starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
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Batman (1989), dir. Tim Burton
The Alamo in the Mission is doing a Tim Burton series because of the forthcoming Miss Peregrine; I haven't seen this movie all the way through in this millennium or maybe ever, so I went with a friend. I tried to watch it after The Dark Knight (2008) but couldn't because the juxtaposition was just too much to handle. This time around I noticed just how much that movie, and Nolan's movies in general, are stealing from this one. Sam Hamm, the screenwriter, actually did a Q&A before our screening, and one gets the sense from his answers that had the writers' strike not kept him off the set, some of the many script weirdnesses would have been ironed out. It's an extremely heterogeneous movie--none of the elements are really all pulling together, from the Prince songs to Vicky Vale's outfits to the set design to everything else--but it's weirdly, utterly compelling nonetheless, and Keaton is definitely great as a guy who is definitely not on the same wavelength as the rest of society. I find Jack Nicholson extremely grating in general, and he's not so much playing the Joker as playing Jack Nicholson playing the Joker, so I wasn't much interested in his relentless heterosexuality or taste for bad jokes. That said, even more than being a Batman movie, I would argue that it is above all a Tim Burton movie; there's a lot of stuff that's in there because it plays to Burton's id, not because it has any prior place in the Batverse. Batman Returns (1992) is definitely much better.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), dir. Sergio Leone
My dad is an old Clint Eastwood fan, despite the increasingly obvious divergence between our politics and Eastwood's, so I've seen large chunks of the films of the Dollars trilogy, but not this one. Despite the fact that it runs 2:45, it is completely compelling, and I was particularly struck by the obvious influence of Kurosawa on the gunfights in particular: the interest is all in the buildup, not in the actual event. About the 2/3 mark I also realized that I was watching the source text for Steven King's Dark Tower sequence, in sound and color, on the big screen: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." It's the opening line of The Gunslinger, but it's also a summary of about half of this movie's plot. Pretty cool.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), dir. Stanley Kubrick
Well, I'm glad to have seen this, despite the fact that I didn't particularly enjoy it. It's a fascinating cultural document in that it's a flawless record of what white dudes of a certain level of privilege imagined the future would look like in 1965, and much like the stories of Ted Chiang, I'm very happy that this particular patriarchal fantasy never came true. Our screening incorporated the intermission, during which we agreed that we were all rooting for HAL because he has feelings, whereas we literally couldn't tell any of the white dudes apart. If nothing else, this movie makes many, many more later science fiction movies much more comprehensible, in particular the much-maligned Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
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