Batman, from Steve Leslie

July 21, 2008 |

If you are a fan of comics, as I am, I highly recommend the show on the History Channel about Batman. Just an absolutely fascinating show. It gives great insight into the Batman character — a rare glimpse into genius. It is so well done it is indescribable.





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3 Comments so far

  1. Tyler Lang on July 22, 2008 10:19 am

    Yes, I saw parts of this show last night and was also very impressed. I have never been a fan of comics but found the character analysis fascinating… Perhaps a new world just opened up to me.

  2. marion d s dreyfus on July 22, 2008 7:52 pm


    Batman reprise (n+3): Should be named ‘the lo-o-ong night’

    Directed by Christopher Nolan

    By Marion D.S. Dreyfus

    The hottest ticket of the moment, yeah. But the most interesting thing about this overlong, sludgy filmscript is that all the “good” characters have in the past played very nasty guys, while the exemplarily frightening clown-killer, The Joker, played by the now-departed Heath Ledger, has played only touching patriots, or limp-wristed cow-hand, more or less apple-pie protagonists. The contrast is an effective if dicey undertone throughout the film, since a key ingredient is that criminals have infiltrated and compromised the Gotham police.

    Even Christian Bale as “The Batman”—as they style him throughout this ebon, abyss-evoking film—has played effete and nerveless villains. Certainly the Gotham (Chicago) police lieutenant Jim Gordon, played by Gary Oldman, has sent crawlies up my spine more than once. And even handsome Harvey Dent, the good-guy-who-turns-up-bad, played by the usually suave but nasty Aaron Eckhart, is almost routinely a fell presence in 9 of 10 films—always the guy to emotionally defenestrate or humiliate the offhand female or lover in his sights.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal, not as beautiful as the script demands, but a better actress than Katie Holmes (she of “Tom-Cat” infame), her predecessor in the role of Bruce Wayne squeeze, has also played cruel, skeevy or hinky roles.

    Getting to the script again. There is an endless car chase, where the Joker uses successively larger mm guns and weaponry against a paddy wagon. The prolonged scene simply does not hold water. The cops would have gotten him somewhere. A chopper would have cut him down. The wagon itself would have gone up in flames or into spectacular crash mode. The CGI is subtle, but in every action sequence. There are highway chases, hop-scotching car sequences, train trestle fliptops, but the only vaguely intriguing element in the film seems to be the unusually idiosyncratic performance of the gifted Ledger, whose loss is now profoundly felt anew by millions of idolatrous viewers.

    As Alfred, the indispensable, imperturbable valet, Michael Caine is exceptionally solid, delivering the only comedic lines in an ultra-dour 2 ½ hours. He is the very essence of droll as sec extra. Major domo of Wayne Enterprises, Morgan Freeman, as Lucius Fox, is the equivalent of 007’s ingenious M. And while we’re at it, the mansion is a character by itself, interesting as a reductio ad Scandinavio in chrome and polished metal, granite and recessed lighting. The Batman rig is high kink for fetish musings: rubber with something like titanium cum Kevlar to repel all those whams, socks and pows. Not to forget the space-vision of the Batmobile, which has more than a few tricks up its carburetor, too; in the actual drive, it begs the question of comfort for the hyperlow-seated driver. Everything has all the tricks and shtiks you’ve come to hunger for, with rising platforms and covert compartments, etcetera. This may be the only recent action hero film where the people queue up not for the white-hats—Spidey, Ironman, Hancock, the Hulk—but for the messy cake-white make-up of the flayed and freaky Joker, a man who is an equal-opportunity igniter, a man who perturbs even the hard-core gangland punks and petty nasties of the Underworld. An abused child, time was, don’tcha know.

    More to the point, it offers not a… scintilla of… suspense. You sit there in your sticky, mildly interested in what makes Aaron Eckhart decide not to get facial reconstruction for that hideous transformation (until you recall this is a movie from a movie from a comic book by Bob Kane, and then the whole thing fits like a preshrunk T shirt), or why there is nada chemistry between tough legal cookie Gyllenhaal and Harvey Dent or svelte, affectless Christian Bale. The audience is respectfully mum throughout, of course, as befits a sacred icon. But the fetishistic worship of gadgetry and explosions is not, alone, enough to cover the tomfool moralizing and turgid plot elements. The city of Chicago is a nice change from previous Batman CGI dark backdrops and looming inkly monuments. And oops: Where the heck is Robin, Wayne’s studly young ward?

    OK, I love most movies, and this one is that rare exception. The darkness of the entertainment dubbed –by a nostril hair– PG-13 does not lift with the six IMAX sequences, nonstop explosions and topped-off violence imposed, despite Nancy Pelosi/ Harry Reid’s imprecations against torturing captives [us] hurries past metaphor into misbegotten blight in a pretzel of moralizing over Good and Evil reversed. Feh.

    Still, downstairs, at 9 pm, I see 250 teens and others with coffee containers, half-eaten Domino’s pepperoni slices, hugging the wall of the Loew’s megaplex across from my place. I go down and ask what they’re queueing for, since this is pretty late for a Thursday evening late show. “The Black Knight,” one mouthful of ‘za explains to me, reverence slurring his food-compacted words. “Midnight show.” He smiles—he’s ‘way up front, and I’m not. (But I saw the thing already, and he’s going to slap down an hour of his earnings.) Three hours of standing in the heat like American Idol auditions to go. Blessings, yo.

    So before they get to snooze out for work Friday, they’ll be up until 3 am or later. Maybe what we want after all isn’t a hero. Maybe despite our plentiful everyday fears, this is the unofficial money-chad vote for the finicky feline obsessiveness of smeary-faced menace. At least a dozen of those waiting in line are tarted up in Joker cake make-up sure to hit the Halloween trade as a ubiquitous mask come October.

    That said, you may still plunk down your 11 or 12 samoleans. But I prefer the wizardry, imagination and mostly magical imagineering of “Wall-E,” for all it’s animation, and consign “Knight” to its living-daymare devotées.

    Probably the reason the anti-hero in this Batman entry seems to have so great a hold on the public is that we cathect our current anxieties with the peculiar and psychotic finickiness of this Joker, Heath Ledger, who seems the true center of the film, and the only reason (aside from Michael Caine, Aaron eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal) to spend the dollars necessary. We are fascinated with Hannibal Lecter,another monster who stirs the blood as well as the mind. We glom onto the curiously unattractive antagonists of the filmic canon. We may be saying, with such endless slavishness, that we are in trouble emotionally, and are in want of a sufficiently troubled nasty with whom to identify, while not owning up to our own insecurity and …yes, rage.

    marion d s dreyfus 20©08

  3. marion d s dreyfus on July 29, 2008 12:57 pm

    Wonder why Steve Leslie’s comments on “Batman” were posted, but not my original review. Mysterious. Nor my review of “Brideshead.” Discouraging and puzzling.


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