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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


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As an example of someone who, in my book, does do sequenced music well is Thomas Newman. He's certainly formulaic as well, but I find his formula much more appealing and approachable.

He's a composer who, like James Horner, frustrates me with his redundancy, but nevertheless has some fine scores. I'm really looking forward to how he approaches the new Bond film, SKYFALL, which doesn't lie in his comfort zone.

Oh, this is a bit melodramatic, don't you think?

Oh, it's pure exaggeration (as I confess above).

Surely at least John Williams "passes muster".

Yeah, though his best scores are seemingly behind him. FWIW, my favorite Williams scores are the pre-STAR WARS ones.) But for some contemporary film composers I admire: Elliot Goldenthal, Osvaldo Golijov, Jonny Greenwood, Julio Iglesias, and Wjociech Kilar.

Who do you consider the greats, that no one today lives up to?

Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith (until the mid-90s), and Alex North are probably the big four in my mind. Herrmann and North are probably the best two film composers, full stop, but Barry and Goldsmith are also extraordinary, not just in the high quality of their scores, which is considerable, but in the sheer volume of their output.

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Yeah, though his best scores are seemingly behind him. FWIW, my favorite Williams scores are the pre-STAR WARS ones.) But for some contemporary film composers I admire: Elliot Goldenthal, Osvaldo Golijov, Jonny Greenwood, Julio Iglesias, and Wjociech Kilar.

Interesting. I adore Golijov as a concert composer, but am unaware of his film music. "Tenebrae" is truly stunning. I've only heard Greenwood in TWBB, and so am not ready to put my full weight behind him, but I sure did love some of those harmonic dissonances. I had actually thought about mentioning people like Bruno Coulais and Zbigniew Preisner, but wasn't sure, given the orchestral element of our conversation, if they qualified. Certainly, if this combination of our favs is any indication, film music by European composers is blossoming right now.

Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith (until the mid-90s), and Alex North are probably the big four in my mind. Herrmann and North are probably the best two film composers, full stop, but Barry and Goldsmith are also extraordinary, not just in the high quality of their scores, which is considerable, but in the sheer volume of their output.

I'd probably also add Max Steiner and Elmer Bernstein to that list. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the finest scores ever, in my book.

I'm glad you mentioned Barry, who was an understated genius. While I was on a vacation to Devon (England) last year, we set the radio in our rental car to BBC classical, and they were playing a lot of his music, as he had just passed away a few months before. It's painfully obvious how lacking some film music is when you put it shoulder to shoulder with other great classical works, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well his music stands up to the broader world of classical concert music. Certainly some of his music, even his scoring, is classical in it's own right.

By the way, I'd love to continue this conversation, but I fear we're very off topic of this thread. What's the protocol for splitting a thread off (other than copying and pasting)?

Edited by Joel C

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My review.

The Dark Knight Rises is very nearly the thunderous finale that Christopher Nolan’s unprecedented super-hero trilogy needed after the pitch-black nihilism that Heath Ledger’s Joker brought to The Dark Knight....

Yet something crucial is missing — a major omission that lingers over the whole trilogy, a question raised ever more insistently in all three films, and at best left unanswered, if not answered negatively. That question is: Is Gotham City worth saving? Are its citizens fundamentally selfish and ruthless, or is there good in them? Offered a choice between darkness and light, which will they choose? ...

In this battle, whether or not Gotham is ultimately destroyed or saved is not entirely the issue. The issue is, who is right: the Batman or Ra’s al Ghul, the Joker and Bane? Will the people of Gotham eat each other, or will they finally vindicate Batman’s hopes for them? To the extent that The Dark Knight Rises addresses this question, the answer isn’t encouraging...

If there is good in Gotham, now’s the time for it. With the police sidelined, convicts running loose and Bane’s army making the rules, we expect chaos and lawlessness. Fine. But is that all there is? The title tells us that the Dark Knight rises, but what about his city? Can Gotham rise to the occasion, rise up against its oppressor? Are ordinary Gothamites capable of heroism? Or are uniformed heroes (bearing bat symbols or police shields) with weapons on their belts our only hope?

The shadow of 9/11 has always lain over this franchise. The finale needed a United 93 moment: civilians banding together to spit in the eye of terror and say “Hell no. Not this time.” At least it needed to show ordinary Gothamites heroically rising to the occasion in other ways — caring for and protecting one another, sheltering strangers from the hordes, that sort of thing...

“Why do we fall, Bruce?” Thomas Wayne asked his son so long ago. In this film he falls again, and again, and again — though the title is The Dark Knight Rises for a reason.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Great review. And I agree. But it looks like you like it quite a bit more than I do. Oh, the lingering post-Nolan-movie migraine.

Edited by Overstreet

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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Sounds like an issue that's pretty pervasive in the genre, really. I don't recall many (any?) ordinary civilians respond aggressively against the aliens in "The Avengers", either. There's a lot of screaming and running in several directions on the citizenry's part in almost all of these movies while the costumed heroes earn their stripes.

I can't say it's ever bothered me much - perhaps I see myself more in the fleeing folks than in the "Let's Roll" civilian heroes on Flight 93, though I'd really like to think I'd be the latter if the situation called for it. But, it's an interesting angle to think about, and certainly a way I think the genre could be further improved (but they'd have to be careful with that as well - why do we even need the costumed guy?).

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Sounds like an issue that's pretty pervasive in the genre, really. I don't recall many (any?) ordinary civilians respond aggressively against the aliens in "The Avengers", either.

The Avengers is not the finale to a trilogy that keeps asking in each film, including this one, "Are these people worth saving? Is there good in them or are they basically selfish?"

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Sounds like an issue that's pretty pervasive in the genre, really. I don't recall many (any?) ordinary civilians respond aggressively against the aliens in "The Avengers", either.

The Avengers is not the finale to a trilogy that keeps asking in each film, including this one, "Are these people worth saving? Is there good in them or are they basically selfish?"

I haven't thought seriously along this theme...my own responses run in another direction...but maybe Sodom and Gomorrah is a better type than Jerusalem if people are inclined to read the film typologically rather than allegorically? (That may just be nonsense or not resonate with you...not an argument just off-the-cuff reflective listening.)

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SDG, how are you distinguishing between what people are and what they ought to be? Does people being "basically selfish" necessarily mean that they are not worth saving? Romans 4:5 comes to mind at least in the sense that "God justifies the wicked." I guess I've always felt like the Joker was both right and wrong--both a muse and a maniac.

Can't wait to see the film tomorrow!

p.s.: I mentioned this on Twitter, but the Joker is a muse to me is the sense that he's like O'Connor's Misfit.

Edited by Nicholas

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
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The Avengers is not the finale to a trilogy that keeps asking in each film, including this one, "Are these people worth saving? Is there good in them or are they basically selfish?"

True, but there's still an issue with a citizenry who aren't willing to do anything to protect others, only running and hiding which is counter to the wider range of real world human response to crises. I'm addressing a problem (a minor one in my view, though) that's larger than the questions a film chooses to impose on itself.

(I loved "The Avengers", btw, and the Nolan Batman films I've seen so far, so I'm not making any attempt to dig at Marvel as such)

Edited by bloop
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The two situations are completely disparate. The attack on Manhattan in The Avengers was an utterly unprecedented crisis of extraterrestrial origin and inconceivable scale, striking like lightning -- and with powerful heroes on hand obviously much better equipped to deal with the problem.

The crisis in The Dark Knight Rises represents the third time Gothamites have been threatened with weapons of mass destruction, and the second time it's been a flamboyant, terrifying villain -- and this time the crisis wears on for months, and there's no sign of heroes or even police to save them. The villain's weapons are powerful, but after months of siege there would be plenty of opportunity for resistance as well as ordinary solidarity and decency.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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The two situations are completely disparate. The attack on Manhattan in The Avengers was an utterly unprecedented crisis of extraterrestrial origin and inconceivable scale, striking like lightning -- and with powerful heroes on hand obviously much better equipped to deal with the problem.

Yet, I still think that in such a situation, some of us regular people might just try to do something about it. They may (likely will) get squashed, but I doubt the whole population would shrink back, even if they have a few allies who are a better match for the invaders, especially given the scale of the invasion.

I need to see TDKR.

Edited by bloop
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The two situations are completely disparate. The attack on Manhattan in The Avengers was an utterly unprecedented crisis of extraterrestrial origin and inconceivable scale, striking like lightning -- and with powerful heroes on hand obviously much better equipped to deal with the problem.

The crisis in The Dark Knight Rises represents the third time Gothamites have been threatened with weapons of mass destruction, and the second time it's been a flamboyant, terrifying villain -- and this time the crisis wears on for months, and there's no sign of heroes or even police to save them. The villain's weapons are powerful, but after months of siege there would be plenty of opportunity for resistance as well as ordinary solidarity and decency.

I haven't seen TDKR yet, but the scene early in the previous film, in which an overweight guy in spandex with a shotgun tries to take on the underworld, seems to suggest that Nolan believes the citizens of Gotham aren't up to the task of active resistance. The end of the movie, during which the Joker is dealt a crushing defeat when the citizenry refuses to blow itself up in the boats, is more a case of passive resistance.

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When I see this movie (it might not be for several weeks, so I imagine this thread will have ballooned even further by then), I will be watching Commissioner Gordon's role to gauge Nolan's attitude towards Gotham, since Gordon is pretty much the avatar of Gotham's future.

(Nolan's vision for Gotham seems to be authoritarian, politically, so it doesn't surprise me that non-police citizens don't have an active role.. except for Batman, who is being gradually captured by the authoritarian impulse. See Ken's post.)

That's just how eye roll.

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When I see this movie (it might not be for several weeks, so I imagine this thread will have ballooned even further by then), I will be watching Commissioner Gordon's role to gauge Nolan's attitude towards Gotham, since Gordon is pretty much the avatar of Gotham's future.

Reading through some reviews, it seems that Gordon-Levitt's character may be one to watch to that end as well.

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The Avengers is not the finale to a trilogy that keeps asking in each film, including this one, "Are these people worth saving? Is there good in them or are they basically selfish?"

SDG, how are you distinguishing between what people are and what they ought to be? Does people being "basically selfish" necessarily mean that they are not worth saving?

Exactly, put another way, isn't it possible that people could be inherently bad (not good) AND basically selfish and then someone could decide that they were still worth saving?

(Nolan's vision for Gotham seems to be authoritarian, politically, so it doesn't surprise me that non-police citizens don't have an active role.. except for Batman, who is being gradually captured by the authoritarian impulse. See Ken's post.)

Not quite sure what you mean by this. If Nolan is thinking of the French Revolution, then authoritarianism is simply the natural result of the mob. Anarchy is historically proven to breed authoritarianism. But that fact, in and of itself, does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that authoritarianism is the only answer for the government of fallen man.

Edited by Persiflage
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I mean that I see THE DARK KNIGHT, from Dent's courtroom fisticuffs to Wayne's cell-phone monitoring system, to be full of allusions to the necessity of control through power, and power as troubling but cool. I'd extend that argument to the characterization of the Joker, who is a figure of raw power that must be reckoned with. Thus, FWIW, I'm grappling here more with the Joker's brand of anarchy (terrorism) than Bane's, which you've mentioned seems to have echoes of the French Revolution. Also FWIW, I'm clearly not saying that Nolan is uncritical of authoritarianism--although I think in the end he makes his peace with it quite completely.

I also mean that I see Batman's decision to engage in the "noble lie" to exemplify the same mindset--that of "the people don't deserve to decide for themselves"--which underlies a authoritarian governing philosophy.

That's just how eye roll.

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I mean that I see THE DARK KNIGHT, from Dent's courtroom fisticuffs to Wayne's cell-phone monitoring system, to be full of allusions to the necessity of control through power, and power as troubling but cool.

Even Lucius is capable of savoring the experience of manipulation through power-play. How does he try to silence the guy who learns Batman's true identity? By reminding him of the power of the one most likely to be offended by the revelation. And Lucius revels in that moment.

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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I mean that I see THE DARK KNIGHT, from Dent's courtroom fisticuffs to Wayne's cell-phone monitoring system, to be full of allusions to the necessity of control through power, and power as troubling but cool. I'd extend that argument to the characterization of the Joker, who is a figure of raw power that must be reckoned with. Thus, FWIW, I'm grappling here more with the Joker's brand of anarchy (terrorism) than Bane's, which you've mentioned seems to have echoes of the French Revolution. Also FWIW, I'm clearly not saying that Nolan is uncritical of authoritarianism--although I think in the end he makes his peace with it quite completely.

I also mean that I see Batman's decision to engage in the "noble lie" to exemplify the same mindset--that of "the people don't deserve to decide for themselves"--which underlies a authoritarian governing philosophy.

Even Lucius is capable of savoring the experience of manipulation through power-play. How does he try to silence the guy who learns Batman's true identity? By reminding him of the power of the one most likely to be offended by the revelation. And Lucius revels in that moment.

Great point!

Interesting. But I'd be wrong to characterize both your understandings of authoritarianism or manipulation as merely the exercise of power, wouldn't I? It's rare that you are ever going to take a look at the deliberate exercise of power without confronting the idea that "might makes right." But, then again, the understanding that "might makes right" is wrong does not mean that one never ought to use might for anything at all. The next question then naturally arises - what are those things that one ought to exercise might or power for? Lucius might have enjoyed putting a stop to that particular threat by making another threat, but does that make his "power-play" a bad thing?

David, you say that the series is "full of allusions to the necessity of control through power" as if there's something wrong with that. How are such allusions different from Madison's "if men were angels" proposition in Federalist #51? Nolan has already said that he was thinking about the French Revolution when he made this film. He's been asking questions about the inherent corruptness of human nature from the beginning of his film career. And, while I still need to see this film (later tonight, hopefully), it sounds to me like Bane is more authoritarian than the other villains. The Joker's nihilism and anarchy are, according to philosophers like Edmund Burke, the sorts of things that naturally lead to authoritarianism. The consequence of the French Revolution was Napoleon. The consequence of the Joker's philosophy is Bane. The consequence of the unchecked mob is, eventually, a tyrant.

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Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm so far out in left field in my non-review meditations on this film that I have even a sense of who my audience is for a response like this, but, anyway, here you go:

Nolan, for me, became the philosophical equivalent of the tour bus driver whose job it is to make sure you don’t spend more than thirty minutes at the Sistine Chapel because there are still three more stops to make before we head back to the hotel. As such, I found myself more resentful of the superficial treatment of big ideas than I did appreciative of their existence. That’s not universal. I know one companion opined that messy, undeveloped ideas are still better for her than the vacuousness of most superhero films. I try not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but, by the same token, if you are going to demand three hours of my attention (and the film is both lagging and grueling in spurts) then I sort of think you are claiming a certain amount of presumption and can’t turn around and complain I am the one who is asking too much.

I then spend the bulk of my time looking at Ihab Hassan's "The Eleven ‘Definiens’ of the term Postmodern,” and pondering how many of these terms are illustrated in the Nolan/Batman trilogy. Yeah, it's one of those kind of essays.

Edited by kenmorefield
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David, you say that the series is "full of allusions to the necessity of control through power" as if there's something wrong with that.

That's not what I was trying to do. I was trying to be solely descriptive, in order to avoid having to reveal my political views.

Trying again: The democratic/egalitarian ideal can be contrasted with the monarchic/authoritarian ideal thus: In general, people are capable of resolving their differences peaceably, through discussion and compromise, and doing so well --vs.-- in general, people's differences can be resolved well by the enlightened (or, perhaps, divinely graced) few.

Once again, purely descriptively, there are 4 and only 4 camps one can fall into in response, (1) always "yes" to egalitarianism, (2) always "yes" to authoritarianism, (3) "no" to both, or (4) sometimes 1, sometimes the other, based on circumstances. (3), taken to its natural conclusion, seems to indicate people simply cannot resolve their differences, which few would be willing to accept, but my question is, can we say with certainty that (3) isn't actually what Nolan believes? That, despite a few notable successes, the future of mankind of dark indeed? Then again, couldn't we reasonably fit the first 2 movies into (4), with the particular circumstances of Gotham calling for authoritarianism? Or perhaps, is Nolan's examination of egalitarianism so lacking that he actually falls into (2)?

(Sorry if my reticence about my views is unsatisfying. Politics, internet, you know.)

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

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I mean that I see THE DARK KNIGHT, from Dent's courtroom fisticuffs to Wayne's cell-phone monitoring system, to be full of allusions to the necessity of control through power, and power as troubling but cool.

Even Lucius is capable of savoring the experience of manipulation through power-play. How does he try to silence the guy who learns Batman's true identity? By reminding him of the power of the one most likely to be offended by the revelation. And Lucius revels in that moment.

Yes, he does. But I wonder if it has less to do with a lust for power and more to do with an appropriate response to an employee seeking ten million dollars a year for the rest of his life...

Edited by Nicholas

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
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