On Batfleck and Superman

(Warner Bros)

(Warner Bros)

I can’t have been the only one.

Walking out of the cinema with a huge grin on my face, still reeling from the formidable slice of cinema that is Man of Steel, to say:

“Boy, they could only better that if they had Ben Affleck as Batman in the next one!”

Batman totally breastfeeds now, didn't you hear about it?

Batman totally breastfeeds now, didn’t you hear about it?

I am of course being facetious. Man of Steel was not a terrible film but no one actually walked out of it with anything other than a headache and slight motion sickness, let alone a demand that the star of Gigli should don Batman’s famed cape and cowl.

Indeed the very idea of a Batman/Superman smackdown seemed strange even before Affleck was cast as Bruce Wayne. The presence of two iconic characters in one film demands that the principle question of why they are together is answered with panache.

I fear that this fundamental imperative will be ignored. I fear that it is economic considerations on the part of Warner Brothers that are driving Batman/Superman towards its July 2015 release date, instead of what ought to be the prerequisite of making such a picture: a great idea for a story.

Films have to make money – I get that, but cherished characters like Bats and Supes have to earn that showdown, just as Marvel did with The AvengersMan of Steel certainly did not lay the groundwork for such a clash and director Zack Snyder and studio Warner Bro’s have not yet created a cinematic universe big or interesting enough to explain the presence of these two icons in one movie. This is the equivalent of making The Avengers after the first Iron Man

Marvel’s massive success at universe building has probably disturbed the suits at Warner. It ought not to though. They are after all the studio that gave us Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the only sequence of films in the whole superhero genre that might be called definitive, thematically interesting and perhaps even imperishable.

The reason the announcement of Affleck has been met with such consternation across the internet is because it is very difficult indeed to imagine anyone playing Bruce Wayne other than Christian Bale. The latter was an utterly ferocious Batman imbued with a physical and emotional intelligence that will be hard for Affleck (or any other actor for that matter) to emulate. God help them when they try and cast a new Alfred after what Michael Caine did with the part.

This doesn’t mean casting Affleck was wrong. Or that nobody can ever be cast as Batman again. On the contrary, he may be a good Batman. The decision to put Bats in the next Man of Steel is wrong though, simply because instead of respecting both the work of Nolan and the intelligence/wallets of cinema goers, Warner are content to chase the quick buck that Batman/Superman represents. I guess some men just want to watch the world burn, or they’re really, really impatient. For me the whole thing stinks of desperation.

The aforementioned Mr. Caine has a very wry observation on Batman and Superman:

“Superman is how America views itself. Batman is how the rest of the world views America”

In other words if Superman was an American politician he’d be a bullshitting and mythologised emulsion of various founding fathers and Batman would be Richard Milhous Nixon, a man with a crozzled and blackened heart whose very existence taints the American dream.

Good luck Ben, I think you’re going to need it.

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Frankly Vulgar offers to improve the Oscars – free of charge

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It’s February 24th 2013. It is time for the 85th Academy Awards. It is the night where Seth McFarlane tries his utmost not to make a joke about the other Oscar in the news at the moment. If thats not enough to make the academy bosses who run the show nervous then the prospect of ever declining viewing figures which even the introduction of The Official Oscars App™ can’t stop must be truly terrifying. Short of having the indomitable, ego-puncturing Ricky Gervais host the glitzy ceremony I have some suggestions for how the whole five hour process could be improved to the point where it doesn’t feel like waiting in a really well upholstered, exclusively staffed by abnormally beautiful people, GP’s waiting room.

I think the biggest problem is the awards themselves. After 85 years in service they desperately need either some reinforcements in the form of new awards or retirement altogether. There is no jeopardy watching Daniel Day Lewis win yet an another Oscar – just make him ‘Best Actor’ for the rest of his wonderful fucking life. Frankly the awards as they are now are so moribundly American (according to the dictionary I have here this means they are po-faced and un-ironic) that they need changing.

Still this has to be an evolution not a revolution (that would be too un-American), the new awards have to be positive – this isn’t the Razzies. Lets get the more obvious categories out of the way. The award for Best Picture has to change. I propose a Best ‘Best’ Picture category ad well as an award for Best ‘Worst’ Picture. It makes sense, honestly it does. The first category is for films that are genuinely good, of actual artistic merit. They’re usually independent-ish films that cost nothing or studio prestige pictures made to win awards. Whatever. ‘Best ‘Worst’ Picture’ – thats an oxymoron right? To quote Arnie – wrong. This award will go to some shit films, maybe some really shit films that at the same time are utterly brilliant. Best ‘Worst’ Picture caters for the cinematic Big Macs of this world – yes it’s unhealthy, actually it’s really terrible but fuck me it’s tasty and I could have one right now quite easily. This award snatches the initiative back from crowd pleasing award-ceremonies like that MTV thing. In general, and in a way that isn’t dissimilar to some kind of algorithm that I wouldn’t understand anyway (Pythagoras’ theorem?), the shitter a film is the more people who watch it – when these films get nominated these people are more like to watch your show. Thats maths. Poor old John Stuart Mill will be turning in his grave – but who’s going to care when viewing figures increase. Mill’s been dead for ages anyway. 

Best Nicholas Cage Picture – a self-explanatory category. Cage is an actor of such intense, brain-meltingly stupid braggadocio that he deserves his own category. Given that he seemingly always makes more than one film a year it will always be a competitive field. The criteria are as follows: the more fucked up Nic gets in the film, be it through intensive crack cocaine use, genre-defining fear of honey, anger at filing systems – whatever, the more fucked up he gets the more likely your film is to take gallop home with the gong at a speed a findus horse lasagne would find obscene. Cage must accept the award via video-link and he must be accompanied by one of his pet lizards for the duration of his acceptance speech.

Best ‘Zinger’ in a Motion Picture – this award will probably be something of a dud. Despite it being completely against Academy regulations it will probably be one by this zinger every year (at 0.19 in this vid):

Best British Thespian in a Villainous Role – again, Alan Rickman will probably win this every year, but its worth having if anything, just to nullify a common British criticism of the Oscars – ‘why don’t we win as much as we should’, something that is wheeled out every year even though we win boatloads of the little gold statuettes.  Maybe it is just my fecund imagination getting ahead of reality but I’m pretty sure there is always some nonce on BBC Breakfast or The One Show bleating and bemoaning the fact that ‘we Brits’ lost out. Well, Best British Thespian in a Villainous Role award is designed to silence them and to reinforce some time worn American stereotypes that refuses to die like shape-shifting alien in ‘The Thing’ (I didn’t make a horse meat joke here because I’ve already made one, but please note that I could of).

Best ‘that should be my fucking award you ****’ Reaction Face – like any show on television thats been around for far too long (think The Simpsons) the Oscars needs to develop a desperate, knowing and self-reverential parody award. Face it – most people only sit through the four hour dirge that the ceremony actually is hoping to see two of two things – Halle Berry doing a Janet Jackson or those reaction mug shots of the likes of James Cameron dying inside as their former spouse wins an award they would kill battalions of schoolchildren to use as a paperweight. Seeing as I couldn’t think of an award to honour ‘Nipple Slips’ the award for Best ‘that should be my fucking award you ****’ Reaction Face will have to do. The best thing about the award is that all the reactions of the nominee’s when it is given out will be 100% real, as nobody will actually want to win this one.

Finally, The Mel Gibson Career Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Daily Mail Online Sidebar. This is an award for those stars in the firmament who like crashing cars, snorting suspicious white powders and getting caught having affairs (oh Kristen HOW COULD YOU). Without you guys popping up on the Mail Online sidebar I would probably be a far more productive, happier human being. Sincere and heartfelt thanks for keeping me in my present state – wearing pyjamas, eating shite and not working on my special project proposal. Lohan, Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise – I salute you, you’re the real heroes. God bless them, and God bless America.

Enjoy the show…

2012 in Review: Part 2 – Crying Claire Danes, Bane and beards

Television in 2012 was as feckless as ever. While that guy whose face resembled a medium sized ham with two pickled onions stuck in the middle of it won X-Factor; the BBC completely revolutionised the talent show genre by putting Tom Jones, diet-Bono, the Fringe and Will.i.am in big fucking chairsThis was ‘The Voice‘. This was the future of television. Or it was just another shite show that nobody watched after the auditions.

Will.i.am continuing to do for blazers what Jimmy Savile did for the tracksuit. Note Tom Jones' grizzled Umpa Lumpa look.

Will.i.am continuing to do for blazers what Jimmy Savile did for the tracksuit. Note Tom Jones’ grizzled Umpa Lumpa look.

The only thing I really got into in 2012 was Showtime’s terrorist drama ‘Homeland‘, two series of which were broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. My televisual year was therefore dominated by images of actress Claire Danes weeping, staring and yelping with such authenticity that it spawned this. The first series was a brilliant I-can’t-recommend-this-enough mixture of mental illness, uncomfortable sex scenes that you wouldn’t watch with your mates let alone your parents and the murky moral minefield that is the War on Terror. The series finale was so tense that I don’t think I moved for the entire 2 hours; Channel 4 hadn’t been this exciting since Ahmed broke all the plates on Big Brother 5. Would Brody detonate the suicide vest? Would the wind change while Claire Danes was making one of her crazy faces? Why was Saul‘s beard so God damn itchy?

Saul's idea of a disguise - a fancy summer hat and some tinted glasses. Good luck avoiding Hezbollah Saul.

Saul’s idea of a disguise – a fancy summer hat and some tinted glasses. Good luck avoiding Hezbollah Saul.

Naturally this being 2012 a paltry year, in which all entertainment figures from the 1970’s turned out to be pedophiles and John Terry got to lift the European Cup, we did get answers to the questions Homeland posed; they were just incredibly fucking stupid. The first series’ perfect blend of suspense, hilarious false beard heavy flashbacks and plausible characters was suspended in the second series. We instead enjoyed preposterous plot twists, remote controlled pacemakers and terrorist helicopters that could fly undetectably around Washington D.C. without the C.I.A. being able to do a thing. Oh and somebody tell the actress who plays Dana that fiddling a lot doesn’t make her an actress.

I refuse to have a picture of this wanker looking happy on my blog, so please enjoy this one instead.

I refuse to have a picture of this wanker looking happy on my blog, so please enjoy this one instead.

Thankfully 2012 had plenty more stupid to bring to our screens. A cavalcade of sequels, prequels, remakes, re-imaginings and re-packages – we may look back at 2012 and see it as the zenith of Hollywood‘s absolute creative bankruptcy. Until we reach summer 2013. There was the good-looking ‘Prometheus’, a prequel to ‘Alien‘ that was so highly anticipated and so hyped up that everybody forgot that a creative collaboration between the writer of  Lost’s bafflingly shite finale and the consistently inconsistent Ridley Scott was bound to be a confusedly well-designed blancmange of a movie.The Hunger Games’ was a sort of ‘Twilight’/‘Battle Royale’ crossover without the gay vampires, t-shirt removal and graphic violence of those two. ‘The Hunger Games’ replaced those with some competent female archery, a guy who was really, really good at makeup and some convenient killer bees. It was alright. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ saw Andrew Garfield (age 30) and Emma Stone (age 24) playing two 17 year-olds, making a film with a giant talking lizard in it even less plausible than it already was. ‘Safe House‘ was a by the numbers Denzel Washington thriller in which Denzel, playing a maniacal genius, showed the characters off the scale intelligence by muttering ‘tick-tock’, befriending Ryan Reynolds  and shooting his pistol with above-average levels of flamboyance. Quite. ‘The Hobbit‘ sees Tim from ‘The Office‘ embark on an epic quest, battling Trolls, Wargs and Andy Serkis in a wet suit. It’s an uncomfortably long film, containing a fucking huge number of close up shots of Ian McKellan‘s Gandalf doing weird shit with his eyebrows. The much-lauded ‘Skyfall‘ marked the 50th anniversary of James Bond by essentially remaking 2008’s  ‘The Dark Knight‘ complete with random scenes were a brooding Daniel Craig stands on a roof for no reason at all. Javier Bardem gives it his best Heath Ledger and there’s even a butler who gives our moody protagonist the perfect salt of the earth advice we would all enjoy receiving (except he is Scottish not a bleedin’ cockney). Nowhere near as good as everyone says it is.

Prometheus - the film equivalent of waiting a long time to go to the toilet and finding out that the 'toilet' is a hole that you will have to squat over. And there is no arm rail.

Prometheus – the film equivalent of waiting a long time to go to the toilet and finding out that the ‘toilet’ is a hole that you will have to squat over. And there is no arm rail. Or toilet paper. And you’re on a train.

The most frustrating film of 2012 was without a doubt The Dark Knight Rises‘. Yes it had numerous moments. The ‘Blues Brothers‘ style car chase at the beginning, a startlingly brutal moment involving Christian Bale‘s  spine and the wonderful Michael Caine turning the ham-o-meter up to 11 in one great scene. But these were the occasional laudable stars shining in a reservoir of a movie. The incomprehensible plot littered with asine conveniences, the painstakingly obvious dialogue/political allegory and the fact that NOTHING the films villain, Bane said made any sense. If I wanted to watch a bald guy masticating indecipherably through shit dialogue with a look of wide eyed confusion on his face then I can go and watch Gregg Wallace on Masterchef.  It was completely ridiculous. The way people talk about the film you’d think it’s ‘The Godfather‘ but it is not near as much fun as ‘The Avengers‘, a film which doesn’t have a batarang up its arse. I’ll end this part with some of Bane’s dialogue from ‘TDKR’:

Mpppppmhhhhhh mphhhhh mhhhh oarghhhh reckoning mmmpppp!