Tag Archive: the dark knight


 

(Due to our busy schedules, Aaron and I couldn’t do our prediction column as promised.  But since there was no way in hell either of us would miss the show live, here is our marathon conversation over IM.  Enjoy…)

MALIK: Welcome to the 1st Annual Art Fradieu Oscar Running Diary.  My pre-show thoughts: While I like to think it’s as much of a lock as anything, I still feel jittery Mo’Nique will somehow get jobbed out of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  Beyond that I’m hoping the Hurt Locker wins Best Picture.  Any pre-show thoughts Thomas?  Who will be wearing Vera Wang on the red carpet tonight?

ART: I don’t know much about Vera Wang, but I’m with you on Hurt Locker. Best film I saw last year. As for Mo’Nique, I think she wins Best Supporting Actress hands down. In fact, I think she wins it and does the emotional speech thing, “Uh Oh honey, if y’all start playing that music, somebody’s getting hurt…” She will steal the show and have people talking about her moment this week. “Mo’Nique is my hero. So soulful and real.” Wouldn’t surprise me at all. 

MALIK: And we’re off!  Cristoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor, no surprise there.  It was actually a good performance in a good film I have to admit.  But how about Penelope Cruz eh?  Is that accent real?  I’ve heard rumors…

ART: Waltz is no surprise at all. I agree, well deserved. As for Penelope Cruz, I’ve heard she’s actually from Cleveland. But, you never know.  Yeah. I agree with Up for best animated feature. First ten minutes of that movie almost had a brotha misty eyed.  Whatsup with that film Nine? Don’t think I’ve heard one good thing about it.

MALIK: Penelope Cruz brotha!  That’s all you need to know… And the Crazy Heart song wins.  So far this is a pretty predictable Oscars…

ART: Figured that was a crush of yours, but wasn’t even going there.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Yeah, definitely predictable so far. Does Crazy Heart sweep every musical category this year?

MALIK: Probably.  The movie wasn’t that bad actually.  The big question now is if Jeff Bridges continues to talk in the Oklahoma accent if he wins…

ART: I’m just trying to see if he’s sober.

ART: Wow. Actually thought Tarantino might pull out Best Original Screenplay.

MALIK: I did too.  Guess there aren’t as many Tarantino fanboys in the Academy as I guessed.  John Hughes gets his own In Memoriam?!?

ART: His generation is in power now in Hollywood.

MALIK: Yeah.  Jokes aside, he was either directly or indirectly responsible for A LOT of good movies…

ART: He had a great run.

MALIK: OK, watching this montage I see your point…

ART: And, here comes that song…

MALIK: WHOA!  Young Alec Baldwin!!! (laughing uncontrollably)

ART: Yup. Him and Steve Martin worked in Hughes films.  Brat pack. Plus Culkin.

MALIK: So…is this a ratings ploy or an Academy tribute?

ART: I guarantee people will be talking about this tomorrow. Just seeing people from their childhood. The answer? It’s both.

MALIK: Am I the only one who noticed the crowd seemed to refuse to throw down the standing ovation?

ART: I saw that too. Part of the perception with Hughes is that his works were more entertainment than art. What’s the verdict on Zoe Saldana?

MALIK: Looking at Zoe makes me want to eat dinner.  Great intro for the Short Film category though.

ART: Nice to hear from seasoned pros looking back. Whoa. Brotha sighting.

MALIK: A brotha wins!!!!  And he gets cut off!!!!

ART: Why is this woman bogarting?

MALIK: (laughing uncontrollably)

ART:  And, what is she talking about?  Brotha probably hot!

MALIK:  MANNNNNNNNN!  I’m still mad for the brotha who got cut off!

ART: Same here. Leave it to Stiller to do blue face. Think Cameron is ticked at this?

MALIK: Doubt it, but is there any doubt Stiller officially gets invited to present every year now?  You remember the Joaquin Phoenix move last year…

ART: So, Star Trek takes this one, you think?

MALIK: I still heard a little Crazy Heart accent in Jeff Bridges.  Yeah Star Trek deserved that last one.

ART: So far, early on, the highlights of the night? Brotha gets cut off and Tina Fey/Downey Jr.

MALIK: Best Adapted Screenplay – What say you Mr. Writer?

ART: It’ll be interesting to see who wins Best Adapted Screenplay.  Not sure. Probably Up In The Air, but there was a debate as to how well the co-writers (one was the director of the film) got along during the process.

MALIK: Really?  We’ll talk about that one off the record – no need to give these plebians all the inside Hollywood magic.

ART: Oh. Precious. Black screenwriter. Nice.

MALIK: Go ahead brotha!!!  A behind the scenes win at that!

ART: Nice to see this. He’s gotta be the first black screenwriter to win. Nice.

MALIK: Yeah, and the way Rachel McAdams can’t take her eyes off him motivates me.

ART: Yup, figures…

MALIK: Very sincere acceptance speech.

ART: That’s the word that comes to my mind.  Good moment.  Queen Latifah’s looking good.

MALIK: Yeah she cleans up well. The Governor’s Award ceremony is like a wet dream for film buffs like myself.

ART: Yeah. Each of those is a giant of the industry to say the least. They all get standing ovations from everyone.

MALIK: Damn straight!  And Penelope and Javier keeping it real!

ART: Get ready for Mo’Nique to get emotional.

MALIK: Standing O?

ART: Mo’Nique walking with regalness.  Nice speech.

MALIK: Gut reaction but I think that was the best acceptance speech by a black winner.

ART: Succinct. To the point. Sincere.  Ah. You can always depend on the costume category to give an Oscar to the old English movie of the year.  Eh. Least sincere speech of the evening.  “I already have two of these awards. This is for the little people who never win.”

MALIK: (laughing)  Seriously!  How arrogant was that!?!  So what do you think of Twilight brotha?  I know you’ve seen it.

ART: Haven’t seen it.  The Vampire thing never gets me like others.

MALIK: Wait…a horror tribute, introduced by the Twilight kids?  Definitely ratings ploy.

ART: Yup. What you know about a young Johnny Depp in Nightmare On Elm Street?

MALIK: I honestly don’t like horror films, only the all time classics like the Exorcist and Psycho.

ART: Same here. Those actually scare you instead of shock you.  They got Morgan Freeman doing the narration again?  Here’s your Dark Knight…

MALIK: Needless to say, this is the greatest moment in the history of the Academy Awards…

ART: Alright Batman, calm down.

MALIK: So you think Precious has a chance now for Best Picture?

ART: Not really. I still feel like they’ll lean toward Hurt Locker. Getting the Adapted Screenplay was an upset for Precious.

MALIK: We’ll see brotha, we’ll see…

ART: The Hurt Locker is starting to collect the awards now.

MALIK: Very true.

ART: Paul N.J. Ottoson kind of looks like an albino Vampire with that hair.

MALIK: Yeah, kind of stereotypical to have that be the ‘sound guy’ isn’t it?

ART: Like he’s been in a cave only working with sound for an entire year.

MALIK: Really! Avatar for best cinematography, that was probably the biggest lock.

ART: Yeah. The film looked great.  What you know about CCH Pounder with the general from Avatar.  Is that her guy?

MALIK: Don’t know, don’t know…  ah, here comes the In Memoriam.  I can’t joke with this part.

ART: My mom is a James Taylor fan. Always perfect for reflection.

MALIK: Surprised they opened with Swayze.  Well done. No giants like Paul Newman passed this year.

ART: Of course, there’s Mike, but it’s not quite his stage.

MALIK: Yeah as far as ‘Hollywood’ goes he was more a fan than anything else.  Not surprised they included him though.

ART: Malden, Swayze and Dom Deluise seem to be the biggest this year.

MALIK:  I haven’t seen white girls with this much soul since the Sprite Step Off.  Too soon?

ART: (laughing) You gonna be hunted down by every Essence reader in America.  Nice overall dance piece, though.  Huge fan of scores. These were all solid.  Up was a classic. Glad it won for score. I also like Sherlock’s music. Avatar sounded like recycled music from Glory (remember that?)

MALIK: (laughing)  That was my first wrong pick tonight.  My gut said Up though.  And if people don’t know this is tongue in cheek, they should have stopped reading a long time ago.

ART: Avatar won for special effects?  That’s crazy.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Precious should have got that.  Best Director is up next. You figure that Reitman and Tarrantino think they don’t have a chance against a woman, an African American and the king of the world, Cameron.

MALIK: Yeah.  I’ll be genuinely disappointed if the cougar doesn’t win now.

ART: She’s got it. But, since you bring it up. If Bigelow looked like an average above 40 year old woman, think she’d be nominated?

MALIK: First thing I’m not responding to in order to protect my future career opportunities.

ART: You done said enough, brotha…

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Best Editing for Hurt Locker. I’m thinking 90% chance of Best Picture.

MALIK: If Bigelow wins, yeah…

ART: Oh, she’ll win… She’s your new cougar crush, right?

MALIK: (laughing) Settle down, brotha, settle down.  I’m gonna have enough explaining to do when this column is over. Esoteric group to present this (Best Actor).

ART: Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how they relate to each actor.

MALIK: Love Michelle’s speech about family and career.  What we aspire to.

ART: And, it’s a challenge for many people in many walks of life.

MALIK: Yes sir.

ART: Ok. Shawshank.

MALIK: Yeah good anecdote.

ART: Nicely done, Tim Robbins.

MALIK: Yeah, and SWAT?  I’ve watched that.  I’ll leap out of my seat if Jeremy wins.

ART: He’s not winning, but it’s nice to see him there. I remember when Renner was “the guy” I saw in every other commercial. By the way, using other actors to introduce the nominees is still a great way to do it.

MALIK: Agreed. It’s crazy Bridges got his first nomination 6 years before we were born.

ART: Jeff Bridges.  No surprise there. The Bridges, a very underrated Hollywood family.

MALIK: Agreed once again. The Thomases will get there soon enough though.

ART: (laughing)  If my kids are crazy enough to try this line of work, I’ll support them and wish them well.  Been married 33 years in Hollywood? That might be the most amazing thing I’ve heard all night.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Forrest always sounds sincere, even if he’s ordering a burrito.

MALIK: I was thinking the same thing.  How does he get villain roles?

ART: The lazy eye. Does it every time.  These are nice speeches.  The best things about these intros is the reaction from the nominees. And, you can tell they have no idea what will be said.  What better intro to have than Oprah?

MALIK:  You were reading my mind. I think Oprah would be the number one choice to do an intro in our industry.

ART: If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Malik used to dress like Batman, but… actually, he still does…”

MALIK: Is that right brotha?  well… If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Aaron is a great writer, but if he asks you to help him move, know you won’t be getting a dinner out of it.”

ART: I’ll look at the camera and go “That’s right!”

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Is Sean Penn drunk?

MALIK: OH YEAH!

ART: Sandra…Bullock…

MALIK: You can’t leave Sean Penn backstage that long without libation, brotha…

ART: Sandra Bullock’s always been pretty down to Earth.

MALIK: Yeah I met her when we were in school.  I guess I can say I’ve met an Oscar winner now.

ART: Aren’t we all hoity toity? I met Clarence Jenkins, the guy who buffs the Oscars…

MALIK: Oh no, the husband was tearing up!  Eric Benet Part II

ART: We all know what happened after that, though.

MALIK: Bigelow’s winning…

ART: Yeah, you got Barbara presenting… AND, she led off with it being a woman….

MALIK: What if she would have said, “Or, for the first time, a colored…”

ART: (laughing)  Cut to the Tyler Perry section looking angry.

MALIK: Oprah probably would have walked back onstage…

ART: Well, well, well…  Bigelow wins. And Cameron made sure to cheer loudly.  Good stuff.

MALIK: Yeah. When my daughter tells me she wants to be a director, I’ll be able to look back at this night.

ART: So, here we go. The big one. Best Picture.  Hurt Locker.

MALIK: Right to the Point!

ART: Like it.

MALIK: Alright I think we got it.

ART: I like Bigelow, but she’s a little overhwelmed up on stage.  Cool. Until next year.  That’s a wrap.

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In a company town like this, there is no shortage of screens to see films, old and new.  I get out to the Landmark once in a while, the Grove is still nice just because of the shopping center that surrounds it.  From a purely film geek, filmgoer experience, I will always have a soft spot for the Arclight.  It was one of the first theatres to offer reserved seating (meaning almost no more last minute runs or someone sitting where you wanted to sit arguments); the Hollywood location is fairly centrally located (Sunset and Vine) which has led to many wistful Friday and Saturday evenings pondering how the hands of fate had conspired to place me in the position I was in.  The Cinerama Dome has a history of its own, which I won’t fully go into here.  But that location has hosted and continues to host its share of premieres and special events. 

I caught at the Arclight the re-issued versions of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (still the only time I’ve seen the two classics on the big screen).  I was in the midnight screening of The Dark Knight there; even watching at home doesn’t duplicate the initial chills from watching the opening logo sequence in a completely full auditorium that’s hushed in revered silence.  I was also in the midnight screening of Iron Man, where before the lights went down, Robert Downey Jr. himself thanked the crowd for coming out (and putting him back on the A-list).  Only in Hollywood right?

Well…yeah.

“This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object…You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness.  And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.  I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

The Joker, ‘The Dark Knight’

Life, I feel, is similar to the sports world in that rivalries can push you to a level you wouldn’t necessarily get to on your own.  The basis for any good rivalry is having two teams (or people) of relative equal stature pursuing the same goal.  They have to have enough similar qualities so one is not all out dominating the other, but at the same time they have to be different in some fundamental way that will always cause friction between them.

My rival and I are both die hard sports fans, and KU graduates.  We both fall outside of the traditional ‘black status quo’ and wear that outsider status like a badge of honor.  But I was born in Kansas City, while he comes from St. Louis.  I pledged Alpha, he pledged Kappa.  If I am ‘the Dark Knight’, then naturally he…

It’s hard to pick a single ‘event’ that turned our casual friendship into a rivalry.  I believe though it started with fantasy football, the first great post-college way for both of us to play into our competitive streaks (another similarity we share).  I will concede he may have won a title or two, which I know he’ll never let me forget in his trash talking ways…

But once the trash talking started, the floodgates really opened.  This cat decided to get married as I was entering the peak of my bachelor years, and Lord knows how many ‘marriage is for suckers’ cracks he got from me in the Musketeer’s glory days.  (This was obviously before Maria changed my entire way of thinking).  I still get a good chuckle thinking about the typical email he got from me during that first year or two of his marriage: “Well we’re heading to Miami this weekend.  I’ll be smoking hand rolled Cuban cigars and checking out this Puerto Rican bikini contest down on South Beach.  But please, let me know how that touring company production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Starlight turns out.  Can’t wait to hear it.” Heh heh, I had nothing personal against his wife (Alexis), but I loved stirring this cat’s hash…

Without question, what really pushed our smack talk into borderline “You know this cat’s annoying to the point where I’m not sure I like him” territory, was the announcement of a new Batman movie to be directed by Chris Nolan.  As everybody in the crew could tell you, inboxes were getting flooded with emails on a daily basis from me hyping the movie, which had been renamed “Malik Begins” just to irritate fools even further.  Like most casual people, the Joker was more than skeptical after the damn near franchise killing Batman and Robin, but I knew man, I knew.  When me, him, and Beavis came out of that theatre, even he had to admit the character was back on track.  You couldn’t wipe the ‘I told you so’ grin off my face for a month.

Anyway, as you can imagine, we’ve become more friends now than true rivals.  Though make no mistake we know exactly what buttons to push to get the other riled up instantly, so I guess we are still rivals.  But honestly, he’s one of the more reliable and trustworthy people I’ve met over the years.

He just won’t be allowed to speak at my wedding reception…

 

batman

The Batman is well known to be my favorite fictional character.  Popular for 70 years and running, I’m going to assume you know the basics either through regular pop culture or the massive success of the Chris Nolan movies.  So the angle I’m taking here is to talk about my five favorite Batman stories from the comics.  I’m nowhere near a hardcore comic guy, but I have friends who are, and knowing how much I enjoy Bruce Wayne, over the years they’ve pointed me to a lot of the great graphic novels…

Batman: Year One – written by Frank Miller, this story is the essential starting point for the current incarnation of the Dark Knight.  Young handsome socialite Bruce Wayne has returned to his hometown of Gotham after spending many years abroad.  Around the same time, Detective James Gordon transfers into the Gotham Police Department, but is quickly disgusted by the level of corruption, and does what he can to remain one of the city’s good cops.  Starting on opposite sides, by the end the vigilante and the hero cop form an alliance to bring hope back to a hopeless city.  A major, major influence on Batman Begins.

The Long Halloween – widely regarded as ‘Year Two’ in the Batman universe, this old school murder mystery has the Batman trying to track down a mysterious serial killer who’s taking out members of Gotham’s underworld on holidays.  Batman and Det. Gordon are joined on their crusade by young charismatic District Attorney Harvey Dent, but a tragic accident turns their friend into a very dangerous enemy.  Yep, a major influence on The Dark Knight.

Dark Victory – Set a year after the events of the Long Halloween, a new serial killer is on the loose, with all signs pointing toward Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent.  In the early stages of the Batman’s crusade, a tragic accident at the circus leaves a young acrobat orphaned.  Feeling a kinship with the kid, Bruce takes him under his wing, eventually as a partner.  The modern day introduction of the Dynamic Duo.

The Killing Joke – simply stated, the greatest Joker story ever told.  Taking over an amusement park, the Joker decides to use Commissioner Gordon to prove his theory, ‘all it takes is one really bad day to make anyone go insane.’  Through flashback, we get one ‘possible’ origin of the Joker, where he was a struggling comedian who got mixed in with the wrong crowd, lost his wife and child through a freak accident, and just…snapped.  To get to Gordon, he shoots his daughter Barbara (paralyzing her for life), rapes her, then kidnaps Gordon and shows him the pictures of the rape blown up to IMAX size.  Gordon refuses to snap, and when Batman finally catches up to him, the Joker (correctly) theorizes that somewhere in the past it was ‘one really bad day’ that made a grown man dress up like a flying rat.  The Batman tries to talk sense to the Joker, knowing their mano e mano is leading toward a fatal resolution, but the Joker, in a rare moment of clarity, tells him it’s too late for that, before telling a joke that points out (correctly again) that Batman is just as insane, he just happens to be fighting on the right side of the law.  A great story all around, and um, not for the kiddies…

Knightfall – my single favorite Batman story.  I actually prefer the novelization to the year long comic version.  This is the story that introduces the villain Bane, who comes up with one of the best plans ever:  break out all the arch villains in Arkham Asylum, let Batman chase them down, and when he’s exhausted, then make your move.  Even as Batman senses Bane’s plan, he has to push forward and capture all the master criminals.  He’s no match for Bane, who breaks the Batman’s back, leaving him for dead.  Bruce chooses newcomer Jean Paul Valley to take up the cowl; the kid has all the physical attributes, but is much more brutal than Bruce ever was under the cowl.  The ‘new’ Batman defeats Bane, but doesn’t give up the cowl when Bruce makes a full recovery.  Bruce eventually defeats his wayward apprentice of course, who becomes Azrael, an ally in present Batman stories.

Honorable mention goes to the song, The Dark Knight, the final track on Hans Zimmer’s score for the last movie.  Over 15 minutes long, the theme creates the mood for the final scene of the movie, and in my humble opinion, makes great ‘speeding down the 101 at three in the morning’ music for wannabe Caped Crusaders.

Best Supporting Actor

 

downey

The nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role are:

  • Josh Brolin in “Milk”
  • Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
  • Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
  • Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

What might happen: (chuckling to myself…)

Who will probably win: Hee hee hee…

Who I’m cheering for: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA