Recasting: Batman

This is pretty simple, we’re going to be casting our perfect Batman film to celebrate the release of Suicide Squad. Now I know, there was a more Batman-ey film released earlier this year, but we did a Justice League casting for that (available here) If you don’t know who Batman is then I’d like to say hello to you, 15th Century time traveller, marvel at our wonders; the internet, mobile phones, bubble wrap. Now read Batman.

Commisioner Gordon

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Denzel Washington

A different take on the character for sure, but he was still the first name that came to mind when I thought about who could take on the role of the stoic Gotham Detective. An underrated complex character, Gordon is one part the intellectual detective and another the bad ass police commissioner. Not only one of Batman’s closest friends (stories varying), in some ways Commissioner Gordon takes on the role of Batman’s handler, or at least one of his human connections that stops him from going over the edge. Without a doubt I believe Mr Washington would be able to bring the much needed gruff take to make the character his own and give a refreshing kick-ass Gordon who’s not afraid to get his knuckles dirty. Also he already knows how to rock a mustache.

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy-Lee-Jones1Yes, I know he’s already been in a Batman film, but anybody who see’s that one quickly wishes they hadn’t, so it doesn’t count. People say casting Batman is hard, try casting Gordon, imagine trying to find someone who can match Gary Oldman’s performance! Tommy Lee Jones is good at doing the whole “gruff cop” thing, he played it to perfection in The Fugitive. And if Ben Afleck can play an older Batman, then we need an even older Gordon, and whilst Tommy Lee Jones is old, there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s still got it. He still has the ability to become his character and entrance the audience with his performance.

Robin

Logan Lerman

Which Robin you ask? Hmmm. Though I think the extraordinarily talented young star of logan-lerman-photoshoot-logan-lerman-29210026-250-322The Perks of being a Wallflower could work well as most male incarnations of the character, I see him best as Tim Drake, the third, and to me most interesting, Robin. He always focused more on the detective side of Batman (he becomes Robin by working out who Batman is, like a badass) instead of just the physical like Dick Grayson seems to. Also, he lacks the usual tragedy in his past that motivates him to be Robin; instead doing it because he recognises Batman’s need for a Robin.

But why Logan Lerman?  Because I like him and think he just has the right look. From Perks to Noah he’s proven himself a great dramatic actor, and though the Percy Jackson films were…underwhelming at best, he still showed he could handle action well enough.

Taron Egerton

This will obviously only work for a specific Robin. Well, two specific Robin’s: Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne (with slight tweaking so that his initial story arc into becoming Robin happens quicker thtaron-egerton1-564x360an it did in the original source material). Robin should not be the finished article, he should be someone who needs guidance, who needs Bruce, but pretends he doesn’t. He basically needs to be a young adult acting like a petulant child. But you also need to remember that he is still Robin, so his still very dangerous and could possibly kill you due to being trained in weaponry, but not being too great at stopping himself. I think Egerton could do that, he could pull off that dangerous apprentice, and then, when the time comes, move onto further things with the character.

Catwoman

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What needs to be said? Just look at her. Catwoman’s core characteristics are that she’s wiley, sexy, and kick-ass. All things Zeta Jones just seems to naturally emit already, combined with her record as an action star from the likes of Zorro and RED, as well as her dramatic work, she seems like the perfect fit. But more than that, I like that she would really bring the modern ‘woman’ aspect to the role; almost pushing fifty, and as we’ve already seen multiple younger incarnations of the character, a Catwoman with a few miles on her, more experienced and seasoned, would be much more refreshing and exciting than any teenybopper flavour of the week.

Emily Blunt

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Odd choice I know but this was done for a simple reason: if you can be in a male-dominated genre such as an action movie, working alongside a titan of the genre like Tom Cruise, and portray a strong enough character that people remember you, you deserve more roles. Good actress, fantastic with action, and with that sexiness that is (in some iterations), central to the character.

The Riddler

Jesse Eisenberg

Because I, like the few people who enjoyed Eisenberg’s performance in BvS (we do exist,12918618_584740531692129_1489645070_n we’re not just myths), enjoy it mainly just for the entertainingly camp yet oddly menacing fun he gave in his every scene in the overwrought film. He was a needed shot in the arm of fun the film needed. But ‘camp yet oddly menacing’ is not a good description for Lex Luthor, it is however a perfect description for one of Batman’s more zany villains, The Riddler. Some people seem to think Eisenberg was trying to be Ledger’s Joker with his performance, and who really the fuck knows. But! Change his name, outfit and give him riddles to constantly weave, and you’d have a pitch perfect Riddler; the fun camp of Carrey’s but with some genuine menace more akin with Nicholson’s Joker. Sounds good to me.

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Matt Smith

One aspect The Riddler needs is to act like he’s the smartest person in the room. There’s been a tendency to play this character as comedic, he may be somewhat hyperactive and dressed weird (not entirely unlike a certain time traveller), but he still needs to be taken seriously. He should be fun, not comedic, there’s an important difference. He needs to be someone who is not only the smartest person in the room, but also the person who’s enjoying the chaos the most.  Matt Smith actually can be dangerous quite well and he’s proven it numerous times. Plus if he does this we might actually forget he was in Terminator Genisys.

Bane

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

I’ll admit this is mainly superficial. Dwayne Johnson is huge, and so is Bane. So that equalsDwayne+Johnson+aka+Rock+films+scenes+set+new+ogGHuO_x0Tpl perfect casting. But there is a bit more to it than that, I swear. One thing Hardy’s take on the behemoth captured well was how charismatic Bane is, a master of words as well as muscles, but it’s the latter of that is something I don’t think he captured as well. Yeah Hardy was big, but he wasn’t Bane big (I know I know, Nolan realism and all that), that’s where I think Dwayne could come in magnificently; as if there are two things The Rock is known for,  it’s being fucking huge, and being very charismatic. The real hurdle would be whether someone as lovable as Dwayne Johnson can play a threatening villain convincingly and I don’t know, but I think he could. Again I think his sheer size will be his trump card in that department, and I think we can all agree we’ve seen less threatening looking people pull off being evil. Cough. One Hour Photo. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough.

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Batista

Oh look, we’ve both picked former wrestlers. And yeah I know this might be cheating as he’s been in a superhero movie already but come on! I mean, look at the guy! He’s built like a brick shithouse. I actually really liked Tom Hardy as Bane, my only issue with him is that he didn’t really seem big enough, Bane should tower over people, and Tom Hardy didn’t really seem to, he’d be perfect as another role. Batista on the other hand? Him as Bane would make it believable that he could be the one to break the Batman. Already had acting experience in the aforementioned Guardians as well as parts in Riddick and Spectre. If it came to it he could be a Bane that you truly believe Bruce Wayne would fear.

The Joker

Willem Dafoe

Once again, what needs to be said? just look at him; he almost wouldn’t need makeup. de45c1464d61b3b46bf510875f31ffa2Dafoe has made a career of playing deranged and creepy characters, so topping it off with the Clown Prince of Crime just seems natural (and who cares if he’s already played an iconic super villain? No one gives a shit Chris Evan’s played the human torch anymore.) But it’s beyond him just playing crazy well; it’s the lairs and distinctive ways he can play crazy, from a comical bloodsucker in Shadow of the Vampire, to a just plain nasty hitman in Wild at Heart, to just playing fairly normal guys in Platoon

 

Jake Gyllenhaal

This was kind of difficult for me but as soon as I thought of it I knew I had the right one: Jake Gyllenhaal. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “what, the Donnie Darko guy?” “what, the Brokeback Mountain guy?” “what, the City Slickers kid?” To which I say; watch Nightcrawler (and City Slickers, seriously? There is no way that’s the only film you know him from, you’re just showing ojakeff, now go away). Seriously, watch Nightcrawler, he’s insanely brilliant there with a sense of danger and fun that would make him perfect for the role of the Joker. The “fun” there is the most important aspect there for me, Heath Ledgers Joker was disturbing, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t that funny. The Joker should be a clown, their should be a comedic side to him, even if that comedic side is slow-cooked in sociopathy. For proof of this, what’s the definitive Joker story? The one most people use as a reference point for that character? Answer: The Killing Joke. Now, how does that story end? Answer: with a joke. The Joker tells Batman a joke mid fight scene that makes him break down in laughter (and maybe causes Batman to kill him, if certain sources are to be believed). Can you imagine Ledger’s Joker ending Dark Knight like that? It would seem weird and out of character. Gyllenhaal? I feel he could do it.

Mr. Freeze

Ralph Fiennes

Possibly the oddest choice on this list, but I think the most fitting if you know the character well. The Batman Animated Show’s take on Mr Freeze. The seminal show ralph-fiennes-by-kalpesh-lathigra2completely recreated the mad scientist with a freeze-ray into a sympathetic Shakespearean tragedy; a normal man who only became the villain we know because he was betrayed while trying to save his wife’s life, and then became stricken with grief ready to go to any extreme needed to avenge her. So who better to bring this bald heart of ice to life than this classically trained bald thespian? As when he’s not trying to kill boy wizard’s. Fiennes is known for his startling character acting, bringing depth and nuance to countless characters; from portraying Nazi’s to a Hotel concierge. Add in his action experience in the Harry Potter Series and you have an actor seemingly born to bring this chilling villain to heart stopping life.


Tomasz Kot.

I know, I can practically hear the “who?” from here. First off; stop saying “who”, it’s 2 in the morning and I’m trying to sleep. Secondly; watch Bogowie. He’s the lead in that and he has TREMENDOUS presence. The kind you don’t see anymore, he just carries himself in such a wonderful manner that you can tell he’s someone. The major downside to this is that this will probably meabogowien his emotional arc won’t be as effective as it was in the animated series due to English being the actors second language. But there’s a lot of characters in this hypothetical film, and I feel the villain who will have the least screen time would be Freeze, so you won’t have time to go into his tragic backstory, you need someone with presence who can come in for a few scenes and knock it out the park, and I feel he can do that.

Honourable Mention

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.

I know, we usually try to make casting relatively realistic, but someone suggested this on Twitter and it just blew my mind how perfect this would have been. This is a role you know he would have taken on with gusto and given his all. And because Hoffman was so good you know that even if he was only in it for 10 minutes, people would remember it. People would clamour for him to have longer. This would have been one of the most perfect castings of all time, and it’s a real shame that it won’t happen. I will freely admit, I never liked The Penguin as a character, I found him too silly, too out there, too, dare I say it, comic-book to work. Then I watched Gotham, the Penguin in that is one of the highlights of the series and one of the best characters in television at the moment. So for a film version, you’d need to bigger, you’d need to go better, and who better than Hoffman?

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Why we Love…Nightcrawler

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A reworking of Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you” but I found ‘void’ to be more apt for when describing Nightcrawler, this seminal crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s cold and warped performance inspired the ‘stare’ of the quote.

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Set predominantly in the L.A. nightscape; Nightcrawler follows Louis Bloom, played by Gyllenhaal, an enthusiastic and creepy young person, who just wants to find a job he can be proud off, and he will do anything to achieve his goals. So when he stumbles upon the underground world of freelance crime journalism, he thinks he’s found his calling. And then comes, a dark, twisted, funny, and warped thrill ride into the life of a deeply strange man, as he strives to be the best him he can be.

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This film is commonly referred to as “the modern Taxi Driver” and whether it measures up to that or not, is not the purpose of this post, but I see what they mean. Not that it shares a huge amount with the Scorsese classic, in terms of story, setting, or style; but both depict the life of disturbed people, with timely issues, and something to prove. Taxi Driver dealing with problems of a post-Vietnam America, with themes of loss purpose, and dislocation; while Nightcrawler similarly deals with a post-recession and jobless America. Louis’s obsession with finding a job that satisfies you, and an endless rotary of self-help empowerment mantras, tumblr_nenzi00tdU1tmssd6o3_1280combined with his veneer of a can-do attitude, echoes many promises the recession generation were educated on, but didn’t have delivered. Showing how ruthless someone really has to be to achieve the ever elusive American dream.

And it’s here the film has its first lair of satire; ingeniously parodying a classic rag to riches story, swelling inspirational music and all, but with a detestable character doing inhuman, evil things, to get his riches. And I won’t ruin what happens, but it does have a happy ending.


It also dives head first and balls deep into satirizing the News, as blood thirsty, network2manipulative, and downright evil at times. “If it bleeds, it leads” as is repeated multiple times in the film, with Rene Russo giving a chemical turn as the News show runner, clearly taking inspiration from 1996’s Network, with the satirisation of the ultra-violet media being the focus of that film, but as I haven’t seen it, can’t comment further.

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From left to right: Riz Ahmed (great supporting character). Jake Gyllenhall, Dan Gilroy. Rene Russo

Though it’s a stretch to call anyone here a ‘hero’; the heroes of this film are Jake tumblr_njkba6QKKU1qej1i6o1_500Gyllenhaal, giving still a career best performance in an already well versed one, dropping 20 pounds and digging deep to portray a mere reflection of a real man. The other being Dan Gilroy’s dark, clever and witty script; both married perfectly to fully realize and bring this character and story to life, and give us a sociopath for the digital age. (Move over Sherlock)

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Nightcrawler-Review-645x369Behind the camera Dan Gilroy does a clean job of making the L.A. nightscape a very cold and isolating place, reflecting its lead character, and sharing many shades with Michael Mann’s Collateral, which was clearly an influence. It’s a high-class and pristine looking film, especially for a directorial debut, having a gorgeous neo-noir style; and his motifs of focusing on camera screens to establish how the camera sees things – instead of exactly how they actually are – works as a great and sometimes surreal effect.

But at the same time its probably one of the films weaker aspects, not that there is anigif_enhanced-6602-1414793798-4anything wrong with the direction, just compared to its other elements. It doesn’t seem like it pushes the envelope as much, and has left me wondering how the film would have turned out in the hands of a David Fincher or a Nicolas Winding Refn who could really elevate the material visually- especially for the coherent, if a bit safe, action scenes.

But those little nit-picks aside, we love Nightcrawler because it showed there was still room in Hollywood for new and shocking things, which can be highly original and artistic, while still being major box office hits.

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And good god Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking amaze balls.

Recommendations
If you enjoy Nightcrawler, I also recommend American Psycho and Collateral, two other stylish and darkly funny thrillers, that featuring characters with warped views on life.
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Why I love Zodiac

This isn’t a review; it is a spiel about our love of films and what not. So expect spoilers, biased opinions and general rants.

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Easily the best poster, and of course its the one you can’t get.

I’m not sure where my love of mysteries started, probably from a childhood (and teenhood, and adulthood) of watching Scooby Doo, nothing major, but a place to start. Now, from LA Confidential, to Memories of Murder, it’s hard to think of a mystery film I haven’t seen, (but please don’t try, I hate having to face my lies) but Zodiac is one of, if not, the best.

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Right out the gate I’ve gotta say, it’s my favorite Fincher film, followed closely by The Social Network and Gone Girl (yes you read that right, neither Se7en nor Fight Club do I consider his best). And Zodiac is a near three hour, investigative murder mystery journalism film, where they never catch the killer. And damn it’s riveting. It’s that last bit, about the Zodiac never being caught, being one reason to why I love and find this film so re-watchable (I watch it almost Bi-monthly). As unlike almost every other serial killer flick, when you know who did it, you can never not know, no matter how enjoyable of a film it is, the first watch is usually the best. That’s part of what makes Zodiac special, though it hazards a guess at who the Zodiac was, and follows it through with compelling, even satisfying evidence, you never know 100%, so with every watch your still looking, thinking, trying to see if there was anything you missed that could lead you to the Zodiac.

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I really don’t have any deep problems with any of Fincher’s films, I just thought this made a good image….Expect maybe Se7en!

It also features one of my favorite scenes in cinema, it happens in the last fifteen minutes of the film (I love it when the best part of the film is near the end, it’s something to look forward to during it), and it doesn’t feature a gun fight, it doesn’t move me to tears, it’s not shot in partially amazing fashion; it’s just two guys (Gyllenhaal’s cartoonist and Ruffalo’s detective respectively), sitting in a café, as Gyllenhaal lays out the entire case, the entire film in front of us. Every complex facet of evidence, every casual event, all the major characters, it’s all led to this, and it’s explained in a perfectly written scene, with an enthrallingly intense turn from Gyllenhaal, till it climaxes with this films closes thing to a big reveal. And god it’s satisfying.

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Never has the choice over salt or pepper been so intense.

This scene also sums up why it’s my favorite serial killer film, and the tagline summaries it perfectly too. “There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer”. It’s a film about obsession, and how it can eat you alive. Unlike films where you’re worried about the characters  dying, there’s rarely a moment where you think someone’s going to be killed (outside the victims obviously),  but as it unfolds and the characters (mainly Gyllenhaal) fall deeper and deeper and deeper, even when its all said and done, you can’t help but wonder. Can they live again?

Jake

Now I know it’s not cool to care about Academy Awards, and I get it, overall they’re pretty cheap with whom and what they consider worthy (no love for Jake Gyllenhaal unless he’s macking on a cowboy it seems). But at the same time, they do tend to choose pretty good films, and Zodiac easily should have been a major awards contender in 2008, for directing, writing, acting (Robert Downy Jr especially), cinematography (the usual Fincher staples), and the reason it wasn’t I completely put on the studio. They released it at the wrong time, and advertised it the wrong way. Selling it as a fun, messed-up, thrills per-minute serial killer film (Se7en cough, cough) and releasing it in spring; instead of in Oscar season (October-December) and as the investigative drama it is (All The President’s Men meets Citizen X), what the makers always intended it to be. But though I blame them for this, I can see why they did it. Coming off the big hit of the very enjoyable thriller Panic Room, and Fincher’s last serial killer film being a massive hit, I see why the studio treated it like they did. They wanted another Se7en, even though Fincher gave them something much more.

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It’s films like Zodiac that made me pretty happy when I heard Fincher’s series with HBO had fallen through, because despite how much I like House of Cards, and have heard that Utopia is a great show, I didn’t want Fincher’s spending all his time on a TV series when he could be making more films like this, or Gone Girl, or The Social Network. TV’s amazing right now (check out last weeks post on Breaking Bad, wink, wink), with a lot of hugely talented people creating epic feats of fiction, so we need to make sure Film stays great, and Fincher’s pretty good at that.
(Yes I’m aware he’s still producing the TV Show Shakedown and Video Synchronicity (both which sound really good), but who the hell knows at this point, and at least he’s not directing the entire series.)