Archive for November 22nd, 2010

            Isabelle Huppert in Claire Denis’ masterpiece ‘White Material’
by Sam Juliano
     Another busy week at Wonders in the Dark culminated with nearly 1,000 page hits on a usually quiet Sunday for Bob Clark’s brilliant, albeit controversial marathon essay on Joss Whedon’s sci-fi television series Firefly.  The erudite and authoritative piece has received some mega-attention on Whedon websites, and has brought over comments from many genre adherents.  This is the second time in the past month that Clark has attracted some serious attention in the blogosphere outside of our own galaxy.  He earns our most vigorous applause for his stellar efforts.  Stephen Russell-Gebbett keeps on keepin on too with his popular animation countdown, which has maintained remarkable consistency in writing, selection, thread comments and page views.  The presentation is creative and esoteric, and will provide many animation fans with a permanent refernce guide.  Joel Bocko’s extraordinary final essay on the British New wave has raised the bar in comparative writing, while Jamie Uhler’s “Beyond the Beatles” series is a model of it’s kind.  Co-founder Allan Fish, meanwhile, has penned two of his greatest essays since the site was launched over two years ago with his features on critic David Thomson and the ‘Saga of the three Sanshos.”  Both were enthusiastically received with a plethora of comments and site hits.  Last but by no means least, our good Chilean friend Jamie Grijalba earned a fantastic debut at the site with the first of a series he plans to tackle in upcoming weeks on the Nobel Prize winning South American writer Mario Vargas Llosa.  Grijalba’s singular native perceptions were a special treat, and the comment sections was informed and scholarly.  Wecome aboard Jaimie!  Our great friend Dee Dee will be posting a long-awaited interview at the site later today!
    Elsewhere, some great things are happening.  At Ferdy-on-Films noted film preservation advocate and talented writer Marilyn Ferdinand again champions a classic worthy of re-discovery.  At Movies Over Matter, Jason Marshall’s incomparable survey of cinema history commences with his final entries in consideration of 1937.  And at Icebox Movies Adam Zanzie is still in prep for his upcoming Spierberg blogothon.  Andrew Wyatt continues his St. Louis International Film Festival coverage. (more…)

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(USA 1993 76 min)

Directors Eric Radomski, Bruce W Timm; Writer Alan Burnett

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Batman : Mask of the Phantasm is, plain and simple, a riveting story. A story of lost love, of grief and of revenge. It clips along, the music swelling with tragic and impotent, rather than heroic, anger. For all the talk of the architectural styles used in Batman films, what matters most in Gotham is the architecture of the tale and of the characters.

Mask of the Phantasm is Gothic emotionally, Art Deco visually and viscerally Ultra-Modern. Tim Burton’s Batman was a nightmare born in black, a tale of freaks in a freakish world. Batman Returns is the best of them all. Then Christopher Nolan’s Batman films castrated Gotham, stripping the stage bare, leaving the freaks exposed and ridiculous. Mask of the Phantasm‘s Gotham is alien, glamorous and shady but never outlandish. It succeeds where Nolan’s adaptations failed in creating a city both murky and slick, grown organic from old rot with a fresh facade. The opening credits, flying over the deep black night skyline, straight lines, square windows lit yellow and white, sets the tone. So very simple and so economical with atmosphere. This Batman lurks somewhere between Burton and Nolan, taking the best of the former and succeeding with the ideas of the latter.


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