25 July 2012

Notes on The Dark Knight Rises

First off, an admission: The teaser for Man of Steel keeps giving me goosebumps.  Apparently the music is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring (of all places!).  What I'm hoping is that the writing has some of the humanity suggested by the trailer, and that the editing has none of its clumsy redundancy. They try to surprise us with the fact that it's a Superman movie three times (!) in under two minutes.  Dividing the trailer into understated rainy-grey narrative, flight through the clouds, and fade in to the big "S" logo totally kills the effect.

Second, some thoughts on the increasing number of "reboots" of superhero movies.  They may be motivated by ticket sales, but they're not all bad.  Quite the opposite: they're a good thing for the art and for the public.  Why?  They're good for the art because the retelling of stories is the surest way to guarantee thematic development.  Nearly a century ago, Batman (for example) may have just been an idle fairy tale sold to kids with a taste for science fiction.  But tales grow in the telling, and as they pass through many hands, each trying to deepen and enrich the story so as to make this latest telling still worth hearing, two things happen: the art of the storyteller grows with his tale, as if to feed it; and the tale itself grows into something capable of nourishing those who hear it.  People talk a lot about how folk stories are always adapted to suit the moral needs of each individual era.  This is true, but it's true not because of the ingenuity of each generation of tale-spinners, reinventing the past or masking a useful ideology in an old mathom — rather, because over the years story cycles themselves become treasure troves capable of offering needed principles and categories to listening ears.

Now that those two are out of the way, I'm going to just transcribe my notes from my two viewings of The Dark Knight Rises:


NOTES:

The Dark Knight "Rises" — Random attack on civilians — Jonathan Lethem "we are the joker" — Organized Crime is the villain in Batman, not "super" villains, and the hero is a capitalist.

Keebler commercial: "what if everyone could be uncommonly good"

Superman next summer ... again — 2 Batmans in 20 years, 3 supermans in 30
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"I believed in Harvey Dent"

Extremely clever airplane stunt

Sour dialogue ruins the delight
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Police commissioner does not climb into manholes alone.

"Everything sticks." -- Catwoman
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hope & despair

"when the structures fail you"

------[Second Viewing]-----

Utgard-Loki [Masks, deceptions, fighting battles unseen: attempting to drink the ocean, to out-eat fire itself.  By determining the terms in which the challenge is presented, we can change its outcome.]

Syncopy [Compare to other major directors' production companies: Zoetrope, Empirical, etc.]
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"No one cared who I was until I put on the mask" ---> masks! [Notice also masks in the prison during the "time of plague".  Masks keep the pain at bay, protect from disease, eliminate individual identity, confer responsibility.  Broken masks: Batman's at the midpoint; Banes at the end.]
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Leaving Gotham permanently — finding a life — Bruce has no life of his own as long as he's in the city. [Batman is a function of Gotham, not a person.  He cannot live unless Gotham is in crisis.]
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"Now there's evil rising where we tried to bury it." [Id/Ego/Superego]
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Ballroom conversation w/Cat is perfect.
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"Letting the truth have its day."
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Daggett has construction company.  [Typical of corrupt businessmen to be tied to contracting.]
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"Plunge their hands into the filth so you can keep yours clean."
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Storming the Bastille [Notice also that it's the weapons of the bourgeoisie that are used to undermine its grip on power — that by trying to consolidate the store of weapons he makes the takeover all the more powerful when it happens.  Very marxist.]
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"Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."  [Note that he says "allowed to die" instead of killed or destroyed.]
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—This was someone's house.
—Now it's everyone's house.
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The fear of death is a powerful ally.  [The person who doesn't love things can't use them well.]
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Bane, that guy from Bond with a bullet in his head keeping pain/death at bay.
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Bane is the guy from Tinker Tailor.
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At risk and orphaned children.
Robin leaves the police force. [Why does he leave the police force? Impatience with systematic "injustice"?  As demonstrated by the incident on the bridge?  Throughout the movie, he acts with a remarkable degree of independence.  Itching to be a vigilante like Bruce.]