I know I’ve been bad, but it’s because of the harsh realities of moving, a class that meets every single day (and I present on poems just about every other day), and a severe case of climate blues (if whales had sweaty armpits that you could live in, and swam around in hot tubs, this is how it would feel to live there). Sorry.
So, I saw two of the endless streams of comic-book films that have been vomited onto America by the Hollywood cartels, and actually neither one was very bad. Not cinematic classics or anything, certainly not. But not pitiful or depressing, either.
I meant to go see Batman: The Dark Knight on the day of its release, but Waco being Waco, and therefore not offering any other weekend diversion but seeing a movie, it was sold out. So, since my student discount tickets are only five bucks, I took a gamble and watched Hellboy II: The Golden Army instead. Now, most dudes my age would probably say that Pan’s Labyrinth is no Hellboy — but in reality, it’s the other way around. The former was really designated an “art film” just because it was in Spanish, and was in fact a brilliantly imaginative fantasy. Hellboy II is reassuringly filmed in English (with snatches of a made up language) and therefore not an art film. It’s certainly a version of director Guillermo del Toro’s vision re-packaged to fit the uber-populist mold of the comic book, but mutatis mutandis, the films aren’t as far apart as you’d think. In fact, the visuals are clearly derived from the same oddly precise imagination, and for once I felt a studio had not been wasting its money on digital technology. These computers make some art, dammit, not just stupid trolls (though, obligatorily, those are certainly in evidence here). It’s worth watching if only for the brilliantly realized tree-god, the scene where two characters get drunk together on cans of Tecate, and the rather Derridian implications for the marginalized life of the non-humans.
The Dark Knight, which I did manage to see last night, is a different story. It’s a true post-9/11 “superhero” movie that barely deserves the title. It is utterly jammed with moral dilemmas, over everything from warrantless wiretapping to the old game-theory question of whether it is better to collaborate or compete (or blow 500 people to smithereens). While most superheroes end up vomiting American flags all over their simplistically cackling enemies whilst feasting on apple pie and repeating folk adages in cool voices, this “superhero” is depressed, convinced that he is actually a (sort of necessary) menace, and doesn’t really get that much screen time. It’s amazing to remember how the first movie of this franchise was considered “dark” when it came out — it has nothing on this baby. The problem of a convincing villain is brilliantly solved by the late Heath Ledger (and what a shame it is that this is his last role), who marries the spirit of the anarchists of Dostoevsky to that of al-Qaeda with the sort of sheer bravado rarely seen in big-budget films. Astoundingly, his fate is really not sealed at the end — and considering how easily he breaks from prison in the middle of the film, we cannot imagine he stays incarcerated long. And here I thought only Cormac McCarthy got away with that sort of thing. In summation, this film left me rather depressed, but not at the state of American cinema (for once): instead, it vividly illustrates the extreme difficulty of fighting evil and chaos and terror while remaining pure, or even kind of dubiously decent. Sobering thoughts for this time of war …
Other than that, I’ve mostly been eating and studying, which is what one does in Waco. And I will try to post more often, especially when I get internet in my apartment. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the promised AirBear connection does NOT reach to Jamestown #15. So I’m left again, hefting my silly black bag all over creation looking for some wireless. I hate it.