The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
NOT QUITE MOVIE REVIEWS:

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005): If you're making a
vigilante movie, it's a fair bet that some critic is going to describe it as "fascist." That's harder to do in the case of Batman Begins, since the villains here are fascists themselves -- or, more exactly, they espouse the fascist notion that societies must periodically be cleansed of decadence. (The actual operation of a totalitarian state is beyond their interests.) One thing I like about this movie is the way it puts its title character at an exact midpoint between the semi-fascist misanthropy of the League of Shadows and the liberal optimism of Bruce Wayne's father. A product of both and a duplicate of neither, Wayne's very existence suggests that two seemingly opposed worldviews might actually have something in common. The idea is symbolically reinforced at the end of the film: To kill the villain, the hero must also destroy the physical embodiment of his father's idealism.

It's not a perfect movie, and the plot has a hole or two (as one blogger pointed out, why would a Ninja school be in China?), but it's certainly the best of the live-action superhero flicks. The word "live-action" is there to exclude Pixar's The Incredibles, which towers above all these Marvel and DC adaptations.

Anchorman: The Legend of Rob Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004): This is an uneven picture filled with jokes that just don't work. But there's one set piece near the end -- a frenzied gang fight between the city's rival news teams -- that's so good, it forces me to make an announcement.

For years I disliked Will Farrell because I associated him with Saturday Night Live's interminable cheerleader sketches, which were about as funny as lupus. But by now he's made me laugh in enough movies that I'm moved to declare a change of heart. Farrell is a funny man. I was wrong to dismiss him. I pledge to reform myself, and in the spirit of revolutionary self-criticism will crawl through the streets of Beijing wearing a dunce cap. Forward, comrades! The east is red!


posted by Jesse 9:57 AM
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