Friday, April 20, 2012

Fan Film Theatre - Short Reels: "Batman: The Knight Waltz" (Chris R. Notarile, 2010)


Written and Directed by Chris R. Notarile

Based on the DC Comics Characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Produced by Blinky Productions
Cinematography by Chris R. Notarile
Fight Choreography by Emmanuel Brown
Make Up Design by Kim Santiago
Editing by Chris R. Notarile
Music by Shostokovich and Mozart L'Opera Rock

Matthew Jenkins ... Batman
Mandy Evans ... Catwoman
Hector De La Rosa ... Batman (Voice)

After Catwoman steals another bauble on display in Gotham City, she's confronted by the dark knight as they engage in their long-running, on again-off again duet of conflict and seduction.


The question is on everyone's lips.

"Will they or won't they?"

Throughout the decades, the romantic intrigue and sexual tension between Batman and Catwoman has accumulated to such a fever pitch that to even fathom the task of determining where they stand with one another once and for all is a lofty ideal.

For one such filmmaker, one whom has a knack for extending such reach in that pursuit, the task presented an opportunity for narrative challenge.


Running at a brisk four minutes, the atmosphere of director Chris Notarile's 2010 short "The Knight Waltz" is captured early on and handled with tremendous care and ambition given the modesty of the shoot, the non-existant budget and the resolve of the filmmaker to shed light on one of the most complex relationships in comic books.

The success of such an attempt is left up to the individual viewer; admittedly, there's a lot more to Batman and Catwoman's connection that four minutes can afford.

However, Notarile defies the limitations and crafts a very well intended short that's complimented with great skill and and panache on the part of both him and his cast.

This isn't a piece meant to be taken psychologically seriously and we're certainly not plunging into the depths of our character's minds so much as we are the yearnings of their loins.

But that's part of the fun of Batman and, specifically, his and Catwoman's bond.

Sometimes you can't get around the fact that you've got this hyper-sexualized scenario of cat and mouse (mouse with wings, more accurately) between the two.

Sometimes you don't want to.

The Batman universe is so dense with potential and material that you can take the time to tell a story that focuses on one sole aspect rather than the grand scale of, say, "Knightfall" or "Arkham City."


Mandy Evans steals the show as the feline fatale; her experience and physicality as one of the world famous Radio City Rockettes lends itself tremendous into operating in a suit which I'm sure had its limitations of dexterity and comfort from time to time. She makes it look effortless, commanding the dominating nature of Selina Kyle with enthusiasm and eroticism that's absolutely palpable in her toying with Batman during their conflict.

"You're going down, Catwoman."

"Is that what you want me to do?"

Needless to say, Notarile's having the time of his life playing up the innuendo between these two to almost dizzying heights.

The costume work is great; I really like that Batman is grounded with an all black uniform this time around. It works in favor of the idea that this guy wants to blend into the shadows created by the urban landscape. And as previously mentioned, the Catsuit is phenomeonal. I have a feeling Evans' body is what makes it so and she knows how to work both her curves and her angles given her dance background.

Chris also handles the cinematography of the work effectively. You'd never know the lightning time in which the film was shot, given its great use of shadow and light to incorporate the ambience and color and darkness of Gotham night life, which looks to resemble more of a high-end arts district this time around if my eye serves me right.

As a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick, I was thrilled that the short incorporated Shostokovich's "Russian Waltz," which was also used prominently to both open and close Kubrick's "Eye's Wide Shut."

I love that piece of music and it's a wonderful fit for what the short is working to convey.

Overall "The Knight Waltz" is a great angle on the relationship between the straight-edged detective and the playful temptress, full of fun, sexual flight and personality.


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