Segarini vs Batman v Superman Part One
Zack Snyder says, “…suffice it to say there is a ‘v’ in between their names” He explains that having the “v” instead of “vs.” is a way “to keep it from being a straight ‘versus’ movie, even in the most subtle way.”
Really? It should have read “Batman v Superman Should Have Been a Great Fun Movie But Too Many of You Liked Nolan’s Batman Trilogy So We Got This Dark Dreary Trainwreck Instead”
David Fincher – Quenton Tarantino – Christopher Nolan
I very much dislike these three revered writer/producer/directors.
Actually, ‘loathe’ comes closer to describing my disdain for them. To me, just an average Joe who appreciates good, solid entertainment and the work that goes into them. I require very little from the creators who work so hard on what they create to entertain us. I only ask that they simply love their subject matter, respect its foundation and history, and add to the already well-loved stories and fundamental mood of what has gone before. If something new is being created, then please create something interesting that will engage me, and lead to a long history that others may build upon in the future, or stand alone as a film I would want to watch again and again.
In other words, make something you love and can stand by…not a mish-mash of other people’s opinions and/or suggestions, or an attempt to please as many people as possible. …and of course, if you put commerce before art, you run the risk of artistic failure, your name on something far removed from your vision, or worse yet, a complete failure financially, artistically, and personally for which you will be blamed for the rest of your life, regardless if it was the studio, the producers, or the beancounters that shit the bed, your NAME is on it, and has “DIRECTED BY” attached to it. This is YOUR movie, buster, for better or for worse.
Michael Cimino, anyone?
Back when magazines were a thing, there was one called Premiere. A beautiful, slick paper, full colour, well written wonder, concerned with current and about-to-be released movies. I was addicted to it.
There was a big buzz about a film called ‘Se7en’, a police procedural about a serial killer (who doesn’t love a good serial killer story?) with the then-hot Brad Pitt heading up an all star cast that featured Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad), as they discover a number of elaborate and grizzly murders. They soon realize they are dealing with a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who is targeting people he thinks represent one of the seven deadly sins. Freeman’s character also befriends Mills’ wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is pregnant and afraid to raise her child in the crime-riddled city.
You can see why there was a buzz. When the issue carrying a feature on the film arrived, I couldn’t wait to read it. The article was very positive, but what cinched it for me were a series of big, full colour photographs of most of the ‘grizzly’ murders.
This looks epic…and I was mentally in line for the film when I finished the article. I love seeing bad guys get their come-uppance.
Then I saw the movie….
I was a big fan of ‘Welcome Back Kotter‘. I related to Horshack, Kotter himself, and, like everybody else, Kotter’s Fonz, Vinnie Barbarino.
We emulated his vernacular, his stupidity, and his strut. Everyone I knew could do an impression of just about every character in the show, but Vinnie was the one we all tried to get right.
Vinnie was a breakout character, and like Chevy Chase breaking out of Saturday Night Live, movies beckoned to John “Barbarino” Travolta, and off he went to pursue movie stardom.
I think you know the rest…to a point.
After Saturday Night Fever in ’77, and Grease in ’78, there was nowhere to go but down, which was exactly where Travolta went. A bad choice here, a worse film there, one misguided decision too many and your phone stops ringing…and you are all but forgotten…until 1994 and a revolutionary and influential film called “Pulp Fiction”.
An Honest Aside….
Yes…yes…I am an old fuck, happy to be one, and hope you are as lucky as I have been someday. One of the great things about reaching a certain age is this; You don’t give a fuck what other people think of you. Love me or hate me, as long as I’m still on this side of the lawn, I don’t care what you think, I very much care about what I think.
That doesn’t mean I don’t care about YOU…but honestly, why would you care if I liked you or not as long as YOU like you? I still read comics. Make all the fun you want, but I’ll take “Injustice” over just about any superhero movie out there…and yeah, I love those too. My Inner-Child is a hearty little bastard, and no amount of real-life angst will ever destroy him. I hope the same for YOUR inner-kiddies. End of Aside.
I have been a voracious reader ever since I was able to read. Little Big Books, Golden Books, and when I was 4, comic books.
I had an uncle on my mother’s side named Swede Bronner. He and his family lived in a little town just south of San Jose California called Morgan Hill. Uncle Swede had a pharmacy there which included a little soda fountain, and a rather large wooden magazine rack, the lower half of which was nothing but comics.
Dell, Fawcett, EC, National, and Timely…the big publishers at the time, and a few lesser-known lights like Charlton and Harvey filled the rows with brightly coloured covers that drew me to them like an ant to a picnic…barely noticed by adults, they were eye-level candy to kids…of which I was one.
Uncle Swede, seeing me drawn to this display, leaned down and said, “Take as many as you want, Bobby, and if you like them, you can have more whenever you visit.”
Pig Heaven. I had to make 3 trips to the car.
I don’t recall who I saw Se7en with, but I do remember dragging one of my friends with me the day it opened. As has been my modus operandi ever since my teens, I stood in line at the concession stand and bought the same thing I still buy at the movies, except now it costs about the same as a used car. Two hot dogs, a bag of popped corn (butter halfway and again on the top) a candy bar of some kind (I am partial to 3 Musketeers and Mars Bars), and back in the day when I had all my teeth, a box of Dots, which were like Gummy Bears only tastier and shaped like a little dome. Occassionally, I would also pick up a tub of ice cream Bon Bons (which you had to eat fast lest they turned into a morass of vanilla goo with bits of chocolate shells mixed in), and topped it all off with a small Coke…because anything larger would force a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the movie. To this day, I prefer watching at home with a cigarette and drink, assorted snacks, and the ability to pause the film when nature calls…and believe me, nature calls a hell of a lot more than it used to.
The theatre is full, there’s that low murmur that accompanies an excited audience created by anticipation and impatience, all of us there to be entertained and transported into a world not our own, engaged by a story strong enough to suspend our constant lives of dealing with our own realities, our own problems, and the world around us an its sometimes overwhelming drama and threats to our happiness, our security, and our very lives. The power of good entertainment is the ability to relieve us of our worries and the stress and pressure of just getting through the day. And in the spirit of that ability, I chose to bypass movies like “Philadelphia” and “Terms of Endearment”, and their ilk, because I have lost loved ones to cancer, lost some to AIDS, and to pay money to watch someone pretend to deal with those horrors of reality, so see people pretend to be stricken by the all-to-real grief that accompanies those horrors, well…I just have never been able to see the point. Life informs me of its ills and pitfalls at every turn…and if I want to experience real life beyond my own confines, I just read a newspaper, watch the news on TV, or scan the Facebook newsfeed. Sit in a theatre to experience the unavoidable reality of this life?
No thank you.
The exceptions to that exist, of course, and have oft-times been rewarding. Trumbo, Chef, The Little Death, Joy, lots of wonderful little movies about the human condition that tell a story worth telling without the hubris and darkness of the typical arcs most movies follow. There do exist movies where no one dies to advance the plot or make you more invested, and movies created to entertain us in the most important and fullfilling way take us to worlds we will never visit, places that only exist in the minds of those who toil to facilitate what is only imagined, a vision brought to celluloid and now digital life, provide us with impossible adventures, heroic characters, and the greatest gift that a movie can give you that real life cannot provide…
…a Happy Ending.
I have only ever walked out of one movie before it even got to the halfway point. A movie so ill-advised that at first, I thought I could not be seeing what I was seeing.
I had barely made it through the previous film in this burgeoning franchise, had been disappointed by the one before it, and had only kept coming back to see if they could improve on the first one, which had shown real promise in finally getting the iconic lead character right for the first time ever.
Instead, the films continued to spiral downward until they finally crashed and burned so badly, that the mid-’60s television show was no longer the nadir of how bad things could get. Bigger stars, more elaborate sets, and a ton more money, all wasted on the absolute destruction of the hope generated by the first film in the series, the one that almost got it right.
About 40 minutes in, the scenery chewing, the bombast, the erect rubber nipples, the exaggerated cod pieces and the jaw-dropping embarrassment of shitty dialogue and an Arnold Schwarzenegger as the snow-blowing princess from Frozen, became too much to bear.
I stood up.
I raised my arms in the air…
…and I yelled “FOUL!” as loud as I could and marched to the nearest exit to a smattering of applause.
Fuck you Batman and Robin…and curse you, Joel Schumacher, and the people who paid you to do this.
Someday they will get this right…won’t they?
I tried so very hard to like Pulp Fiction. I really worked at it. Everybody I knew and respected absolutely loved it, and here I was trying to just like the damn thing.
There was no one to like in the entire film…or should I say films? Because in the middle of the one about the Batusi and ramming a horse-needle into the homely girl’s chest, another, different, movie popped up out of nowhere like a cat from under the couch cushions.
I was already confused by the editing, which seemed to have been done with a pair of scissors in the dark, and the Shakespearean dialogue so precious and Hamleted to distraction, that I wondered why the constant soliloquies didn’t bathe their speakers in the harsh glare of a Globe Theatre spotlight every time they opened their yaps. It felt like a movie marathon, a high school play for angry 12 year old boys, and to this day, judging from the director’s continued output, I am convinced that the popularity of him and his films are truly that. He has tapped into the Angry 12 Year Old Boy in every man who has felt helpless, defenseless, and/or inadequate.
Those of us who, chastised by our parents or a teacher, or the neighbourhood bully, took our plastic army men out to the back yard and got our revenge on our real life antagonists and enemies. Some even went as far as to pull the wings off of flies, or tie tin cans to the family dog’s tail. How cathartic to seek and obtain revenge for dirty deeds done to us…wish fulfillment as powerful as tying a tea towel around your neck, putting your underwear on outside your pants, and jumping off the roof of the garage to go kick the soup out of an asshole.
But we couldn’t do that. In our secret interior lives we were too civilized to act on our fantasies of vengence and winning the day…but we could go to the movies and experience the thrill vicariously. And that is what we do to this day.
Unfortunately, not all of us are happy with the results of living in a world where dark and edgy, angry and vengeful is the way to be, the way to see the world, and certainly not the way to be entertained.
NEXT! Part Two this Friday!
In the meantime, bring yourself up to speed on the history of comic books as we know them. This is not the definitive take, but it pretty much nails what has gone before and explains it in a simple and entertaining way. If you’re not interested in this little corner of pop culture, just ignore it. Consider it an optional homework assignment for Friday’s column.
For Comic Book Nerds-In-Waiting Only
The Best Explanation of the “Comic Book Ages” I Could Find….
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Segarini’s regular columns appear here Whenever Evil Comes A’callin”.
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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.