A dark night, indeed by Josh Trudell

For many movie fans, July 20 was supposed to be one of the highlights of this year.

The Dark Knight Rises was expected to be the capper to a trilogy that put comic book movies on the same level as “serious” films – movies with cinematic gravitas, such as Unforgiven or Citizen Kane, but built around characters revered by geeks and nerds the world around.

Midnight showings are a tradition for this kind of movie – art films don’t get hundreds of people lined up dressed as elves or Ewoks. The anticipation was off the charts.

Then, at a midnight showing in Colorado, this happened.

I would have been in a theater that night if I hadn’t had to work the next morning, just as excited to see the next great story unwind from the projector.

I spent that Friday reading stories and tweets about what happened. This self-proclaimed “Joker” may not have gotten the hair color right, but he got the Clown Prince’s craziness pitch-perfect.

Mass murder has been done before, and sadly, will be again. There’s no accounting for crazy.

But this one invaded one of the last sanctums of adult imagination – a place where men and women can put aside having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, worrying about paying the mortgage, how their children are doing in school, what they are doing with their lives.

Summer movies – the out-of-this-world scenes, the dark superheroes with tortured pasts, the whip-cracking wit – these are our great myths, our great stories.

Some will take the intellectual high ground here and argue that the summer tentpole movie form of entertainment shows how depleted our society has become.

I’ve got no argument for that – I’ve thrown away enough money for dreck such as Transformers II to understand where they are coming from.

But even Shakespeare and Joyce wrote some losers – the difference is at this point, their “Spider-Man 3” has been consigned to the wastebasket of history, while we’re stuck with it on blu-ray for the foreseeable future.

Taking two hours to be as badass as Wolverine, as cocky as Iron Man, or as determined as Batman is how we escape from the daily grind – the same way ha’penny heads crammed into the Globe Theater saw MacBeth, Hamlet, and Othello fight their demons.

This killer splattered real blood on the stage where our players – those embraced by moviegoers everywhere – stood up to injustice and wrongdoing, and made the stage a little smaller and a lot more real.

About the movie: Friday night, I had tickets to The Dark Knight Rises. As I sat in the theater and listened, the buzz was there, but quieter – restrained and questioning instead of joyful celebration.

After the movie ended, the buzz resumed – still lower than one might expect, but interested – people examining the story with each other to understand it. Like The Dark Knight, I feel like I have to see it again (and possibly again) to catch the nuances.

Some mild spoilers ahead.

In general, I found Bane’s blunt battering ram of a villain to be an apt metaphor for the movie – it winds up with a telegraphed swing, but still hits like a truck. The Dark Knight, in comparison, was like the Joker’s knife – it was in your ribs, twisted and out again before you even knew he was there.

Personal preference – I liked TDK, then TDKR, then Batman Begins. But they are all of the highest quality when it comes to superhero-based movies.

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys? by Josh Trudell


I'm convinced every photographer becomes Batman if they shoot long enough.

They swoop about, capturing images before the flighty light has a chance to escape, with the help of a trusty utility bag.

Let’s face it – you’re looking at a Batman. (Or a Batgirl – but if you’re making that distinction, you’re probably deep enough into Batman: Arkham Asylum to understand that Oracle is a better character for this story.)

What makes Batman cool? Other than the movies and the costumes? It’s the gear – the gadgets and gizmos that help him be the World’s Greatest Detective.

Most photographers live and die with their gear bags. Lenses, camera bodies, filters, tripods, tape, batteries, cables, notebooks, flashes – you name it, it’s in there.

So, in my quest to be the World’s Greatest Photographer – what? It’s a dream… - I’m looking at buying some new camera gear.

This is a tricky stage. There are brand choices. Cost choices. Types of gear: Macro lens? Zoom? Lights? Flashes? A new camera body? It’s easy to spend Bruce Wayne’s millions on camera gear, by the time you sort through all the add-ons and should-haves.

Now, I’ve seen the guys who have it all. New cameras, lenses, filters, tripods – all shiny and bright, with price stickers still on them. Usually, I see them on eBay, selling this gear they haven’t touched in two years.

I’d like that to not be me, but it is tempting to splurge, especially after Superwife goes into her study and whips up some mathematical alchemy that shows a tax refund in the offing.

A chunk of money and Wolf Camera’s website? Verrrrrrry dangerous.

But – and this is relative to anything you enjoy devoting time to, I think - it’s not just the gear. It’s the time. It’s the patience. It’s learning and knowing. And it’s being smart with purchases – buying gear that I know I will use, not just things that look cool – so it doesn’t become a money pit of a hobby.

On that note – Alfred, let’s go shopping.