Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catwoman: Gay to Straight in TDKR

If you saw The Dark Knight Rises and thought… hmmm… is Catwoman a lesbian? Is Nolan making a pun on the word “Pussy” and its’ relation to felines and Lesbians i.e. "Pussywoman"? Besides the obvious stereotype that she rides motorcycles and wears leather, I’m here to confirm your suspicions with a wonderfully insightful examination of phallic symbols, vaginal references, and good old fashion coitus. (which means SPOILERS if you haven't seen it yet).

Here’s the points of interest:
Batman emasculated? Sounds like a headline out of the National Inquirer, but it’s one of Catwoman’s key functions in the film. Here’s the bullet points:
·      Catwoman steals Mother Wayne’s pearl necklace
 (Wayne did not give her a “pearl necklace”, she took it taking all the sexuality out of the term and making it a simple necklace once again. Bruce saw his mother die at a time when if we believe Freud had a strong Oedipal thing going on, the necklace represents his strong bond with his mother. Catwoman teases him with the necklace on the dance floor until Bruce almost becomes a little boy saying, “Mine! MINE!”)
·      Catwoman steals his car
Is Batman compensating for something with a ridiculous nice car? Maybe. Catwoman takes the car and Bruce Wayne is left being picked up from the party by Alfred like a child coming home from school.
·      Kicks out his cane to escape
There’s nothing more phallic than a cane and by kicking it out Catwoman lays out the man who defeated the Joker. He lies there crumpled on the floor a broken man as she does a double back flip out the window. His wobbly limp cane is no match for her. She also isn’t a subservient to Batman the way that Rachel Dawes was, she’s her own woman not tied to powerful men like Harvey Dent or Bruce Wayne, instead she uses her sexuality to frustrate them and take what she wants, case and point with the Senator.

Catwoman delivers Batman to Bane, if we consider Batman to be an ultimate symbol of masculinity rich, white, supremely athletic, charitable, and smart enough to fix an autopilot that Lucius Fox couldn’t fix then Catwoman is essentially giving up on men. By God he’s Batman, who wouldn’t date Batman? And Catwoman gives him up in order to lead a free life with her woman friend at home without being hunted by Bane and his goons.

Catwoman and her friend (Jen played by Juno Temple) stand at a window. Jen stands behind Catwoman stroking her back in a very loving way and says something to the effect of, “I thought this was what you wanted, the storm you wanted has come.” The scene in its dark lighting has multiple homoerotic elements, but it’s clear that these two are in a relationship that is beyond friendship.

Batman himself has possessed no real sexuality throughout the trilogy, sure he loves Rachel Dawes, but at no point are we given a passionate love scene. Even when he tries to embarrass her with the two playmates hanging off his arms, it’s simply that an act of revenge. The Dark Knight Rises actually possesses scenes of Batman intimacy with Marion Cotillard (Miranda), but they are limited to a rainy kiss with Christian Bale’s nipples more prominent than Kirsten’s Dunst in the original Spiderman, and then them lying naked by the fire.

Flashforward: The Kiss right before Batman’s nuclear detination flight. Catwoman lays a big smooch on him that was more surprising than the reveal of Miranda’s dark past. It had no place in this particular trilogy and was reminiscent of Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis sharing a kiss as a nuclear bomb exploded in the background in True Lies. Up until this point I was convinced that Catwoman was lesbian lovers with her friend Jen, who we never hear from again. So what happened between 3 and 4 that caused Catwoman to switch teams?

3.5 The Sexual Conversion
When someone asks if Batman and Catwoman are dating, she responds, “He wishes,” in a tone suggesting that the very idea of this is never possible. But that’s what happens at the end the movie when Catwoman and Bruce dine together (by the way if your father figure, Alfred, sits across from you at a restaurant and thinks you’re dead, you should go over and say hi).

So how does Batwoman seduce the modern woman?
Batman is oft to mention to Catwoman, “There’s more to you than this,” every time Catwoman acts selfishly in trying to gain an erasure of her past in the form of the computer program “Clean Slate.”
However, after Batman returns from the grueling prison, he’s a new man back from the dead, and Catwoman admires this, he’s not who she thought he was, he's an even stronger man now. Batman convinces her to help him in exchange for the Clean Slate. He then shows her the vehicle she will be mounting: The Pod. The Pod looks like a large black dildo or a giant cock depending on who you ask. 

Catwoman tries it out as she blasts a giant hole in sealed off tunnel so people can leave the city, she’s noticeably impressed with the fire power. Hmmm… would men consider a “blocked tunnel” a metaphor for a unreachable/unattainable vagina (that of a lesbian?)? And as she presses the right buttons on the pod, white missiles shoot out and penetrate the blockage… Nolan is literally hammering this home.

We think Catwoman’s going to leave, but of course she doesn’t, instead she takes the Pod for a test drive, enjoying how it maneuvers around corners and helps her escape death, and one could claim she’s riding it doggy style. By the end of her orgasmic ride on the Pod, which accounts for the most thrilling adventure of her life, despite the fact she was a jewel thief, she gives Batman that long kiss as if to say, “thank you" and "remind me to have sex with you later if this whole bomb thing works out."

It’s often said that Batman doesn’t have any superhero powers, but the fact of the matter is he has one, and it’s converting lesbians. 

The Hollywood Defender

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Tragedy

12 killed. 50 injured. Midnight.

"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. 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. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."

Christopher Nolan

I was thinking of the same thing as Nolan earlier today. I can’t remember a time where I ever felt threatened in a movie theater or even thought that violent action was a possibility.  I’ve always thought of the movie theater as a safe place even though you’re in the dark with a bunch of people you don’t know, you trust them for some reason because they’ve come to see what you want to see. I'm an agoraphobe, I being around other people it makes me very uncomfortable especially in public places, but I always felt relaxed in a movie theater. I always felt it was a safe space. And now  I’ll always feel a little uneasy in a movie theater from now on, especially on a midnight showing. It’ll be hard not to think about it. 

The gunman ( I refuse to use his name because he did this for fame) according to USA Today,  “planned his attack well enough to create what is called "a fatal funnel." When people hunker down to avoid bullets, he throws the tear gas to flush them out and shoots them when they do.”

But as always, wherever there are villians there are heroes like 19 year old Jarrell Brooks who despite sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg made sure that a woman and her two children were able to escape the theater.

Dark Knight’s own violence was shocking and horrifying when I saw it four years ago. The Joker’s insistence that he put razors in his mouth, the pencil trick, the smoke bomb in the mouth, it wasn’t a new type of violence, but it was a new type of violence for Batman. It’s impossible to link this trilogy with Michael Keaton and Jim Carrey’s Riddler. Nolan wanted to create a Batman that could exist in the real world and he showed that world’s inherent violence. And of course it got a PG-13 rating. There’s always been the violence versus sex argument and how the MPAA is stringent on sexual acts in films, while violent ones are generally left to lesser offenses. (If you want to know more about it check out This Film Is Not Yet Rated and see the absurd practices of the institution, where people having no qualifications control the one of the largest censorship institutions in America). And the strangest thing about the Dark Knight is that you cheer for the Joker, he’s the most interesting character by far, who didn’t go home and work on their “Why so Serious?” impression? 

The role was iconic, Heath Ledger took that part above and beyond what anyone thought was possible in a superhero movie and many feel that he underwent an internal transformation in his preparation for the role that eventually led to his death. And he apparently inspired a killer. The Dark Knight always prompts Batman up as a “symbol” and it’s easy to forget that The Joker was a symbol for violent anarchy and one man had to take it too far.

However, we need to take a step back and note that killer’s find inspiration in random ass shit. The Columbine shooters really liked Papa Roach, which people freaked out over saying it was why the gunman pulled the trigger. Mark David Chapman left a copy of Catcher in the Rye by John Lennon’s body. John Hinckley wanted to impress Jodie Foster when he shot at Reagan. South Park succinctly pointed out the hypocrisy of blaming the art, when the boy’s write a book that inspires people to kill Sarah Jessica Parker. The Dark Knight didn’t inspire a mass of killers, it inspired one, but anything could’ve inspired him, the inspiration to kill for murderers can come from anywhere because they’re crazy. In light of the murders, violent programming removed from Showtime and USA tonight and Warner Bros’ removes Gangster Squad trailer, which showed characters shooting into a movie theater. TNT however is still airing the Dark Knight. I guess you don’t want to seem insensitive, but I’m not sure how many movies don’t have violence in them even if it is cartoon slapstick, hell Chaplin and Keaton had violence. We can’t pretend that violence doesn’t exist in the movies, it does and it will.

Of course no one is to blame for the 12 deaths except the gunman, a random act of premeditated violence. It’s strange to think that one of the best trilogies of my generation will be mired in violence in Heath’s Death, the threats against the reviewers that didn't like Dark Knight Rises, and now the 12 who lost their lives trying to see a movie they were waiting four year for, one that they had bought pre-show tickets possibly months in advanced to see. It’s hard not to think of all the other things they won’t get to see. They were fans, they were dedicated and they just wanted to see a movie. That’s what that movie was in the end about, it’s one of the few times where everyone is excited about the same thing, there are so many possible venues for entertainment now that to get the collective whole of America excited about one movie, one event is incredible.

You were excited then your friend was excited and he got you more excited and then your other friend got you more excited, and all that excitement built off each other into a fervor. It’s so surreal today because back in February I wrote this explaining how I didn't think the Dark Knight Rises could live up to the hype, “Midnight showings on Fandango are already selling out. Hell, I remember my friends saying that their one wish was not to die before they see it, they were 18 at the time.” (LINK)    

In the end, it was young people doing something together, doing something that young people have always done: go to the movies. They just wanted to see a movie, a good movie, and they got killed. People will attempt to make them a symbol whether it is for “gun control” or “anti-violence” campaigns, but they were just kids, they didn’t have time to find out what they stood for.

The Hollywood Defender

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Bitter, Staunch Defense of Tom Cruise

Sometimes I wish I had a theme music because there are articles that act as a bat signal calling me into action. Tom Cruise has been deemed indefensible by Sam Lansky of The Atlantic who penned the article “Who’s Left to Defend Tom Cruise?” (Link)

Obviously, Lansky hasn't read my work (The Paula Deen Defense).

We’ve given Tom Cruise flack over the years for three main issues: 

1. Believing he’s unwilling to reveal his sexuality
 2. Scientology 
3. Jumping on a couch.

These are the problems we have created, the reasons we find Tom Cruise to be so “Cruise-y.”

We expect him to reveal his sexuality when in all likelihood it would destroy his image as a leading man, how many openly gay superheroes or action stars have been cast? Is he still able to land the roles, in which he’s able to be the sexy leading man? Yes, Cruise is an executive of United Artists, but since action movies are almost exclusively targeted at teen-age boys and men, will they want to see Tom Cruise seducing women and blowing things up? And how does Cruise fair in Middle America? Hell, even in California where the people voted down gay marriage?

Now a major action star coming out of the closet would be unprecedented and maybe the public would fully support Cruise and flock to his films in droves. More likely is the press and public bashing him for “why did it take so long?” Even though most crave for Cruise to come out. 

No matter what he does in terms of his sexuality, which has never been verified, it’s a losing situation. However, if you’re losing you might as well maintain, where you’re at in raking in millions. If he did decide to come out, Cruise would never be out of work as an actor, but he would be subjugated to more character actor roles and comedies (asexual roles). Maybe even serious dramas that aren’t expected to have the big budget potential of 140 million dollar action flick like Oblivion.  However, as Cruise ages he loses that leading action man status anyway, he’s 50, it’s hard to see Cruise subjugating himself to movies like the geriatric Expendables 2. If he’s ever going to do it, if he wants to do it, it should be later because that could launch him into a second career and keep him relevant.

But ultimately, Tom Cruise coming out doesn’t change the world, it might expose that Hollywood isn’t willing to bank on a gay male star, that this country still has tremendous difficulty separating actors from their roles.

Why can’t a gay man act as a straight man? Most closeted individuals have done it for years. It’s acting, you’re supposed to play someone else, it’s pretend. I think the prominence of Method acting has a lot to do with this need to blur realities. We are unsatisfied with fakery and want it to be real, despite the artificiality of films. In addition, the prominence of TMZ, STAR MAGAZINE, and US MAGAZINE further complicate the actor vs. role dynamic.

We receive massive amounts of information regarding everything the star does in their personal life that the star is transformed into someone we “know.” They are like a friend and if you’ve ever seen your friend in a movie or acting, you always say, “I know he was playing Richard III, but I just couldn’t get past that he and I used to ride bikes together.” The same phenomenon occurs in the movies. A leading actor releases on average about a movie per year, therefore he has only an hour and 30 minutes to convince you they are someone else while for the rest of the year you devour magazines telling who Brad Pitt really is. In turn in life, they must act the way they are on screen.

Remember Michael Jackson? He was a walking punchline, if there was ever a hint that joke you were listening had anything to do with pedophiles you knew the answer was Michael Jackson. However, before that, he created amazing music, he was one of the most talented musical icon ever. We forgot that for good reason, but when he died, it was as if all the weird shit he had done had been washed away. He became Michael again.

Stars do weird shit and we forgive them if they’re good. If they’re great. John Wayne was incredibly far to the right, incredibly pro-Vietnam, he and Walter Brennan basically gay bashed Montgomery Clift on the set of Red River, he was part of “Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPAPAI), which officially invited HUAC to Hollywood in May of 1947,” (eventually leading to the Hollywood Blacklist and killing the careers of actors, directors, and writers on the basis of their political affiliation) (Link)and said incredibly crazy propaganda like this:

But watch Rio Bravo, watch Liberty Valance, watch StageCoach, and you forget it it all because he’s John Wayne.

Take Woody Allen who was caught having sexual relations with the daughter of his then girlfriend Mia Farrow, who discovered the relationship after finding nude photos of the 18 year old that Woody had snapped on the fireplace mantle. People thought Woody’s career was over, that people would never forgive him. Flashforward to 2012, since the incident, he’s been nominated for 8 Academy Awards (won one), has written academy award winning roles for: Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino, and Penelope Cruise, and is coming off the biggest box office smash of his career with Midnight in Paris. We tend  to forgive those we love.

Tom Cruise is currently seen as a strange monster, but we live in a country where there’s an actual debate as to whether we should remove a statue of an accomplice to child molestation in Joe Paterno (what other career besides sports is this even a question? If we found out that any other person was an accessory to child molestation for 14 years, their statue goes down no questions asked). It has become difficult to separate the man from the artist, but Tom Cruise hasn’t been apart of the horrible things that others have, he just holds beliefs that others don’t agree with, but so does everyone else. On a villain scale, Tom Cruise shouldn’t be found, I urge you to try to separate the decisions he makes in his personal life and the actor because he’s great as Maverick, Ethan Hunt, and Frank T.J. Mackey. He’s weird, but that’s why we should love him because there’s no one else like Tom Cruise, we should embrace this before it’s too late. 

The Hollywood Defender

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Singin' In The Rain 60th Anniversary Showing

The TCM’s 60th anniversary celebration of Singin' in The Rain was celebrated with showings all around the country.

I woke up this morning at 12 and realized that the 12th was the anniversary. I quickly called the AMC in Ontario to learn that they had sold out for the 7 o’clock showing, but the 2 o’clock had some seats left. I was in. 

The theater was 30 minutes away, but I had to shower and gather my thoughts on Tom Cruise. I left at 1:30, but of course I hit traffic. At 2:05 I arrived at the theater, parking at the bitter end of the lot. In line, I waited behind two people who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to see MIB3 or wait till it came out on DVD and see Ted instead. Eventually, I purchased my 12.50 ticket (mantinees have gone up) and rushed into the theater.

Blue hairs were everywhere, I was the youngest person in the theater by about 20 to 30 years or as I like to call it “Ladies Night.” 

Robert Osborne was frozen on screen to which the person next to me voiced an utterly genuine complaint, “They didn’t even freeze him in a nice position they could’ve at least done that.” I averted my eyes from Osborne who bore a startling resemblance to Douglas K. Neidermeyer’s horse when Flounder pulls a gun on it in Animal House. 

I checked my watch it was 2:15 and the film hadn’t started, I was lucky, but the others weren’t they had made it on time.

Interestingly enough, the theater was having a problem syncing the sound, which I thought was a meta joke on the funniest sequence in the film, no one else in the theater got it.

The employees solved the problem and the film rolled to applause and cheers. The unfrozen Osborne gave a 15 minute version of his routine introduction with the addition of a Debbie Reynolds interview (He failed to ask her a question about the Halloween Town Trilogy resulting in a major sigh from me).

The seniors in the crowd clapped after every musical number as if their clapping could penetrate not only the screen, but also another dimensions so that the dead could hear them. I clapped too, I couldn’t help it. 

Singin’ is one of those movies where you always think about the next great part coming up and then realizing how many great bits, jokes, and songs are jam packed into the movie. It’s similar to visiting your hometown for the weekend and knowing you get to go to your favorite restaurant, see your best friends, and your family. You don’t believe all those things will fit into one weekend, but somehow it happens.

The film still works on every level. The bursts of laughter still ring at the first high pitched lines of Lina Lamont and the seeming spontaneity of Donald O'Connor's Make 'Em Laugh. And the added bonus of chills when it Gene Kelly stands at the rainy door step because you know you are about to re-experience one of the most famous moments in American Cinema. But the film even makes jokes about musicals like when Kelly's wet routine is grounded when a cop thinks he's crazy for dancing in the street. 

The dances alone are deafening in their complexity, but made to look so simple, a favorite of mine is Moses Supposes, especially when Kelly and O’Connor dance on top of the same small desk. However, my favorite moment is the insider’s knowledge that even though Kathy Selden dubs Lina Lamont, another actress Betty Noyes dubs Debbie Reynolds for the song “Would You?” It’s double dubbing.

The experience of being in the theater with another generation reminds me of when Woody Allen goes to the theater with his Aunt and her boyfriend in Radio Days. 

I found myself thinking about what it was like to go to the movies for a nickel or less and spending the entire day consuming as many movies as possible. What a life that must have been. I wish I had the gall to movie hop because I love going to the movies, but rarely can afford it. I know TVs have gotten bigger, I know every possible movie ever made is at our finger tips and online, but there’s something about the theater, there’s something about sitting in that dark room with strangers and all laughing and clapping at the same parts. I have Singin’ In The Rain on DVD, but what I didn’t have was the experience of watching the movie in a theater with people who saw it in the theater when it first came out. And even though an 85 year old woman kept kicking the back of my seat, I didn't yell or scream or curse her out because my mouth was hanging open from the magic of the movies. 

And as I left the theater that day, despite the fact that it was 90 degrees outside in California, not surprisingly… it was raining. 

The Hollywood Defender

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tom Cruise, TomKat, Name Calling, and Jack Reacher

IN my continuing coverage of the TomKat split, there has been a consistent vilification of Cruise, in part because of his strong ties to scientology and the possibility that he may be one of the head honchos of the religion. Scientology may have weird camps for children on boats, where their daughter Suri may have been sent and they may have people following Katie Holmes. In the end, many stars have been involved in scientology including Jerry Seinfeld (link), so we can assume that there must be something intriguing about the religion, but I’m not here to defend scientology, I’m here to defend Tom Cruise.

In a recent Yahoo article (LINK), Cruise was lambasted for calling Katie Holmes, “Kate.” Cruise continued to call her Kate “even though neither her friends nor her family has ever called her that.”

“During an interview with All Headline News, he [Cruise] explained, ‘Katie is a young girl’s name. Her name is Kate now – she’s a child-bearing woman." At the time, it was also reported that Holmes had agreed upon the name change “after discussing it with Tom” and as a result “all friends and family now call her Kate.’”

Yahoo goes on to report that this was not true and no one called her Kate, but Cruise.They even end with a cheap pop, "By filing for divorce, Katie is also shedding another unwanted name: Mrs. Tom Cruise."

Although, the phrase “child bearing woman” comes off as a creepy turn of phrase, the “name-calling” is a harmless act. We can vilify Cruise for the strange practices of Scientology, but criticizing him for using a derivative of his wife’s name is absurd. Yahoo asks us to extend this knowledge into proof that Tom was controlling and attempting to make Katie something she was not. On the other hand, a husband always calls his wife things that other people don’t call her (ie Poopsie).

But most importantly, Tom Cruise calls things whatever he wants, take for instance his monkey in Rock of Ages, which he dubbed “Hey Man.” He’s Tom Cruise! Isn't that all we need to know? He’s just trying transform other people’s names to make theirs as cool as his. Has any Hollywood star ever had a better name? He even changed his own name from  Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. I'm already over the divorce because Tom released a new trailer proving why women will never stop marrying him, and we’ll never stop liking him. 

The Hollywood Defender