Monday, September 1, 2008

John Adams and The Dark Knight (SPOILERS)

My brother graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at the beginning of August and has spent the last several weeks here at home while on leave. He returns to Quantico at the end of this week to begin training at The Basic School. Since he was flying out of Portland, OR and since dad lives 40 minutes south of Portland, I went ahead and took him the 300+ miles to dad's over the weekend. Every time I make the trip I swear it will be the last. Under ideal conditions (cool temperatures, since I have no A/C, good company, lots of good food, easy access to what few rest stops there are) the trip is pretty fun. The drive is stunning and fairly easy. However, two lanes tend to get irritating when trucks pass each other and crawl along at 45 miles an hour. The speed limit through Oregon is only 65, which is also irritating, since you can only drive about 72 mph max without being pulled over. It's about a 5 hour drive (thought I've made it in 4), and it's fairly isolated, so I tend to get very anxious before making the trip alone.
While I was in Portland (actually Wilsonville, where my dad lives) we rented the 7-part mini series John Adams, which was nominated for 23 Emmy awards and cast the better part of imdb.com. I have been wanting to watch it for months, and the more I heard about it the better it sounded. The same thing went for The Dark Knight, which I saw on Tuesday. The reviews were all excellent. Even the negative reviews made the movies sound amazing. Both disappointed. The Dark Knight was well-cast (all of the acting was superb, I was very pleased), and the action sequences were some of the best I've seen. They never got old, and were never dizzying (the only dizzying moments come from the incessant use of the circular shot while actors are standing still talking - wtf?!). I was, however, intensely unmoved by the decision to cram several story lines into one movie. I am not entirely sure what made them kill off Two-Face in the movie. They ought to have ended the movie with him showing his face, setting up the next movie for a story about Harvey Dent, rather than giving one of the most well-known fictional characters only half an hour to run the course of his villainy. As for John Adams, the films were entirely inaccurate historically (like....profoundly inaccurate), John Adams was a boring ass (in real life and in fiction), and the subject matter was simply not done justice. You can't have a movie about one of the "Founding Fathers" without showing details of the lives and events of all of them. I found the films entirely confusing.
Both films, however, featured two actors who deserve mention. In John Adams, Stephen Dillane played a delightfully morose Thomas Jefferson. This was my first experience with Dillane, and within two scenes I was a fan. In The Dark Knight I was re-acquainted with an old flame. I first fell for Gary Oldman when I saw him in Air Force One. I've always had a thing for villains (not "bad boys", but truly evil men portrayed by overwhelmingly sexy actors - Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth in Schindler's List, for example), even in my very, VERY young years, and Gary Oldman was just wonderfully bad. It's equally pleasant to see Oldman in hero roles, particularly as I'm working my way back through the Harry Potter series. In the films, Oldman plays Harry Potter's godfather, Sirius Black, who is killed off at the end of the fifth story. It's truly a tragic event, and one cannot help but ache for poor Harry. Anyway, it was pleasant to see Oldman in a positive role again, almost like getting back Sirius, and even more delightful to see his beautiful wrists. I've had a "thing" for sexy arms/wrists/hands for many a year now, and Oldman's lovely hands had quite a few minutes of screen time. It takes truly sexy hands to distract me from the NEVER over-rated Christian Bale, whose career I've followed for a decade and a half.
Overall, a disappointing, frustrating week, soothed only by two wonderful actors who have given me a great deal to think about. And by think I mean fantasize.

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