kottke.org posts about Batman
In his latest video, Evan Puschak takes Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder to task for filling his movies with flashy moments instead of scenes that would give the movie more emotional punch.
It's a convincing argument. But before watching this -- and full disclosure: I have not seen Batman v Superman -- I thought he was going to discuss the real flaw in BvS which is very simply: Superman is an invincible man and Batman is a normal guy in a fancy suit. If this were not a movie designed to entertain 14-year-old boys but a real thing happening in an actual world, Superman would just deal with Batman as trivially as you or I might swat a mosquito. And don't get me started on kryptonite and Superman's greater Achilles Heel, his goodness and love of humanity. As a storyteller, how many more interesting ways can you exploit those weaknesses? Superman is the most boring superhero -- a nearly invincible man with very obvious flaws -- and that's why no one can make a contemporary film about him that's any good.
P.S. Actually, Superman's biggest flaw is that he wants to be a writer when he could quite literally do anything else with his time, like fly around or make time go backwards. What an idiot.
The Wolfpack is a documentary that follows the six Angulo brothers, whose father kept them sequestered (along with their sister and mother) inside a four-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for fourteen years because he thought the city unsafe, allowing only annual or semi-annual trips outside. The boys' only access to the outside world was through movies, which they recreated in their tiny apartment. The trailer:
With no friends and living on welfare, they feed their curiosity, creativity, and imagination with film, which allows them to escape from their feelings of isolation and loneliness. Everything changes when one of the brothers escapes, and the power dynamics in the house are transformed. The Wolfpack must learn how to integrate into society without disbanding the brotherhood.
They did not mess around when it came to their filmmaking...this is a surprisingly realistic Batman costume made out of cereal boxes and yoga mats:
The Wolfpack won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, and the brothers made a few videos to thank the festival for their prize. Here are the Clerks and The Usual Suspects thank yous:
They also filmed a scene from one of their favorite movies of 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel:
The Wolfpack was out in US theaters earlier this summer and is now on Amazon Instant...I think I'm going to watch this tonight. (via @quinto_quarto)
Leslie Rice (whose work you see here) is a second-generation tattoo artist who's been tattooing for twenty years, and here's the number one thing he's learned: "Women are tougher than men."
"Women and men have a very different approach to traumatic things like getting tattoos. Women are far more willing to accept it and go with the flow, whereas men will try and fight it, so you end up in this horrible situation where men end up vomiting and passing out and falling on the floor, and the women don't tend to do that."
(via Needles and Sins)
Spoiler alert, don't watch this video if you don't want to know how The Dark Knight Rises doesn't end.
Lenny B. Robinson is a Maryland resident who periodically dresses up as Batman, gets into his Batmobile (a black Lamborghini adorned with Batman logos), and goes to visit sick children in hospitals.
On Monday, he pulled up in his black Lambo with yellow Batman symbols on the doors, the floor mats, the headrests -- pretty much everywhere -- and he was dressed in his heavy leather and neoprene uniform that he bought from a professional costume maker.
He carried two large bags of Batman books, rubber Batman symbol bracelets and various other toys up to the front desk, where the check-in attendant asked him his name.
"Batman," he said.
Camera phones were snapping. A man in line said, "That's the guy who got pulled over." Someone asked where Robin was, and Batman replied, "Home studying for the SATs."
The check-in attendant asked for identification. Batman said it was in his Batmobile. The check-in attendant, just doing her job, asked for his real name. "Lenny," he announced. "B, as in Batman. Robinson."
It took Batman approximately 20 minutes to reach the elevators. He stopped to hand out Batman toys to every child he saw, picking them up for pictures, asking them how they were feeling. LaTon Dicks snapped a photo of Batman standing behind her son DeLeon in his wheelchair. She'd recognized the Batmobile on her way in to the hospital. Like everyone else, she'd seen a TV report on him being stopped by the police and protested, "You can't pull over Batman."
More people like this please. (via @benhammersley)
A history and analysis of the Batman logo from 1939 to the present, in five parts: 1, 2, 3. 4, 5. More logo studies by the same fellow here. (thx, david)
A tourist map of Gotham City. Gotham resembles "Manhattan below 14th Street at 11 minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November".
Zlopp, Bangeth, Kapow, Klonk, Thwack, Kersploosh. Batman fight sounds or Web 2.0 company names? (via waxy)
Meg recaps our daytrip to the Mekong Delta. If you go, partake not of the rice and banana wines. Holy antifreeze, Batman!
Out of a recent conversation popped this interesting question: who was the first superhero? After a short discussion and a few guesses (Superman, Batman, etc), it was agreed that this might be the most perfect question to ask the internet in the long history of questions.
The earliest superhero I could find reference to was Mandrake the Magician, who debuted in 1934, four years before Superman, who was probably the first popular superhero. Mandrake's super power was his ability to "make people believe anything, simply by gesturing hypnotically". Does anyone out there know of any superheroes who made an earlier media appearance?
There's a related question that has some bearing on the answer to the above question: what is a superhero? There have probably been books (or at least extensive Usenet threads) written on this topic, but a good baseline definition needs to acknowledge both the "super" and the "hero" parts. That is, the person needs to have some superhuman power or powers and has to fight the bad guys. But this basic definition is flawed. Superman is an alien, not human. Batman doesn't have any super powers...he's a self-made superhero like Syndrome in The Incredibles. Or can a superhero be anyone (human or no) that fights bad guys and is superior to normal heroes...the cream of the hero crop? And what about a costume or alter ego...are they essential for superheroism? These are all questions well-suited for asking the internet, so have at it: what's a good definition for a superhero?
And there's (at least) one more angle to this as well...where did the idea of the superhero come from? As Meg suggested to me at dinner last night, was there a cultural need for a superhero during a super-crisis like the Great Depression? Or did the idea evolve gradually from regular heros (cowboys, space cowboys, etc.) to heros who were magicians (with special powers...it's not that much of a stretch to imagine a magician possessing supernatural powers) to classic superheroes like Superman?