Is Robert Pattinson’s ‘The Batman’ too wet?

Is Robert Pattinson’s ‘The Batman’ too wet? | Soho House

Plus, a rundown of the books, films, music and more by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency

Friday 4 March 2022    By Matt d’Ancona

Welcome to the latest Creative Sensemaker from Tortoise Media.
Frank Miller, one of the greatest comic book interpreters of Batman, captured the essence of the character perfectly: ‘Immortal, and as undestroyable as a many-faceted diamond… You can toss Batman across the room. You can crash him against the ceiling, against the floor, against the wall.’ In his first outing as Gotham’s Caped Crusader (general release, 4 March), Robert Pattinson does indeed take his fair share of physical and psychological knocks.
Though director Matt Reeves sensibly eschews the traditional origins story that clogs up many a superhero movie, The Batman is set early in Bruce Wayne’s career as a masked vigilante, as he tests the limits of his endurance, the depths of his determination to avenge the murder of his parents, and the strains upon his psyche that this brutal work entails.
Once dismissed as no more than the teen sensation of the Twilight movies, Pattinson has established himself as one of the most interesting and adventurous screen performers now at work. He brings acting talent to the Batman role to rival Christian Bale’s in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – though his version of Bruce Wayne, lanky haired and kohl-eyed, is more overtly frangible, damaged by PTSD and disconnected from a world he believes is full of darkness. More than any of the other actors that have played Batman since Tim Burton’s movie in 1989, Pattinson dives deep into the trauma and instability that are – or should be – at the heart of the character.
The Batman is, at heart, a modern classic of detective film noir: as distant as one can imagine from the kitsch of the 1960s Adam West TV series, and a long way, too, from the magic realism of Burton’s adaptations. It owes almost nothing to the spirit of the modern superhero blockbuster but positively bristles with ‘the anguish and insecurity…[and] specific alienation’ that Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton famously wrote were the defining characteristics of noir.
An apparition, an avenger of the night, a profoundly disturbed young man who believes that ‘fear is a tool’ in the fight against evil: Patterson’s Batman embraces the darkness more than any of his screen predecessors. Yes, Gotham gets the hero it deserves. And this is the perfect Batman for times as troubled and unsettling as ours.
Here are this week’s recommendations:

Is Robert Pattinson’s ‘The Batman’ too wet? | Soho House


The Ipcress File (ITV, 6 March)
Why trespass on the terrain of a classic? Sidney J. Furie’s 1965 movie version of Len Deighton’s original thriller, starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, is not only the first of five films featuring the character, but the greatest of a post-war cinematic genre: the ironic British espionage movie that presented wry realism as an alternative to the aesthetic of the James Bond movies. But there are many ways of interpreting superb source material, and in this respect, Joe Cole does not make the mistake of merely imitating Caine, which signals the broader determination of director James Watkins and writer John Hodge to plough their own furrow. 

Is Robert Pattinson’s ‘The Batman’ too wet? | Soho House
Is Robert Pattinson’s ‘The Batman’ too wet? | Soho House


Origins by Coco Tomita (4 March)
Having won the strings category of BBC Young Musician in 2020 and gold medals at the Vienna International and Berlin International competitions, Coco Tomita has now teamed up with Simon Callaghan for her debut album. Tomita has said that her selection ‘relates… especially [to] female violinists I hugely respect’ – notably Ginette Neveu and Jelly d’Aranyi – and this terrific recording is a first step on the path to comparable greatness.
…and finally: thank you to Stevie Gedge from Kite – our brand new festival of music and ideas at Kirtlington Park on 10-12 June – for her recommendation of Self Esteem, confirmed this week as one of the fantastic acts that will be appearing at this unmissable weekend:
‘Self Esteem soundtracks my runs, my showers, my cooking, and she never fails to make me sing and dance. Pop, but make it badass. Rebecca Lucy Taylor is honest and unapologetic in her lyric writing, dealing with self-doubt, heartbreak, sexual assault – her journey is real and I’m there for it. And her live performance is a total joy. There seems a strange destiny to her being on stage. A wild ride of full-on band noise, astonishing a cappella and captivating dance routines make for an empowering and deeply satisfying experience. Self Esteem on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury wearing a dress made of Boots Advantage Cards was undoubtedly the highlight of one of my best trips to Worthy Farm. Don’t miss her at Kite!’
Do join us at Kite. There’ll be music from Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, TLC and others, as well as discussions involving David Miliband, David Olusoga, and Elizabeth Day. You can get 15% off Kite Festival tickets by booking them here.
That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend and take care of yourselves.

Best wishes,

Matt d’Ancona
Editor and Partner
Tortoise Media

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