If Australian Psycho wasn’t enough for you, check out the original American Psycho director Mary Harron narrating one of the film’s greatest scenes. Herron describes, for the New York Times‘ Anatomy of a Scene series, the violent masculine urges lurking beneath this suited exchange of business cards. Never has card stock and lettering been so anxiety-inducing. Everyone’s the same, the cards are practically identical, yet the rage growing beneath Christian Bale’s pore-perfect face, at the mere thought of inferiority, is palpable.
Well, after To the Wonder premiered last month to a devise set of reviews—either raving that it was a symphonic ballet of emotion and beauty or a shallow and two-dimension story that looked stunning but lacked feeling—we’re all wondering just where the other features he’s been working on will fall on the Terrence Malick scale of greatness. And next up, before his Austin-set music film is Knight of Cups, starring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett. And with the Cannes Film Festival kicking off today, foreign distributor’s will get their first taste of the film when FilmNation debuts footage at the festival. But for us, The Hollywood Reporter has now released the first time from the film—and it’s truly shocking.
I don’t think it’s serendipity that I walked to work this morning with "I Want a New Drug" in my head. Instead, it’s probably because of all the press releases I’ve received lately announcing the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports. Who knows where the time goes? (Also, please sign up for my mailing list, because I’ll send PR blasts in a few months about my thirtieth birthday.) Many of you young kids might know the song because the Ghostbusters theme ripped it off, or, possibly, from Christian Bale’s monologue in American Psycho. Thank goodness Huey Lewis himself has a good sense of humor about the latter and teamed up with Funny or Die and "Weird Al" Yankovic to parody the cult-classic.
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If I’ve learned anything from Hollywood, it’s this: Jesus was a hottie. There’ve been hundreds of actors throughout the years who have donned the robes and the wigs and the fake beards to play our Lord and Savior, but only a select few could be singled out as being the hottest Jesuses in cinematic history. So on this Good Friday, sit back and click through this slideshow of heavenly eye-candy. There are a lot of thin white dudes with light-colored eyes to feast upon here, just as God would have wanted. Hosanna, y’all!
Jeffrey Hunter, King of Kings (1961)
Max von Sydow, The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Ted Neeley, Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
Robert Powell, Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
Brian Deacon, Jesus (1979)
Chris Sarandon, The Day Christ Died (1980)
Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Christian Bale, Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999)
Jeremy Sisto, Jesus (1999)
Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ (2004)
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Prior to this year Terrence Malick was notoriously one of the most enigmatic directors in Hollywood. And although still a mystery and total bizzaro genius, it feels as though we’re seeing more of him than ever. From his current film, To the Wonder, which looks to be released in the US this April, to whatever he’s doing with Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara, and that other thing with Christain Bale and Natalie Portman—or is that the same thing? Too confusing. Either way, the man is going non-stop. And now, he’s taking it to the dance floor! (Where else?) This clip may be brief but it is obviously integral to your day’s viewings. Also, check out this wonderful piece in which we find out that, "Malick is said to be such a fan of Zoolander, the 2001 send-up of the fashion world, that colleagues say he watches it regularly and likes to quote it. Ben Stiller, the star of the film, once dressed up in character and recorded him a special birthday video message." Good.
Enigmatic director Terrence Malick is known for his signature style of filmmaking that unites sight and sound (and usually a wheat field during magic hour) to create something highly cinematic while being virtually dialogue-less (save some sweeping philosophical voiceovers). That, and the fact that his films are almost always made at least half a decade apart. At least until last year, that is, when he surprised everyone with the news that The Tree of Life was to be followed by not only To the Wonder but two other films to be rolled out in the next two years.
His latest effort, To the Wonder, premiered at Venice and Toronto to mixed reviews, and although the film is slated to star Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck–the two providing the main image released for the film–apparently it’s ex-Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, who garners most of the screen time. Dealing with themes of love and abandonment from God, it seems audiences are not digesting this one well, and U.S. distribution remains to be seen. His next drama, Knight of Cups, which is said to star Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett, is currently in post-production with a new log line released that reveals the film as “a story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess.” With a description that vague, we could assume he’s basing this off a Bret Easton Ellis novel. But whatever, there’s still more coming. Now that he’s got that one in the can, his next elusive project, previously titled Lawless, seems to be in full swing with Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara in starring roles.
Last fall, photos of Mara and Gosley frolicking around Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas, began circling around with buzz about another Malick picture in the works. And as one could deduce, those shots were tests for what is now known as Untitled Terrance Malick Project. The only word revealed on the film is that it involves “two intersecting love triangles," and is "a story of sexual obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.” Not too much can be gathered from these new on-set photos, but we can tell the film looks to feature bridges, puppies, Gosling behind the wheel (as usual), and Rooney Mara sans Lisbeth Salander harshness. Principal photography appears to be going swimmingly (and Terrence seems to be looking like he’s on a safari), but again, it’s Malick so, who really knows?
There’s a Facebook campaign afoot to do something positive in the wake of Friday’s Dark Knight Rises massacre which left 12 people dead and nearly 60 injured: a user is asking Christian Bale to don his Batman costume and visit injured children hospitalized after the Aurora, Colorado shooting.
The campaign, which seems to have originated from the account of user Jonathan Jared Adams, reads:
Hey Facebook, I have an idea … All those kids in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds at the Batman massacre could use a visit from their hero. I propose we (as in all of Facebook) should make enough noise asking Christian Bale to visit these kids in the hospital dressed in the real Batman outfit. They need to know heroes can be real, too, not just the bad guys. Not asking anything fancy from you, if you read this, share it on your wall. If you want to go the extra mile, post it in other sites as well. Show the kids there really are heroes.
"Dear Christian Bale, please visit the injured children from the movie massacre as Batman. You have the power to be a hero right now —not a movie hero, a real flesh and blood one. Sincerely, Everyone"
As of 2:45p.m. EST, the post only had 782 shares but over 1,500 "likes" on Facebook. It’s a sweet sentiment, of course. But it’s somewhat presumptuous to assume that children injured by Friday’s shooting would even want a visit from Batman. I should think some, in fact, might be scared by it. It would be kind of Bale to offer a visit, at least. I, like other people, hope that all of the Dark Knight stars will find an appropriate way to mourn the victims and support their families and friends.
I suppose if Facebook really does work as a democracy, this Christian Bale campaign turn out to be the way.
The Dark Knight Rises star Christian Bale released a statement regarding Friday’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, during a screening of the film that killed 12 and almost 60 others.
Bale’s statement reads:
Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.
Dark Knight‘s director Christopher Nolan released a longer statement on Friday afternoon on behalf of the cast and crew. In it Nolan said, "The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me."
Warner Brothers, the studio behind The Dark Knight Rises, cancelled its Paris movie premiere on Friday and suggested it may not report this weekend’s box office numbers out of respect for the victims.
Give director Christopher Nolan some credit for refusing to settle with The Dark Knight Rises: while things are just as gritty and dour in old Gotham town this time around, they can in no way said to be realistic. And that’s not just in reference to the fact that Christian Bale’s Batman is hovering around in an impossibly space age aircraft for a good portion of every action sequence or that he’s seemed to pick up some heretofore unseen metahuman (if you’ll excuse the DC Comics house style, even if Nolan won’t) healing powers. No, the city is plunged into a bombastic, vaguely philosophical kind of anarchy for half the movie, like Lord of the Flies or Jose Saramago’s Blindness on a summer popcorn flick scale.
Tapping into a nascent at the time of shooting fervor over the Occupy Wall Street movement, Nolan gives us plenty of deliciously salacious shots of stock exchanges run amok, blue bloods being ripped from under their armoires and tossed from their stodgy Park Avenue buildings (won’t someone think of the doormen?), and cartoonish show trials that harken in an important way back to a great Batman: The Animated Series episode.
And considering that, since Batman Begins, Nolan and writer David S. Goyer have been chief among the crusade to take classic nerd fare and make it pedantically legitimate to middlebrow tastes, you’d be forgiven for lumping it in with an earlier blockbuster of the, like Christmas, ever expanding blockbuster season, Prometheus, and shunning it for its tendency to ask the tough questions before leaving them dangling in the air. Sure, it wants the credit of gravitas without doing any of the heavy lifting (the director has been quoted as hoping “the three films together will make it so they have a real span to them, some real heft”), but in this case that doesn’t seem fairly the point. The point is that it looks awesome when Batman carves a gigantic Bat-signal made of fire into a bridge – because Batman is a symbol, you see – and that it’s totally fun to have him lead a charge of angry civil servants against a horde of vague anarchists and hardened convicts. Like Braveheart for Bat-fans, you can think if you like but it’s really not necessary.
And some of the ridiculousness is fun! Anne Hathaway’s turn as Catwoman is not exactly revelatory, but from the moment she reveals her true colors to an inexplicably hobbled Bruce Wayne and the soundtrack splurts out a campy trickle of piano before she flits her way out a window in a shot that is basically all stockinged leg, it’s clear she’s just the vamp Nolan has been reluctant to allow in his grim storybook of constant vengeance.
Unfortunately, even here some of the old man’s sad ticks come into play. No one expected her to measure up to Michelle Pfeiffer’s exhilarating and pitch-perfect take on Selina Kyle from 1992’s Batman Returns; mere competence would surely suffice. But it’s sad that there’s a mirror to one of the earlier film’s great meditations on the nature of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, wherein Bruce is absentmindedly defending Batman ("He saved thousands in property damage alone!") and talking straight past Selina while Selina absentmindedly tries to come to grips with Catwoman and talks straight past Bruce, but it’s a dark one. Here, Hathaway’s Selina spouts 99 percent rhetoric as written by Ayn Rand while Bruce stares into her eyes and condescends to her, recalling Adam West’s Batman talking Burt Ward’s Robin through puberty. Soon after Catwoman and Batman meet, he dictates to her his rules against guns and killing (which he will blatantly break later on) by kicking a gun out of her hand and growling. Even when the most dynamic character in the movie is a woman who can break your spine with her bare hands, the ladies still have to listen to the men in Chris Nolan’s world.
Others from his bag of tricks play out similarly. Given the murky political bent of the movie, it’s a godsend most of the philosophically expository soliloquies have been pared down, but one gets the feeling that’s more due to a weariness not unlike the aged Dark Knight’s than a credit to design. Nolan’s penchant for flashbacks, endless circles of catch phrases collapsing in on themselves (makes one wonder if his Momento was autobiography), and thud-subtle visual imagery (you’d better believe that the Dark Knight really does rise in this movie! On multiple occasions! In various ways! With a special chanting soundtrack, even!) are all here in force. Taken star Liam Neeson’s Star Wars-style ghost cameos are not just limited to Star Wars anymore. There are even flashbacks to the previous two films. (Pity they couldn’t get that Ledger fellow back.)
Nolan has always been given a wide berth by the fanboy community that wants to be taken seriously while also spending $1,500 on playtime dress-up Batsuits, and again there are problems with characterization that would send any other director to the stake. Tom Hardy’s mumblecore, caucasian Bane has been played up as a serious interpretation of the character, of course, but in the end he’s every bit the bumbling henchman of the maligned Batman & Robin interpretation. At least if he’d just droned his own name for three hours we’d have been able to understand him. Even more, when we learn he’s an admixture of Bane and Talia al Ghul’s protector/servant Ubu in the big reveal that everyone in the know saw coming from the day Marion Cotillard was cast, it plays out almost exactly like a forgotten Pierce Brosnan 007 flick, The World Is Not Enough. Bale’s face is even bloated into a similar rictus of torture at the hands of the similarly sadistic femme fatale.
But none of this matters so much as the underlying problem with Nolan’s Batman. In every other piece of Bat-lore, when the going gets tough he lightens up. Recruits a Robin. Gets officially deputized by the police. Starts walking around in broad daylight talking, in third person, about how he “digs this day!” He joins the Justice League and leads them to victory, all the while sassing Superman.
Here, though, it’s a case of endlessly arrested development. In Nolan’s narcissistic and nihilistic fever dream, Batman actually lies so as to continue to be chased by the cops. He locks himself in his room for eight years because he’s sad about the death of a woman he claims to have loved but whom he more correctly childishly idealized. He makes poor Alfred blubber like a baby for some parlor trick he convinces himself is righteous (someone give Michael Caine a hug, and thank the lord Michael Gough and Alan Napier aren’t alive to see this). Not only does Nolan not let Batman grow up, but he seeks to convince us that the Dark Knight’s most heroic act is to give up.
Nick Cave may denounce his Batman Forever soundtrack contribution as a shameless money grab, but it works to point out what’s wrong here, because this isn’t the kind of hero the kids standing around looking to the sky, daddio, need right now. Or the one they deserve. Whatever it is that The Dark Knight clincher was supposed to mean.