Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ten Things I Hate About The Dark Knight

No no, don't worry, I'm not turning heel on arguably my favourite movie ever. I'm just directing you to the title of this very entertaining YouTube mash-up of the Dark Knight and Ten Things I Hate About You trailers. After four months of thinking about it, my list of qualms with TDK is still just a few too many reaction shots of passersby to the Batmobile. That's it.* In a 150-minute movie.

* = My biggest pet peeve about other people's pet peeves about TDK is how many people disliked Christian Bale's "Batman voice." Seriously? What's the problem with it? Logically it makes sense that Bruce Wayne would disguise his voice as Batman, since his actual voice is fairly well-known (though, interestingly, Bale makes his 'dimwit playboy Bruce' voice sound more than a little like Patrick Bateman). This is another small detail of the Nolan films that is unique to Batman movies, when Batman sounded basically just like West, Keaton, Clooney, Kilmer, etc. The only real variation came in the Batman cartoons and the great voice actor Kevin Conroy, but even then, the differentiation between Batman and Bruce wasn't enough to fool, say, an experienced cop like Jim Gordon, if you're looking at things through the lens of "what if this happened in real life?"

You know what was also a good movie? Ten Things I Hate About You. I remember renting it years ago on a slow night, and this teen-centric romantic comedy ended up quite entertaining myself and three other late-teen guys in my pal Eric's basement. I caught it a few months ago one afternoon on CityTV and it still holds up well. In that scene where Ledger is singing and dancing in the bleachers during Julia Stiles' soccer practice, I remember noting that this would be a jump-the-shark moment for the movie under normal circumstances, but Ledger was talented enough to carry it off. Then I believe I said "Keep an eye on that young man," while tapping some ash off the end of my cigar and leaning back in the easy chair in my oak-paneled office with a passel of Oscars on the bookshelf. Before I break my arm patting myself on the back, I should also note that it wasn't until literally the end credits when I realized it was an adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew. In a related story, I was an English major. My degree will be sent back to the Western registrar via FedEx by week's end.

Next up, a mash-up of Brokeback Mountain and The Patriot! I'm looking forward to seeing Mel Gibson appear to mouth "I just can't quit you" just before bayonetting Colonel Tavington in the throat. Mel will be saying some Hail Marys after that one, no doubt.

After four months and untold millions of dollars, let's look at where TDK stands in the Oscar race. It's still the sword of Damocles hanging over the Academy, having made just too much money and been such a pop-culture phenomenon that it's hard to ignore. Not that Rotten Tomatoes is a fool-proof guide, but TDK is averaging around 95% on its 'tomatometer' collection of critics' reviews. That's an incredibly high percentage of positive reviews for any movie, let alone a summer blockbuster. It has a terrific chance of standing up against the Oscar-buzz films of the winter. The common element between a lot of these upcoming movies is that there's a high threshold of disappointment ---- Australia, Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Doubt, even Revolutionary Road might end up being less than they're being hyped up to be at this point. That leaves the field open for Dark Knight, which is just sitting in the clubhouse with a spot in the top-five all but locked up if even just a few of those films fail to really meet their lofty expectations. If I had to guess the Oscar best picture nominees right now, I'd predict Dark Knight, Revolutionary Road, Benjamin Button, and any two of Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Doubt or Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino.

My own personal choices? Glad you asked! With the caveat that there's still a lot I haven't seen (goddamn long TIFF line for Synecdoche, New York), my major nominees would be....

Supporting Actor.....Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Aaron Eckhart (Dark Knight), Heath Ledger (Dark Knight), Gary Oldman (Dark Knight), Mark Strong (Body Of Lies and Rocknrolla)

Supporting Actress.....Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Marina Hands (Tell No One), Jane Lynch (Role Models), Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading), Kristin Scott Thomas (Tell No One)

Actor.....Francois Cluzet (Tell No One), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)

Actress.....Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Director.....Guillaume Canet (Tell No One), Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married), Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky), Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight),

Picture.....The Dark Knight, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, In Bruges, Tell No One, Wall*E

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