Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Red, White and Stupid

So yesterday at Kelly's, I was waiting on this one older couple (yesterday being my first day of waiting tables at Kelly’s by myself). This couple was quite particular about their order. This couple was british. She wanted a Baked Potato instead of a Rice Pilaf, and he wanted a side of Black Beans and rice instead of French Fries.

So I got them their order, just the way their anal little british selves wanted it. Only come to find out the potato is overcooked, and the black beans and rice are not hot enough to their liking. I quickly run to the kitchen to remedy the situation, but when I return, I find only a slightly annoyed british couple sitting there at their british table, asking for their british check, cause their british food wasn't to their british liking. I give it to them, and sensing that their experience has been less than inviting, I try to salvage it with a last-ditch effort. I apologize about their potato, and wish them a happy 4th of July.

Oops.

Note to self: when serving an irritated couple from a country other than your own, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, remind said couple that their country of origin was once a great superpower, only to be supplanted in importance by another country that was at one time under their domain.

...They didn't leave a very big tip.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Batman Begins

For the longest time, Batman was my favorite superhero. I had watched reruns of the campy 60s TV show since I was a kid, and I loved every minute of it. The “BOOM”s, the “POW”s, the “Holy Smackerjacks, Batman”s and the “Old Chum”s—I loved it all. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the meaning of the word “campy”. To me, it was all real, and it was all serious.

But then came adolescence—and cynicism. I began to realize that no self-respecting billionaire playboy would really put on tights and spend his nights fighting crime. Tragic death of parents? Psh—who cares? Lots of people have childhood tragedies, and none of them decide to dress up as a bat and fight clowns. My love of batman faded. I eventually did rediscover Batman—primarily through the Animated Series of the early 90s (which, by the way, was one of the most brilliant cartoons of all time)—but I still had in the back of my mind that it was all a bit ridiculous, and—let’s face it—unbelievable.

But luckily for me, Christopher Nolan doesn’t share my cynicism. After four Batman films that just got progressively more and more ludicrous, the studio wisely decided to take a break of almost seven-years and completely restart the series. For the task of resurrecting it, they chose the aforementioned Chris Nolan; who was quite an unlikely choice, since his fame was mostly due to films like Memento and Insomnia—low-budget thrillers; not huge-budget summer blockbusters.

But as it turns out, Nolan is the perfect choice to redirect the franchise, primarily because of his ability to ground the strange and unbelievable in reality—or at least a completely believable fantasy. He’s crafted not only a plausible explanation for why Bruce Wayne chooses to don a mask and cape and fight crime, but manages to keep the believability at maximum—even to the very end.

It’s not a perfect movie, of course. For all it’s attempts to be realistic it has a couple major plot holes. I won’t go into it, for spoilers sake, but suffice to say, I really don’t think they detract from it’s believability, or—more importantly, it’s enjoyability.

Batman Begins is hands down the best Batman movie to date (although, to be fair, it didn’t have much competition), and it may very well rival some for the spot of best superhero movie ever made. Myself, I really can’t think of a better one, but I don’t think I’d call it the best superhero movie for one basic reason: It really isn’t a superhero movie. It doesn’t make the movie all about the costume, or the fight scenes, or the powers (he has none). In the end, the movie isn’t really about Batman. It’s about Bruce Wayne. It’s about how this young man deals with his inner demons of fear, guilt, and anger; and how he confronts those feelings head-on by making his symbol that which he is terrified of— the bat.

And in the end, that’s what really makes the movie more believable than those that have come before it. Not the explanations of why he does what he does, or how all the gadgets work; but the fact that this man is a real human being. A real human being behind a mask.

EDIT: I wanted to put this in the review up there, but I couldn’t really work it in, so here goes: The one thing that I think this movie didn’t get quite right was Gotham City itself. In his attempt to make everything as real as possible, Chris Nolan essentially made Gotham a modern metropolis (apart from the old-style railway that runs through it due to plot concerns).

Now I may be alone in this, but to me, part of what made the mythos of Batman so enamoring was the whole 40s atmosphere about it. I know this is mostly from the Animated Series(which I still hold to be the best incarnation of Batman), but the whole thing felt like an old film noir movie. It was ‘lit’ very harshly, all the guns were tommy guns, all the cars were old Gangster cars. To be honest, this wouldn’t have worked at all in the movie, and I can understand why they didn’t go this route. And I think that’s kind of sad, because I would really like to see it someday. Oh well, I’ll stop my nerdly, rambling, complaining now. Just go see the movie, dangit.

NEXT UP: War of the Worlds