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Thread: The Dark Knight

  1. #1
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    The Dark Knight

    Thank you to everyone who worked on this film.
    As a lifelong Batman fan I can't express enough my gratitude for producing such an artistically and emotionally gripping film of a mythology that deserves serious treatment.

    Melding modern issues into it just makes it that more compelling.
    I'm not reviewing the movie until later.
    I'm just basking in the sheer glory of it, the wonderful Kubrick-like afterglow I have.

    Raving isn't necessary. Adjectives and superlatives are out there in full force. You don't need any from me.

    Just thank the cinema Gods that we've lived to see a work of this calibre. Any flaws that people point out (and I've heard a few) are to me just dismissed outright.

    Heath Ledger is nowhere to be found in this movie. People have said it before and I'm parroting the same: he fucking disappears into the role of the Joker.
    He's not acting. He's taking it to another level, one that is purely instinct and lyrical. Poetic even. He's "lyrikle spirikle" to quote Bob Marley.
    He has almost a supernatural presence that is just riveting.
    This is the kind of acting that only comes from knowing exactly what you're doing and then taking it to the edge. Complete freedom, complete fearlessness. You can see it on screen. You can see that they aren't just going through the motions here, hitting your marks and saying "that's a wrap". Nolan has done what Kubrick did: look for the magic and find it. The *dark* magic of it is just profound to me. A thousand thank you's to all involved for not making another run-of-the-mill comic book film. Ebert said "No Joke, Batman", and there certainly is no joking, nothing silly about this Joker. He's a very dangerous foe, the PERFECT foe for Batman, and Nolan has nailed that dynamic for all time.

    Michael Caine has said that Heath is the most remarkable thing in the film and he is. It's his moment. Give the man his well-deserved due. I was absolutely astonished at his acting ability as The Joker. I'm ashamed I ever doubted him as an actor.
    His performance is so exalted and pure...
    Someone said in a review that everything he does is a Masterstroke, and I'm hard up to disagree.
    You can pick the movie apart till the cows come home, Ledger is Ledgendary here. He's officially one of the greatest actors of all time, just on the basis of this showcase.

    We have a movie we can enjoy and mine and re-live and study and appreciate until our last breath.
    It's a film that is draped in gloom and darkness but there are lights aplenty in it, burning really bright.
    I never thought I'd ever see a Batman film that was influenced by Stanley Kubrick but here it is, in 2008.

    For me, this year is one of the greatest in the history of cinema.
    Last edited by Johann; 07-19-2008 at 12:57 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  2. #2
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    One-day box-office record broken

    Holy Bank Heist!

    This film has broken the one-day record for box office with 66.4 million.
    That's a whole lotta Bat-Bread, man...

    What'll this weekend produce for numbers?
    I'll go out on a limb and say it'll make a few more pennies, break a few more records...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  3. #3
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    A French Canadian blog called "Le 1487":

    The Joker

    Ce post aurait très bien pu avoir pour titre Batman, mais après avoir vu le film hier je dois avouer que c'est Heath Ledger dans le rôle du Joker qui rend ce nouveau Batman intéressant. Étant un adepte du vieux Batman d'Adam West que j'écoutais enfant avec mon cousin Pascal, je dois avouer que je trouve le héros à la cape joué par Christian Bale à mille lieux du sympathique Batman de mon enfance.

    Dans A Dark Night, Batman est plutôt agressif et un brin narcissique et lorsqu'il parle on croirais entendre Stallone dans Rocky. Sans compter que le scénario du film de Nolan est somme toute un peu boiteux. Heureusement, Heath Ledger dans le rôle du Joker est complètement époustouflant, il nous livre ici un Joker terrifiant sans pour autant complètement dénaturer le mythique vilain.

    Voir Ledger incarner le Joker nous fait constater à quel point la mort de ce jeune acteur est une grande perte pour le cinéma. Il ne reste plus qu'à se croiser les doigts pour qu'un bel hommage et une statuette viennent souligner le travail de celui-ci à la prochaine cérémonie des Oscars.

    English translation:

    This post might well have been entitled Batman, but after having seen the film yesterday I have to acknowledge that it's Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker that makes this new Batman interesting. Being a fan of the old Batman of Adam West which I listened to as a child with my cousin Pascal, I have to acknowledge that I find the hero in the cape played by Christian Bale a thousand degrees away from the appealing Batman of my childhood.

    In A Dark Night [sic], Batman is more aggressive and a tad narcissistic and when he speaks you feel you're hearing Stallone in Rocky. Not to mention that the scenario of Nolan's film is all in all a little lame. Happily, Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker is completely astonishing. He delivers here a terrifying Joker without for all that completely distorting the mythical villain.

    To see Ledger embodying the Joker makes us realize how great a loss for the cinema the death of this young actor really was. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that a nice homage and a statuette will arrive to signal the achievement of this man at the future Oscar ceremonies.

  4. #4
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    The preceding doesn't reflect my reactions. It is just sort of a joke, a simplistic response by someone I don't know. I hadn't seen the movie when I posted that. Now I have and below is my review/comment. Unlike the Dave Kehr column online I don't compare the movie with Dirty Harry or Godard or The Man Who Laughs or refer to Pauline Kael or Jonathan Rosenbaum. I don't know anything much about Batman, except I do remember he had the cute boy sidekick and they wore contrasting skin tight outfits. In the comic books I mean. That has all been forgotten. In fact Christopher Nolan has even almost forgotten his own previous entry in the franchise, Batman Begins. Maybe he has a memory problem like Guy Pierce in Memento.

  5. #5
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    Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight

    The Joker wins

    Review by Chris Knipp

    The new Batman film is out and it has triumphed as only a blockbuster can. It has made more money in less time than any other American megabuck movie before it. It has brought the audience to its knees. Something approaching $200 million (enough to make 100 French art films) got spent on it, but soon the expenditures will be recouped. Wow. Good job, Chris Nolan.

    The Dark Knight tears up the screen. Villainy, as embodied in the triumphant and voluptuous posthumous performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker, so spills over Gotham that it seeps into the hearts and minds of the leaders of the Good Guys. That's what they mean by Dark. Gotham is No Country for Old Men.

    What's happening to superheros these days anyway? Hancock (Will Smith) is a foul-mouthed drunk who causes major damage. The new Batman movie raises the issue that vigilante justice, even meted out by a chiseled millionaire with glowing skin, encourages lawlessness and may over all be a Bad Thing. The Joker is a sadistic lord of misrule. He has serious childhood issues, but he only uses them to tease and torment people ("know how I got these scars?"). To hell with money, he says, setting fire to a two-storey Step Pyramid of bundles of cash--prompting thoughts of the drooping dollar, Bush's war, and the way Hollywood throws money at a franchise like this one. His pleasure is all in sowing the seeds of chaos. And it's his movie. We don't see that much of Batman, or much other than his masked face, and the Joker is just way more fun to watch.

    Ledger-The-Joker tears apart the movie, too--yet seems sometimes all that's holding it together. Punctuated by his appearances, The Dark Knight barely comes to life till he shows up twenty minutes in, then is shaped by his always-flashy and riveting turns. But the movie is troubled by its own chaos. It's too long, and grows increasingly incoherent toward the end.

    Noise is pervasive, urging the audience to be excited from the first frame. This is always a problem with any film, especially a very complicated one like this: if you start out at too high a pitch, it'll be hard to sustain that and if you do sustain it, you risk wearing out the audience. Contrast the Bourne movies. They're pitched high, hard and fast, but they're essentially simple chase stories with the hero in nearly every scene so they hold momentum easily. The Dark Knight has us following too many different forces, and who's aligned with what gets too blurred. There's DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhardt), Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), the DA's new--and Bruce Wayne's old--girlfriend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllanhaal), Wayne/Batman's loyal sidekicks Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Alfred (Michael Caine)--the latter two film idols who grab the screen and create a void around themselves (they're shot that way too). There's also police lieutenant Gordan (Gary Oldman), perhaps the least interesting yet nearly the most important character, and a mayor (Nestor Carbonell) with huge eyebrows and black-rimmed eyes. Except for the loyal sidekicks it's hard to know which way some of these people are going to go but they're all vying for the audience's distracted attention.

    And then there is the further major distraction and overkill factor of the gadgetry, the weaponry almost everybody has in his hand, the Bat-suits, the thuggish-heavy Batmobile--virtually indestructible, like some giant prehistoric beetle, and the Lamborghini, whose smashup was, for me, the film's saddest moment. What a beautiful thing! It cost hundreds of thousands to custom-make, and then they run other vehicles into it and put big dents in it. That's a blockbuster. It destroys all in its path. It burns up pyramids of money.

    Then also you've got sonar or radar or something in cell phones and tanks of gasoline, and dynamite and flame-thrower weaponry. Little things with blinky lights, a match, anything will do: The Joker likes to blow up things. And if you like to see explosions and fires and hospitals collapsing and cars and trucks flying through the air spectacularly (and pretty convincingly) this is your movie. Really.

    But if you like dialogue, it may or may not be. Voices get muffled in the noise a lot, and Christian Bale talks in a hoarse whisper as if he's trying to turn into Darth Vader but needs more amplification. Here again Heath Ledger stands out, and so does Maggie Gyllenhaal. They both speak their lines not only expressively but clearly and distinctly. Aaron Eckhardt gets to wear some pretty elaborate makeup. He, like Maggie, is a good addition to the series: she offers heaps of believable personality, and his square jaw is made for a comic book hero. He could play Dick Tracy. He seems a long way now from Neil LaBute. And I'm sorry, The Dark Knight lectures us an awful lot for a big budget action movie, about good and evil and law and order and stuff, but it's a long way from meaning anything--except that it's a terrible shame Heath Ledger had to die. He dives into and romps with this role. It's scary fun. He had much pleasure to give us. He was just beginning. The Joker rules.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-31-2009 at 03:35 PM.

  6. #6
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    This film dares to ask big questions about huge issues, with a palette of actors and production designers to illustrate.
    A thinking man's blockbuster.
    The emotions are swarming inside me. A lot to think about here.
    Mr. Nolan has completely obliterated the other Bat-films, except Tim Burton's original from 1989- I watched it again this week and there is a lot to love about it, especially Jack Nicholson.
    Even though Ledger has brilliantly portrayed the Joker and is the better of the two, Jack was incredible, "Sugar Bumps".
    The Joker is not a character that you can hand to just any actor.
    You need a virtuoso. You need a Master-actor.
    You need someone who can capture the insanity, the manic laugh, the murderous ideology, the freedom of the madness.
    Burton and Nolan chose perfect actors to wear the purple.

    The world he's created is astounding and indeed Dark as a mother. He's putting onscreen our current climate. And he's looking for avenues to solve the problem.
    Dave Kehr made reference to Batman as George Bush and I couldn't help but see it too. The wiretapping, the idea of the good guys inviting terror attacks...

    I'm seeing it again tomorrow so I'll give a review proper then.

    You understand the movie Chris. Thanks for your review.
    It should help others decipher the wheat from the chaff
    Last edited by Johann; 07-26-2008 at 03:22 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  7. #7
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    The wiretapping issue in the fim and possible reference to the Bush administration were something interesting in the Dave Kehr discussion that had eluded me. Maybe some of those contributors read too much into the film, though. I agree with the contributors to that discussion who said a film like this grabs all it can from the zeitgeist without necessarily having a single coherent thesis to put across. There is something there for everybody. Notice some thought it was right wing, some thought it was left wing, some thought it was anarchist, some thought it was fascist. I don't think the filmmakers were thinking about a political thesis. They were trying to put together a movie that worked and was a new take on the Batman themse.

    You're right about The Joker as a role. Armond White said Ledger's performance was more simplistic and one-note than Jack Nicholson's. I don't agree with that; it's a great performance. It is definitely scary. However I think that despite Heath's subsequent death and problems at the time, he was basically having fun with the role and it is not to be taken over-seriously. This is first and foremost a great big show. But for sure Nolan goes over the top in making it DARK. THE DARK KNIGHT, get it folks?

    Don't take young kids to this, despite the rating. But don't forget it's entertainment, either. Fires and explosions and chases and tumbling trucks. For fun.

    Still there is more horror movie in this than in the other ones, or am I wrong?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-22-2008 at 10:09 AM.

  8. #8
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    Bang-on man.

    It's not right or left. It's not anarchist or fascist.
    It's just presenting (obliquely or directly?) the various sides of society. Yes indeed there's "something for everybody".
    Must be fun to be a film director, no?

    You can clearly see that the role had nothing to do with his death.
    And when I heard that he said "It's the Bomb" playing the Joker, that confirmed it for me. He was just playing his role, and having a grand old time doing it. I'm jealous as shit of him.
    What an amazing final show..

    Nolan is juggling a lot with this one. And you're right that there's no real thesis on politics here.

    Definitely not for kids. I would have a hard time giving "guidance" to my child about this one- it's too complex.
    How do you explain to a kid the Joker's line about hating his father? And then ramming a knife at the guy's throat?
    Do you use Alfred's line to explain it away:
    Some men just want to see the world burn.?

    Adult film all the way.
    Heavy issues and scary stuff. The Joker's face/visage, Harvey's face, explosions, death and destruction...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  9. #9
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    We agree on Ledger but people do fall into the trip of reading dark things about him personally into the performance. I'll give you the end of David Edelstein's review of the movie, which I recommend even though this is a red herring. I don't agree with the idea that he's flailing around, but it's interesting anyway. Note the review has two pages.
    How is Heath Ledger? My heart went out to him. He's working so very hard to fill the void, to be doing something every second. It's rave and rage and purge acting. This Joker is a straight-out psychopath--a Stephen King clown-demon with smudged greasepaint and yellow teeth and hair that appears to have never been washed. As written, the Joker is like a souped-up Andy Robinson in Dirty Harry (only this Harry won't blow him away with a .44 Magnum), and Ledger revs it higher and higher. He bugs his eyes and licks compulsively at the gashes that extend his mouth. He tries on different voices. First he sounds like Cagney in White Heat, then slides into a prissy singsong like Al Franken's Stuart Smalley, then throws in some fruity Brando flourishes and a dash of Hannibal Lecter. Heath's lethal--fast with sharp objects--but apart from a gruesome bit with a pencil not terribly prankish. I couldn't take my eyes off him, but in truth, I found the performance painful to watch. Scarier than what the Joker does to anyone onscreen is what Ledger must have been doing to himself--trying to find the center of a character without a dream of one.
    Edelstein is smart. His Dubya comment and his comment on Gary Oldman are worthy of discussion. But after reading him for a while I take him with a big grain of salt. I do give him credit for getting me out to see Cloverfield--but most people thing that is crap, and they're partly right. And partly they're missing something amazing. That may be Edelstein's value--sometimes he's so wrong he's right. But not this time--tough I value that he wrote a farily negative review among all the raves. Armond White wrote an even more negative one. Another story.

    Edelstein says as Dengy did (the two most prominent New York reviews that were negtive about the film) that Nolan can't handle action. That I can't see. At least the car stuff is very well done, and the sommersaulting truck got applause in the theater when I saw it.

    I can see this is a movie that is great to discuss. And everybody is discussing it.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-22-2008 at 07:58 PM.

  10. #10
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    After seeing it two more times, I have to amend my comment on the length of the film. I think it's a fine running time, given all that Nolan is presenting. That's a problem with a first-time view: sometimes it's hard to digest everything all at once.

    I noticed that some scenes from the trailer are not in the film, or they've been altered. Where was the scene where the Joker tosses a knife into his right hand? Why was the scene of him shouting "Come on, Hit Me!!" a different shot than the one in the trailer? The one from the trailer was way better, way more demented and psychotic. And the scene where he says to the gangters "Kill the Batman"- he says it totally different than the way he does in the trailer.
    I guess Christopher Nolan felt other takes were better for the movie than the trailer promoting it?
    With Batman I don't miss much, man.
    The film still destroys, and picking it apart is not cool.
    You don't pick a Masterpiece apart unless you're studying, unless you love the Holy Hell out of it.

    Aaron Eckhart is damn good here.
    His transformation into Two-Face is excellence in character development. His scenes with the rage at what's happened to him is just plain awesome. I cared about him as a character- more than Batman or Bruce Wayne (and that's saying a lot, brother!).

    The Joker is just all over the map here, all over the movie with wild brutalities and psychotic mania. This is a performance for the Ages. Heath Ledger delivered beyond my or anyone else's conceivable expectations. Simply put, they found the best actor on the planet to play The Clown.
    He's almost like a pixie, a fucked-up pixie.
    He's absolutely awesome in his final role, and yes Chris, it's a damn fucking shame he won't be in any more films.
    He's cast the die on the Joker for all time.
    I kept thinking to myself that even Jack Nicholson must tip his hat to Ledger for what he did here.
    Even the Great Seducer must admit that Heath drove it home.
    Cuz he DID, muchacho. He fuckin' did.
    I really don't have any more to say about the film.
    I'm kind of in mute awe of it, and there's so few films that have ever done that to me. I gab a lot about movies, but the best ones have a way of making me shut my trap. I'm stunned by the greatness of The Dark Knight.
    I thought for a while that maybe Hollywood was past the point of delivering something more substantial than a "blockbuster", but we're dealing with a filmmaker who is a Genius, who takes inspiration from the greatest of sources, uses the best actors he can assemble, and genuinely aims for Art. Plus his marketing couldn't have been any better.
    And Warner Brothers? Best studio on the planet.
    They were custodians of Kubrick's legacy, and they are custodians of much by the way of pop culture icons.

    Again, a huge sincere Thank You to all who worked on this one.
    You got a devoted fan for as long as I live.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  11. #11
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    Maybe Nicholson will tip his hat. It would be good form for him to do so anyway even if it were not such a brilliant performance.

    I recognize that this is one that repeated viewings would clarify. I think all your observations make a lot of sense here. I wish I had the stomach to go back but i'm not sure I do, not now anyway. We'll see. If somebody drags me maybe. Many agree that Eckhardt is a standout. I'm not sure about Oldman.

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    An unlikely Batman outting

    Something struck a chord in this film with you, Chris. Usually, you don't respond as much to a super-hero movie, let alone write TWO reviews. Here is my contribution:

    This Batman is definitely closer to "Batman - Year One" and other comics that changed things in the late 70's and early 80's. Batman laid down on Freud's couch, and rose a complex figure, with difficult moral choices. This movie differs from past outtings of Batman in a myriad number of ways. For one, the Joker appears out of nowhere. "He has no prints, no DNA on file." His aim is to "bring chaos to your world." Hence, this Joker is no joke at all. He is the most terrifying Joker as his unpredictability makes for great dramatic tension.

    From the very beginning of the Dark Knight, we start with a character from Arkam, Cillian Murphy reprises his role as Scarecrow, albeit a cameo. One might venture to say that "madness starts here... proceed with the insanity." This lays the groundwork upon which Director Nolan fashions the second major character of this film. We've seen Batman in the last film. Bring on the main course, the insane clown without a past. For this film does not relate the Joker to a previous history, as in the past Jack Napier. This time the Joker arises "out of necessity" as a balance to the Dark Knight, Batman; perhaps even a complimentary course, like a good wine with the right meal.

    In probably one of the best hero flick scenes ever, Heath Ledger lets loose a tirade of comments where he confesses, "it isn't about the money or the fame or the power..." He simply offers his services as a counter to Batman, chaos into the orderly world. What could be darker than that?

    The film also diverges from the comics in that Harvey Dent is not the victim of acid, but a gasoline burn, which may or may not result in his kind of face. However, Dent, not the Joker, is dispatched almost dispassionately, a cool balance to Ledger's over-the-top, tour-de-force performance that certainly has Oscar buzz all over it for good reason, he is insanity unleashed. He personifies it well. Every scene with Ledger goes to places no villain ever touched. We cannot pierce his exterior, yet we know his persona goes deep into an unbalanced psyche manifest in his spurious actions.

    Like previous films where the Dark Knight must chose between friends, his choice results in terrible consequences, forcing more dramatic tension, as the screen is rife this time with suspense. Alfred is torn between his loyalty to Wayne to that of decency. Wayne's ex-girl is torn between her current man (Dent) and one she knows is righteous yet unbalanced (Bruce). The commissioner is torn between upholding the law and supporting a vigilante. The police are torn between upholding the law and having the rug pulled from under them when the mob threatens their families. Lastly, the ultimate test comes when a ship of prisoners is pitted against a ship of privileged persons, where moral choices come down to a simple act of survival.

    This Batman is rife with moral plays and dilemmas. Director Christopher Nolan has fashioned a morality play for all comic book lovers to admire. With a great supporting cast, I found no leaks, no weak areas, and finally, just the right amount of score to bring this incredible film to its strange and haunting finish. Bravo.
    Last edited by cinemabon; 07-27-2008 at 10:13 PM.
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    I didn't know I'd written two reviews. Maybe Johann did. I'm just contributing.

    Maybe I'm in denial. Certain this is a good one to discuss and Heath Ledger and all the darkness makes it powerful, but I'm under the impression that I actually enjoyed Hancock and Wanted and Iron Man just as much, and Hellboy was more beautiful.

    And Sex and the City was more fun than any of them. I think I prefer Manolo Blahniks to AK-47s.

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    You made me laugh very hard with that one
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    That is the greatest compliment you could give.

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