Friday, January 16, 2009

1 Bourbon 1 Scotch 1 Book... or Movie... or TV Show...?

A Second Look at The Dark Knight

Watching this again on the small screen, I almost wish Christopher Nolan could take a plot like this and stretch it out over a season of shows on HBO. I could spend twenty minutes listening to Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent discussing RICO laws with the Mayor. Imagine a half-hour devoted to Harvey Dent's backstory. God DAMN it imagine a full hour devoted to Heath Ledger's Joker.

And there's one thing I feel a little weird about. This Joker is not the one Alan Moore wrote in The Killing Joke-- this is no failed comedian with bad luck, a dead wife and nothing left to lose. I read a review on Ain't It Cool a week after the movie came out, somebody who didn't know jack-crap about comics, and the reviewer said he thought of the Joker as a rich spoiled kid with a sociopathic streak who was tired of life. Much as I hate to admit it, as a comics purist, that sounds about right. Sure, obviously his stated goal for much of the film is to drive Gotham's people so crazy with fear that they'll tear the whole city down on their own heads. But under the surface is an angry, selfish... not even a man anymore, a thing who just wants someone else to kill him. Thinking about Heath Ledger these days drives me crazy. "Going out on top" doesn't even begin to cover it. I think that on film he barely begins with the levels of horrific pathology within his character, even though it's obvious that off-camera he was plumbing the depths to get where he went (with the character, not "where he went" as in when he died). With Chris Nolan, he created a new Joker. I hope he filters down into the comics eventually.

Conversely, yet similarly, upon repeated viewings I'm not sure how to feel about the new Two-Face origin either. Aside from the obvious weirdness (to we who grew up on the brilliant '90s Animated Series and went on to love the shit out of The Long Halloween) of one iconic villain creating another, I was used to the Two-Face who became obsessed with the duality of enforcing the law and breaking it, of good luck and bad luck... of the two of them, before this movie, Two-Face was driven by what you could maybe in a loose sense call philosophy, while the Joker was more driven by (again, if you can call it that) an emotion. There's nothing wrong with the way Harvey Dent's story unfolds in The Dark Knight; it's (yet again, in a sense) a logical progression of plot points. But I kind of wistfully remember the bitter freak who could no longer relate to normal people and could only decide which voice in his head to listen to by flipping a coin. Nolan's-- hell, society's-- fears of violent anarchy and the randomness of life are perfectly personified by his Joker and Two-Face, and the two make a way better pair than Harvey and the Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow, or... you know... those other ones. In that movie. You know the one. My girlfriend and I agree though, that Brittany Murphy as Harley Quinn and Bryce Dallas Howard or Thora Birch as Poison Ivy would be a hell of a movie. Maybe not as psychologically gripping, but... still entertaining. (Holy shit, Thora Birch and Brittany Murphy are going to be in a horror movie together later this year. I AM THE PAGEMASTER! Or... something.)
There are stories all over the internet about Chris Nolan "maybe" plotting a third movie. Him and David Goyer are talking over whether there's another story in their Gotham or not. Please. As if Warner will let them just let go of the reins. May Thor strike me down if they cram Angelina Jolie into the leather Catwoman suit (for Christ's sake doesn't she have literally a dozen children to take care of now?).
I usually hate when a director or actor or some kind of celebrity fucker is getting interviewed and they talk about how everyone's more interested in the villains than the heroes-- Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, etc... but damn. I feel stupid trying to disagree with that philosophy now.

I was going to talk about the new Battlestar Galactica episode I just saw, but it's late and I'm tired.

NEW DRINK THAT I LOVE: I usually don't get along with dark rum too well, but a Dark and Stormy has made me reconsider things. Pour a shot of rum into a tumbler-- I'd never had Sailor Jerry before, but it's great. It's got a vaguely caramel taste and smell to it. So pour in a shot of Sailor Jerry, add some ice and fill the glass with ginger beer-- not weak-ass, HFCS-laden ginger ale, but Reed's Ginger Brew. Add a little slice of lime. Damn. It's kind of like a cream soda that gets you tipso. Anyway, yeah, Dark Knight...

Rating: Single Malt Scotch. Duh.
Album: Eddie Murphy Raw. Does that even count? Dude. Eddie's purple leather suit is kind of Joker-ish.

"Evening, Commissioner..."

No comments: