You could probably tell a lot about a person by their answer to the question: “Who’s your favorite Batman?” Me, personally, I’d probably say Michael Keaton from the Tim Burton Batman and Batman Returns movies, with Christian Bale’s Dark Knight a close second (but that’s because of Michael Caine as Alfred). I don’t know what that says about me (escapist nostalgia?), but I have a theory about people whose favorite Batman is now Robert Pattinson in The Batman: they’re probably thoughtful, complex people who know what it’s like to struggle with trauma and anger, and who care about responsibility and accountability.
Here’s why I think that. I’m not going to summarize the plot for you too much, because you’ve probably heard plenty about this movie while it was coming out (I sure did). I wasn’t surprised that a brooding Bruce Wayne faces a brutal Riddler after two years fighting crime as Vengeance. What I was surprised by was how NOT romanticized the Batman figure was. Rather than making him a kooky crimefighter (Adam West style), a pitiable and misguided orphan martyr (like in the Gotham TV series) or a playboy and noble warrior for justice (Christian Bale style), this film makes him (and his Bruce identity) undeniably problematic both as a person and as a symbol to Gotham. Feminists will probably be notably uncomfy with his behavior toward Selina Kyle, Alfred fans (like me) will be startled by how little time and affection Bruce has for his surrogate father, mental health advocates will recognize a truly troubled personality in the unwashed and obsessive Bruce, and by the end of the movie there will be a deep dive into the dark effects a violent vigilante like Batman would really have on the culture and crime rates of Gotham. It’s an important thing to consider in an age of radicalization, polarization, and people pushed to extremes – and it makes a film that really sticks with you.
I know many people were struggling to accept Pattinson’s jump from Twilight mega-fame to tough-guy Bruce, but if you haven’t already you should definitely give this film a watch. If you’re not interested in the philosophical exploration of violence and accountability, try it for the truly wild card atmosphere of this film. For one thing, I promise you are not prepared for the Wayne Manor, and second, I would not be surprised if the casting call for this film stated “must have an unusual or silly-sounding voice”. Moreover, Zoe Kravitz’ Selina Kyle is as tough and sultry as advertised, and ALMOST as good at critiquing Batman’s privileged perspective on the world as Michelle Pfeiffer’s in Batman Returns. Other worthwhile highlights for longtime Batman fans include a clearly retro-inspired Batmobile, an ethnically diverse cast including a particularly effective Jim Gordon, and skillful camera work and orchestration (almost as good a score as The Dark Knight, though not quite at that unsettling level).
Whatever your reason, don’t miss the latest reimagining of The Caped Crusader, now available in DVD and Blu-Ray at the library. Did I miss your favorite Batman? Tell us in the comments!
Military suspense thrillers have been popular for years, yet I have seldom read any. I decided to change this by stepping lightly into this genre. The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer may not be considered a strict military suspense thriller, but there is a definite military feel since the majority of this book takes place on or near Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Add in a compelling story line, missing people, and high levels of secrecy and I was hooked.
The Escape Artist tells the story of Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski and his quest to find out what really happened to Nola Brown. Nola Brown was on a flight from Alaska when the plane mysteriously fell from the sky. All on the plane perished and Nola’s body was found not far from the crash site. Mysteries surround this crash as one of the President’s very close friends was on board: the Librarian of Congress. Tasked with finding out what happened, Zig soon finds all of the bodies from the crash delivered to him at the morgue at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. With identities already confirmed by their supervisors, Zig and his colleagues are expected to perform the autopsies as quick as possible and get the bodies back to the families.
When looking at Nola’s body, Zig discovers that there is no way that the body in front of him could be that of Nola Brown. Nola was a childhood friend of Zig’s daughter. A long time ago, Nola saved Zig’s daughter’s life. As a result of that, Nola has a tell-tale scar that Zig knows to look for on Nola. Discovering that it isn’t there and knowing that there wouldn’t be a cosmetic way to make that disappear, Zig realizes that Nola is still alive. The question of why someone would go through such steps to say that this body is Nola’s nags at Zig. He decides that he has to find Nola, if for no other reason than to pay her back for the time that she saved his daughter’s life.
Nola is supposed to be dead. With some investigating, Zig digs into Nola’s past and tries to learn what in her life caused people to want to kill her. He discovers that Nola is a mystery, her previous supervisors believe that she is a curse and trouble follows her everywhere. Looking into these incidents, it becomes clear why the Army chooses to sequester Nola as their artist-in-residence. This keeps her out of the line of fire and hopefully decreases her tendency to bring trouble to any situation.
Nola’s current job allows her to travel the world to any location and any catastrophe in order to make art and observe. Each artist-in-residence has a theme to their artwork throughout their residency. As Zig looks around, he discovers that Nola’s missions may have triggered the notice of an enemy who will do whatever it takes to silence her. Zig and Nola find themselves thrown together on a journey to discover the truth behind a centuries-old conspiracy that reaches all the way up to the highest levels of government and involves an unlikely partner: Harry Houdini.
Here’s to hoping that Brad Metzler turns this book into a series! I’d love to find out what happens with Zig and Nola next.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Trying to put into words how I feel about Preston L. Allen’s Every Boy Should Have a Man isn’t easy. I keep trying to avoid calling the book weird — as not to turn away potential readers — while still imparting the distinct oddness of this novel. I want to explain how unnerving the novel can be at times, while making sure that I don’t forgot to tell you that the book was also subtly funny and wickedly smart. Part science-fiction, part allegory, part fairy tale, and part scripture, Allen has created a work of fiction that isn’t easy to pin down. Allen deftly employs irony, playing with the reader’s perception of humanity and challenging the way we interact with the earth.
Every Boy Should Have a Man takes place in a world in which Oafs keep “mans” as both pets and as potential food. In this land, a poor boy Oaf owns three mans throughout his life; something that is typically only a privilege of the wealthy. Spanning the lifetime of the boy Oaf (and a short time following), the book examines what it means to be civilized through a lens of a long list of divisive subjects including war, racism, global warming, and the ethics of domesticating animals for pets and livestock. To say that the novel is unique is an understatement, but there is evidence of a wide range of influences from Jack and the Beanstalk and Gulliver’s Travels to Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.