From: Steve Novak (Cinefrog@comcast.net)
Date: 23 Jul 2008

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    I haven't seen the film so I don't qualify to judge but I jus found this Times critique of TDK and it might help the noir discussion around it in its own way.. Montois

    From The Times July 24, 2008 The Dark Knight Heath Ledgerıs posthumous Oscar looks in the bag as The Dark Knight rewrites the comic-book thriller genre

    The late Heath Ledgerıs Joker makes Jack Nicholsonıs version look like a badly drawn cartoon James Christopher

    You will feel utterly numb after the screening of The Dark Knight. The film is bleak and brilliant. Batman is Hamlet and Heath Ledger is a sensation as the Joker. The late legend doesnıt just steal the film, he murders it in style.

    Watch how this cartoon serial killer comes to life. Look at the slithery reptilian tongue. Why the garish slap, the pasty white face and sloppy red lipstick? Aahh. It frames the extra inches of smile that his father carved into his face once upon a time. You may never see an actor assemble a more unhinged desire to avenge. He may well win a posthumous Oscar for his performance. He certainly makes Jack Nicholsonıs Joker in Batman (1989) look like a badly drawn cartoon.

    Thatıs the horror and thrill of this film. You know the story: Gotham City has grudgingly shifted into the 21st century. The usual crooks are still trying to bankrupt the world. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, aka Christian Bale, thunders around in his bullet-proof costumes and fancy cars but people have stopped believing in superheroes.

    Thrillseekers wonıt be disappointed ­ there are mind-boggling car chases and explosions. But in its physical and emotional scale it all feels like a Shakespearean tragedy or Greek epic rather than a film.

    The Dark Knight is about grown-up Gotham. Idiots get killed impersonating freaks such as Batman. And Batman himself is full of helpless unease. There are no camp bat-cave jokes when an old flame, played by a sulky cop (Maggie Gyllenhaal), is held to ransom by the Joker. She is deeply in love with the cityıs dynamic new firebrand, district attorney Harvey Dent (a magnificent Aaron Eckhart), who is the bright and eloquent future. Baleıs Batman boils with jealousy.

    This emotional turmoil would mean nothing without one small and terrifically seedy scene. Batman has lost control. His fingers are wrapped around the Jokerıs throat in a police cell after another terrorist insult, and the evil-doer is willing the caped crusader to beat him to a pulp. You canıt slide a cigarette paper between the two damaged characters.

    The Jokerıs request is frighteningly simple. All that stands between chaos and order, and between the Joker and Batman, is for the latter to pull off his mask and reveal himself. This seems to be the Jokerıs entire raison dıêtre, and the existential crisis at the heart of the film. Batmanıs vanity results in inexplicable horror. This is where Ledger takes control of the film.

    ³What doesnıt kill you makes you stranger² is a line muttered near the beginning of the film that suddenly comes alive. The chill realisation that Ledger has calmly laid ethical mind-traps under every gothic frame is what makes Christopher Nolanıs film, and the actorıs performance, so powerful. The parameters of the comic book blockbuster have shifted forever.

    12A, 152 minutes

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