Friday, July 18, 2008

Big Summer Movie!

If you have anything of a geek in your body at all, you should probably go see The Dark Knight at some point. As superhero movies go, this one's up there with the first of the X-Men trilogy and the first Spiderman. The plotline is well enough developed to carry the special effects, the hand to hand combat, the chase scenes, and the techie gadgets.

Yes, there may be spoilers in the rest of this, read with caution.

This may only be due to Heath Ledger. And I would say that even if I weren't dangerously close to being in the category of people who are only seeing The Dark Knight in his honor. Ledger's take on the Joker is brilliant. To paraphrase the WaPo's film critic -- you can see the broken boy peeking out from behind the makeup. The Joker is twitchy, goading, sadomasochistic, terrifying and often appears saner than the population around him: at one point, he comments that people are calm as long as everything goes according to the plan -- no matter how terrible that plan is. He's a man who has stared straight into the void and realized that you can ask why all you want but an answer won't be forthcoming. The Joker exposes the madness of the paradigm by taking it to it's logical extreme.

I was underwhelmed by the film's other two leading men. (The effect was probably intensified by my lack of finding either Christian Bale or Aaron Eckhart attractive in the least. Conversely, my sister grins a little when talking about Christian Bale who's "just so cute.") Bale doesn't need a wide range to play his character. He has to be brooding and gruff with a side of plastic playboy. Aaron Eckhart was not bad, but he didn't manage to capture much of an edge to add to his character.

Sadly, Maggie Gyllenhaal was visibly constrained in her role. Rachel had more guts in her left little finger than Harvey had in his whole body, and yet she's stuck playing second fiddle to him and Batman both. Sad times. She's definitely an improvement over the withering "Betty" from The Incredible Hulk, but it's rather maddening to her Harvey Dent mourned as "the best of us" and Rachel essentially forgotten.

Which brings me around to my next feminist beef with the film. It's my understanding that Commissioner Gordon's daugther, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, aka Oracle, has far more of a role in the Batman universe. So why is Commissioner Gordon's son the child who is somewhat developed in the film? (Daughter appears, but only to be shielded from seeing bad things by mom.) Ergh. Come on, people! It's okay for girls to want to grow up to kick some supervillain ass!

But, honestly, I wasn't expecting a feminist subtext, and the film was a definite improvement on strongly anti-feminist subtext of The Incredible Hulk and the somewhat less anti-feminist subtext of Prince Caspian.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eye rolls of the Day

First and foremost -- Christians feel "offended" by English translations of the Koran being left on their doors. Read more at Barthlomew's Notes on Religion. (Via. The Wild Hunt and The Jaded Hippy.)

Now how many Gideon Bibles and Chick tracts have I scored lately? Hmm...

Second, via Ramblings a gay man is suing Zondervan and Thomas Nelson claiming that the references to homosexuality in the KJV and NKJV and probably NIV have violated his constitutional rights by causing him emotional suffering.

The intent of the publisher was to design a religious, sacred document to reflect an individual opinion or a group's conclusion to cause "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder," Fowler wrote.

You know, I'm sure that the translations in question have caused him pain and contribute to the anti-gay bigotry of evangelical Christian culture. I'm inclined to think that the verses implied are, in fact, mistranslated. (Of course, I also think that to a great extent they are untranslatable.) And as for Zondervan's study materials, I don't think too highly of them. But, seriously, is this the best way to go about educating people as to the problems with those translations and study materials? And to paraphrase answers to one family of anti-porn arguments, the Bible doesn't kill people, violent bigots kill people.

In defense of the rest of us on the super-progressive side of world, this is not how we generally operate. I shall now return to reading subversively. ;)