Monday, July 21, 2008

A Few Dark Knight Thoughts

A Few Dark Knight Thoughts…

Ladies and gentleman, your new opening weekend champ, The Dark Knight! We won’t have final numbers until later today, but the estimate is $155 million, passing Spider Man 3’s $150. Just mind boggling numbers. The question now is how long can Dark Knight keep this going – Spidey 3 dropped over 60% in its second weekend, topping out at $336, good for #12 all time – where will Dark Knight end up? Top 25 all time is all but guaranteed, can it get into the top 10? Stay tuned…

What a great fucking movie. I’m guessing most of you have seen it already, but for those who haven’t, do me a favor, be patient and wait to see it on IMAX. Just trust me on this. I ask so little, I demanded you see Once and remember how fucking good that was? I told you that Shaun Alexander had a talking vagina and remember how spot fucking on I was? Trust me, friends, wait for the IMAX.

All of the praise so far has been heaped on Bale, Eckhart and Ledger – and it should be, they’re fucking fantastic – but how about Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon? Much less heralded and a much more thankless role but the character is absolutely crucial to the story, he’s the glue that makes the whole thing work. Well done, sir.

This actually brings up a different point, the fact that more and more talented, high-brow and acclaimed actors and filmmakers are gravitating towards comic book movies. This is a fascinating trend with several little sub-trends connected to it – namely that audiences are tired of standard action fare and are demanding more from their action movies – as a lifelong comic book fan (particularly Batman), I couldn’t be happier about this. There’s so much context and subtext to these characters and stories and that’s finally starting to come out in the film versions. For example, and this is dorky but stay with me - I grew up reading Batman books and I remember being in ninth grade and reading Hamlet for the first time and thinking “that’s Batman.” Spoiled, aloof, rich kids who lost their fathers and dedicated their lives to revenge – only to find that they had become so consumed with the “idea” of revenge they had created this insatiable need that actually had nothing to do with their parents – basically they’re angry b/c they’re so angry and keep fighting b/c they realize they can never go back to the person they used to be – does that make sense? See, I knew you guys would like that. You know who didn’t like it? My ninth grade English teacher who gave me a C+ b/c she thought it was sacrilegious to compare one of the greatest characters in literature to a superhero from a “child’s” story. Well, guess what, ninth grade English teacher? Go see the Dark Knight and then take a big healthy bite of my asshole.

One last thought, basically everything that could and should be said about Heath Ledger has been said at this point and by people much more eloquent than myself, but if I may:

- I think I speak for everyone when I say that his death has been 100x more impactful than any other celebrity. His age, his daughter, his overwhelming talent, the unexpectedness of the whole thing – it’s been 7 months and it still feels fucking wrong.

- It’s an amazing thing to watch an actor become a great actor right in front of your eyes. With movies like The Patriot and A Knight’s Tale we knew Heath was ridiculously handsome but really had no idea if he was talented or not. If the age of the trashy magazine and gossip show has proven anything it’s that you don’t really need to be talented to have a long, healthy career. Look at Jessica Alba and Ryan Phillippe (who is quickly proving to be the Keanu Reeves of his generation – one of those guys who keeps making movies and keeps making headlines even though everyone knows he’s awful. In fact, we might go as far to say that the Keanu “puzzled look” is being challenged by the Phillippe “frown” as the predominant bad actor trick). We put Heath in this category prematurely, then he makes Monster’s Ball and we all said, “wait a minute, is there something there?” Then Brokeback and we go “hold on, hold on, is this guy really that good?” And then everything crests with the Joker, when we all collectively realized Heath was on his way to becoming one of the best actors of his generation.

- With that said, thank God he is so unrecognizable in The Dark Knight. Honestly, if the movie started and the credits said “and introducing Bill Mankoewitz as the Joker” we all would’ve walked out saying, “man, that Bill Mankoewitz is a great actor.” It’s such a transformation you really have no idea who it is, and we should all be thankful for that.

- You know how every great performance has that “splash of cold water moment?” You get so engrossed and captivated by the character you kind of forget you’re watching an actor acting – then he does something that is so unbelievable it snaps you back to reality for a moment, kind of like someone throwing cold water on you while you’re sleeping. Think of the church, “give me the blood, Eli” scene in There Will Be Blood, when you think to yourself “holy fucking shit, I’m watching something that will be talked about for years.” With Heath, it was the scene after the hospital blows up – he doesn’t have any dialogue, it’s just the way that he walks from the door to the bus. That weird limp / strut / saunter that he created for the character that snaps you back and makes you think “wow!” as his talent reaches out of the screen and fucking smacks you in the face.

- This whole section is basically just a long, ambling preface for this: what a fucking shame. What an incredibly, incredibly bright and wasted future. Fucking sucks, man, we all got robbed on this one.

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