Posts Tagged ‘Michael Keaton’

From modest beginnings, a monster would rise: Ray Kroc’s ascent is chronicled in ‘The Founder’

January 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 28, 2017

John Lee Hancock’s new biopic, The Founder, is an only-in-America not-quite-rags-to-mega-riches story.

At the opening of the movie, written by Robert D. Siegel, main character Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a 52-year-old traveling salesman who’s struggling to sell high-volume milkshake blenders at a variety of desultory small-town diners and drive-in restaurants. The Krocs aren’t exactly poor: Ray and Ethel (a typically excellent Laura Dern) have a lovely house in an affluent Illinois community, but they’re certainly not keeping up with the upper-crust Joneses who boast about their overseas vacations during the couple’s infrequent dinners at a lavish local country club.

Then Kroc’s company, Prince Castle Sales, receives an order for six blenders out of nowhere. The baffled salesman calls the San Bernadino, Calif., restaurant that placed the order, certain that there’s been a mistake; after all, why would any place need more than one? And he’s right: It turns out that the restaurant actually needs eight of the blenders, not six. Intrigued, Kroc drives halfway across the country to take a look.

He finds a thriving family-friendly hamburger that fulfills customers’ orders almost instantly but lacks seating, waiters, flatware and silverware. Enthralled by this unconventional setup, Kroc presses an all-too-willing Maurice “Mac” McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and the somewhat less voluble Dick McDonald (a bare-faced Nick Offerman, almost completely unrecognizable from the mustachioed character he played on Parks and Recreation) for the story behind their operation.

Kroc is captivated by the business and its potential for expansion. “McDonald’s can be the new American church,” Kroc rhapsodizes to the brothers. “And it ain’t just open on Sundays, boys.”

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Nobody knows his face, but everybody knows his name (and story): Revisiting Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’

December 6, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 6, 2014

Everyone knows the basic setup of the world of Batman, one of the great comic-book heroes. Heck, millions of people could recite it in their sleep. It goes like this:

Bruce Wayne, the only son of billionaires, was orphaned by a gunman at an early age and raised by Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family’s loyal butler. Determined to fight the endemic crime of his native Gotham, the so-called Dark Knight dons a cape and cowl and equips himself with a cornucopia of fantastic gadgets in order to help Jim Gordon, the city’s trustworthy police commissioner, apprehend bizarre and menacing villains.

In 1989, the quirky director Tim Burton launched a Batman film franchise, featuring an unlikely choice — mild-mannered comedic actor Michael Keaton, a.k.a. Mr. Mom — in the lead role. Burton’s quirky, sometimes over-the-top gothic realization of this noir-ish comic-book universe proved to be immensely popular. Batman garnered $40.5 million in its first weekend, dwarfing the previous best opening of a superhero movie (Superman II, which took in $14.1 million in 1982).

Burton’s quite excellent Batman went on to total earnings of more than $250 million and helped spawn a legion of superhero movies. They included Batman Returns, which saw Burton and Keaton reuniting for a decent 1992 feature, and two extremely cheesy, greatly inferior further sequels: Batman Forever (1995), directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Val Kilmer in the title role; and Batman & Robin (1997), again directed by Schumacher but this time starring George Clooney.

When, in 2005, Christopher Nolan came out with the insipidly named Batman Begins, a cinematic reboot of the Caped Crusader, I wondered why, exactly, the movie was necessary. What novelty could be mined from the genesis of Batman, whose origin story even the highest-browed of potential moviegoers knows by heart?

I never did see Batman Begins in the movie theater. But I did watch it, on a fiasco of a date, at a free outdoor screening in Raleigh’s Moore Square Park in the summer of 2005 or 2006 (if memory serves).

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