Standing in a Manhattan event space with cocktails and views of the Hudson, Chen Guangcheng was far removed from the countryside house that confined him for over a year and a half, before he captivated the world in April and May by escaping from house arrest in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, being taken in by the American Embassy in Beijing. Blind since childhood, Mr. Guangcheng climbed and felt his way past the guards posted around his home by the local authorities, who had imprisoned him for 51 months on charges largely considered to have been fabricated, before releasing him to his home. A self-taught, or “barefoot,” lawyer, he had irked the local authorities by legally challenging their unlawful land seizures, treatment of the disabled, pollution and incidents of forced abortions and sterilization to enforce the one-child policy.
The Chinese activist was surrounded by fellow lawyers on Wednesday night, though they were less likely to be from his village than from The Village, where, after some diplomatic tension between the U.S. and China, he now attends NYU Law School as a visiting scholar. Human Rights First, an organization that advocates the government for greater American leadership in fighting for global human rights, honored Mr. Chen at its annual awards dinner, held at Chelsea Piers’ Pier 60.
“Get with the program!” scolds another letter from a brainwashed fan of the Batman-as-seen-through-the-pretentiousness-of-the-Christopher-Nolan trilogy, “You are a dinosaur!” He’s probably right, and I probably would—if I could only make one lick of sense out of what this nonsense is all about. Silly pop-culture comic book cinema about grown men in rubber masks and Styrofoam jock straps is bad enough, but incomprehensible gibberish to boot is just plain unacceptable. Halfheartedly, I give The Dark Knight Rises—the third and final Batflick in the Nolan trilogy—one star for eardrum-busting sound effects and glaucoma-inducing computerized images in blinding Imax, but talk about stretching things. That’s all most immature audiences require for their hard-earned money these days. The rest of it should not be reviewed by anyone over the age of 12.
As caped crusaders go, I prefer Superman, Spider Man and, above all, Captain Marvel, who has been criminally ignored by the movies so far. (Can’t you just see Michael Fassbender staring into the camera hissing “Shazam!”?) And as Batman goes, I had a lot more fun when he was fighting off Catwoman and The Joker at the Saturday afternoon double features of my youth in his campy bat cave with his jailbait roommate Robin. Drat! Christopher Nolan sent Bruce Wayne to a shrink and Batman lost his mojo. I like one caption writer’s description of the Batman epics as “car porn for geeks and gearheads.” But that doesn’t make The Dark Knight Rises any better. Trash is trash, but when it costs an estimated $250 million (bat food compared to The Amazing Spider-Man’s $137 million), the charges turn criminal and someone should subject the garbage man to a citizen’s arrest.
The Dark Knight Rises
Since the tickets sold out in January for the July 20th premiere of Christopher Nolan’s third Batman installment, Warner Bros. probably doesn’t have to hype The Dark Knight Rises any more. We mean, obviously they will spend a billion more dollars on advertising and marketing tie-ins, but for once we’d like to see a big blockbuster just completely stop all promotions one month before it hits theaters.
Although that would probably lead Copyranter or someone at Ad Age to claim this as the most ingenious viral marketing stunt ever. And then everyone would do it. And then movie trailer editors and distributors would be out of business in months. We need this hundredth The Dark Knight Rises trailer. For the good of Gotham, and all its residents.
A selection of celebrities who have recently attended Cirque Du Soleil and been summarily featured in press on People or Us Weekly‘s web sites or PerezHilton.com, placed in ascending order of desperation for publicity:
Since we first saw Christian Bale prancing across dusty Manhattan streets belting “Santa Fe,” we’ve held a torch in our heart for the 1992 Disney live-action flop Newsies. We don’t even care the Roger Ebert once likened the film to “warmed-over Horatio Alger,” since deep down we knew that one day, we’d have the chance to audition for a stage production of the show. (In our fantasy, we weren’t Christian Bale/Jack Kelly’s love interest, Sarah, because she was a goody-goody. We were always Ann-Margret‘s brassy saloon singer, Medda Larkson.)
Now our dreams are that much closer to coming true, as the New Jersey production of Newsies at the Paper Mill Theater has just announced the full line-up for its Broadway debut on March 15th.
In the dark history of human atrocity, one savage, inhuman chapter that is always missing from the textbooks in courses about the Pacific conflict in World War II is the Rape of Nanking. Except for the occasional documentary, this harrowing event has gone largely unexplored by filmmakers, yet it surges with historic value and the elements of heartbreaking drama. Ask history majors about what the Japanese did to freedom-loving civilians to alter the world and all they know is Pearl Harbor, Bataan and the Death March. Now the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou has made a valiant and compassionate effort to enlighten the ignorant. The Flowers of War is his best film since Raise the Red Lantern. It is emotionally shattering.
In the grand tradition of adaptation films reviled by Roger Ebert into musical productions (see also: Flashdance, The Wedding Singer, Xanadu) 1992′s musical extravaganza Newsies will be making its stage debut at the Paper Mill Theater in New Jersey September 25th.
Newsies–a (financial) bomb of a Read More
The Fighter is the gravel-kicking true story of boxer Micky Ward; his wasted, battered, has-been older brother, Dickie Eklund, who threw away his career in the ring on booze, drugs and whores; and the scabby, loudmouthed trailer-trash family of creeps who drove them both to success and destruction, in equal doses. It’s a boxing comeback Read More
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Michael Mann’s Public Enemies is suffocated by historical accuracies, coming as it does from such a notoriously detail-oriented director. Not so! Mr. Mann’s script, co-written by Southland’s Ann Biderman and Ronan Bennett, is chock-a-block with dramatic license. For example: F.B.I. agent Melvin Purvis (a decidedly underused Christian Bale) Read More
What, is there a better way to celebrate our nation’s independence over this July 4th weekend than by spending some time inside a movie theater? Three films hope to win your hard-earned money, but, if none of them get your juices flowing, you can always see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen again. As Read More