Badly thought out way to get the bad thoughts out.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Dark Knight: Reviewed

Everyone on the Internet's been talking about 'Batman: The Dark Knight', the new block-busting, barn-storming, ball-decaying franchiscular sequel from Director Christopher whatshisface, starring Patrick Bateman and a corpse in clown make up. Despite the fact it hasn't got either Jim Carrey's rubbery face or Michelle Pfeiffer's rubbery arse in it, every man and his dog-faced girlfriend have been packing into cinemas across the country to gawp at it through handfuls of hot dog since its release last Friday.

What is this? This that so grandly beckons? Is it a cultural search for the darkness within us all, a yearning for apocalyptic violence to erupt in front of our imaginations' minds eyes', giving securely leashed yet cathartic succour to that greedy insectile-eyed part within us all, that which has expected and, indeed, demanded fanatic, fantastic violence to tear our groins limb from limb in this post 9/11 terror system?

Or, are we seeing a cyclic repeat, this time on a global scale, and on an aesthetically redefined and refined level, of the tearsnami that followed our Lady Diana's death by paving squad in 1997? After all, wasn't it an unexpressed thought of all of us who stood along that funereal parade route that black September midday, that Diana might be be painted to look like Ronald McDonald would look the day after they sold the billionth Big Mac, then to be buried in a batcave outside Buckingham Palace, oozing into the ether under a gigantic hill of guava-plop and cockroaches?

Or was that just me, holding that thought for all humanity, much as Jesus did when he was first taking a couple of nails for the team? In any case, maybe we just want to confront and master death by demonstrating to ourselves again that, through the infinite power of CGI, we human beings can now resurrect and sustain a stiffy in much the same way that God once would have had to have done. For irrefutable proof of this lust for death-twatting, look no further than the popularity of 'Titanic', 'The Lord of the Rings Trilogy', 'The Dark Knight' and of the hit new Pixar flick 'Wall-E', which stars River Pheonix and Tupac Shakur.

Unfortunately, I haven't had the slight disappointment of seeing 'The Dark Knight' yet. But, handily enough, I am of the opinion that, since we draw for our creative avatars from a huge collective consciousness that somehow resembles a chamber pot, then, by such as this logic, if I watch anything with the right critical parameters in mind, I will be able to assess ''The Dark Knight'' and it's place in the cultural mileu as if I had seen the very film itself that I am analysing. This is a new style of criticism I am hereby pioneering called ''Jungian Sloth Conjecture''.

In order for me to give ''The Dark Knight'' a fair ride, I have selected a film that I am well disposed towards, and that I know intimately enough to not be tricked by my sluggish memory into misrepresenting. The film I watched was entitled ''Driivng instructor fucksa big boobed pupil'', and can be found at any good pornography distributor online. So, what did I think of ''The Dark Night'' (Dir. Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Tupac Shakur)?

First thing's first, I have to say that the Batmobile is looking a little ropey in this latest installment. In other films in the series, the Batmobile has always seemed sleek and hyper-technologically fattened. It has resembled the cobalt stealth-fist of a military arm that is muscular with finance. In 'The Dark Knight' the Batmobile is painted mustard yellow, has beaded front-seats and an exhaust that can clearly be heard spluttering in the opening moments of the first act, as it pulls up in front of the Joker's lair, driven by the steely-eyed Bale as Bruce Wayne a.k.a vigilante hero Batman. Batman himself looks somewhat bereft in his new-look costume - in fact, he could scarcely be said to resemble the classic Batman at all, in his stonewashed jeans, cowboy boots and ''Long Beach Gymnasium'' vest. Perhaps ''The Dark Knight'', in rendering both herose and carriage so sparsely, is reminding us of the global economic meltdown that is striking beef prices dead outside as we shelter in our cine-cave, much as our hero takes refuge in his owl-cave?

I had been told of Bale's intensity before seeing 'The Dark Knight'. I had heard the stories - of how he has a red LED installed onto his eyebrow that alerts people when it is too hot to stroke his forehead, of how he has told journalists that he so ravenously inhabited the part of Batman during shooting ''The Dark Knight'' that he would often dress up his Guatemalan maids as low-life criminals and beat them around the face and stomach with his fists. And yet I was still taken aback by the transformation he has gone through - he must weight something close to three hundred and fifty pounds now, and has had his nipple pierced, a symbolic act that suggests the obsessive, steel-cold, circling of a mind in thrall of a physical eruption. The tribal tattoo that adorns his shoulder also invites the audience to ask - just what tribe has Bruce Wayne been training himself to new levels of endurance and combat readiness with, and in which exotic and cinomogenic locale?

In an echo of the disorientating effects of his previous film ''Memento'' (starring Joe Scully), Nolan is content to leave such details to the viewer's imagination. Gotham City, previously portrayed in grand, richly evocative terms, has also been scaled down – we only catch glimpses of it through the Batmobile's windows. This evasive approach is also taken by Nolan towards the narrative itself. Friends of mine who had already seen ''The Dark Knight'' told me that it had a narrative arc that was somewhat difficult to follow, forcing the audience to make logical leaps almost as great as those that Batman makes from skyscraper to skyscraper. They weren't kidding. How Batman managed to get his penis in the Joker's mouth within two minutes of beginning their driving lesson beggars belief.

It is a tribute to Nolan's visionary power, his ability to impart gripping momentum to complex and obscure narratives that I was rapidly and easily able to accept that there should be a cul-de-sac only twenty yards or so away from the Joker's lair that could play host to a viscerally violent and extremely loud fist fight, and that this climactic showdown could - unconventionally - start within moments of the film beginning, and continue for the duration of the film uninterrupted. Of course, anyone who has read about Ledger in the press recently, and knows the perverse anti-corpse mania operating in youth-obsessed Hollywood will already know that the outcome must come off in jammy ALIVE bastard Bale's favour, and thus will suspect that Batman's fist must ultimately conquer the Joker's anus and vagina, but this is still gripping stuff.

It is only after Batman has flipped the Joker over with a power-lock in order to symbolically sodomise him over the hand-brake that Bale's famed intensity really comes to the fore. Much has been made of Bale's decision to give Batman a gravelly voice, with some suggesting that the almost comically gutteral gesticulations Bale has his throat perform detract somewhat from the dignity of the film. I am compelled to disagree. If anything, lines such ''Take this fucking meat inside your clam'' are given an almost Biblical flavour by Bale's rasping tonsils.

Meanwhile, Ledger, as the ^Joker^, is a complete revelation. Having seen the young actor's performance slavishly bombarded with plaudits by both esteemed critics and less-esteemed friends of mine alike, I was, I admit, somewhat unwilling to believe that Ledger's performance could live up to the hype surrounding it. I was wrong. Watching Ledger convulse and scream in the back seat of the Batmobile, grasping maniacally at the door handles as if reaching for the very limits of human reason, thrusting his face into the upholstered leather with unearthly wails of consternation and lust, I could only shudder in my seat at his extraordinary portrayal of insanity. Ledger, like Bale, looks completely transformed in his role, with long, sweat matted hair, curvaceous hips and a tattoo of an arrow-pierced heart above his buttocks. But the promising young actor is still visible through the eye-shadow, hoop earrings and writhing tongue-ring – and it is clear to this critic that he is tragically committed to inhabiting a deviant consciousness so masochistic in its nihilism as to demand again and again for Bale to insert a fist up its anus.

Nolan directs his action in a masterly and courageous manner, choosing to capture the fight on one hand-held camera, a decision that gives conscious homage to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rope', and which serves to transmit to its audience a sense of the monomaniacal obsessional perspective that occupies the mind of both Batman and his adversary. Special effects are used sparingly, as if in conscious rejection of the CGI mania that has infected Hollywood in the last decade. Mostly they are used to give realistic touches, such as when CGI saliva and animotronic snot peppers the camera lens. The one exception occurs during what studio execs would call 'the money shot' of the film, in which Batman vanquishes his foe finally by drowning him in some of the most convincingly realised CGI milk I've seen since Pixar's 'Ratatouille'.

This is a dark, expansive work which questions the limitations of justice, the justifiable use of force as an instructional tool, and the role that mobile technology plays in shaping our transitory and unstable psyches in a 21st century that must constantly have the handbrake on. As Hamlet says, in the play of the same name, ''What a piece of work a bat is.'' Come to that, Nolan challenges us to consider, what a piece of work a man is too!

Here,the villainous Joker stares into the glass-like edges of morality, while ingesting a set of car keys rectally.