9 March 2009

Vote Asia!

Asia Argento: the purrfect candidate

These Christopher Nolan Batman flicks are all right aren't they. Frenetically thrilling at times and broodingly morose at others. Gleefully daft in places and excessively exacting in others. They look appropriately moody with all that typically sombre cinematography and very 'high concept' with all those nifty little hooks and gadgets and things that make the hardcore Batfans go weak at the knees. Then there’s all that freakishly scary gurning that goes on (and that's just Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine). They’ve managed to rake in plenty of cash at the box office and from DVD and BluRay rentals and sales, and have been talked about, mulled over and pulled apart to within an inch of their closing credits. On top of the healthy returns The Dark Knight (2007) gained two Oscar wins - Sound Editing and, of course, Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger’s Joker - and six other nominations.

With the phenomenal success of both Batman Begins (2005) and, particularly, Knight there’s been plenty of brow-furrowing speculation as to possible future instalments and what could happen in them, never more so than with Inception about to do the rounds. It's all very well and good, but what I want to know is whether any bat-adventures will be truly surprising? Are they planning anything that mucks with the template? rather good fun as they already are, I’d like to see a few changes made. And one significant addition.

People are likely demanding the Penguin's return (to be played by some old, rotund Oscar winner probably) and certainly the Riddler's re-emergence (to be played by some young, lanky indie actor probably). People will probably demand [insert multiple other Batman foes] (I'm not widely versed enough in the Bat universe to know the names of any of the others) be ideally played by the latest Hollywood jock/hunk with a bad boy reputation, probably. And now Mickey Rourke is back on the movie map I bet film execs are kicking themselves that they didn’t snag him for Harvey Two-Face first. But what about Catwoman?

Asia in Mother of Tears: cry her name

So far we've had a wooden Liam Neeson as some kind of father figure who's, like, really strange and mystical or something, and an errant - and possibly sexually impotent - guy with an ASBO and a potato sack on his head in the first one; and in Knight we've had Ledger's tightly-wound, wayward-son-gone-off-the-rails Joker and a man with two faces - one all dashing 'n' that like an '80s catalogue model, the other all crispy. Add to this the long line of gruff police chiefs, numerous villainous henchmen and one fusty old butler and it reads like a pretty gloomy roll call. It’s all a bit too darn manly. Batman himself does indeed live in a pretty gloomy environment, but what about lifting the mood a little, adding something a little more felid and slinkier into the mix? As the Joker says, Why so Serious? Indeed, Why so masculine?

Don't you think these flicks lacked a decent female presence? A gal who could not only kick ass alongside, or better than, Christian Bale dressed as a nocturnal flying mammal, but also a gal who could add a touch of pouty, sultry vigour?

I mean, Katie Holmes went down critically and commercially like a sack of shit, and could barely mouth lines into a telephone let alone interact with her co-stars, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, as talented as she is, only really wore a few dresses, danced about a bit and then "left the film" two-thirds in. That just left Gary Oldman's wife - who, actually quite hilariously, in the newer film only ever opened doors to people in floods of tears (I wondered whether if someone had sent a nice singing telegram to her door she'd have done the same?) - and his police partner, who didn't get the chance to do very much apart from dob someone in to the Gotham rozzers and receive a smack in the face for her efforts. Tut-tut boys. Those Nolan bros. do write some stern and virile stuff for sure. But Batman needs mothering. He needs to be pussy-whipped. He needs to be slapped around a bit.

Batman needs fucking with.

Asia can even dispatch zombies lying down on the job in Land of the Dead

So, if you are saying, ‘Oh, why yes, I see what you’re saying in this pointlessly trivial post. The probable new Batflick does indeed need a superior lady character to perk things up a bit,’ then this is the right place for you.

Yup, this is my most likely futile attempt to create an (un)official platform for PROPOSING ASIA ARGENTO AS THE NEW & FUTURE CATWOMAN IN THE NEXT BATMAN FILM (providing there’s going to be one, and if they decide to bother with Catwoman at all).

People with far more business savvy, financial sense and/or fan boy inclinations than I will cry, 'I want Emily Blunt or Kate Winslet! Anne Hathaway! Megan Fox!... The Olsen twins!' (Who could alternate, Buñuel-style, in the role: one could relieve the other if they get too confused.) I’ve even heard a rumour that Cher’s name is being bandied about as the next Catwoman - to be played as a wise old cat-burglar type. Well, if they could turn back time, if they could find a way, I’m all for it.

But will any of these people really stand out? Will they bring something different to the table other than what's already been done before with the role? How interesting would the above lot be? Perhaps not very. They're all, by-and-large, really rather boring and obvious candidates, Cher aside. Michelle Pfeiffer was very good in Batman Returns (1992), but that was seventeen years ago; Halle Berry valiantly took a stab at keeping aloft the 2005 Catwoman film but the film took a nosedive - it had one life, not nine; and Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar, great as they were, have all had their day and have long since hung up their catsuits.

But I say vote for someone fresh, someone unexpected. Vote Asia Argento. She's frankly better than any number of carefully considered "top-draw" A-listers whom lazy casting agents might want to conjure up. Frankly, she’s a better choice than all of them.

Mean girl: Asia in Une vieille maîtresse

Watch Land of the Dead (2005) to see her dispatch villainous hoards of henchmen (well, er, zombies) with a brutal kick, thrust and punch - SOCK! POW! KER-SMASH! Watch Une vieille maîtresse (2007) and see her casually dismiss mere mortals with nothing more than a flick of the wrist, whilst dressed in some ridiculously elaborate yet fantastic costumes. Watch her dad Dario's 2007 horror flick Mother of Tears and see her capably interact with some dodgy special effects. Be enthralled as she acts everyone out of an artfully reconstructed Versailles, and in a quarter of everyone else's screen time, in Marie Antoinette (2006). Watch xXx (2002), if you want to, where she wasn’t given anything to do and was still the best thing on show. Or watch her s-l-o-w-l-y get out of bed and walk around for a bit in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days (2005). And certainly watch Trauma (1993), Boarding Gate (2007), Demons 2 (1986), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), The Church (1989), and the two flicks she directed herself: Scarlet Diva (2000) and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004) for the full Asia effect.

She's got the voice, the muscles, the stamina, the femininity and, above all, the perfect look to add something more lithely carnivorous to this testosterone-heavy franchise. She’s an indelibly talented, voracious and often volatile actress, someone who will give any film an extra shot of daring, wayward edginess. Aren’t these attributes perfect for Catwoman? Don’t you think this is exactly what’s needed in BatWorld?

She'll own Gotham town.

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