Posts Tagged ‘Tom Wilkinson’

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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Framing, and re-framing, Gustave: Anderson toys with narrative as he depicts whimsical adventures in ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’

April 22, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 22, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel, the new film directed and co-written by Wes Anderson, chronicles the madcap adventures of one Monsieur Gustave H., an extraordinary concierge. Zero, Gustave’s employee, protégé and friend, serves as sidekick to the concierge as well as one of the main narrators of the story.

The protagonist is a man with a bon mot and a plan for virtually any and every situation, no matter how extraordinary. A commanding figure at the eponymous luxury resort, which is situated in a fictitious eastern European nation, Gustave is the type of charming extrovert who never met a stranger; indeed, he addresses men whom he met moments before as “darling.”

Gustave has a particular knack for wining, dining and — not to put too fine a point on it — romancing dowagers. Most of the movie concerns the aftermath of the (rather suspicious) death of Madame D. and her attempts to bequeath a Renaissance portrait named “Boy with Apple” to Gustave.

Madame D.’s tempestuous son, Dmitri (Adrien Brody), wants control of all of his late mother’s estate, including the portrait; to that end, he and his vicious lackey, Jopling (Willem Dafore), ruthlessly harass Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), the lawyer serving as executor of the will. Dmitri and Jopling also frame Gustave for murder, thereby requiring the concierge and his devoted “lobby boy,” Zero, to mastermind a prison escape.

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