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The Dark Knight (2008)


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Don't take this the wrong way, because I obviously haven't seen the film yet, but if Heath Ledger was still living, do you think he'd be getting Oscar buzz for this performance? We are, after all, talking about a comic-book movie, no matter how much gravitas Nolan and Co. have brought to the material.

It wouldn't be a first, getting a nomination posthumously or a nomination for a comic book movie. Peter Finch won posthumously for Network, and Al Pacino got nominated for best supporting actor for Dick Tracy. A great performance is a great performance, and shouldn't be weighted on the basis of the film's genre. Unfortunately, that is not always the case - two performances come to my mind that were completely overlooked by the Academy, probably because of genre-bias. Christopher Walken delivered one of his best performances as Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone. And Jeff Goldblum gave his best performance in The Fly.

Hmmm... it didn't occur to me at the time that both these films are by David Cronenberg. Maybe it was a Cronenberg-bias.

Network also was a drama that had multiple nominations. I didn't realize that Pacino was nominated for Dick Tracy, though that was at a time in his career when he could sneeze in a film and get an Oscar nomination for it. Also, I'm not denigrating the fact that it is a comic-book movie; I'm only speaking of how the Academy Awards might view such a performance under ordinary circumstances. If Ledger is as fantastic as the hype, then I would by all means like to see him get a nomination.

LOL. I was editing my response with a notation of Academy bias, as you posted your response. I didn't mean to assume that you were denigrating a comic book movie, and now I see we were on the same wave length as to what the Academy looks for in it's nominating process.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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jsyarb wrote:

: I didn't realize that Pacino was nominated for Dick Tracy, though that was at a time in his career when he could sneeze in a film and get an Oscar nomination for it.

Actually, not quite.

While it is true that Pacino was nominated five times for films that came out in the 1970s, his nomination for Dick Tracy was the first in over a decade. In fact, at that time, Pacino's career had been in a slump for several years: after the flop that was Revolution (1985), he didn't appear in any films AT ALL until Sea of Love (1989) brought things back to life. He followed that up with Dick Tracy and The Godfather Part III, both of which came out in 1990 -- and it was the comic-book movie, not the Godfather movie, that he was nominated for. Many saw that as a snub, as I recall; one pundit even asked whether Pacino would ACCEPT an Oscar that year, given the circumstances. Finally, in 1992, he was nominated again -- twice! -- and he won Best Actor for Scent of a Woman (while losing Best Supporting Actor, for Glengarry Glen Ross, to someone else). And, now that he finally has his long "overdue" Oscar, he has never been nominated since.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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IGN's review:

It isn't an overstatement to call The Dark Knight the most sophisticated and ambitious work of its kind. Superior to all three Spider-Man installments and even its amazing predecessor in terms of conceptualization, writing, acting, and direction, Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins is a dark, complex and disturbing film, not the least of which because it grafts its heroics onto the blueprint of actual reality rather than that of spandex-clad supermen. And while such a distinction may make little difference to those already eagerly anticipating the return of the caped crusader, suffice it to say that The Dark Knight qualifies as the first official comic book adaptation that truly succeeds in being a great artistic achievement in its own right.

And concerning Ledger's performance:

Finally, there's Ledger, whose performance I suspect will be the subject of many analyses of all sorts in the weeks and months to come. What he does with The Joker is, quite frankly, nothing short of transcendent. Early in the film he explains the origins of his trademark facial scars, and you worry for a moment that the filmmakers are giving this psychopath some kind of convenient explanation, which, talented though he was, Ledger won't be able to overcome. But by the third time he's explained where they come from -- each time telling a different tale -- you realize that Ledger was a master of his craft, only in his final years finding roles that truly offered him the chance to explore that mastery. His is the definitive movie Joker, and he owns the role and achieves a level of abject insanity that is terrifying as it is irresistible.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Here's yet another critic calling for an Oscar for Ledger:

New York Post

I think this might be getting a little out of hand now, especially because, as has already been noted, I doubt this discussion would even be happening if Heath Ledger were still alive. Regardless of how great his performance might be, the Academy just doesn't nominate movies like this.

That said, I'm afraid I'm getting swept up in the hype (for the movie itself, not just Ledger's performance) and can hardly wait to see this. I saw the opening scene on IMAX (it played before I Am Legend on IMAX a few months ago) and it looked incredible.

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I think this might be getting a little out of hand now, especially because, as has already been noted, I doubt this discussion would even be happening if Heath Ledger were still alive. Regardless of how great his performance might be, the Academy just doesn't nominate movies like this.

Maybe

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Moriarty tells us to dial down our expectations, and that too much hyperbole is flying around.

And then he goes and inflates those expectations all over again.

And he's talking about both Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Moriarty tells us to dial down our expectations, and that too much hyperbole is flying around.

And then he goes and inflates those expectations all over again.

And he's talking about both Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.

That's one of the more thought-provoking and worthwhile things I've read on AICN in a while. Hmmm.

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Moriarty tells us to dial down our expectations, and that too much hyperbole is flying around.

And then he goes and inflates those expectations all over again.

And he's talking about both Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.

That's one of the more thought-provoking and worthwhile things I've read on AICN in a while. Hmmm.

I second that. I think this review transcends the AICN genre. Bottom line: this is a review that is built to last. When someone says to me,

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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Moriarty tells us to dial down our expectations, and that too much hyperbole is flying around.

And then he goes and inflates those expectations all over again.

And he's talking about both Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.

That's one of the more thought-provoking and worthwhile things I've read on AICN in a while. Hmmm.

I second that. I think this review transcends the AICN genre. Bottom line: this is a review that is built to last. When someone says to me,

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Sure. Moriarty does a great job - most of the time. I find more insightful commentary from him than from most professional critics. He also wears his film love earnestly on his sleeve. My previous comment was just a play on something he said in his review and the recent comments about AICN (and Harry in particular) on this site.

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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Michael Bay's Rejected The Dark Knight Script, or, the awesomest movie that might have been.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Justin Chang, Variety:

Having memorably explored the Caped Crusader's origins in "Batman Begins," director Christopher Nolan puts all of Gotham City under a microscope in "The Dark Knight," the enthralling second installment of his bold, bracing and altogether heroic reinvention of the iconic franchise. An ambitious, full-bodied crime epic of gratifying scope and moral complexity, this is seriously brainy pop entertainment that satisfies every expectation raised by its hit predecessor and then some. That should also hold true at the box office, with Heath Ledger's justly anticipated turn as the Joker adding to the must-see excitement surrounding the Warner Bros. release. . . .

There don't SEEM to be any serious spoilers in that review; the closest thing to one is something that anyone familiar with the comics and the origins of certain characters could probably have guessed.

The review also ends with this sentence, which seems erroneous: "Exteriors were lensed in Chicago aside from an early scenic detour to Hong Kong, which marks the first time a Batman film has ventured outside Gotham City." Um, what about all that globetrotting that Bruce Wayne did in the entire first act of Batman Begins? But apart from that, yeah, one of the great things about Chris Nolan's Batman films is that they all seem to take place in the real world -- and I do mean WORLD, not just city. The chintzy Burton-Schumacher films never got off the soundstage, and they looked it.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Anne Thompson (whose interview with Nolan includes what sounds like a spoiler, albeit one that Aaron Eckhart gave away in his L.A. Times interview a few months back):

My instincts told me when I first saw The Dark Knight trailer: Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins follow-up would fall into the trap of the summer tentpole sequel. It's not entirely his fault. The studio gives him his marching orders: top the last one. Make it bigger, better, bolder, more FX, more action, more scale and scope and characters (read toys). What else should a poor boy to do with $180 million?

Nolan delivered on the first Batman reboot and he does it again here. The Dark Knight will work at the boxoffice and keep the franchise alive.

[ snip ]

Somehow, David S. Goyer (who wrote the story), and screenwriter Nolan brothers Chris and Jonathan manage to play out all these plot strands. But they wind up with a half-hour finale on top of the two hour main movie . . .

[ snip ]

Oddly, because The Dark Knight is busy servicing all these other characters, the movie doesn't spend enough time with its leading man, Bruce Wayne/Batman (BTW, Batman's basso-growly voice is silly).

[ snip ]

My fantasy of the ideal version of this movie doesn't matter a whit, because it will play. The complexities of the plot are more fun to talk about than anything since Wall-E or Iron Man, and that makes Dark Knight one of the best movies of the summer. Maybe some dark over-nourishment is better than a simpler, structurally perfect masterpiece, after all.

Personally, as one who found Iron Man and WALL*E both interesting and enjoyable to a point, but somewhat lacking, I hope The Dark Knight can SURPASS them both.

Interesting comment about the "half-hour finale on top of the two hour main movie". Devin Faraci said something similar: "Plus I'd ague that one of The Dark Knight's flaws is that it doesn't have a strong storyline - there are too many detours and sidetracks, and the film climaxes at the end of the second act and, in many ways, becomes its own sequel in the third act. That's not a major problem - the movie remains good and compelling - but I think the story is disjointed enough to render it non-revolutionary."

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter:

"The Dark Knight" is pure adrenaline. Returning director Christopher Nolan, having dispensed with his introspective, moody origin story, now puts the Caped Crusader through a decathlon of explosions, vehicle flips, hand-to-hand combat, midair rescues and pulse-pounding suspense.

Nolan is one of our smarter directors. He builds movies around ideas and characters, and "Dark Knight" is no exception. The ideas here are not new to the movie world of cops and criminal, but in the context of a comic book movie, they ring out with startling clarity. In other words, you expect moralistic underpinnings in a Martin Scorsese movie; in a Batman movie, they hit home with renewed vigor.

[ snip ]

One wishes Nolan had cast a different actor than Eckhart as this White Knight. Although very good at playing duplicitousness and irony -- witness "Thank You for Smoking" -- Eckhart never quite seems the crusader presumably intended. He will, of course, turn into Two-Face, but you sense this propensity too early.

The Joker, though, sees everyone as two-faced, even Batman, in his estimation. When confronted by pure evil -- and there is a kind of purity to the Joker's rule of no rules -- what can a vigilante do but violate his own moral code? The Joker means to push Batman beyond those limits.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Michael Bay's Rejected The Dark Knight Script, or, the awesomest movie that might have been.

This ... is ... hysterical!

"...because she's also the smartest woman in the world."

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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David Poland:

What Nolan is clearly reaching for is a Godfather-esque effort. You can feel all the corrections of his first film

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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RE: Bruce Wayne living in a penthouse instead of Wayne Manor... Wayne Manor burned down in the first film, and we know that the Joker was already active as that movie came to an end (when Batman takes the Joker card and says, "I'll look into it.") Is it possible that this movie takes place IMMEDIATELY after Batman Begins and Wayne Manor simply hasn't been rebuilt yet?

I'm extremely curious about this "coda/second movie" that occupies the last 30 minutes of the film.

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According to Fandango pre-sales, The Dark Knight may break Spider-Man 3's opening weekend record. The film has sold out so many of it's midnight showings, that some theatres are adding 3am and 6am showings on opening day.

According to Ted Hong, vice president of marketing for the online ticket service Fandango, the unusual 6 a.m. show times are indicators of unusually strong interest.

"The Dark Knight is our fastest selling film in wide release this year," Hong says. "It trumps Iron Man, Sex and the City, Indiana Jones and WALL-E at the same point in their sales cycles

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Richard Corliss, Time:

There's a beautiful high-angle shot, early in The Dark Knight, that looks down on Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in full Batman regalia as he perches atop a Gotham skyscraper, surveying the city he lives to protect, then leaping off and spreading his majestic bat wings to swoop down into the night. Bruce's trajectory is also the film's. It traces a descent into moral anarchy, and each of its major characters will hit bottom. Some will never recover, broken by the touch of evil or by finding it, like a fatal infection, in themselves.

The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's second chapter in his revival of the DC Comics franchise, will hit theaters with all the hoopla and fanboy avidity of the summer season's earlier movies based on comic books. It's the fifth, and three of the first four (Iron Man, Wanted and Hellboy II) have been terrific or just short of it. (The Incredible Hulk: not so hot.) It's been one of the best summers in memory for flat-out blockbuster entertainment, and in the wow category, the Nolan film doesn't disappoint. True to format, it has a crusading hero, a sneering villain in Heath Ledger's Joker, spectacular chases

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter, I'm curious... do these articles have any effect on your expectations for this film?

I mean, you seemed very concerned that I was excited for the release of WALL-E, and that I was ready to blog in favor of a Best Picture nomination *if* the film in fact deserved it. You seemed worried that I would be so charged up about it.

You, meanwhile, are piling on the links here, and saying "Hmmmmm" a lot. Since I wouldn't want to presume, I'm asking... does this suggest that the articles are affecting your expectations, or how you'll watch the movie in question?

I don't really care that much. I just find it interesting that you were so concerned about my expectations for WALL-E, and yet you're providing a lot of material here that could easily influence our expectations for Dark Knight... and certainly *seem* to be shaping your own expectations.

I'm probably way, way, way off base. If so, just disregard the question.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Overstreet wrote:

: Peter, I'm curious... do these articles have any effect on your expectations for this film?

I think ANYthing we see or hear about a film prior to seeing it for ourselves is bound to have an effect of some sort. But does it really seem like I'm "charging myself up" over this one?

I do have a particular interest in this film, inasmuch as I was an avid collector of Batman comics in the late '80s and early '90s and Chris Nolan's Batman Begins was the first movie to come anywhere CLOSE to telling the Batman story the way the comics did. (Burton and Schumacher? Please.) The fact that I'm a fan of Nolan's earlier film Memento, and I think his remake of Insomnia is one of the better Hollywood-remakes-of-a-foreign-film I've ever seen, certainly give me reason to believe that he may do a decent job here, too. On the other hand, I have qualms with aspects of most of his films, perhaps especially The Prestige, and the Dark Knight preview that played in IMAX theatres last year (which I have only seen on the internet) didn't get me all THAT excited (though it certainly didn't give me reason to despair either), so I'm curious to hear what sort of flaws people think they may have noticed in this particular film now that they have seen the whole thing.

I certainly have no interest in posting nothing but raves. I AM interested in posting things that made me think, and might make other people think too.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Kevin Buist asks: "How low can the viral marketing go?"

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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