Sunday, July 27, 2008

A dark night at Batman movie

The latest installment of Batman ("The Dark Knight") is worm-ridden excrement worthy of comparison to the equally nihilistic "No Country for Old Men," wherein the psychopathic murderer is given all the best lines and is, by far, the cleverest and deepest character, exhibiting insight and planning that make a mockery of his good-guy opponents.

The makers of this Batman have created a magnificent Badman in the Joker, played by Heath Ledger in a tour-de-force characterization -- and therein ends my compliments. They, unfortunately, didn't feel it necessary to create a worthy opponent on the side of good and right. The film's creators have brought us a Batman full of sturm und drang., full of angst, full of pathos without the righteous. When this Batman has the mass-murdering Joker in his sights, he doesn't kill -- he cries. He goes out of his way NOT to kill the Badman, and in the process he knocks himself out and has to be saved by a more savvy good man. Ah shucks. This Batman isn't a Superhero; he's a Simperhero, a castrated, simpering patsy toyed with by the superior Joker.

The creators of this movie believe (as most modern directors do) that only the psychopaths (who theoretically have nothing to lose because they do not value life) can be supremely confident and controlled; they don't believe that great men can or should be supremely confident. They don't believe in the certainty that comes from being good. They don't believe in good. They think to be good is to be "conflicted" about life and about taking the life of a murderer.

Hell, in this movie they hardly managed to give Batman superpower. A mere one dog takes down Batman (who, you may remember, wears an armored suit) and guys not wearing armored suits hold their own fairly well against the caped crusader in fights. The writers and directors did not see fit to give Batman even a smidgen of elan or the humorous presence of mind that Arnold Schwarzenegger had in "True Lies" when he bapped to doberman pinchers' heads together as the dogs jumped up at Arnold, and then Arnold says something funny like "That's using your heads." No, this Batman must always speak with turgid incomprehensibility and anxious anticipation, as if life and events are spinning beyond his control. There's no fun for the weary. Leave the funnies for the psychopath.

Modern filmmakers believe this gives "heroes" more realism. They are right. The modern "heroes" are realistic ninnies; they are NOT heroes. These filmmakers don't know how to create a "Mal" from the TV series "Firefly," in which the main hero is truly heroic and must work through some issues and always comes out on the bright side, not the dark side. He is a bright knight, not a dark knight.

But, of course "Firefly" didn't last even one season. And so it goes in modern America. It is turning from the shining city on the hill to the deserted town in a dark night.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My letter in Wall Street Journal on "can't-do" politics

Daniel Henninger’s column on the “can’t-possibly-do” mentality expresses the frustration that many of us have with governments’ having a hand in anything productive in America. When one recalls that the Empire State Building was built with private money in just 11 months during the Depression, one can only marvel at the infighting and politicking that has created the Trade Center quagmire.
Henninger, however, suggests that Obama believers think of him as can do. But his “can do” is directly related to the government doing, not private people. Obama is the candidate of can’t-do: Americans can’t make a lot of money. American’s can’t administrate their own health care. American’s can’t choose to remain aloof to unions. Americans can’t freely plan their own retirement. American’s can’t demand liberty through war instead of anxiety through appeasement.
If New York wishes a speedily built and beautiful World Trade Center, I suggest the Port Authority immediately sell the precious 16-acre site and let American businessmen do what they are best at: doing.