Thirteen: Batman Begins, Friends with Babies, and Helping the Helpers

Awhile ago (around the time I started this blog, which has been going on for way more than just a year– sorry, Gary) amidst the end of a very busy summer, two of my closest friends spent an evening with me; a stop on their way back home from their summer vacation. They’re a working married couple with a dog and, at the time, a baby on the way, so as you can imagine any time spent with them feels like a flukey blessing.

The odd thing about long-term friendship is, despite the forming of an uncanny, reassuring confidence in your relationship once you understand that you’ll never have to truly fear their absence from your life, one feels the need to absorb said friend’s presence like a sponge. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to feel hollowed out when I’m on my own, so when I’m around the familiar I ping back and forth between infantile joy and faint, what-I-assume-to-be Adult Concern that these happy feelings will vanish soon, and it will be back to the grind. Old friends make me feel like I have something GOOD in my life, and time with them is something I fiercely protect.

  • Batman Begins’s ranking on the Oldometer: 9/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Jim Gordon is one of my very favorite Gary characters– in fact, at the moment I am wondering if he happens to be my VERY favorite. Gordon, like Batman, is only beginning his story here, and we don’t spend a huge amount of time with him, but he stands out amongst an outstanding cast of characters because of his “average” good guy traits, and is probably the closest thing that we, the audience, have for a stand-in. Gordon is a great guy, and not in a boring way. We root for you, Gordon!
  • Does Gary die in this one? No! He lives! Live, Gordon, live!

Continue reading “Thirteen: Batman Begins, Friends with Babies, and Helping the Helpers”

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Twelve: The Space Between Us, Daddy Issues, and Appreciating the Wonders in Our Own Backyard

Oh boy. I plead very guilty to initially hoping that The Space Between Us might be a decent enough YA-targeted film. It has a number of vaguely interesting elements that might have been strung together to make a vaguely interesting movie, or, say, one that was better than the last Nicolas Sparks movie I had the misfortune to see. Space features Mars colonization, a baby born on a space shuttle, daddy issues, a young romance, a few homages/direct references to the classic Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, commentary on the American foster system, and, obviously, Gary Oldman. Also worth noting is this film has NO ties to any YA literature– this is not an adaptation of the latest sci fi dystopian love triangle best seller, it’s 100% original material. This must be remarked upon because almost nothing in this quagmire of nonsense feels original or true or even passably sweet.

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Sorry for all the negative space, Gary.
  • The Space Between Us’s ranking on the Oldometer: 2/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Gary is Nathaniel Shepard, CEO of some kind of corporation that is responsible for putting together the very first team of Mars colonizers. He has some kind of brain benign tumor thing which does not interfere with his life on earth but may cause his brain to explode if he were to venture into outer space. This is much to his chagrin, because he looooves space sooooo much. He’s got the hots for space! He wants to marry it. Anyway. Gary’s fine here, he does his best to blend into this bizarrely bland story. The screentime spent on Nathaniel is the most interesting by far, but his appearance in this hogwash is another mystery I’m out to unravel.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No, but I wish for his sake that he had.

Continue reading “Twelve: The Space Between Us, Daddy Issues, and Appreciating the Wonders in Our Own Backyard”

Eleven: Darkest Hour, Personal Insignificance, Turning 30, and the Glory of “Littleness”

I have been looking forward to Darkest Hour since it was first announced. If you follow Gary Oldman’s career as I do, you gather that the man seems to enjoy working more than he feels energized to gun for awards (see his recent films, Criminal and Hitman’s Bodyguard), so I was jazzed by the fact that this would be not only a serious leading role for Oldman, obviously, but also that Darkest Hour was to be helmed by an auteur. Director Joe Wright is known for his visually arresting filmmaking and has worked the awards circuit for over a decade thanks to his period pieces like Atonement and Anna Karenina. One glance at his filmography may remind us that Wright has a flair for the theatrical (and also the Keira Knightley, who, strangely, is nowhere to be found in DH), his pieces ooze with atmosphere and flirt with Sirkian melodrama (he also directed Pan, but we don’t talk about that). It was reassuring to think that a popular subject like Churchill would be in the hands of someone who might be capable of resurrecting him with the same liveliness and change of perspective that Wright brought to Pride & Prejudice (yeah I love that adaptation, come at me).

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that it sucks to be… panned.
  • Darkest Hour’s ranking on the Oldometer: 8/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Gary plays the iconic historical figure Winston Churchill, so obviously there’s alot goin’ on there. While the remarkable makeup deserves some recognition, Oldman gives his best performance here since Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and he’s gonna get the Oscar.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No.

Continue reading “Eleven: Darkest Hour, Personal Insignificance, Turning 30, and the Glory of “Littleness””

Ten: The Contender, Politics, and The Matter of Character

You hear the word “character” pop up often when it comes to major elections in the US. It’s a weighty word, and if you choose to use it there’s an awful lot of unpacking that must occur, especially in a political context. You run into questions such as how is it defined? Can “character” mean something different to opposing parties? Does it mean something different to every individual? Does it signal something aside from its typical use when applied to the government? How, exactly, do we demonstrate “good character” vs. “bad character”– can you have either and exhibit behavior associated with the opposite? Finally, and vitally, does character matter, and should it matter at all to leaders and voters?

  • The Contender’s ranking on the Oldometer: 8/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: There’s so much to say about Runyon, the forceful Republican Senator that Gary portrays here. On the one hand, he is utterly the villain to the idealized Democratic Hero of the story, but on the other hand he is far, far from being one-dimensional. Runyon believes in his course of action and his definition of integrity as fervently as his opposition does, and I imagine if the story were flipped Runyon could be perceived as the hero who sticks to his guns. That said, in the finale of the film the screenwriting falls short and Runyon practically starts stroking his mustache and cackling, which is unfortunate, but he’s still highly memorable, and one of Gary’s most formidable roles.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No.

Continue reading “Ten: The Contender, Politics, and The Matter of Character”

Nine: Air Force One, The American Dream President, and Nostalgic Patriotism

Welcome to 1997! Bill Clinton is the real-life president, Hillary is dutifully performing her First Lady tasks, we have yet to experience the era of Marvel’s 500 Avengers flicks, The Matrix will not be released for another two years, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford are our highest-paid movie stars, and the world is rocking its pre-9/11 vibe. Enter modern action-classic Air Force One.

  • Air Force One’s ranking on the Oldometer: 6/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Well, Ivan Kurshonov is a Heavy, in the style of many James Bond villains, and his aspirations are high (take down America!). He has no qualms about threatening the lives of little girls, either. Still, while the script doesn’t attempt to humanize Ivan, exactly, he’s hardly a one-note bad guy, and Oldman is mesmerizing enough to help support Ford in shouldering the movie, which is unusual for a baddie in a movie of this scale.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yes! And how! Die, Ivan! Die!!

There’s almost too much to say about this masterpiece of a thriller, so I’m going to break it down.

Continue reading “Nine: Air Force One, The American Dream President, and Nostalgic Patriotism”

Eight: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Grief, and Goodbyes

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Confession: I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II a few months ago, and have been putting off blogging about the film.

Of course, there’s plenty of material to feast on in Deathly Hallows, Harry’s final chapter, where it All Goes Down: the near destruction of Harry, his pals, and the institution of Hogwarts at the hands (or wand) of the evil Voldemort, who looms large and powerful. This is the film in which Severus Snape– arguably the most interesting and compelling character of the entire Potter saga– shows his true colors (and they are beautiful. Like a rainbow). Mrs. Weasely curses (so effectively), lots of characters that we love bite the dust.

  • Harry Potter and the Death Hollows: Part II’s ranking on the Oldometer: 7/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Gary reprises his role– if just for a few moments– of Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather. Sirius is a very resonant character to many (myself included), and one of JK Rowling’s best creations.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Well, he already died a few movies ago, so… no?

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Seven: The Backwoods, Depression, and The Manliness of Carrying Your Own Shotgun

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I was feeling a little depressed last week when I settled in for my screening of The Backwoods on my laptop. I know, I know, watching movies on one’s laptop is not primo, not if you’re a REAL CINEMA fan, but as I said I was feeling low and liked the idea of holding off on leaving my bed for as long as possible.

  • The Backwood’s ranking on the Oldometer: 4 and a half/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Paul isn’t a good guy in the slightest, and thus I don’t think we’re supposed to like him as much as I did, but he is a forceful, active character who is wrapped up in his ideas about what Manliness is, and that’s interesting. Paul is an intriguing break in between Jim Gordon roles for Oldman (he still sports the signature stache, even), and is a nice reminder of the powerful characters Oldman can take charge of. He’s pretty darn magnetic in the role.
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yeah, and then it’s all downhill from there.

Continue reading “Seven: The Backwoods, Depression, and The Manliness of Carrying Your Own Shotgun”

Six: Lost in Space, the horrors of ’98, villainous career advice, and life lessons from Vincent Price

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And here we have it! The first truly, truly terrible movie from Gary Oldman’s oeuvre that I’ve hit this year. When I say this movie is heinous, I’m not joking. Just when you think the cinematic dust has settled (and there’s a lot of literal dust in this movie. Space dust?), just when you start hoping that this hunk of sci-fi flotsam might at least coast to a passable ending, it surprises you by getting even worse.

Five: Sid & Nancy, videotapes, tragic romance, and The Artist’s Responsibility

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Gary Oldman doesn’t like Sid & Nancy. He and the director, Alex Cox, don’t seem to like one another at all, actually. Cox’s issue with his once-lead actor seem to have to do with his objections to Oldman trashing the movie, which, other than Repo Man, is Cox’s strongest film. Oldman, in response to questions about S&N has, on several occasions, stated that he dislikes the movie, he dislikes his work in it, and he strongly dislikes the subject it portrays: the downfall of Sid Vicious, a formidable member of the iconic (if you’re into punk) band The Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

  • Sid & Nancy’s ranking on the Oldometer: 7/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: Sid Vicious wasn’t a good guy, and I can’t speak as to whether or not the movie glorifies his existence. Still, despite his complaints about the movie, Oldman turns in one of his most celebrated performances here, and I think his interpretation of Vicious as pathetic and child-like is fantastic. Despite sinking into the mind-numbing representation of a guy who can’t even tell when he’s in over his head, Oldman is both hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking. (Also, he uses the phrase “noddy blinkums” which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before in my life, and I can’t stop laughing about it.)
  • Does Gary die in this one? Yep. Well, we don’t see it happen, but it happens…

Continue reading “Five: Sid & Nancy, videotapes, tragic romance, and The Artist’s Responsibility”