Sunday, January 25, 2009

British Are Dumber than We (Sorry)

Today, drunk, I am going to increase my popularity (with the Irish.) Plus, I'm feelin' patriotic. Why? Because my President is better than any of your Presidents (or Prime Ministers, or sticks in the sand or what-have-you.) Now it's always been true that my President could beat up your President. But we're not on the schoolyard anymore. Now it's time to show you who is mutherscratchin' cool. And that's my President. Of the United Stizzy. 

We were looking pretty low there for a while, what with chimpy McFlightsuit running around. But now we're back. It's like we got the President which Lincoln and Kennedy wished they were. 44. His game is on. 


Anyway, here's the gist of this whole thing:

The British. They're just dumber than regular people, right? That's what I thought.

I have two proofs.

1. Why would they be prejudiced against redheads? That's like saying "I hate girls with green eyes because they're so beautiful." With the British though, they have to be racist against... people who aren't even another race. That's like being clinically insane most places. In Britain, though, it's just what people do.

You redheads from Britain: you're sick of the crap you get in Britain? Just come here. Americans think you're sexy. Because you are. Here you'll be called a "redhead" and everyone will be charmed by your accent. Being called a "ginger" is just stupid (so is cockney rhyming slang but that's a whole new order of stupid I don't have time to go into.)

2. The British don't even know the name of their own country. We've proved this before. It's still true. Stop looking at your passports to find out, you already lose. Move to somewhere that's simpler to say. Like "Luxembourg". Or "Lesser Antilles." If you're just not smart enough to know the name of your country then I'm not going to tell you. Plus you were totally lapdogs under Bush the II. And that was dumb on top of dumb.

The British, of course, who live in America (and their families still in that place where they hate you because of the color of your hair) are perfectly lovely and smart and charming people. As ex-pats often are the most interesting people in the room. But that's another story.


Now for all the Irish who were amused by the above, but who like comic books. I must alienate you at this time:

I'm one of those people who thinks that the Batman movie The Dark Night was, well, crap. Now I can argue that the movie:

  1. had completely unmotivated characters (warning -- spoilers) because of things like
  • a. The Joker. He of course was deliberately unmotivated, the movie says he does things just to do them. OK. I'll take that for one of the characters.
  • b. Two-Face. Now get this: The Joker kills Two-Face's girlfriend (and burns half his face off) leaving him in pain and misery (but giving him a good super-villan nickname). So what is Two-Face's response? Not to kill the Joker (even when the Joker hands Two-Face a freakin' gun and puts it to The Joker's head.) No. He wants to -- now get this -- kill the children of the guy who mistakenly put The Joker's henchmen in charge of protecting his girlfriend. What? That's not motivation. That's "Oh, but if he kills the Joker then the movie is over and he can't fight Batman for no reason whatsoever." Bleh, I say.
  • And the whole city turns against Batman for no reason because... well because it makes Batman seem more heroic as a character or whatever.
These characters do what they do because it's what keeps the movie going forward. It has zero to do with what any characters would actually do. This is why I like Frankenheimer and you like Batman. 

OK. I get that. You like unmotivated characters. Or you like to think the characters were super motivated and I somehow just don't understand. Fine. Everybody's got their opinion. I'll live with that.

But now I've seen some people talk about how "great" the movie looks. I'm sorry. There is no argument to support that at all. The movie looked like crap. If you think it looked good then you are wrong. Definitively and absolutely wrong. There is no argument that it looked good. 

How do I know? How did we cross from subjective and into objective analysis? 

This is how:

The movie was not in focus.

I'll say that again in case you missed it.

The movie.

Was not.

In focus.

And when I say "in focus" I don't mean something subtle about the characters maintaining any kind of consistent blah - blah or the story retaining its wah-wah-wah. I'm talking about the knob which is on the left side of the camera NEEDED TO BE TURNED TO THE FREAKIN' LEFT.

The knob.

On the camera.

Was in the wrong place.

Sure, it's hard. And shooting in IMAX is probably a pain in the ass because you can be a hundred feet away from your subject shooting at f16 with a 28mm lens and STILL you only have three-and-a-half millimeters of depth of field but still...

Not in focus = doesn't look good. There are episodes of Law and Order which have better focus. Hell, my last movie had better focus and I was 8 days into it before I realized my back-focus was off. 

Your Batman. He is unmotivated. His focus puller didn't not have accurate marks. That's probably not his fault. It's yours Batman. 


Mixing hi-def and low def images to create hi-def relatively cheaply (if impracticably).


I might need a Mellosoft Mellotron emulator. This one is free and a VST instrument.


You might be wondering "Why is Drew being so obnoxious?" He doesn't know. His life has been going pretty well lately...


Phillip Drawbridge said...

Woah! As a Brit I was reading this and saying things like "Well, I never." and "Gosh, I say!" and was ready to defend the fact that I like red headed people.* I can give you two reasons to hate red heads. One if you're British (if you say that you like that guy to most Brits you'll get punched in the face)and one if you're American
*When I say people, I mean men. As for women I can give 2 million reasons to like red heads. Gillian Anderson, Shirley Manson, Alica Witt.......

As for the name of the country. Yeah, it's all very weird, I'll give you that. However, I did know that the name was The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It even says it on my passport. I work in a bookshop and I took it upon myself the relabel the shelf that said "England" but which also had books about Scotland, Wales and Ireland, to say "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" but the label went off the end of the shelf, so I had to change it to Britain. Which is SO inaccurate that it's not funny.

Now if you want even more weirdness, people from the county of Cornwall, down on the southern tip, think they are in their own country and even have their own language.
And don't get me started on the Welsh.

AND as for the citizen/subject. I always thought I was a citizen of England (UK, GB, or whatever) and a subject of the Queen. But hey, don't ask me, I left years ago.

Now, maybe you can answer me this. I'm from the British Isles, so I'm British. But what are people from the United States? They can't say American, since that includes Canadian and Mexican, and really any country from Southern America too. Always wondered about that.

Alright me old china, thanks for giving me a bit of a giraffe, I'm off for a cup of Rosy and then watch a bit of the Liza.

Joshua James said...

IMOHO, respectfully, anyone who thinks the characters of the Dark Knight were not motivated clearly wasn't paying attention to how character motivation is constructed and / or works ... just my opinion, of course.

For reference, I'd direct you to Todd Alcott's excellent five part breakdown of the story of Dark Knight and why it works so excellently.

In terms of focus, I saw it in IMAX, and I thought it looked just dandy.

Andrew Bellware said...

Phillip -- you're an ex-pat. Very different thing. Inherently that makes you vastly smarter and better than EITHER a Britisher OR an American. Clearly, you left Briton You're well aware that redheads are sexy. But when Prince Harry has a problem being harassed, you know there's trouble:
And since you came to the US deliberately, you know how to negotiate airports better. Furthermore, you likely use your accent to charm Americans, much like Obi Wan uses the Force. Does it get you out of traffic tickets?

We can call ourselves "Americans" just as those from Canadia call themselves "Canadians". Of course, 80% of Canadians live within 20 miles of the United States so they MAY AS WELL be "Americans". But what do people from Great Briton call themselves? "English". Yeah, the Scots do it too (when no one else is in the room -- you'll never get them to admit it but they do.)


Wow. Give me one President I like and I get all nationalistic and obnoxious. Thanks for putting up with it. Just 8 more years.

I can't lay into the French 'cause it turns out they were all right about the Iraq war...

Andrew Bellware said...

Dark Knight -- why didn't Two-Face kill the Joker when he had a chance?

Seems to me that the reason was "Because then the movie would be over."

Specifically the party scene has some fun times with focus. It swims. I think in most shots the focus EVENTUALLY gets there. But somebody wasn't hitting his marks. It was hand held camera -- my recollection was they were using a 50mm or similar. It was probably open all the way to an f-stop of 1.2. At 5 feet:
Depth of field
Near limit 4.91 ft
Far limit 5.09 ft
Total 0.18 ft
Yeah, those little tape marks on the ground? Find em! ;-)

Joshua James said...

Uh, did you watch / read the scene as played? Scott Myers has the breakdown, but there was an emotional component linked to the idea of "justice" ... (Joker: "You know why I like chaos? Because ... it's fair, etc.") which led Dent to his coin flip.

Had the coin come up scarred ... Dent would have killed The Joker. It didn't. How did Dent come to view life via a coin flip? The emotional content and / or motivation is in that scene. Again, Todd's got a great breakdown of it, if you really wanna know.

Or you could trust guys like us screenwriters who keep telling you it works ... I won't argue focus with you (I may disagree with you, but I won't argue the technical aspects) because that's not my field.

Andrew Bellware said...

So instead he wants to kill:

1. The children

2. Of the guy who inadvertently

3. Put people who worked for the Joker

4. On his girlfriend's security detail.

Two-Face is killing everyone EXCEPT the guy who's responsible. The only reason to do that is because if he kills the guy who's responsible, there's no more movie.

I did watch the scene as played. That's how I knows! ;-)

Joshua James said...

Actually, what Harvey wants is justice ... if you're talking about motivation, he seeks the dark side of justice ... he threatens the wife and children of Gordon because Harvey lost HIS wife-to-be ... he lost the only family he knew ...

He offers them the flip of the coin, fifty-fifty ... the same odds Rachel had ... he offers it to them all (the Joker is first, and inspires the plan, tho' Harvey had the coin earlier) and he would have killed the Joker had the coin flip determined it so (Harve doesn't kill Rameriz, one of the officers responsible, because the coin says so) ... he goes through everyone, the mobsters, and ends with Gordon, who assigned the security details and thus was responsible for letting Rachel get kidnapped, one can assume (in fact, if I remember, Harvey says is) that Batman is next.

I'd say that you don't get it ... sure, if Harvey kills the joker, it's a DIFFERENT MOVIE (and there could be more movie if you did) but it wouldn't end ... DK is ultimately a tragedy with Harvey as the protagonist ... his mind and half his face is gone, the love of his life gone ... he puts the rest of his life and fate in the hands of a coin flip ... Neither all good or all evil ... half of each.

He doesn't kill the Joker simply because the coin said no. You're stuck on that, you think, he should have just killed the JOker ... but if you watch the scene in the hospital, it is all laid out pretty clearly. There's complexity there, but rendered with clarity (clarity is not the same as simplicity).

Dude. this is basic stuff, I really don't see how you miss this. This isn't NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN ... all of these characters have a detailed background and DK covers them very well, with complexity and clarity ... it's not a cartoon ... but really, your argument is that the characters have no emotional motivations ... the fact that Harvey didn't kill the Joker doesn't support that contention, not at all ...

Andrew Bellware said...

Wow 7 comments. About Batman.

But the thing is that if Denton wants justice -- that's the one thing he's not getting. By using using an arbitrary decision-making tool (a coin) he might get "fair", but not "just". And it therefore justifies whatever action he takes, whether it's killing the Joker or some guy's kids -- it has nothing to do with his emotional character.

Flipping a coin. It's like listening to John Cage for cryin' out loud! ;-)

Joshua James said...

"But the thing is that if Denton wants justice -- that's the one thing he's not getting. By using using an arbitrary decision-making tool (a coin) he might get "fair", but not "just". And it therefore justifies whatever action he takes, whether it's killing the Joker or some guy's kids -- it has nothing to do with his emotional character."

It has EVERYTHING to do with his emotional character, it becomes who he is (and bear in mind Joker's speech - "You know the great thing about Chaos? It's fair") and while Dent wants justice for what happened, he also wants it in a way SPECIFIC TO WHAT HAPPENED TO RACHEL, hence the coin flip.

To get a fair pint of blood for what he's suffered, that's justice ... really, you keep coming back to this same point over and over ... Dent wants a specific type of justice. Just killing won't be enough.

It's specific, and that's how emotional logic works. Killing the Joker will not be justice unless it happens in the same way he lost Rachel ... killing all those people.

Dude ... did you NOT listen to the Joker's speech to Dent at the hospital? Because it feels that way. Have you not read any of the references I've mentioned?

Are you not aware that the base for Dent's character as TWO-FACE is rooted in the flip of the coin?

Really, dude ... you're stuck on the fact that DENT DIDN'T KILL THE JOKER and you just cannot see past that, even though it's justified in so many ways ... yeah, it is based on a comic book, but it is there, why it happens and what happens, it's there. And research into brain trauma (which Dent has) also bears out that extreme injuries will cause people to act out in specific ways.

Dude. I mean, seriously, dude ... no emotional character? This is just plain ridiculous ... there's certainly stuff to criticize about DK, but one of them IS NOT that the characters aren't rooted in solid emotional choices ... quite the opposite.

The reason the last two Batman movies have been so successful is because they've reimagined the character with more solid emotional reality and complexity. You're telling me that this film has less emotional character than BATMAN FOREVER?


Please. I'm sorry, that's ridiculous! Completely!

Damn. I think you're just missing it completely, and it's like you don't wanna see ...

I can't even go on, respectfully, simply because you're kinda refusing the obvious, and it's like trying to explain Spanish to someone who not only doesn't speak the language, but refuses to admit the language exists outside of their own.

So, uh, I'm gonna have to bow out of DK discussions from here on, it's just gonna get my temper up, and my kid's watching close so he can copy all my bad words.


Andrew Bellware said...

Wow, more ire over a movie than Angloxenophobia! ;-)

I read all the Todd Alcott (two 't's?) stuff. Still, I separate the "fairness" from the "justice" part. Because Denton seemed all about justice but then turns to fairness (or what I might describe as "arbitrary-ness") I don't buy it. I didn't find Joker's argument to Denton/Two Face convincing or persuasive.

It ain't that I don't want to see. Heck, I wanted to like the movie. For me though, it just failed. Of course, some people don't like MacBeth...