Hey, put it on my Grimes. The new Walking Dead prepaid debit cards are billed as "an exciting way for fans to incorporate the series' art into their daily lives," but I think they're probably best saved for special occasions, like when you want to join other zombie enthusiasts in an abandoned mall for a nice, leisurely stroll, or those times when you're browsing brains and don't want to pay for gray matter with a boring old MasterCard.
Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle got together at the Comedy Cellar, texted Jay-Z, and left late-night voice mails for Lenny Kravitz and Arsenio Hall. They also discussed — joked? After midnight it's anybody's guess — touring together. RumorWatch continues with another drip from the Celebrity Survivor faucet. THIS IS PROBST'S LAST ATTEMPT. Jeff Bridges, come on, man. Haven't you always wanted to try your hand at puzzles? I think you could win this thing. Twelve more celebrities and we might have a green light.
The capper to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy drew mixed reviews during its theatrical run, so if the bad ones kept you away, now's your chance to form an opinion before its inevitable nomination for several technical Oscars and probably none for writing or acting.
Bane's (Tom Hardy) plot: too complicated? Bane's voice: too silly? Anne Hathaway's Catwoman: superior to Michelle Pfeiffer's? Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) using his Batman voice, when he's suited up, with Morgan Freeman's Fox, even though Fox totally knows who he is: still?! You'll be able to answer all these questions and more — and, best of all, you can pause it for bathroom breaks, and you will need to, because this thing is LONG.
Memo to movie-studio types planning to conduct some on-the-DL market research down at the Android's Dungeon: A brand-new, crisply creased Batman T-shirt is not an effective disguise.
Monday, at the comics-news site Bleeding Cool, editor Rich Johnston summarized an encounter between some comic-shop staffers and a group of suspiciously chatty, suspiciously comics-illiterate customers who may have been Warner Bros. employees trying to take the pulse of nerd world vis-à-vis the forthcoming Justice League movie. "They entered posing as fans," Johnston wrote,
" but it was obvious to staff by the time they finished their first question that they were not. And about half way through they abandoned all pretence and were asking questions like “what superhero films have had good Facebook pages?”, “Do you think comic fans would accept a superhero film without [Christopher] Nolan’s involvement, would him serving as a producer suffice?” “What do fans think of Aquaman? He’s lame isn’t he?”, “What is regarded as the strongest lineup of the Justice League and would work as a film?” boiling right down to “What should DC do film wise?”
They asked for comics that best represented how the fans perceived the Justice League. One of them was wearing a box fresh Batman T-shirt — it still had the wrapping crease marks. They knew nothing about comics but corrected a member of staff on the year the Justice League film was due, 2014, not 2013. They mocked the Ant Man movie and looked a bit worried when they were assured by staff it was probably going to be all right.
And they looked glum when they were told DC should “just do what Marvel have done”.
We’ve arrived: Sequeltology, Episode Final IV. A new hope? Well. Not exactly.
Look, no one goes into a sequel expecting to be surprised, right? We go to be comforted, to lose ourselves completely in the sweet, Jujube stickiness of familiarity. So why should this bracket be any different? Sequels take the risk out of both filmmaking and filmgoing, which is probably why they’re so popular on both ends of the ledger. Seriously: Hollywood wags are quick to scold studios for pumping out parts two and three, but rarely utter a peep about the audience’s unslakable desire to see them. (People aren’t sheep; The Dark Knight Rises did better than, say, Rock of Ages or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this summer because it was a better movie! Also because of this.) At the start, this Sequeltology tournament was filled with all sorts of secondary second installments and culty continuations, but even Han Solo post-carbonite could have seen where we were headed in the end.
Christmas Vacation (lost to Dark Knight)
"And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse." There was no chance the film in which Christopher Nolan single-handedly invented cinema was not going to steamroll a Vacation threequel that's basically an Ernest movie, albeit an enjoyably profane Ernest movie.
The expectations couldn't be higher for Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises (which hits theaters this weekend, for those of you living in ... I don't know, some kind of cave). Seeing as the Batman franchise has gone through some extreme ups and downs in the 70-odd years since first being adapted by Hollywood, we here at Grantland thought we'd offer a bit of perspective. Here are a few handpicked highlights (and lowlights):
Batman Dances, Batman (1966)
Jonah Keri: Batman walks into a groovy '60s bar. Gets propositioned by a seductress named Molly. Molly asks the Caped Crusader to dance. Batman sneaks in a light neg:
Each week, marketers release new movie posters, many for films whose releases are still months away. But for those who know where to look, one-sheets can reveal studios' hopes and insecurities about their products. In this space, we will attempt to decode the hidden meanings of the week's new posters.
The Dark Knight Rises
What the art says: Batman’s mask isn’t rubber. It looks rubber. The replicas they sell on Amazon are rubber. But the real one is obviously not rubber. Maybe it’s ceramic or something? As for Bane, consider this poster final confirmation that he’s going to be a complete badass (again). How do we know? Because turning your back to the camera in the rain proves it. Just ask Rambo. What the text says: A title, tagline, release date and website. Even for movie poster obsessives, there’s not much to read into there.
Every week in this space Grantland pop culture correspondent Andy Greenwald will run down the happenings and mishappenings in NBC’s Thursday comedy night done mostly right. (Note: The order reflects newsworthiness, not quality. Although occasionally the two just might overlap.)
These are strange times in Greendale — and that’s saying something because Greendale is a fairly strange place. Banished to purgatory while NBC waffles between its returning slice of heaven (30 Rock) and its newfound commitment to hell (Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea), Community's future is uncertain. Its enforced hiatus could end badly, like what happened to Abed’s beloved Cougar Town, or it could come back stronger than ever, like its hour-mate Parks and Recreation, perhaps eventually leading to the cast’s fervently Twittered dream of “six seasons and a movie.” Either way, Community’s wobbly fate caused me to watch tonight’s episode not with my perpetually critical eye examining it for ways to improve but with a genuine appreciation for what it’s managed to accomplish. Because “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism” won’t be remembered as one of Community’s best episodes but it was certainly representative of what made the show transcendent for its vocal fan base, and an uncomfortable mix of alienating and appealing for the rest of us. It was an extremely odd, overstuffed half-hour that alternated spiky wit with gooey sentiment. There were two completely unrelated plotlines, a gaggle of garish Germans, a callback to an episode I barely remember, and an extended foosball sequence animated in the overly adrenalized style of The Fist of the North Star. It was wildly ambitious and almost preposterously messy. It was utterly, completely Community. And I enjoyed just about every minute of it.
The excellent Alex Pappademas, today on Grantland discussing the deeply strange DC reboot:
What the Joker Was Doing Naked In 1985, comics mostly competed with other comics; the four Batman #1s DC launched in September are competing for the attention of people who like Batman against the latest leaked footage from Christopher Nolan's next Batman movie on YouTube, with Batman games for Xbox and PlayStation, and the DC Universe Online MMORPG featuring Batman, and the Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and also all other comics, and girls, and the outdoors, where it is sometimes sunny. Obviously there are Batman diehards out there with the time and money to blow on all of the above, but the subtext is that DC no longer has the market cornered on the experience of Batman — and that comics in general no longer have the market cornered on the experience of superheroes, and that comics people should maybe be wondering if all these movies and video games and TV shows based on their work are actually making it easier for a generation of potential New Readers to leave comics alone. And yeah, most superhero movies are terrible — but a 14-year-old who digs superheroes these days is more likely than ever to have caught that bug in a way that bypasses print media entirely, and that evolution is only going one way. The New Reader myth says that rising water lifts all Bat-boats and the omnipresence of the Caped Crusader as a transmedia figure will somehow trickle down to comics. But to believe that you have to believe that screens can somehow lure people back to print. But ask anybody who used to work at a magazine how that's working out.
The hijinks continue on the Pittsburgh set of the Most Serious Movie in the World, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Last weekend saw a Batmobile wedding. Then on Saturday, Tom Hardy's steroidal villain, Bane, played the half-time show at a Steeler's game. And yesterday, a stand-in for Anne Hathaway (Catwoman) plowed into an IMAX camera on a motorcycle (injuring nobody, thankfully — see the video above, or a better one at TMZ), probably resulting in the highest-resolution America's Funniest Home Video ever. Aren't these guys supposed to be shooting 2012's bleakest, least fun superhero movie? Whatever happened to Nolanism? You certainly won't see bloopers like this on the set of Marc Webb's joyless Spider-Man reboot, or Zack Snyder's poorly lit Superman movie (though the crew members probably bump into each other a lot). Quit screwing around, Nolan!