Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Devon #6 = Batman: Dead End

The Dark Knight is the best Batman film. Not many people would disagree, and it's easy to see why. Between Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, and one hell of a script, the film had allot going for it. But before the Dark Knight, the was one movie generally agreed by the more intense fans to be the best Batman movie. One that had no known actors, writers, or director. One with a budget six thousand times smaller than The Dark Knight. And one with a running time of eight minutes. Ladies and Gentlemen, Batman: Dead End.

Dead End is a fantastic short. Given the films running time, and that five minutes of it is a fight scene, there isn't much to say plot wise without ruining it. What I will say is that the Joker's on the loose, and Batman confronts him, running into... well someone you aught to recognize. The individual elements all work well, especially the script which is well written, and gets the big ideas of the comics across (Does Batman exist because of criminals, or vice versa? Is he crazy? Why does he wear his mask?). Writing that addresses these themes well is a large part of the shorts success, helped along by capturing the motion and look of Batman. The leaps, the cape, the way he fights, it's all captured perfectly and shows the talents of both the director and the actor. The costume are, frankly, amazing given the budget. Yes, the Batsuit is composed of fabric and leather in some versions. The only facet that stuck out for me was the Joker. His acting seems over the top, and not in the way it should be. It's like someone trying really hard to sound crazy. But then again, many people have described this Joker as being creepy and as their favorite part, so I'll assume it's just my personal taste.

To understand why the film is such a success you need to understand that the history of Batman movies has been rough. Early movies were too campy, the Tim Burton films got the Gothic feel but suffered from some strange storytelling decisions and then Joel Schumacher... will not be discussed. Fans were desperate by 2003, and it Batman: Dead End, they finally got their version of Batman on film. Kevin Smith, who would go on to write the excellent Batman: Cacophony, summed it up best, calling it "possibly the truest, best Batman movie ever made". And for 2003, I would have to agree.

Watch it here.

(Fun Fact, Andy Warhol once made a movie called Batman Dracula, where Batman was played by Gregory Battcock)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FTRK #59 and #60 = "People Need People" and "Causes" by Kachkin

People Need People - Kachkin (2011)
Causes - Kachkin (2011)

People Need People is a rather glossy, reflective IDM beat hearalding from the "World of Illusions" album, available royalty free from Jamendo (see "Further Listening"). It's the sort of track that's meant to be listened to after the closing of a chapter, where it seems lifes concerns are put at ease. Well decorated with atmosphere effect pads, mute, reverse and standard drum beats and flute, the song is nothing short of a solid piece.

Causes neatly picks up where the transition from People Need People ends off. It essentially consists of the same soundfont, with a plucky piano swapping in for the flute. The most integral difference is that, from the rather contented and apathetic previous track, we experience something with a sense of purpose, seemingly in an intellectual or academic light.

Further Listening:
Kachkin on Jamendo (Royalty Free Music)
Official Bandcamp Site
Official Soundcloud

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Devon #5 = The Change Up

Ever wanted to see a unfunny version of the hangover mashed together with the plot and sentimentality of Freaky Friday? I did, and it was called The Change Up. It starts with a baby shitting into a mans mouth. Frankly, I can't think of a better metaphor for this movie. It gets 0 stars and a five sentence review.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Devon #4 = Snatch

Like Tarantino meets It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but surprisingly leaning more toward the latter, snatch is a madcap ride. For the uninitiated, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was a 1963 film which followed a group of wacky characters on separate, but often intersecting, paths to finding a dead mans buried treasure. It featured slapstick comedy at its best, a fun, twisting plot, and a overall silly tone, all of which can be seen in snatch. In fact, if you just replaced a recently deceased guy's cache with a stolen diamond (well, and a few boxing matches), cut the run time by at least an hour, and give the whole thing a big injection of the London underground, and you would have something halfway like Snatch. To get there completely, you would have to infuse snatch's inventive cinematography and dialogue, which feel like something from a Quentin Tarantino flick. There are long tracking shots and weird angles throughout the film, and the editing moves like a bat out of hell, leading to a some of the comedy coming from strange, half second cuts. The film  has many other strong points, such as its great use of chance encounters to shape the plot (apparently this is called causality, my new favorite word), a minimum amount of gore that helps keep the violent events from being too dark, and great casting with Brad Pitt as a gypsy prizefighter, and Jason Statham as, well... himself (has he ever played anyone else?). However, one issue is that the acting, which, while decent, isn't ever very convincing, but for a movie like this, it really doesn't need to be.

I liked this film. But, there one final catch before I can honestly recommend it. Crank. Both films star Jason Statham, both have a lightning fast tone, and both are quite funny. The films share so many elements that it feels like two video games running the same engine. They feel, look, and move the same way, even though they're from different genre's. Overall Snatch is a better, funnier film, in my humble opinion, but if you prefer abstract craziness and action, plus much more action, than go watch Crank instead. If you just want a brilliantly fun, frantic, and well shot and written comedy, or just want to hear people with funny accents talk for 90 minutes, watch Snatch. Hell, watch them both.

It's easy to see why Snatch has attained its cult status. At the time it was released there wasn't really anything in theaters that was similar to it, and it wasn't that successful, despite Brad Pitt's face sitting front and center on the poster. But it's impact was felt; in Crank, in the increasingly common use of British style humor (causality), and in the success of Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie. This film is worthwhile,  interesting, and hilarious. It's Snatch, go see it.