‘Skyfall’ Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade Join Forces With Nicolas Winding Refn for ‘Barbarella’

And today in jobs that every actress in Hollywood should be clamoring for: the role of Barbarella in Nicolas Winding Refn’s upcoming reboot of the 1968 Roger Vadim film, Barbarella. The sexy, intergalactic action-packed film was made iconic by the alluring presence of Jane Fonda and now Refn will have his stab at bringing it back to life with a television adaptation of the classic picture. The decision to take this on may seem like a departure for the cinematically-minded director who brought us The Pusher Trilogy, Bronson, Drive, and the upcoming Only God Forgives, but he’s no stranger to television. Back in 2001 when Refn was struggling to get his films properly-funded, he wrote all 12 episodes of Danish series The Chosen 7, as well as directing the television film Miss Marple: Nemesis

After signing onto Barbarella last summer, little chatter has come about the series—save the fact that we’re not quite sure what else Refn is working on right now. Sure, he’s putting the finishing touches on Only God Forgives—his Thai boxing thriller with Ryan Gosling—but once that hits Cannes, what’s next? His highly-anticipated Logan’s Remake will now go on without his buddy Gosling but doesn’t look to have made much progression as of late; and recently, Refn made a swift exit from Denzel Washington’s drama The Equalizer

The original Vadmin film takes place in the 41st century, where a female astronaut is tasked with finding and stopping the evil Durnand-Durnad. Now, if I heard that anyone else was adapting this into a TV series I’d be pretty skeptical. But with Refn’s well-honed ability to artfully merge action and sex appeal, I’m not too concerned—actually, I kind of cannot wait to see what he does with the Queen of the Galaxy. And better still, Skyfall screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have just signed on to pen the series, revamping it to fit the 21st century.

Now, the only task will be finding the woman for the job. Naturally, Jennifer Lawrence comes to mind but I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen. No disrespect J.Law, Silver Linings showed us that yes, you do look great in tight clothing and can move quite well (you also happen to be the biggest female action star at the moment with The Hunger Games) BUT wouldn’t it be great if he cast someone unknown or at least lesser known? Refn is so incredibly good at directing his actors and gettting them to disappear so completely into their characters, that when someone like the relatively unknown Tom Hardy came out of nowhere with Bronson—giving one of the greatest performances in the last decade—that’s pretty damn fantastic to see. Refn has said,"I’m certain that the combination of our creative forces will produce a show that is as enthralling as it is sexy,” in regards to his 007 team on the picture.

Here’s hoping.

Noomi Rapace and Tom Hardy Team Up for ‘Animal Rescue’

The original badass Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the hot dude who scared the shit out of us but still made us fall in love with him in Bronson, together for a heist movie involving dogs, adapted from a Denis Lehane short story? Yup, I’m sold! Helmed by Bullhead director Michel Roskham, Noomi Rapace has just signed on to star opposite Tom Hardy in Animal Rescue, a film about “a lonely New York bartender, caught in the midst of a bad heist and a killing, who rescues a puppy from a garbage can and becomes the target of the dog’s abusive and mentally unstable former owner. Rapace will play Nadia, who has a scar across her neck, who crosses paths with bartender, who finds the puppy outside her home.” 

And just in case you’re not aleady convinced that this is sure to be amazing, check out some photos from Blag Magazine and see how awesome they look together.

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Nick Cave: Still Lawless After All These Years

It’s hard to know where to begin with Nick Cave. His music inspires a sort of devotion among fans that few other artists enjoy, a hard-earned loyalty that’s seen him from post-punk provocateur to balladeer, novelist and screenplay writer. This Bad Seed’s latest project is the script for Lawless, which he adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel, The Wettest County in the World. Directed by longtime friend and collaborator John Hillcoat, Lawless is a strangely beautiful tale of three bootlegging brothers in Franklin County, Virginia. Cave and longtime collaborator Warren Ellis did the soundtrack, as well, under the name The Bootleggers; it’s a magnificent, eccentric collection of Lawless-era takes on songs like "White Light/White Heat" by the Velvet Underground and a must for Cave fans.

Tom Hardy stars as Forrest Bondurant, a reticent man who favors cardigans and extreme violence when necessary. He’s a myth, a man who allegedly can’t be killed, and yet a mother hen of sorts to his two screw-up brothers, Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and Howard (Jason Clarke). The Bondurants’ livelihood is threatened by a new lawman from Chicago, Charlie Rakes, who is played by a nearly unrecognizable Guy Pearce. Sporting slicked-back black hair, a shaved part, and no eyebrows, Pearce is menacing, sadistic, and unforgettable. Rounding out the cast is Jessica Chastain as a former showgirl named Maggie who’s looking for a quiet new life in Franklin County, and Mia Wasikowska as a religious young maiden who seems open to a more worldly life in the arms of Jack.

Although it’s tempting to think of Cave as a myth on par with Forrest Bondurant, he’s human and equally at the mercy of the vicissitudes of technology. The soft-spoken Australian was fighting the good fight against his dying cell phone when he called from Los Angeles to discuss his acting swansong, lyrical violence, and the slog of interviews.

I’m really interested in how Lawless seems to fit right into the world of your songs and even your novel And the Ass Saw the Angel. Was that part of the attraction to adapting the novel, or was that even conscious?
I didn’t look at it in that way. I’m happy to write about anything for screenwriting as long as it serves the director’s vision effectively and that I can write about it. We were just given this book by a couple of producers who thought that John Hillcoat and I could do a good job on it based on The Proposition, the movie we’d done before that. I guess it’s no accident that we were chosen to do it; these producers were quite savvy sort of people, but for me, it wasn’t that I felt that it kind of fitted into something that I was about, it was more that… the beautiful lyricism of the book, the beauty of the writing, the absolutely exquisite dialogue that was in the book, and the great bits of brute violence that were in there as well just made the whole thing irresistible.

Have you ever though about returning to acting, since you met John on the set of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead?
No. [Laughs] No, you’ve got to know your limitations, and acting is always unbelievably painful. I do play a dead gangster in Lawless, and I saw that as my final curtain call for acting. Three bullet holes in the face.

How much time did you spend on set? Did you have a lot of ongoing input?
I spent two days on set when I did that particular scene. The rest of the time I spent ten days working with the actors in Georgia where it was shot, going through the script with them, and rehearsing with them, and giving them the opportunity to have some sort of input into the script or discuss the script or change the script or whatever… And then I left to go back to civilization. You know what I mean. The more civilized world of being a rock singer.

I read your interview in The Observer where Tom Hardy said he wanted to play his character like "an old lesbian," and I was wondering if you could elaborate on that.
I can’t, really… He also said he wanted to play the character like the old lady in Tweetie Pie, do you know who I mean? Yeah, that was the other person that he based the character on. And at the time this was kind of a [joke], these kind of comments [laughs] but you know, I think that what he was really saying was that he wanted to play the character like a matriarch, and that he was the mother in this family, and that when Jessica Chastain’s character comes in, she isn’t a love interest so much as a direct threat on his authority as a mother figure, and I think that that’s the way he’s playing that character. He’s just amazing in the film.

My favorite line was when Chastain’s character enters the room to seduce him, and he’s so perplexed, and he says, "What are you doing?" It’s beyond him.
Yeah, well, he’s a virgin. He’s a virgin.

Aw, little Forrest!
[Laughs] He’s spent his time looking after his family and sitting on his nest, and anything like love interests and all that sort of stuff, I don’t think he’s ever, you know, he’s never had an opportunity for. That’s the way we’re looking at it.

The process is so much more—you get hamstrung by the studios or the producers or what have you. What’s the payoff in writing the screenplay when you don’t have as much freedom as you do making an album?It must be very frustrating.
In the writing of something, it’s not like that. When you first write something, it’s actually really kind of enjoyable and playful and really all you’re doing is taking a story, and you’re writing the scenes, and at least, because I’ve only written a couple of screenplays, really, maybe three or four, I’m still kind of naive enough to the process to think that what I’m actually writing is gonna get made.

I think that with Lawless, my eyes were opened up to the way films get made a lot more. It was a Hollywood movie, and it’s different, it’s a different process. But I think what makes it enjoyable for me is a kind of naiveté about the process and that you can write scenes that maybe a more experienced writer would know that these scenes will never get made. That there’s no point even putting pen to paper with these scenes because they’re never gonna get made. I think at least initially when I wrote Lawless, there were a lot of scenes like that, that were so enjoyable writing them. A lot of them, as it turned out, didn’t get made, but a lot of them did, and so it’s both. It’s extremely exciting, but it can be frustrating as well.

But there’s a huge amount of people—it’s amazing anything gets done, honestly. There’s so many people involved in the artistic decision-making of a film, and the sort of trajectory that it takes, it’s amazing that a film ever gets made at all.

I understand Crime and the City Solution is preparing to go on tour and release its first new album in years. What inspires you to revisit a certain band’s sound, like, okay, now I want to do some Bad Seeds. Now I’m feeling a little Grinderman. Now I wanna go do something with The Flaming Lips. How does that work?
They’re all different. The Flaming Lips… It was very much about the kind of irrepressible personality of Wayne Coyne. He’s, how shall I say this, he’s a very difficult person to say no to. That turned out real good, but you know, all of these other things—screenplays, novels, and all that sort of stuff—I see as just keeping the songwriting process going.

What I want to be able to do in life is just to write songs, but I know, more than anything, that if I don’t do other things, I’m not going to be able to continue to do that because you just run out of ideas. If you just made one record after another after another, it’s impossible to do. It’s impossible to keep up any quality. And I was kind of seeing that fifteen years ago or something. I understood the trajectory of the band and where it was going in some kind of way, and it was starting to decline. It was in decline, I think, and so I started doing other things just to kind of revitalize that process, and it seemed to work really well.

If I do a script, like something like Lawless, by the time I’m finished with that, I’m running screaming to get out of Hollywood and the film world and get into something more sane, like making a record. It just keeps that process alive.

How do you feel about the kind of promotion you have to do for a movie insofar as going to different festivals and talking to interviewers? Is it exhausting in a way that promoting an album or going on tour isn’t?
Promoting an album, doing interviews, and going on tour are two very different things. With all respect, doing an interview is something where you’re sitting there and selling a product. It’s always that way, and there’s a certain amount of that that I guess needs to be done, really. Going on tour is something that is an extraordinary thing to do. I love going on tour and playing concerts and watching the songs come alive in a live way.

There are actually occasions when you do an interview that makes you think about things and makes you reassess things or gives you ideas and so forth, or makes you even understand what you’re doing in a clearer kind of way, and they can be really good as well, actually. But in general, the interview thing is a bit of a slog. [Laughs] Not this one, of course. Not this one.

[Laughs] That’s very kind of you. What makes an interview not a slog? Seriously, I am always looking to learn.
Really, it’s being able to kind of honest in an interview. You know, that’s the thing about filmmaking in particular, is that no one can really be honest about a film… because so many people are involved, and the kind of destinies of so many people are involved in the outcome of the film that everyone’s just gonna kind of, you know, toe the line. If you know what I mean.

Creativity really ebbs and flows, and it seems like you’re producing work at an incredibly alarming rate. What do you do for your downtime?
I’m trying to work on that, to be honest. That’s my next project, is downtime, because it’s not something that really comes naturally to me, and it becomes worrying on some level how much work I’m doing. Not that I’m exhausted by it, because I find work energizing, but just that there needs to be downtime. There needs to be time when you don’t know what you’re doing… If you don’t have downtime, then you don’t have the epiphanies, either. You need the downtime for the epiphanies to [appear]. I think to work more on downtime. Maybe you’ve got some ideas.

John Hillcoat Travels Back to the ‘Lawless’ Franklin County, Virginia

“For me, cinema in the late ‘60s and ‘70s—that was the renaissance of film,” says acclaimed director John Hillcoat, whose newest film, Lawless, harkens back to dusty outlaw tales of Bonnie and Clyde while taking the the conventional gangster genre and burying it deep in the backwoods. Based on the novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bonderant, the film was written and scored by Hillcoat’s longtime collaborator and friend, Nick Cave, bringing together not only their shared passion for American folklore but their unique brand of storytelling.

The film tells the story of three bootlegging brothers: Jack, Forrest, and Howard (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke, respectively) in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, during the prohibition. After FBI Special Agent Charlie Rakes (played by Guy Pearce) is sent into town to bring hell into their lives, the film follows down the beloved Hillcoat trajectory of a violent, male-driven tale of people living in extreme worlds with extreme consequences. It’s through the characters of Maggie and Bertha (played by Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska) and their strong female presence, however, that we’re presented with a real-life tale that’s more about battling for survival and protection than just machismo. We caught up with Hillcoat to chat about going back in time to find the story, the complexities of alpha male characters, and being on the fringe of American cinema.

How did you come across the novel? Were you looking for something like this?
I was looking for a gangster film. I love being transported into other worlds and extreme worlds. When I say extreme worlds, I mean where the stakes are high therefore there’s real conflict. And being transported into other worlds has always been something that I’ve loved about cinema since I was a kid. There’s something to me about the Great American films; the gangster films and the westerns were certainly two very distinct worlds you get caught up in, and I’d been looking for a gangster film but, to be honest, it was very hard to find a new take on that genre, especially in the wake after Goodfellas. It’s kind of hard, where do go from there? So I went back in time. What I found interesting [in Lawless] was that it was the people in the backwoods, and that story, I don’t think, has ever been told. I guess it’s also where the western ends and the gangster film begins, and the western outlaws in the backwoods now are introduced to guns and modern technology. It was quite an upheaval.

What attracts you to these sort of extreme worlds and moral situations?
It just always interested me because I think it just reveals a lot about ourselves. It’s in extreme situations that we see the best and the worst of ourselves. I’m always intrigued by what really lurks under.

There are a lot of gangster films that come out but don’t have a strong staying power like Goodfellas because they lack the character and heart, but these characters were so developed—they all had their own strong backstories and you could empathize with them. Is that something you grasped from the novel?
Matt Bondurant, who wrote the novel, he was at his father’s place, and he saw hanging on the wall, a pair of brass knuckles and he said, “What the hell are those?” His father said, “Oh, that was your great Uncle Forrest.” So it was actually that moment that he went right into the whole research of that world, discovering his family history. Also just as a writer, his ear for dialogue; I love the way he talked about Maggie and Forrest and that they’re both damaged people that find each other and it’s a very unusual but moving kind of love story and they hide it from everyone. Forrest can’t describe his emotions, so it’s this secret awkward love affair. And then the sweetness and innocence of the first love of Jack and Bertha. Because no matter how extreme a world, I’m more interested in trying to find the humanity than just making the two-dimensional. That’s sometimes a challenge when you’re dealing with such familiar genres. Although, that being said, these gangsters and westerns are still filled with flawed characters with moral dilemmas.

You don’t necessarily like the characters all of the time, but you still want it to work out for them because you’ve set up that humility in all of them.
Exactly. And their own tragic flaws are always compelling, I think. In this case, what also was very attractive—that Nick Cave who adapted it, and I both loved was that traditionally, the genre with gangsters—you’re used to seeing them punished for their sins and so they’re all taken out in a blaze of glory. But in this case, I don’t want to give away too much, but there was a real transformation and to really engage in everyday life. We thought that was actually a refreshing thing to see. And the one guy who was always a misfit in life and kind of the most haunted finally finds peace and you think he’ll always survive. So, for us, in the true story, there were a lot of rich ingredients and it’s still tapped into archetypes of that world that I’ve always been fascinated in. Floyd Banner is just that colorful kind of gangster, the gangster for all of us, someone we’re all scared of and thrilled by, so he was a really interesting character as well and I really tried to get that irony of the way Jack was like all of us.

You’re attracted to these male-driven, violent stories. They’re not violent for the sake of it, but just because they are it’s necessary for their survival. Is that something that you’re cognizant of when developing an idea?
Actually, what I thought was so great about what Tom  brought to Forrest was actually quite a vulnerable, feminine side.

He was like the mother of the family.
And when he lashes out he is absolutely terrifying and probably all the more for it. But because of the contradictions and complexities, I am fascinated by the sort of flip side to those archetypes and also the vulnerabilities. To me, it’s always more interesting to see, a sort of powerful alpha male vulnerable than just pure alpha male. Having said that, and this what I love about the Maggie and Bertha, I do love a little respite in there. It’s hard to find, often in most of these stories, to find strong female characters and so I’m always actively seeking that. And in actual fact, I’m actually specifically looking for female-driven leading characters. I love these kind of genres and these generic, almost like ancient kind of dilemmas and conflicts. Often the written scripts for leading female characters tend to be not in these kind of robust genres and I would love to find that, I’m always looking for that material. I’m saying, I would like a classic genre film in extreme situations but the character is a woman. That’s hard to find.

It was refreshing to see these women that were really strong and could hold their own against these men. Even Bertha, even though she’s so innocent, but she had a strength.
I’m glad you noticed! And Maggie is actually stronger than all those brothers, even Forrest.

I love that she had to be the one to do something first because he’s so strong but was completely incapable of expressing himself.
Yes and she had to bare this terrible truth and hide and then eventually reveals that she had to take care of him. Then she had to bare the real truth that he couldn’t deal with. She had to battle it and that makes her all the more stronger that she can handle it whereas she knew he couldn’t.

How did you go about casting?
First came Shia; he was always involved from the get go. In all his films, he was always strong in them and compelling and there was something about him. And he was itching to get his teeth into real characters and he had qualities that Jack had. The film had come through various incarnations because initially when we were trying to make it, it was a studio film and then the global economy shook everything up and all the studios went into a spiral and decided they couldn’t make these sort of films anymore. So we went back and reconstructed it. Shia independently had contacted Tom because he loved his performance in Bronson. I actually had been aware of Tom independently and met Tom after he had just done Inception and knew he was someone I wanted to find something to do and this was perfect material. And Jessica, I met her actually before Tom. I was looking for a strong, intelligent woman who was charismatic and also had real gravitas and depth to her and real emotion. So then when I met her it was a combination of things I had heard from other filmmakers that I trust and then meeting her and then seeing a couple scenes from the film. Mia I met before she did Alice and she, at that stage, had only done a couple of smaller films and again, she had this wonderful quality and just struck me as having a great face for it. When you look at different periods and different times, there are certain faces that look suitable for those times and also for that kind of closed religious communities so something about her look. The Mennonites, a lot of them came from an eastern European background so there was several qualities and also a real sweetness and edging with her. She was so young and clearly so talented and also a completely different energy to Jessica.

It was a perfect pairing between Jessica and Tom and then Shia and Mia. They all had such great chemistry.
And that something I’m always looking for, especially with an ensemble, that kind of different energies and contrasts.

You have an ongoing relationship and collaboration with Nick Cave as a writer and composer. Can you tell me about that? He always does such fascinating work.
We have an Australian connection. I’ve known him since I was a teenager and I did his music stuff and he worked on my film stuff. There’s something about him… I love music and I’ve been involved in music my whole career and Nick loves movies. He watches more movies than me and I listen to more music than him. So it’s a weird connection there, we love collaborating and we’re always planning and working on the next thing.

So do you work together as he’s writing it, do you sort of build it together?
There’s a period where I’m more just a bouncing board for stuff he writes and I talk about ideas that I’ll have that he’ll play with, so it’s very much an organic back-and-forth. And to have him write at the very beginning and then end the whole thing with the music gives it a really added cohesion that I don’t think I would get otherwise.

Because he knows what the tone is supposed to be because he set it.
Exactly. And actually, there’s something very musical in the rhythms of films and the way people speak and the whole tone of things, so I’m very lucky.

This is sort of a very rural American Dream type of film. As someone not from here, do you have your own very predisposed image of what you image this time to be like and American history?
Well, I actually grew up in America as a young kid and I grew up in Canada from when I was 4 years old to 17 and I’ve travelled a lot through the country but I definitely have an outsiders perspective. It’s strange, it’s an outsiders perspective and in that sense, that sometimes can be a big advantage.

Did you have any sort of cinematic touchstones that you looked back on when making the film for inspiration? Gangster movies or westerns?
Oh, yeah. The big one for me, particularly, was White Heat with Jimmy Cagney, which has a kind of restless energy and flamboyance, that was something in that period I talked a lot to Guy Pierce about when he played Rakes. And, of course, Bonnie and Clyde. The films of the ’70s—they’ve always been a profound influence on my work and an inspiration. But there’s old black-and-white films, the classic gangsters as well. And the original Scarface

I’ll Fly Away: Batman Trots Limply Off Into the Sunset

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.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Featurette Is 13 Minutes Of Batman-ly Goodness

The Dark Knight Rises is the movie you can’t avoid this summer and if you’re like millions of fans, you probably won’t want to, anyway. So make sure you don’t miss this new 13-minute long featurette with the cast and crew’s behind-the-scenes commentary. Watch it after the jump.

Director Christopher Nolan, actors Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Tom  Hardy (Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) and various producers all share their thoughts in the above featurette — which, if it does nothing else, will give you nightmares about that creepy mask over Tom Hardy’s face. And of course, it will make covet Anne Hathaway’s red lipstick and body in that skintight cat unitard.

 

 

Consider our interest piqued. Even if we can’t officially sign off on the wisdom of Christian Bale’s current facial hair.

Two New Looks at ‘Dark Knight Rises’

Last night was a big one for TV, and not just because of the American Idol finale. 

Two new TV spots for The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s hotly, wetly anticipated new Batman movie—in theaters July 20—appeared on television last night, one each during Idol and Modern Family, according to Deadline

The spots show off the same doomsday scenario for Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), his new pals Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and his nemesis Bane (Tom Hardy), but in a different order than we’ve seen in the theatrical trailer—and with some additional footage. 

Take a peek.

The first TV spot, which aired suring American Idol

The second spot. 

And the most recent Dark Knight Rises trailer. 

Nick Cave and Some Aussies Made a Movie About America

On the surface, Lawless, the forthcoming Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, and Guy Pearce Prohibition flick, looks like a stretched-out episode of Boardwalk Empire. Are there bootleggers? Old-timey dress appropriate only for pompous mixologist types? Bad-ass lawmen intent on bringing order back to town? Yes, yes and yes. But there’s something more to the film that appeals to those of us who might night race to the theater for every shoot-’em-up that gets projected: this movie was written by none other than Nick Cave. 

Indeed that Nick Cave; he of the Birthday Party and Bad Seeds. But music isn’t Cave’s only forte. In addition to putting out generally stellar records for the past 40 years or so, Cave has been involved with making movie soundtracks (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Road), writing books (the latest being 2009’s The Death of Bunny Munro) and, wouldn’t you know it, writing screenplays.

And suddenly this movie, based on The Wettest County in the World, a historical novel by Matt Bondurant which blends his family history with fiction, becomes more than another hillbilly-bootleggers-gone-wild two hours, it turns into something that actually seemed important to see. At least to the Cave fans among us. And if that doesn’t convince you, well, the trailer premiered just this week, watch below and see if it doesn’t leave you wanting more.

Christopher Nolan Doesn’t Care About Your Hearing

If you were lucky enough to catch an extended clip of The Dark Knight Rises before screenings of Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, you may have noticed one thing: Bane’s voice. The Batman villain, played by Tom Hardy, is a big, bulky sort of guy, so it makes sense that he’d talk like he had a mouth full of coleslaw, as many buff dudes do.

However, director Christopher Nolan might’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole. Most reports of the clip showed complete confusion over what exactly Bane was trying to say, outside of "Mfhfrmfmfm BATMAN." As Dark Knight Rises doesn’t come out for half a year, most of these reports also assumed that Nolan would probably just correct it all in post-production.

Not so, says The Hollywood Reporter. Nolan knows exactly what he’s doing with Bane’s coleslaw mouth—and he doesn’t care. “Chris wants the audience to catch up and participate rather than push everything at them. He doesn’t dumb things down," THR quotes one high-level exec as saying. “You’ve got to pedal faster to keep up.” Previously, Nolan had told THR that “it was OK for a moviegoer not to understand what was said at times, as long as the overall idea was conveyed.”

I respect his homage to McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but most ticket payers probably won’t. They come to the theater to see action, damn it, not an auteur showing off about art or whatever. There’s still a while before next summer, so Nolan might be forced to cave to studio demands. In the name of moviegoers without rabbit ears, I hope he does. Watch the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises below, in case you haven’t yet.