Very few people speak ill of Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN trilogy. The series shattered box office records, earned multiple Oscar nominations (and wins), and is often considered the greatest superhero trilogy in movie history. And yet, deep down in my heart, I’ll never be able to forgive Nolan for wasting precious years of Christian Bale’s productive career, when the versatile actor could have been making more passionate, provocative films like Werner Herzog’s stirring RESCUE DAWN — airing tonight at 10P on Sundance Channel.
Nothing says sharp like a man in a Giorgio Armani suit. And the ladies usually look pretty good in his duds, too. The Italian designer has lent those fine lines to more than a hundred feature films, including a few modern classics. And because Il Maestro has remained current for more than three decades, the wardrobes in these five films have come to define more than just the characters who wore them.
This week, it’s a veritable early autumn music festival with films celebrating two of the iconic figures in rock history, along with a cautionary comedy about what can happen to all those singer-songwriters out there who don’t happen to possess the talent of Ian Curtis or Bob Dylan.
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. We read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: a tragedy at a movie theater in Colorado.
When Chinese director and Rolex Arts Initiative mentor, Zhang Yimou, was asked to select a protégé more than a year ago, he said he chose Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir “because of her work and background. We Chinese have a special affinity with Third World countries like Palestine. I fully support people from developing nations who dream of filming in their own land.” Yimou makes colorful, monumental films like A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP (2009), HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004), HERO (2002) and RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991). He has won awards at festivals around the world and yes, even at our beloved Sundance (for THE ROAD HOME). He just completed his next film, THE FLOWERS OF WAR, a story about “Chinese sex workers in 1937 [who] volunteer to replace university students as escorts for invading Japanese soldiers.” It stars Christian Bale and opens in China next month…
Technically speaking, THE FIGHTER, the character director David O. Russell named his film after, is Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), an aging boxer badly managed by his mother, Alice, and sporadically coached by his crack addict, ex-boxer brother Dicky (Christian Bale), but given what actually gets the most screen time an alternate title could be “watch Christian Bale act like a drug addict for two hours.”
It’s getting to be that time – Golden Globes coming this weekend; non-stop awards season chatter until February. I happened to be watching LAUREL CANYON the other night, and seeing Christian Bale in that 2002 Lisa Cholodenko flick; I started thinking about these two artists, then and now. They currently exist in the same universe once again for said upcoming awards madness, as Bale makes a hard Method-acting hit with THE FIGHTER and Cholodenko goes the emotional distance with THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Both artists have made enviable progress in their careers since they were splashing around the pool in LAUREL CANYON (well, Bale splashed; Cholodenko ostensibly was at the monitor, poolside). While Bale has continued to take his craft outward, going beyond his typical detached cool-guy role (think AMERICAN PSYCHO), Cholodenko has successfully traveled even further in, going deeper into the modern American psyche with regard to family and love. Outward and inward – it’s inspiring.
Werner Herzog is a lover of conflict. Whether it’s man vs. man, man vs. nature or man vs. himself, his films have a habit of pitting a man against the extremes. In RESCUE DAWN (2006) the man is Deiter Dengler (Christian Bale), a US Navy pilot who was shot down in Laos only 40 minutes into his very first mission in 1965 during the Vietnam War. Between surviving the crash, his Pathet Lao captors and his subsequent escape, Dengler confronted and triumphed over man, nature and himself.
On Sundance Channel’s Tastemakers Series this month. Every week, watch a different award winning film from festivals around the globe. A series of contemporary hits and timeless masterpieces that define cool and defy limits. Sundays at 10PM E/P.