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July 19, 2008

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It was a really well-done superhero/crime movie, but its attempts at dealing with post-9/11, post-Iraq security politics were simultaneously inescapable, heavy-handed and muddled. I'm still not sure exactly what the essential thesis is, but I'm darned sure that Nolan intended there to be one.

When Christian Bale was doing the talk show rounds in the UK for the first Batman movie, he apparently kept in accent and when one host asked him about it, he explained. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what that explanation was (from reading various comments, it was either that he didn't want to ruin the character for people who were going to watch the movie, or that he felt an obligation to stay in accent while flogging the movie) Some people though he was being a jerk, others thought this was a tribute to his committment to method acting. I'd be interested if anyone knows where he said this and what they think.

Saw it last night, but not in IMAX. The movie itself was great, but Ledger's Joker was the acting equivalent of a force of nature. I was mesmerized by his performance every moment the Joker was on screen.

My open thread topic is the band Coldplay.

Keith Urban was on the radio during this morning’s breakfast singing ‘Who wouldn’t want to be me?’ The kiddies were eating their food as Keith sang. Around the time Keith was recording his song he was engaging in some sort of behavior that ended him up in rehab. Keith is on the cover of magazines these days with a strained smile. He’s got an attractive wife but I suspect that he is impotent.

The Batman Joker-guy is dead from similar behavior. And popular society is celebrating him. Popular society is flawed.

The last two CDs I’ve purchased were Warren Zevon’s last one (great) and the new Coldplay one (better than Zevon, with deep respect). I wrote a letter of thanks to Warren Zevon as he was dying. I regret never sending it.

But Coldplay is better than Zevon. Both in the mechanics and the message. I’ve convinced myself that the first song, along with the opening chord of the second, although there are no words, represents the history of Western civilization.

Coldplay makes the Joker look trivial, which he was. Thoughts with the fatherless daughter, who didn’t do anything wrong.

This is funny. Notice there's no actual content to this post "by Donald H. Rumsfeld." It's just variants of "best wishes!" stretched to fill 120 words or so.

But I'm sure Don is eagerly egoscanning the comments for signs of approval from RedState regulars.

There really should be more congratulations on his successful strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, though, shouldn't there be?

He’s got an attractive wife but I suspect that he is impotent.

They just had a baby together, dummy.

The Batman Joker-guy is dead from similar behavior. And popular society is celebrating him. Popular society is flawed.

Elitist.

You would like Coldplay, though.

Damn. I wanted an open thread, and now I have to go away till I've watched Obsidian Wing's Movie Of The Week. :-(

OTOH, this makes a really good excuse for going to the cinema tonight...

Dark Knight is my favorite of all of the Batman movies. I worried when I listened to NPR; however, I realize that his experience and my experience are too dissimilar for there to be any common ground. I realize now what he was looking for. Jack Nicholson's giggling but comprehensible murdering prankster. Well he won't get that from Ledger.

And now the movie review. Hell. Here's the short version. Go see it. It is intense. And the humor is so bleak, so dark, so utterly primal that at least one reviewer missed it. No there is no merry prankster here, there is the jester, the black fool, who through his antics reveals what we are as people, for good and for ill.

There is no laughter here, only tears of the truth of the jokes that we humans have made of us all.

Some of my friends have decried the ending, and without getting too spoiler, it is definitely some of the weaker moments, but I think it is only in retrospect to the entire movie does the ending feel so weak.

Dick Cheney’s daughter has (is expecting) a child too Phil. I could explain the mechanics. And, although I am not an evangelical Christian, I suspect that there are more evangelical Christians than popular people.

So you are the dummy elitist.

I tend to dislike superhero movies, myself. Just can't be bothered with the genre. Might be willing to to another Batman, tho', if it lives up to the hype I've vaguely heard... tho' I hesitate, as the story is somewhat tired.

However, in any case, no ciné for me tonight; I've ultra-dense (yet slightly cakey) cream cheese brownies to bake, as my contribution to a potluck. I've reason to suspect most of the guestlist will be Desi... mmmmmmm... good times.

Just see it.

Seriously.

I was skeptical of the hype too. But Ledger's performance as Joker should go down in history. There does not ever need to be another Batman movie made with the Joker in it. It would be redundant. This is everything that made the Joker brutally horrifying in some of the graphic novels distilled into a performance that I can't imagine someone doing without tapping into something terrible in the dark places of their soul.

So many great performances. Everyone was pitch-perfect, including Dent I thought. I was riveted for the entire length of the movie--and it is long--and left the theater feeling vaguely violated an definitely unsettled.

****SPOILER****

My favorite Joker bit is probably in the beginning where he bombs into this group of mob guys and starts talking smack. This one tough boss tells a hench to kick the freak out, and Joker--ignoring the goon--goes: "Now for my next trick, I'm going to make this pencil disappear," as he stabs the pencil point-down into the table and makes wavy hand gestures at it. When the goon tries to grab him, he does this neat evade and smoothly slams the goon's head down on the table, burying the pencil in his eye and tossing him aside like a sack of potatoes with this "ta dah" look.

He’s got an attractive wife but I suspect that he is impotent.

I gotta say, somehow it's gotten to the point where I'm enjoying my daily dose of the brick oven man. Kind of the Bill Burroughs of the suburbs.

Rave on, my friend.

I’ve convinced myself that the first song, along with the opening chord of the second, although there are no words, represents the history of Western civilization.

Yeah, but they said that about the Tristan chord. Then it was 12 tone serial composition that was gonna be the summing of the Western canon.

Plus ca change.

Coldplay's a pretty good pop band I guess. I used to like hearing "Yellow" on the top forty rotation when I used to hit the treadmill at the Y.

That "Viva La Vida" thing, though, is way too 80's for my taste. Are you sure these guys aren't just a rebranded "Aha"?

Zevon: the man could write a song.

But here's what I really want to know:

When is Phineas Newborn gonna get some love?

Who even knows who Edgar Bateman is anymore?

Why aren't Elvin Jones' cymbals in the damned Smithsonian?

Where is Henry Threadgill's genius grant?

Don Pullen, gone in '95. George Adams, gone in '92. Fred Hopkins, gone in '99. Jaki Byard, shot dead in '99.

I'm telling you, the great ones are passing from among us even now, and noone even notices.

Popular society is flawed.

I heard that twice.

Thanks -

>>what obvious suspicion is raised by seeing it in IMAX?

Hey there, missy, are you snarking about the angle at which my participle dangled? Or was my exposition really that muddled?

An open thread is a perfect opportunity! For introductions, that is. I mean, in case you saw me comment and wondered, "Who the heck is that smarta**?"

So, without further delay, I'm Drew, and I've been lurking here for a few months. I finally decided to grace you with my (lack of) wisdom and experience. Feel free to ridicule as necessary. ^.^

Feel free to ridicule as necessary.

You won't get any ridicule.

No abuse, either. That's Barnard, in 12.

Try 12A.

If it's unclear where I'm going with this, somebody else (jes?) will fill you in.

Thanks -

I'm not reading this thread, in case I get spoilered for the Dark Knight, so I am unable to respond helpfully to russell's comment.

Otherwise, welcome aboard! The one on the right is on the left, the one on the left is on the right, the one in the middle is Hilzoy and the one in the rear... burned his driver's license.

Getting back to The Dark Knight (***WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD), I've got to say that the scene between Batman and the Joker in the interrogation room was possibly the most electrifying and titanic meeting of enemies since Pacino and De Niro met for coffee in Heat. I don't get frightened or disturbed by movies very easily, but that scene had me shivering.

LJ: When Bale was on Fresh Air around the time when Batman Begins was coming out, Terry said something like, "Hey, aren't you from Wales? I guess you've been in the States for awhile"--you know, noting his lack of accent--and Bale responded that his respect for the Bat-character was so total and all-consuming that he couldn't possible give a Bat-interview in anything but an American accident. Terry quickly changed the subject, I think. To me--it made me realize he's a massive doofus, but other interpretations are possible.

What Catsy said. With all respect to Jack Nicholson, this introduction to the Joker (another earlier scene aside) beats "Wait 'til they get a load of me" all to heck. More true to the comics, in which the Joker was originally a psychotic bank robber, which is exactly what he is here.

"Watchmen" trailer on the big screen = OMFG OMFG OMFG OMFG

Dick Cheney’s daughter has (is expecting) a child too Phil. I could explain the mechanics.

Either present solid evidence that Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman's* child is not the biological child of both of them, or give your armchair psychoanalysis a rest just for once.

*(Yeah, his "attractive wife" has both her own name and a career. I know those are both threatening concepts to you, but do try to deal.)

And, although I am not an evangelical Christian, I suspect that there are more evangelical Christians than popular people.

Cite, please.

So you are the dummy elitist.

Bill, each day that someone of your sort thinks I'm a dummy, my heart grows two sizes.

So you are the dummy elitist.

Asking for suggestions/input . . .

My 9-year-old son has caught the reading bug. Taking cues from a classics list he obtained at the orientation for his new school this fall, he just finished reading the Invisible Man.

The other night, he mentioned the Red Badge of Courage as also being on the list. I certainly don't want to discourage him but I remember reading this in fifth or sixth grade, not fourth, and I know he doesn't have more than a very general knowledge of the Civil War.

Perhaps he's smarter than I thought.

Anyhow, any reading suggestions? I'm thinking Huck Finn, maybe the Old Man and the Sea. His tastes seem pretty eclectic: the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has become his favorite.

Re: Batman -- I read or heard that the PG-13 rating may be a little soft. Gary, what say you?

To me--it made me realize he's a massive doofus, but other interpretations are possible.

He seems to have made similar comments on UK talk shows, but, from comments I've seen, the way he phrased it was different so it didn't sound so stupid. Thanks for the pointer, I'll try and find the other various comments, as the whole notion is interesting to me.

bedtimeforbonzo - I recommend the classic Children's fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. As for the appropriateness of Dark Knight for a 9-year-old, I'm 25 with no children, so my advise may not be relevant, but I certainly wouldn't take anybody under 13 to see it. There is very little on-screen gore (until near the end when we see some fairly grotesque stuff), but there is a high body count, quite a bit of implied gruesomeness, and Ledger's Joker is, well, pretty damn disturbing.

You might not want to go around with a handle like that. It's trouble waiting to happen ;-)

bedtimeforbonzo:

"Treasure Island" Robert Louis Stevenson

"Robinson Crusoe" Daniel Defoe --- you might want to read this at the same time, or maybe read it out loud. There is so much more to the book than we know from the movies, etc.

I didn't listen to Zevon much but I caught his last studio sessions on TV while he as dying and zapped with painkillers. My favorite bit was when his producer/engineer suggested, very gently, that he could do another take on a vocal and Zevon croaked
out something like the following:

"You want me to do another effing take? I'm dying, you sh--, and that take wasn't good enough? I can hardly breath, I'm sitting here dying and singing to you, and it wasn't good enough?"

If you've ever sung a vocal two dozen times and think you have it nailed, and somebody says maybe one more time, I can't tell you how great that comeback was. It almost makes me like cancer.

Almost. O.K. One more time. Let her rip.

and Bale responded that his respect for the Bat-character was so total and all-consuming that he couldn't possible give a Bat-interview in anything but an American accident

That's not how I recall it. My recollection is that he said he thought it would be too jarring to be going back and forth between the accent he uses in the movie and his native accent (given that interviewers generally play clips from the movie).

So, the US gets American accents from Bale and Hugh Laurie and we give them 'British' accents with Dick Van Dyke as the worst and Renee Zellwiger as a passable imitation, with most American stars being in between.

There may be fewer Brits, but they take acting much more seriously.

Christian Bale was so good in "American Psycho" that I had to watch it thru splayed fingers with my hands over my face.

Dick Van Dyke? What if the younger version of him had been cast in "American Psycho" and done a tumble over an ottoman every time he entered a room to imagine slaughtering someone.

I dunno freelunch, Hugh Laurie said (in the Actor's studio interview, I think) that there was a built in asymmetry, in that non-Americans are exposed to a lot more American culture than the inverse. Of course, Laurie was saying that as a way of being modest, but there is a certain amount of truth there, I think.

DaveC - LOL, I didn't realize I wasn't the first "Dave C" in these parts. I'll be sure to make a distinction in the future.

lj -

Sure Laurie (and Bale) are modest about such accomplishments, but they actually bother to try to sound American. It's not as if the US hasn't had a love affair with a British accent for decades or that we don't know what one sounds like.

BTFB, a recommendation: Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.

True story: when my daughter was in 2nd grade her teacher asked for favorite authors and she replied "Salman Rushdie" (due to our regular reading of Haroun).

Along comes parent-teacher conference time and the teacher tells us about how our daughter sometimes "exaggerates," giving this as an example. *CLANG* We explain that Haroun is her favorite book. The teacher hadn't heard of it. Oh.

There are two Dave Cs.?

What's next: two Professor Irwin Coreys?

Two Rip Taylors?

Two Soupy Saleseseseseses?

Two WWFs?

Take two DaveCs and, whatever you do, don't call me in the morning. I'm not available afternoons and evenings either. Weekends? Nope.

Two Freddie and the Dreamers?

Two?

;;;;;;())%.

BTFB- Has he read The Hobbit? I remember checking it out from the library all the time until my parents finally bought me a copy. Other than that, I didn't read too much fiction.

As for Mark Twain, it went over my head back in the day, but now he's a favorite. Letters From The Earth is a fun read for the mature audience.

Time to build a bridge between the twin peaks of Killimanjaro.

[cue music, "boom ... boom boom ... boom boom ... boom boom" (Twin Peaks)]

BTFB,

I think Huckleberry Finn and The Old Man and the Sea are excellent choices.

Everyone should read Huckleberry Finn at least once every two years or so. Might as well get the kid started.

With David Zetland (of aguanomics.com) having an article in Forbes and being favorably mentioned by Yglesias, Drum and Sullivan, water pricing is once again a blogosphere topic.

If anyone wants to talk about water pricing, politics, allocation, rights, history and/or law, I will take on all and sundry. But to all occupants of the City of San Diego, before trying to get more cheap water out of farmers, would you please at least stop wasting so much of your recycled water? Remember, low-cost water for food lowers the price of food.

I second Treasure Island, with one caveat: after reading it, I ran away, hoping to find a way to become a cabin girl, but only got as far as South Boston. Be sure your kid knows that this is n longer an option.

Also, The Count of Monte Cristo. In a couple of years, Jules Verne.

BTFB: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass completely mesmerized me at that age and I still re-read them at least once a year.

I know, there's the whole "boys don't read books about girls" thing... but if your son likes absurdity and wordplay (and who doesn't, these days?), try The Annotated Alice.

(There's a useful rundown of other annotated/illustrated editions here.)

When you put words to music, they can become very powerful. I don’t know why that is.

I worked hard, but not for the money
I did my best to please
I used to think it was funny
Till I realized it was all a tease

I think we’ll keep Warren in our hearts for quite a while. But he lived in a different time and I think the younger talent senses it. Coldplay wrote the same song, only a generation later.

Clearly I remember
From the windows they were watching
While we froze down below

When the future’s architectured
By a carnival of idiots on show
You’d better lie low

Was a long and dark December
When the banks became cathedrals
And the fog became God.

Read the comments if you want to get worried. I think ‘Phil’ may be ‘GCfan 11292’.

Another vote for Treasure Island. If he liked The Invisible Man, there are other Wells novels to try out (The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Island of Dr Moreau). Howard Pyle (Men of Iron), maybe H. Rider Haggard (King Solomon's Mines), maybe Kipling (The Jungle Books, Kim).

@bedtimeforbonzo: I grew up in Germany so some of this might be old news - but Astrid Lindgren's books are wonderful. My favorite was Ronia, but Mio and Brother Lionheart are just as good. I also read Mary O'Hara's My Friend Flicka, Jack London, Jules Verne, Karl May, and also Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov... although I can't remember exactly at what age. That was the good days, having so much time for reading...

Did you see Dark Knight? Did you like it?

yes, I saw it. it's overrated, too long, and uninteresting, although bias be known I am not into explosions.

I suppose there might have been something in them worth contemplating.

at the end, the good guys make a pack that Batman shall be whatever the city needs him to be, which reminded me of Mr. Bean, a comparably complex character.

Bean is more resourceful.

while not reading, check on librivox.org for all variety of audiobook. It's a way I try to get students to push themselves.

My 9-year-old son has caught the reading bug. Taking cues from a classics list he obtained at the orientation for his new school this fall, he just finished reading the Invisible Man.

For a brief but vertiginous moment, I thought your boy was reading Ralph Ellison. Then I realized it was probably Wells (it is Wells, right?)

Call of the Wild is a good read for a 9 year old. I also second Twain's Huck Finn.

If you don't object to them due to a religious scruple, the His Dark Materials trilogy might be a good read for your boy.

I don't recommend Ellison for a nine year old. :O

Thanks -

So following sambar and kheer, the lot of us made an unscheduled midnight movie run. H'm. Dark Knight. I think the superhero genre is lost to me, 'cause that was nothing but sanctimonious (c'mon, the boats?), pretentious (most of the dialogue), contrived (most everything else) adolescent wish fulfillment. Ledger was head and shoulders above anyone else in the film, but he was very hit-and-miss, and there was no real competition: Bale's cardboard Batman, Gyllenhaal's one-dimensional Dawes, Eckhart's stuffed shirt Dent. He shone because his dialogues were interesting, unlike, say, every other one in the film. I still preferred Nickelson's Joker... but in fairness, that could very well just be because he had better directing, and that hurts to say because I liked The Prestige, Insomnia, and Memento.

Sigh. I should probably just write this off as genre loathing, as it very well may be.

Anyhow, any reading suggestions?

Roald Dahl writes brilliantly for children. (Do not attempt them yourself: Dahl's books should be banned to everyone over the age of 12.)

If your son is interested in The Red Badge of Courage and isn't put off by the "girls book" title, try him out on Little Women, which is (a) a damn good read (b) has as a key plot point their father being away in the Civil War.

You could also get him to read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, which is a good kid's novel, and is set in the deep South and has characters who remember the South before the war and after. There are sequels, too. Also, it's a great inoculation if he starts reading in and around the Civil War, since he will soon or late come to Gone With The Wind.

Von, you out there? That Ethiopian invasion of Somalia you backed sure is working out well for the Somalians, isn't it?

And how come you aren't writing a post about why John McCain is the superior candidate? Don't you want us to be more informed?

Read the comments if you want to get worried. I think ‘Phil’ may be ‘GCfan 11292’

I most certainly am not, and you had better retract this accusation immediately or I am going to ask the site owners here to sanction or ban you. I use my real name, in some cases including my last name, at every single blog that I comment on with precisely two exceptions: io9.com, where I comment as PhilipFry (still my real first name, but also the name of a "Futurama" character), and The Onion AV Club, where I comment as "Monkey Butler."

So enough with the proofless armchair speculation and psychoanalysis from the likes of you. Retract, or risk banning. Your choice.

Second Astrid Lindgren. Mio My Son is great.

Bedtime, my daughter is 11 and loved the Invisible Man. For fun reading her favorite books right now are the Warriors series (Erin Hunter) but she's slogging thu Huck Finn this summer. She's not enjoying it at all becaue of the dialects. When she gets home next week I'm going to switch to boks on tape to help her thru that. She *loved* the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, the Time Machine and I Robot. She was OK with Kidnapped and Treasure Island. Robinson Crusoe led to Swiss Family Robinson and a treehouse in our backyard.

Monkey Butler?

It's a Simpsons joke, Russell. The comment threads there are a constantly-cycling bunch of relevant comments and in-jokes, and people often respond to articles and other comments "in-character," as it were. I first commented there in response to an article on The Simpsons, and the nickname just kind of stuck.

The full joke in context, from an episode in which the students of Springfield Elementary are washed up on a deserted island:

As "Under the Sea" plays, a fantasy sequence is imagined with the kids living in a wonderful tree settlement. Martin takes a shower. Wendell uses a water slide. Sherri and Terri drive a bamboo and grass car. Ralph pigs out on food and a monkey butler brings Nelson a drink. Back to reality.

BART
And every night the monkey butlers will regale us with jungle stories.

NELSON
How many monkey butlers will there be?

BART
One at first. But he'll train others.

Nombrilisme Vide,

I found one line in your take on the [i]The Dark Knight[/i] rather interesting - that it was "adolescent wish fulfillment." I'm curious about that line, because I think we saw different movies.

The Dark Knight is not a "comic book" (in the stereotypical sense) movie, though it is a superhero movie. I can understand the "adolescent wish fulfillment" line applied to many comic book movies, wherein the heroes are able to use violence and in the end it all works out the best for it. This film, however, was much more about the costs of that kind of life. He can't save everyone, he engages in behavior that characters question him about (ethically speaking), etc.

Indeed, what seemed to me to separate "The Dark Knight" from other superhero movies is that the question is about taking one of these superheroes and looking at some of the complexities (should Gotham adopt him? In our peculiar epistemic state of knowing Batman is ultimately good we can do it more easily, but the film emphasizes that this is not the epistemic vantage point of everyone else. This reminds me of the ol' "24" argument, that it only seems like an acceptable idea to torture when you know who is incorruptibly good, and you know the other person is bad and has information) of bringing him to the real world. Parts of the film are so jarring, I think it is more likely that falls under the "adolescent wish fulfillment" rubric will have second thoughts, than will be supported by the film.

One final point, to kind of broaden what I am trying to say - is that I don't think Batman is just the plain "good guy" you might expect in this movie. Yes, he is Batman, the hero of American mythos who ultimately holds to the vital ethical principle that he will not kill people. Yet, we are supposed to wonder whether or not he was justified in doing the things that he did - the "wiretapping" and the "interrogation" scenes in particular. They jar us because we are looking at the character with the backdrop of Batman-as-hero intact. I think there is something very interesting going on here for all of us who might take these kinds of heroes at face value.

I refuse to retract, but will qualify my previous statement. I only suspect that Phil, the dummy elitist, is GCfan11292.

I'll pay you $10,000, cold hard cash on the barrelhead, if you can offer any evidence that I am this person. Come on, smart guy. Dazzle me. Show us your sleuthing skills. You're so confident in your own superiority and smarts, Friction Boy, so let's see it. You've accused me of being another person on another comment thread elsewhere on the internet, so back it up with some evidence, or you and I are about to have major, major problems.

See, unlike you, I have something called integrity. That's why I use my real name on the web. My first and last name are right there, in my name and email address, for all to see. So you've accused me, essentially, of betraying my own integrity and of being I person I am not. Prove it.

I've already emailed the kitty about this, and something will be done about it.

>>Second Astrid Lindgren. Mio My Son is great.

What curious synchronicity! I'm reasonably sure that hilzoy doesn't remember this, but: Who made his big-screen debut in the utterly wretched film version of Mio My Son?

That's right, the then-adolescent Christian Bale! (This came out slightly before Empire of the Sun, though I'm not sure which was shot first.) He played Jum-Jum, sidekick to Mio.

Christopher Lee, Susannah York, and Timothy Bottoms share with Bale the embarrassment of appearing in this disaster. (Bottoms, to be frank, is barely going through the motions.)

In deference to hilzoy, I'll say that, whatever positive qualities Lindgren may possess must have been missing from such film adaptations as Mio My Son (aka the Land of Faraway) and the following year's English language Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, which were without positive qualities.

Hilzoy, Phil called me friction boy. And I think he’s being serious. Stop it Phil!

JM:
This is to some degree a genre thing. But we basically have an angsty character who thinks he and only he can stand against evil... no one else can. He has a special gift, and the mundane problem solver, Dent, is helpless without him, both against mundane villains (the mob) and against the non-mundane. He's forced to be viewed as an unappreciated outcast by all those he helps... but then he still gets to be the billionaire playboy (even though he has to brood and only pretend to enjoy it). He's pure and shining, But They All Mustn't Know! It's not only that "they" aren't capable of protecting themselves, "they" can't handle the truth either. This last bit is important; it's special understanding as well as special power. I could go on, but I think I've pointed enough to what drove me to use the term. Though perhaps modifying it with "angsty" would have made things clearer. And again, last night I had the (previously suspected) epiphany that I really don't like foundational tropes in that genre.

Although I don't think the movie adaption of Mio is on the same level as e.g. that of Ronja*, I still consider it a good deal above average** (and that has been my opinion even before I became an ardent Christopher Lee fan). Interestingly it is about the only canonical adaption*** that was not made in Sweden itself.
One point that should be discussed in this context is the choice of voices. Mio is originally English, the others Swedish. The German dubbing is generally excellent, don't know about the English. Lindgren always took great care to keep artistic control but the production of Mio (made in Russia and Britain) may have prevented her from doing it in this case.

*The best of them all in my opinion
*for fantasy movies
***as opposed to the travesties of a cartoon Pippy etc.

Thanks for the book suggestions, guys.

Yeah, Russell, it was Wells. I also scratched my head and wondered if it was Ellison until I saw the actual book on Danny's desk.

If anybody is looking for a cheap night out, the wife, the boy and mom-in-law spent four hours at Borders last night (air conditioning is a must this weekened in the Northeast) -- I've jotted down the book suggestions for our Aug. 9 trip there because last night we went after my posting.

I say Aug. 9 because that's when the saxaphone player they had there returns -- he was terrific, lots of Frank Sinatra (can't beat "Summer Wind").

I couldn't sleep when we got back and watched whatever they call "Siskel and Ebert" these days (talk about being caught in a time warp) and both critics -- I believe the top guy is Richard Roeper -- raved about the Dark Knight. But they were adamant about no children under 10.

Later caught a Food Channel marathon of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" -- with a heavy emphasis on breakfast food. Talk about late-night torture. I gained a whole new appreciation for the pancake. Mmm.

And Soul Food: this lady made what looked like heavenly macaroni and cheese.

I'm hungry.

A correction: In another thread I had Sen. Bayh joining Obama on his overseas trip. Wrong. The correct answers: Sen. Hagel (looking more and more like a candidate to join an Obama cabinet) and Sen. Jack Reed (Rhode Island).

The right-wingers on the Sunday TV talk shows are really in a tizzy about this trip. Love it.

Also love the pictures of how enthused our military guys seem to be just talking to Sen. Obama, as if they know they may have a Commander-in-Chief who has half a brain.

I guess I disagree about fundamental points in the interpretation of the movie. Batman clearly does not think that only he can stand against evil - he points out that Dent (civil justice!) is what the city needs, not Batman. This motivates the decision at the end (again, being vague to avoid spoilers). Thus I don't think the drive is any notion of a unique access to the truth, but rather that the symbol the town needs (if you saw the first installment in this sequence, "Batman Begins," Wayne's interest in being a symbol is a driving force) is that of civil justice and not of protector-from-above.

Anyway, fair enough to dislike a particular genre. I just wanted to point out where and why I think this new film distinguishes itself from other entries in the genre and what made it so particularly compelling and interesting.

"But we basically have an angsty character who thinks he and only he can stand against evil... no one else can. He has a special gift, and the mundane problem solver, Dent, is helpless without him, both against mundane villains (the mob) and against the non-mundane."

I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. The whole storyline of the film is that [SPOILERS] Bruce Wayne believes that Harvey Dent can take over as the legitimate hero of Gotham, replacing Batman, and allowing Batman to retire.

It doesn't work out that way, but there's nothing internal to the story that makes that unalterable destiny; it's just what happens. It's absolutely not what Bruce Wayne/Batman believes: that's just wrong, and this point is fundamental to the story.

"but then he still gets to be the billionaire playboy (even though he has to brood and only pretend to enjoy it)."

And look the callow and nasty fool. And lose his true love (twice). Not a fun role, particularly.

"And again, last night I had the (previously suspected) epiphany that I really don't like foundational tropes in that genre."

That's certainly fair enough, and inarguable; I did say that if this sort of film isn't for you, it isn't.

Some of us grew up with this sort of mythos, and this particular mythos, and some didn't; although I think Nolan's two films work better than any other movie/tv incarnation of the Batman (although Bruce Timm's is pretty good), it still ultimately comes down to whether you have any sympathy for the superhero mythos, or inversions and examinations of it, or not.

The same will apply to the movie of The Watchmen. Either one is at least open to a particular genre, or one isn't. There's nothing whatever wrong with either way.

On the topic of recommendations, there are so many wonderful books, whether technically for kids or adults, I never know where to begin with that sort of question.

Some random titles: A Wrinkle In Time, Citizen Of The Galaxy, The Wizard of Earthsea, Dolphin Island, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Daniel M. Pinkwater, Bruce Coville, Jane Yolen, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Eleanor Cameron, Dianna Wynne Jones, Diane Duane, hell, just point the kid at the library and set 'em free. Worked for me.

BrickOvenBill:

You have speculated about Phil's identity here and here. I have no idea why you think this matters, or what it adds to the discussion, or what reason you have for suspecting that. (Please do not try to explain. I don't care.) However: it's out of line. Please do not do it again, to Phil or anyone else.

Having forgotten to do this earlier in the say, btw: happy Moon Landing Day.

My identity, by the way, is the very secret "Gary Farber." Uncover me!

I’ll be more respectful to Phil in the future Hilzoy. I apologize for any hurt feelings.

Monkey Butler. Heh.

Some of us grew up with this sort of mythos, and this particular mythos, and some didn't; [...] it still ultimately comes down to whether you have any sympathy for the superhero mythos, or inversions and examinations of it, or not.

I definitely grew up with it. Even though it had been several years since I'd seen a superhero movie, and I've been growing increasingly hostile towards much of Hollywood's stylings, this was one of the reasons I went ahead and saw it (social pressure being the other; of the 11 people I was with, 8 of us went to see it). I think it was during that early parking deck scene with the vigilantes that I started muttering "sanctimonious codswallop" under my breath, and basically never stopped. I think somewhere in the last decade I've outgrown whatever sympathy for the genre had survived childhood. For better or for worse (or more pointedly, for neither).

It doesn't work out that way, but there's nothing internal to the story that makes that unalterable destiny; it's just what happens. It's absolutely not what Bruce Wayne/Batman believes: that's just wrong, and this point is fundamental to the story.

...but a shallow viewing, without a deep attempt at empathy with BW, won't agree with this. It was his destiny, the silly, and he was a fool to fight it! Of course he was specially gifted and uniquely qualified to stand against evil! He believed otherwise... but he was wrong, don'cha'see? He is a lonely, solitary figure, standing tall against evil that no one else can resist; tragically alone, having lost what he treasured most due to his noble pursuit, sigh...

Not saying that you're wrong about how it's intended to be read by the screenwriters. Just saying that the reading I took is hardly a difficult one to arrive at. If you don't identify with the progressing experience of BW, you could even still take it while identify with him in general, as shaped by the film, and take that reading... but it relies on interpreting what the author/director does rather than means, and also discourages a deeper empathy with BW... and a desire (or at least willingness) to read Batman as a genuine subversion of certain genre tropes. If one cleaves strongly to the tropes, one would likely be more open to a reading of "angsty superhero" instead of "subversive antihero".

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