropped substantially over the years. I love the tone and some of the scares of the film, that's why I haven't turned on it as I might some. But imo Unbreakable is an INFINITELY better flick.

I think it was maybe a combination of both with Batman Begins. Holmes is a crap actress (why the HELL they cast her in the first place is totally beyond me) but it was also the screenplay that was to blame too. Begins is a film I love to death in spite of it's flaws – one major one being the screenplay and how cheesy it is sometimes eg. the scene where Rachel slaps Bruce:P However I think TDK improves on it in pretty much every way (not taking any of my love away for BB), which was the aim they said. Nolan said something along the lines of, "Why make the sequel if you're not going to do it better?" He certainly did in my books.

So, Kurt, what do you think is Nolan's best? The Prestige? I personally still think Memento (which is also easily in my top 20 films of all time). Any film that can tell it's story backwards and make it work is a winner in my book. And of course Guy Pierce is fantastic in it.

Henrik
Guest

I agree that Memento is by far his best film.

And I also think that Nikola Tesla should have been more in The Prestige, I loved him on screen.

But I keep comparing TDK to Batman Begins (probably his worst film), and everything is better. So I don't complain about a weak love story, I give them props for taking a shit property, and turning it watchable.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

Unbreakable is indeed an significantly better film than The Sixth Sense – in every possible way. The film just holds on almost every level – acting, craft, story, theme, visuals, etc. and I guess it is M. Nights best film, although I'm hardly an expert having not seen his pre-6th films or The Village at this point. Unbreakable is certainly the only one I own and the only one I'll likely revisit regularly.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

Memento has the advantage of being small, lean and very mean. I love the 'bigger scope' (the science vs. magic and society's acceptance of either/both) of The Prestige. I'd be hard pressed to decided between the two. They are both great.

They are certainly dark, angry little film that aim to really mess with the audience during viewing.

Ross Miller
Guest

I would say Insomnia is Nolan's worst film (although it's still a worthwile little flick). There was something that didn't sit quite right with me, it never felt like it was all it could have been. Hiowever there's some nice performances from the two main players.

I have seen all of Shyamalan's films from The Sixth Sense onwards. Lady in the Water is UNDOUBTEDLY his worst (what a terrible film) but The Village ain't far behind (and The Happening…well you know my feelings about that one). I LOVE Unbreakable, quite like Signs and really like The Sixth Sense. I sincerely hope he hasn 't completely lost his game though, the last few gos have NOT been good to him:P

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

I'd say Batman Begins is easily is worst film, it's the only films he's directed that I've not liked (I've not seen Following, but I do have a VHS copy kicking around somewheres).

I like both versions of Insomnia. They're both excellent films. And an interesting lesson in the difference between Al Pacino on low simmer and Stellan Skarsgard on angry-nutbar simmmer).

Rusty James
Guest

Kurt, you should be the guy who insists Wide Awake is MNS's best film.

As much as Lady in the Water is an advancement in bad filmology I'd still have to give the edge to The Happening as his worst. If only because its' another opportunity to tell you people you're all crazy.

Nolan's hard to say. Best film is maybe Prestige and I guess I'd agree that Batman Begins is his worst. I loved it in the theater but I don't feel like it's held up very well.

It's hard to compare those types of films to something like the Following though.

Henrik
Guest

Rusty how old are you?

Rusty James
Guest

27