Holy Blog Post, Batman!

Of late, friends have acted gobsmacked when I tell them I’m not the least bit excited about going to see The Dark Knight Rises.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to see it. (I mean, c’mon. And I went to see Elektra, and while I expect DKR might be a downer, it should be a competent downer) I just wish I could excited about it.

Which is odd, because I loved Batman Begins. Still do. I was stupid excited to see The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger’s Joker was amazing, and I left the theatre thinking it was an fantastic film. And then I watched it again on DVD, and I turned it off before it was finished.

It was so relentlessly depressing (and I’m not saying all  movies have to be shiny and happy) but also it wasn’t a Batman movie. Not really. Comic book fans are still waiting for a real Batman movie. You could say it’s nerd rage, or any other buzz word for a disappointed fan. But bear with me.

Batman has so many facets, and we’ve never come close to capturing them all on film. (Or in the comics either, sadly. Batman has being growing aggressively more dickish and one dimensional since Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns. And as Adam West once asked: “Why doesn’t Batman dance anymore?”)

Batman is a perfect physical specimen. He’s among the greatest martial artists in the world. He’s a skilled actor and impersonator. He’s an escape artist. He has cool gadgets. He’s part of a larger superheroic world as a member of the Justice League. Most importantly, he’s the Dark Knight Fucking Detective. (I would watch the hell out of a Batman movie that used more mystery/thriller tropes than action tropes, but maybe that’s just me. It certainly feels that way judging from the sound of crickets every time I bring it up.) None of the films, Nolan’s or otherwise, have come even close to showing us all sides of Batman. (The cartoons have. Batman The Animated Series and Justice League, both produced by Bruce Timm, remain in my mind the definitive take on the character–even more so than the comics that spawned him.)

I rewatched Tim Burton’s Batman recently (the less said about the following installments in the franchise the better) and was surprised how well it holds up today. For instance, within six minutes, viewers have achieved Batman, and two of those minutes were the opening credit sequence! Compare this with pretty much every other superhero movie and Burton’s Batman looks even better. (Yes, yes, I’m aware of how horribly the Prince soundtrack has aged, so no need to bring it up. Or Basinger’s performance as Vicki Vale for that matter.)

Nolan’s Batman does has a lot going for it. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon (somebody please make a GCPD HBO series!) chief among them. Come to think about it, everything I love about Nolan’s films turns on who he has cast to bring his take on Batman to life, rather than his actual take on Batman.

I’m sure Dark Night Rises will do huge bank. I’m reasonably sure it’ll be a good film. I’m sure I’ll go see it. I just wish I could be even the tiniest bit sure that I’ll enjoy it.

 

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A Bunch of Little Things Make a Big Blog Post.

I was in Ottawa over Canada Day, and while I was hoping to have my recap of that trip up and posted, a bunch of things have got in the way. So instead, here’s a few minor tidbits that have crossed the desk since then:

The Sunburst Awards Shortlists Announced:

Adult fiction:

  •  Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, David Nickle (ChiZine Publications)
  • Technicolor Ultra Mall, Ryan Oakley (Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publications)
  • Enter, Night, Michael Rowe (ChiZine)
  • Paradise Tales, Geoff Ryman (Small Beer Press)
  • The Pattern Scars, Caitlin Sweet (ChiZine)
  • Blackdog, K.V. Johansen (Pyr Books)

Young Adult fiction:

  • Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Lerner Publishing Group)
  • All Good Children, Catherine Austen (Orca Book Publishers)
  • The Summer of Permanent Wants, Jamieson Findlay (Doubleday Canada)
  • The Dead Kid Detective Agency, Evan Munday (ECW Press)
  • Blood Red Road, Moira Young (Doubleday Canada)

Another great year for my pals at ChiZine, and the second year in a row where the Sunbursts and the Prix Auroras have had a surprising amount of commonality. My recollection (I suppose I could actually research this, but that defeats the purpose of a quick blog post, doesn’t it?) is that the two awards, one juried, one fan-voted, have never shared a winner.

On the Same Page (aka Manitoba Reads before CBC started an actual Manitoba Reads program) shortlist announced:

  • A Thousand Farewells, Nahlah Ayed (Viking Canada)
  • Queen of Hearts, Martha Brooks (Groundwood Books Ltd.)
  • Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings From the Land of Water, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou, editors (Highwater Press)
  • A Large Harmonium, Sue Sorenson (Coteau Books)

Local awards like On the Same Page are always hard for me to come out in support of a particular title. I think it stems from getting to know many of the authors at my bookselling day job. It feels a little like playing favourites. I know I have a few colleagues who refuse to be on any of the Manitoba Book Awards juries for this reason. But this is my blog and I’ll play favourites if I want to. I think it’s going to be hard to top Manitowapow this year. The book has had an amazing response so far, and with its multiple contributors I think it’ll have the most promotional oomph.

There are no genre titles in the running this year. I nominated Sierra Dean’s debut urban fantasy Something Secret This Way Comes, (mostly because it’s an awesome and fun read, but partly because I know the customers who buy whole hog into On the Same Page, and thinking of them reading a book about a half-werewolf, half-vampire bounty hunter really made me smile) because if I don’t support Winnipeg’s fantasy writing community, who will?

Speaking of Winnipeg’s fantasy writing community:

Fellow Turnstone author, critique partner, maker of holiday peanut brittle and all around good egg, Karen Dudley, has booked the Winnipeg launch for her fantasy debut, Food for the Gods. Be there. It’ll be awesome. I fully intend on drinking a full amphora of wine and telling embarrassing stories about the early days of this novel. If that doesn’t float your boat, Karen is one of the best readers I’ve encountered, and trust me, I’ve worked in a book store for over ten years, I’ve heard a lot of readings (many of which I’d pay money to unhear).

Oh, and this happened:
Chadwick Ginther Puts The Magic Back In Manitoba
A great shout out from my home team at McNally Robinson. Thanks especially to Steven Benstead who wrote the article and has been a tireless supporter of my writing from day one. Steve is also a damn fine writer himself, and as much as I poke fun at Can-Lit, when his current novel finds a home, it’ll knock your socks off.

Finally, the Innsmouth Free Press anthology Fungi (containing my story “First They Came for the Pigs“) has a website now and I think it looks beautiful. I love everything about this project, so kudos to editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s stories. And if I’m playing favourites, of all the stories I’ve written, my contribution to Fungi is currently my most loved.

That’s all the news fit for print, as the saying goes.

Write on!