You might find me strange for so many reasons, but I really was looking forward to the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. No, it wasn't the sick need to see Heath Ledger in his last role (though he is the only thing to see in this movie). It was that I like the story. Even when Batman and Robin were romping in the Bat Cave on TV, I liked the idea of someone having two identities, one being darker and more malignant and yet helpful. I liked the secrecy, the amazing technology, the hiding.
When my children were little, I likely damaged them by taking them to the Batman with Michael Keaton. My youngest could barely talk, but after seeing the movie, he grabbed me by the collar and said, "Tnunu nun nunun, Batman."
He was trying to say, "Tell them, it was Batman."
For a couple of years, both my sons ran around in the backyard in newly marketed caps and costumes, my youngest finally able to articulate the proper lines. They liked to be the Joker, too, and the game went on.
So we sailed through the Batman films, growing slightly despondent when George Clooney stepped in (and trust me, it takes a lot for me to be upset with George stepping into anything. I love that guy!). But then this latest batch with Christian Bale seemed promising. He's tall, dark, stoic, sexy, and strong (can you say "romantic hero"?). He has something under one eye that seems like it could twitch. He has thwarted passion, and yet is dominated by his butler, who deigns to call him "Master Wayne." It's all sick and twisted and slightly perverse, so I was eager to see this film, and so Michael and I did yesterday.
Did you see the last Lord of the Rings film, The Return of the King? I swear it kept ending, at least three times worth. There would be a huge battle, the characters holding each other in comfort, and then--and then off to another battle. Finally, it ended, but I'd heard the arc three times. I'd heard it go up and down, my storytelling gene from my cave woman past saying, "Stop! It's over! Let us go home now. I'm flipping hungry."
But no. On it went, and after the second almost ending, I needed it to stop. With The Dark Knight, I heard that arc at least three times. I didn't care what happened to The Joker after the first ending. Yes, Heath was fabulous, but his character needed to go away. Who cares about the awful Hong Kong mob accountant? I'm not keen on knowing more about the crooked police, either.
But we plowed on, tying up every damn thread.
Now, genre writing teaches me we have to do the typing up of all looseness. Literary writing teaches me that a few loose threads are palatable. Me, I like something in the middle. Maybe one loose thread. And I like a movie that ends that way. Loose thread dangling. The big ones kind of tied up. The endings that kill me in the best sense of the expression are the ones where the loose thread is one I want to dangle on for a long time. I think of Brokeback Mountain and the ending that makes me want to follow Ennis into his sad life a bit. I want to go to his daughter's wedding, for god's sake. Can't we have something a little happy before we go home and throw ourselves off a cliff? But no, don't take us there. Let us stand looking through the window to the sad bleakness of a life not expressed.
That's a damn ending.
And I heard it just as it was happening and then my son and I wept and stared at the credits. Damn.
When I teach endings, I tell my students I can't really teach them. I can show them the threads they need to pull through and I can tell them what ideas "I" would like to hear and read followed through. But the sound of a beautiful ending is something to marvel at and hold dear. It's a sound that even multi-million dollar budgets can't buy. It's an ending that is so amazing that they would pay the total price of the movie to find. Maybe a good ending is earned through careful plot building all the way through, but mostly, I think it is magic, a magic that I'd like to hear more often.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org