Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday Top Ten: Catwoman

tues top ten - for the list lover in you and the list maker in me

Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Tim Burton's Batman Returns, the best Batman film (you heard me Begins lovers, throw down!) and one of the best superhero films ever. The movie didn't change cinema or its genre or significantly alter any careers. But it did send yours truly and millions of other Pfeiffer inclined moviegoers into a pfrenzy, arguably marking the apex of LaPfeiffer's cinematic reign. She was still in Oscar chasing mode (Love Field) and the full fledged move from heavy dramatic lifting into light mainstream fare (One Fine Day) was a few years away

Ten Best Catwoman Line Deliveries
All the dialogue rocks but these are my favorite Pfeifferian readings

10 "Life's a bitch. Now, so am I"
Blockbusters love to shove quips on the public, in the hopes of catchphrase afterlife. This one’s pretty basic but Michelle sells it with true believer zeal.

08 "How can you be so mean to someone so meaningless?"
Right before her death early in the movie… she realizes she’s in big trouble. I love how pathetic LaPfeiffer is willing to make her mousy executive assistant — sorry, secretary.

09 "But last night... complete blur. Couldn't you just die?"
The morning after her own murder she shows up to work with a new perm, makeup, and flirtatious attitude --she’s yummier [see #5]. The boss who killed her and Bruce Wayne are both flabbergasted at her new appearance (for different reasons). Even out of Catwoman garb she has a delicious catlike appeal, she’s toying with Bruce and her boss whilst also spinning the joke for maximum audience joy.

07 "Did somebody say fish? I haven't been fed all day"
This line always makes me think of The Bening. Annette Bening was originally cast in this role but once knocked up by Warren Beatty she dropped out. Make a movie outta that, Mr. Apatow! Pfeiffer is perfect in the role but in this one specific line I swear I’m hearing Annette Bening’s voice every time. It’s as if Michelle asked her to do the looping on this particular scene.

06 "every woman you try to save winds up dead or deeply resentful. Maybe you should retire"
The Catwoman star turn is bursting with eroticism. Technically this line is a putdown but in her suddenly low purring it throbs with a challenge, a f***ed up come on.

05 "I don't know about you Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier"
A classic.
04 "I am Catwoman. Hear me roar."
There are so many ways this type of performance can go wrong [see also: Catwoman the movie]. But this blonde superstar is phenomenal at stylization. She understands just how much heightening this genre of acting requires. The performance isn’t exactly real… but it has total authenticity. This delivery is equal parts sexy, theatrical, and unhinged. It's a "too much" that leaves you wanting more.

03 "I don't know who I am anymore"
The Spider-Man series gets a lot of things right but the emotional peak of the superhero genre is Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer’s face off while slow dancing at a masked ball. They’ve just realized that their new lover is also their enemy. Keaton has just the right note of concern and gravitas and Pfeiffer breaks into several pieces right before your eyes with tears and laughter… her identities fusing and splintering, thoroughly undoing her. In short: this is the best performance ever given in a superhero film.

02 "Four, Five... Still alive! Six, Seven...all good girls go to heaven"
This particular quote, delivered while this anti-heroine lets herself be killed again and again -- throwing away her lives like she’s got more than nine, moves from raging taunts directed at her enemy to a nearly catatonic sing song to herself. Catwoman has only nine lives but this Michelle Pfeiffer performance will live forever.

01 "...meow"


c.p. iñor said...



Arun said...

God, I love this performance so much and i love you for reminding me exactly why.

It IS the best performance in a superhero movie and its also one of the best of the 90s. Just Perfect.

another line i always loved was 'Does this mean we have to start fighting now?'. ugh. So fucking awesome.

Kurtis O said...

I love it!! I've been quoting Pfeiffer lines from this film since I was 8 years old. I completely agree with you: best perf. ever given in a superhero film - by far. A few quotes I'd add to the list:
* "It's the so-called normal guys that always let you down. Sickos don't scare me...at least they're committed."
* "I remember the day I forgot to where my underpants to school, and the name of the boy who noticed was Ricky Freedburg - he's dead now."
It's funny, that line always made me wonder if said boy was the thug in the alleyway on her first night out.

Jason Adams said...

That scene you describe so wonderfully, Nat, where she and Keaton are dancing together, gives me chills every time I see it. I couldn't agree with you more that superhero films have never reached that height before or since.

adam k. said...

I knew "meow" would land on top.

I actually just watched this film and posted about it yesterday. I was a little disappointed with the film, finding it rather sterile, but Pfeiffer's Catwoman is indeed the best perf in a superhero film EVER. The dance scene is what seals it as a genuine great performance. Wish I loved the whole film as much. I could see myself liking it more in the future, though.

adam k. said...

p.s. I myself am torn between this and Begins as the best Batman film. I don't love either, but respect both for different reasons. I have a feeling The Dark Knight will top both of them, though.


it's difficult to actually compare Nolan's work to Burtons. Their goals are so very different. But Begins was good enough that I'm curious about Dark Knight...

arun --i almost used that one... i just wanted that scene in there somewhere. it's the best scene in the movie and it's the moment she won my imaginary Oscar (for the 3rd time or whatever but gah --magnificence)

Anonymous said...

Nat, you have NO idea how happy your list made me. This is for me the best superhero movie ever, and Pfeiffer, Keaton and DeVito are so good in this that you almost can't believe it.

Love the approach to Batman, love Burton's exaggerations, love Pfeiffer's whip, love Elfman's operatic score, love the dumb blonde falling in the gift box to unleash loads of bats.

And the ball..reminds me of Poe's short story THE MASQUE OF RED DEATH. The rotten high-society of Gotham parties inside while the world falls apart outside - until the inner and outer world mingle.

Thanks for writing a great post!


thank you

the other line i wanted to use but couldn't find room for "it's gonna be a hot time in the cold town tonight" but that isn't quite complete without bruce's response and her own again.

sigh. omg i love this performance

Yaseen Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yaseen Ali said...

This is exactly why I love you Nathaniel - your movie/actress worship is infectious!

This performance is so Oscar-worthy it hurts. Every line reading is perfection.

My fave delivery is "Life's a bitch. Now, so am I." I'm not even sure I understand what it means, but she sells me on it wholly and completely.

Yaseen Ali said...

Oh, and I am also of the mind that Batman Returns >>>> Batman Begins. It's probably because I find the villans of the Gotham universe so much more interesting than the superhero, and the Burton film all but sidelines Batman to concentrate on the baddies.

adam k. said...

Wow, I can't say I'm as much a fan of this film as everyone else, but I do feel the need to share one fact I found insane:

Can you believe she got NO NOMINATIONS FOR ANYTHING for this? Except a nom for "most desirable female" at the MTV Movie Awards. WTF. I realize it was largely Love Field's fault, but Jesus. Not even a Saturn award? GG Best Actress (C/M)? Jack got one for the first Batman. What gives? I don't get it.

Arun said...

I just had to post here again? Totally agree with everything that has been said about the scene at the ball. It has never failed to give me chills. That moment when they both realise who the other one is and grab on to one another gives me chills, just thinking about it.

This may be just be my favourite (not the best or greatest) performance of all time. I can't think of any other that makes me feel quite like this one does. and obviously Returns > Begins, though Dark Knight looks like it could beat both.

adam k. said...

Also, Dark Knight can't help but be better than Begins: all the exposition's out of the way, and they've traded in bland Katie H. for spicy Maggie G. Plus, Heath Ledger as The Joker. I'm there.

Can we see a Top Ten Pfeiffer Performances list? I'd like to see how you rank Baker Boys, Batman Returns, White Oleander, Dangerous Liasons, What Lies Beneath, et al. Actually that might be the list right there...


yeah Dark Knight cast is delicious. But i'm hoping that they don't make that typical superhero mistake and overload on the villains. I mean we're getting two face and the joker and now rumor is the riddler too.

danger. danger.

i will for sure talk more pfeiffer adam --like you need to ask. I'm afraid i may lose a few new film experience converts from mid july to mid august because it's gonna be all pfeiffer all the time what with HAIRSPRAY and STARDUST both arriving.


c.p. iñor said...

I would love to see a Pfeiffer week... you know with top tens, monologues, hump day hottie, etc... etc...

Glenn Dunks said...

The worst part about Begins was the stuff in Nepal so hopefully no more of that!

But, Batman Begins indeed my favourite Batman movie. I respond very much to visuals and I don't care if there's "style over substance" if the style is so amazing.

Pfieffer's performance here, in my mind, is the best superhero film performance ever AND the best Pfeiffer performance ever. Many prefer the Baker Boys or something else, but I just think it's utterly delicious.

Pity that Halle Berry pissed all over it.

Anonymous said...

well, here is what MY top ten Pfeiffer performance list looks like, as if anyone cares :-)

1 - A Thousand Acres(horrid movie, brilliant performances)
2 - White Oleander
3- The Age of Innocence
4 - Batman Returns
5- Dangerous Liaisons
6 - Married to the Mob
7 - What Lies Beneath
8 - The Fabulous Baker Boys
9 - One Fine Day(a very pleasent movie, and she was radiant)
10 - The Deep End of the Ocean(another horrid movie, but she always rises above. god, if we could only erase the mid to late 90's from her filmofraphy, wtf was she thinking during those years)

Luke said...

Been ages since I last saw this movie. Really should watch it again!

Kris said...

But the best line of the film came from Walken:

"Selina Kyle? Your fired. And Bruce Wayne? What're you doin' dressed up like Batman?"

Pfangirl said...

Another goodie:

"How could you? I'm a woman!"

And I just adore the look on her face - through the bird cage - when the Penguin jibes her:

"Maybe you're just some screwed-up sorority chick who's trying to get back at her daddy for not buying her that pony when she turned sweet sixteen."

Anonymous said...

I just found this movie dull!

Except! When Pfeiffer was on screen, of course. She's phenomenal, and mostly elevates the film to her standard when she's there. Were it not for Thompson in Howards End, she would have deserved the Oscar.

Not enough to make it anything above a C/C+ (though the thrill of Catwoman makes it's watchability a B).

Begins is still my favorite. I love the constant, hyperkinetic forward motion of the whole thing.

Sid said...

I agree. Best Batman film (in fact, my favorite superhero film of all time) and EASILY the best performance in any superhero movie. Pfeiffer should've won the Oscar for this!

adam k. said...

OMG. "How could you? I'm a woman!" totally deserves to be there. She says it perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this movie since it came out but I may have to watch it again. the film as a whole didn't entirely cohere for me but Pfieffer? WOW. I was so pissed when she and Keaton weren't in the next film because I wanted more, more, more helpings of the two of them onscreen together - it's one of the great unsung screen pairings. And the scene of Pfieffer's transformation? The good little (ex)Catholic girl in me was punching her fist in the air and shouting "yes"! Pfieffer's Catwoman was doing the heavy lifting for all of us girls who ever wanted to explore our bad sides (but were afraid to try.)

BTW - I think you forgot that La Kidman turned 40 this week. I know how much you LOVE Pfieffer, but that still seems like a huge oversight. (As well as the fact that you haven't said a thing about the new Invasion trailer.)



i didn't forget Kidman. Her birthday is today and I just got done with breakfast! -- geez. give me a second ;)

Anonymous said...

Actually today is La Kidman's birthday, so I jumped the gun a little - you still have the rest of the day to make good, so my apologies.


Anonymous said...

OMG! It's true!!! The 'How could you? I'm a woman!' is sooo delicious...

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm late and everybody already said everything, but concerning Michelle's perf, that's really brilliant. I know it's unuseful to say, but I'd have really prefered in 1992 she had award attention for Batman and not for Love Fields, a movie I never rooted for, even if Pfeiffer considered it very important.
Actually, Nataniel, just my curiosity: is it possible to have the retroactive film bitch award dedicated to 1992?


i want to do more retro film awards but i gotta do these fundraiser movie review request firsts. they're late!

TK said...

While I disagree and think that Begins is far superior, I do love this one. My personal favorite line?

"You're overpaid. Hit the road." Followed by a crack of the whip. Plus, when she wraps herself up with the whip... well...

Let's move on.

Beau said...

there really was no better quote from that film than 'Meow.'


Anonymous said...

i still can't believe she actually put that real bird in her mouth. I'm too big a chicken shit to do something like that! lol

Anonymous said...

My favorite part of her performance was right after her transformation when she's trashing her own apartment and uses a high heeled shoe to smach out her "Hello There" neon sign so that it would only read "Hell here."

I thought it was a perfect, stylish moment that set up the mayhem that was about to ensue.


that was a real bird!?

oh and yes, hell here is perfection. if only Burton could tell a story as well as he can set a visual mood

tomdwayne said...

wow, thanx for this list - there was a lot of suspense in reading it: "when will he mention meaow, when will he mention..." "won´t he mention meow?" "he must, or else i´m never visiting this site again..." and then there it is!!!! sometimes scrolling is just cool. like i said elsewhere - this movie was the beginning of my first movie crush...oh to be fourteen again and see it in the movie theatre!