...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Day 1965: Joel Schumacher


Mr Joel Schumacher is probably most famous as the man who drove the BATMAN movie franchise over a cliff without a paddle. Anyone who has seen BATMAN AND ROBIN knows what I mean. It is the only movie that Daddy Alex will not let Daddy Richard buy on DVD.

Many people heard how BAD this movie was but did not believe it so they went to see it to see if it could be true. It WAS!

People tend to forget that Mr Joel's first Batman movie – BATMAN FOREVER – was actually rather good campy fun and a bit of a change after the very, very DARK Mr Burton's BATMAN RETURNS. Batman Forever is a bright and colourful movie about two couples: Mr Riddler and Mr Two-Face are into dressing up in colourful costumes and playing with diamonds; Mr Batman and Master Robin like wearing rubber suits. It is a pair of Disco Bunnies meets a pair of Muscle Marys so OBVIOUSLY they aren't going to get along!

Batman and Robin on the other fluffy foot is a PILE of PANTS so huge even Albert the Butler would run away and hide.

So you can imagine the HORROR that went around my flat when, during the titles of the movie Daddy Alex had persuaded us to watch, there appeared the dreaded words: "Directed by Joel Schumacher".

Oh fluffy corks.

That movie was PHONE BOOTH – which is AMERICAN for TELEPHONE BOX – and it stared Mr Colin Farrell as a man in a telephone box.

It sounds a bit dull, doesn't it, but it was in fact very, very tense and dramatic.

No, that's not right: it was very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY tense. And also dramatic.

And that was mainly because of the man on the other end of the telephone line.

The man on the other end of the telephone line was Mr Kiefer Sutherland. You may think that he saves the world twenty-four hours a day, but if you ever watch "Commander in Chief" you will realise that his dad is DARTH SIDIOUS.

Mr Kiefer is QUITE CROSS with Mr Colin because of the bad things that Mr Colin has done. Well, would LIKE to have done, anyway. Mr Colin wants to be rich and wants to have a girlfriend as well as his wife and wants people to think he is smart so he tells a lot of fibs. And Mr Kiefer has decided to punish him.

Mr Kiefer, basically, has a GUN. And is pointing it at Mr Colin.

We do not get to see Mr Kiefer (until the very very end).
We do not get to see Mr Kiefer's gun (until the very very end).

But we know he has a gun when he starts shooting.

And then all the COPS turn up and think that it is Mr Colin who is shooting! And if he moves THEY will shoot HIM! Did I mention it was tense?

The key to this is the performance, entirely by voice, of Mr Kiefer, whose malevolence and madness twist and turn and ensnare and beguile you.

Daddy Alex thinks about it for a while and then points out that Mr Keifer is playing an invisible bully in the sky who threatens sudden and violent punishment for wrong thinking. I wonder what Daddy means by this?

I thought this was a very cool movie, very restrained – even if it uses a whole New York city block it makes it seem like a minimalist theatre piece with only two main characters, one of whom we don't even see, and a couple of supporting characters to step on and off the stage. Very much the work of a man making up for horrible eye-popping excess, in fact. It unfolds pretty much in real time (a story in real time with Kiefer Sutherland… now THERE'S an idea!) and holds you gripped tightly throughout. Or Daddy Richard holds you gripped tightly throughout, if you are me.

I will not tell you how it ends but you will be relieved to know that at least I survived!

Well done, Mr Joel!

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