There’s A New Definitive In Town

You all know what it is.

Having just seen it this afternoon, I haven’t had enough time to let the thing percolate yet…and I would go back, but I’m afraid I will once again be in a theatre where some asshole is talking on a cell phone right in front of me...!

Dear God, have things gotten that bad?  And this is just Vancouver, British Columbia we’re talking about, just a little backwater in the scheme of things, really…

…So I don’t know quite how long it’s going to be, before I have more than just a couple of disjointed thoughts on it.  But one thing’s for sure, and that’s that Heath Ledger’s Joker is a thing I simply cannot get out of my mind.  That face!  That voice!  That slouch!  All those fascinating choices.  Really good.  Better than good.

Indelible.

That performance will bear rewatching, probably several times.  In fact I don’t think I am ever gonna get tired of watching it.  It is amazing and unbelievable to me, that we have never had a Joker like this before.  Surely it was always there, just waiting for someone to play it?  But no, it’s all brand-new, and it’s all-brand nuts, and sadly it’s the only one there will ever be of its kind.  The script helps:  this Joker’s got some fresh ideas, and he’s a lot smarter than the guy in the comics, his purpose more refined.  But it’s Ledger who made me think “oh my God, the way he’s sitting there, it looks just like he’s wearing…!

But, well…you can see for yourself.

Anyway, it’s pretty wild.

I expected Christian Bale to get lost in all of that, frankly.  But maybe the best thing about Dark Knight is that he doesn’t get lost at all.  I won’t say there aren’t any weird discordant notes, but I won’t mention them:  after all, this is a Christopher Nolan movie, so the discordances are probably supposed to be there, and I just haven’t processed their significance yet.  But anyway, even if I were to never crack that code, it’d hardly matter — because whereas in Batman Begins we had several fantastical elements combining to create a tone of reality being reinforced, here we have a story perhaps somewhat lower on the luridity scale, but nevertheless conveying the impression that this time, this time for real, everything has just gotten all fucked up.  I am tempted to invoke The Napoleon Of Notting Hill again, and its climactic inversion of reality and dream — because that’s what happens here.  Things don’t return to normal.  They just keep going.

It’s really good!

You should see it.

It’s the New Joker.

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8 responses to “There’s A New Definitive In Town

  1. Also, the shit Batman pulls in this movie should scare people. He’s got so much ordnance he’s basically God, he can just do whatever he wants. But the Joker’s weapons are people, and that’s scarier still — ’cause he’ll never run out of ’em.

  2. Also: is it just me, or could this almost be considered a Nolan-ized version of Batman Returns?

    …No, probably too much of a stretch, there.

    I remind you all that Adam Star will now be finishing his Nolan triptych, hooray!

  3. Yeah. Geezus. That’s pretty much my perfect Joker, an I thought all the “perfect” spots in my head were filled.

  4. I agree with everything you said.
    I only watched Bruce Wayne/Batman to develop the story for the Joker and because it was the only other thing to do in the theater while waiting for Heath to appear on screen again. I’m actually kind of surprised Christian Bale did such a good job at his own role considering how hard it must have been to play off another actor who was playing a complete madman to perfection.
    Heath will get an oscar, and all will be right in Gotham City.

    ps. There is a new story on my page for you! Enjoy, it’s a work in progress!

  5. Saw it last night. I do think there is still a place for the stylish Jokers of old – not everybody has to live up to this. But cripes.

    He was loathsome. Read that how you like. Three dimensions of loathsome. Like someone whose brain has been eaten by rats and is still going.

    But my! The man’s carbon footprint is amazing.

  6. Wow.

    Saw it Friday (took in a matinee to cut down on the crowd) with the Mrs…

    Just…wow.

    First of all; it’s TWO MOVIES rolled up in one.
    The length of which and story-arcs incorporated within led to the exact opposite of today’s print-form comics:
    MORE story (and ACTION) for your buck!

    There were some minor logic/story gaffs in this flick.
    That’s to be expected, I guess.

    SOME of them may only be readily apparent to uninvolved VIEWERS, and lost to “active participants” within the story (WHY would there be a cop stationed INSIDE the cell with Joker? As long as the table and chair -or anything else which he might use to harm himself – or others- are removed from the cell, they can lock him in and monitor him from the GIANT 2-way mirror! That was only one strange choice of the characters, but it bugged the hell out of me).

    As for Heath Ledger… damn.
    His final comment in the film (…we’re destined to do this…forever”) is such a tragic line now.

    The performance was fabulous!

    Not quite “THE JOKER”, however.
    At least, not the Joker that comics’ readers have grown to know.

    For a believable incarnation like THAT, they’d need a MICK JAGGER-type of hopped-up, flamboyant, dervish. But one that has a darker inner essence, and hidden (insane-person-imbued) strength.

    THEN, it’d be 100% PERFECT.

    However, Heath Ledger gave us a JOKER that we didn’t even KNOW we could have!
    He was CUNNING, he was DELIBERATE (even in his abstraction), he was FOCUSED!
    And he was BENT!

    The mannerisms. The delivery. The walk. The posture.
    In NO WAY could you SEE the actor behind the character.
    Unlike Jack Nicholson, (who played… JACK NICHOLSON – which, he does in all his movies, really,) you saw NONE of Heath Ledger in his performance. SO submerged within the character was he.

    But, there WAS some of Jack in Heath’s Joker.
    Just enough to flavor it.
    There was even a touch of Cesar Romero (in the laugh).
    (Actually, I have stated to my wife, that if the 1960’s TV show wasn’t kid-fare, and was aired today – say, on the WB – alongside all the other occult-tinged shows – and was allowed to BE darker, that Cesar Romero COULD have pulled off the near-perfect Joker.
    He HAD that Dark swath running within. As seen in some of his old movies where he played the heavy.
    Just let him mix the “heavy” of old with the flamboyant miscreant of the 60’s show and let it be more 2008-adult fare, and Hooo boy!)

    All this is not to take ANYTHING away from Ledger.
    He knocked the role out of the park and tore the skin off the ball.
    SO MUCH for him to chew on.
    So much of a masterful performance.

    Masterful is a word though, that works slightly against his performance…no… not his PERFORMANCE (which was impeccable)… but his (or NOLAN’s) INTERPRETATION of the JOKER.

    I always got the impression that the JOKER was more of a CHAOTIC force of Nature. That he WAS more spur-of-the-moment and chaotic in his actions. Even if there are the bare bones of a plan, that he acted and thought in an unpredictable and FLUID manner.

    The “Dark Knight”‘s Joker was more of a MASTERFUL PLANNER.
    EVERYTHING had a plan all worked out to the last letter.
    Sure, there was wiggle room for embellishment, but more often than not, when something didn’t go according to PLAN, it started to unravel.
    (i.e.; His one phone call, the two boats, etc…)

    But, still… damn.

    From a story/written/directed standpoint; Was anything made lessened by the remaining MYSTERY surrounding this Joker (no name, no ID, no prints, records, DNA, etc…)?
    Was anything made lessened by the lack of a history for the guy?
    (The ever changing story of where the scars came from – which would reflect whatever/whomever he was addressing at the time.)

    Sadly, that’s one of the casualties of the movie incarnations of the Bat-Man.
    In none of them has he ever been more than a martial artist with a ton of cool gadgets (and maybe some applied science interests).
    Nowhere is the Dark Knight DETECTIVE.

    Without the DETECTIVE aspect, he has only the information that he can garner from basic sources:
    – internet intelligence
    – computer databases
    – police investigations
    – goon intimidation

    He doesn’t look for clues and form hypotheses.

    I guess to have him be a master of all martial arts, master strategist, scientist AND “world’s greatest” Detective would be a bit too much of stretch for the average movie-goer’s suspension of disbelief.

    Heck, I’m a comic’s reader and it leads me to distraction at times.

    That has to be why he is surrounded more in the movies with OTHERS who can fill those roles (Lucius Fox = Science / Alfred = co-strategist / GPD connections = some of the detective work [what can’t be obtained by dangling a crook from a rooftop and playing human yo-yo with them for awhile]).
    Thats fine.
    I have no problems with that.
    It’s a little disappointing, to not have heard Ra’s call him “detective” in the previous film, but it’s a minor loss.

    However, on the flip side of the coin (Two-Face notwithstanding), this JOKER is allowed to be EVERYTHING all rolled up in one.
    He IS a master planner, science-minded, multi-talented madman.
    Unless he is coercing others to do his dirty work FOR him.
    THAT is certainly possible.

    I really wish that there were more available for this JOKER.
    I find that he intrigues me, and I want to see what lies beneath the make-up, behind the eyes and inside his mind.

    Sadly… that is another mystery of THIS Joker that will remain unsolved.

    I only bought the standard 1-disc DVD of the first flick.
    This one will warrant the expanded deluxe dvd purchase when it ships.
    I can only hope that there is more footage of Ledger.
    Even if it’s behind the scenes. Watching him be himself one second and then THIS… fully-formed character the next.

    Oscar worthy?
    Hell, I don’t know.
    I’ve seen lesser performances rewarded.
    And this was certainly not lesser in any way.

    As the movie progressed, he just became MORE and MORE of this Joker.

    On the other major character notes;
    Two-Face was handled QUITE well.
    Big ups.
    Heads above the Tommy Lee Jones embarrassment.

    My only complaint for the performance of Batman, is when Bale puts on his “dark voice”.
    That is NOT good.
    I have a hard time taking him seriously with that growling yell of his.
    It’s like the older brother who is trying to scare the crap out of you in order to stop you from breaking his shit.
    It works once, but when you realize that’s ALL he’s got, it becomes a joke.

    It doesn’t help matters that that damed COWL isn’t designed right.
    It’s too wide in the middle and comes to a point on top.
    The “ears” are too close to the center of his head. Pointing inward.
    It gives a weird “pinhead” look (Zippy. Not Hellraiser).
    And, his face is squished in the opening.
    It makes for a bloated looking appearance.

    However, my few “demerits” aside, this was the best Batman movie since… well, ever.

    BATMAN BEGINS was fabulous (with a few logic/story gaffs – I mean, you have a GIANT microwave emitter and point it around PEOPLE! Why aren’t THEY popping open like hot dogs in a microwave?).

    Before that, my favorite was BATMAN RETURNS.
    Catwoman and Penguin in a Tim Burton setting. I liked it.

    BUT THIS… this was near-perfect!

    I can hardly wait for the third.

    Although, judging from the trailer, between the rubber OWL-suit and Rorshach’s growly voice, WATCHMEN will be a pseudo BAT-fix for awhile.

    Let’s just pray that it is a WATCHMEN fix as well.

    ~P~
    PTOR

  7. Ha! Indeed, P-Tor.

    I was just thinking about the Joker’s Master Planner skills today, and I’ve just about decided that I wouldn’t go quite that far — but I’ll have to see the movie again before I make up my mind for sure.

    I think I like the “dark” voice — it does get more over the top here than it did in Batman Begins, doesn’t it? I think that’s to a purpose, as images start finding their own logic in DK, and drag people along with them. As to the detective stuff…well, I see this movie as CATASTROPHIC for its main character, don’t you? And that is to a purpose, I’m sure: a “realistic” Gotham that includes features more and more faithful to the Gotham of the comics must be built, I think — it can’t just spring into being from nothing. Although Batman Begins had the League of Shadows and the psychoactive flower and the Scarecrow’s mask, that’s all it had — it was still very “Year One”. pleasantly intermixed with the stuff of a “real” movie about finding one’s identity. Dark Knight, on the other hand…is a shitstorm. We barely see Bruce, he gets a tiny bit lost (though Batman doesn’t), stuff just happens and then some other stuff just happens. Even the Joker isn’t crazy at the start of the movie, at least not in the same way he gets to be by its end. Until he meets Batman, his behaviour is still somewhat confined…well, confined for him, anyway.

    Hmm, so what am I saying?

    Batman himself begins one movie earlier, but his world starts here, with a “Great Disaster” that his level of realism has left him all but unprepared for. So maybe he doesn’t become a detective until Movie #3? Him becoming a detective is surely worthy of a movie all to itself, after all in this one he became a superhero. I can’t really believe Nolan is going to make another one, I’m of course pleased but I’m also surprised…but maybe he wants to “build” Batman brick by brick, and movie by movie? There’s a lot of chatter out there about what Bat-villains would work in future installments of this series, and almost all of them disqualify characters they don’t see as “realistic”…however we’ve just had a re-envisioning of the Joker that makes him capable of any action any Joker anywhere would undertake, campy cartooony or dead dramatically serious, Heath Ledger’s Joker could, I believe, get away with any of it. But anyway, they all think it’s going to be the Riddler. Fine, okay: I’d totally watch that! I mean, I can think of a few other things it’d be cool for Nolan to do, too (still can’t believe he’s staying on!), but to see a good Riddler…wow.

    But in that movie…you know Batman would have to become a detective, right? I mean that’d be what that movie would be all about.

    So I think if we’re lucky, we’ll eventually get everything we want. Personally this Joker is so what I want that I’m not sure I ever need to read any more comics with the Joker in them — THIS is my guy, no other re-imaginings need apply, he is HIRED! But then given that success, you have to think that they might do anything in Movie #3, anything at all, and make it work. Because I’m sure it’s gonna be a thematic triptych, whatever happens, and a strong theme suspends much disbelief…

    Sorry, rambling! No coffee. Must go do a little work.

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