By now it's either naive or a waste of time to decry that internet racism just for the sake of it.
With the advent of forums everyone and anyone can express their digital hate. I gather a lot of people purposely sit at their keyboards all day and criticise anything that isn't remotely theirs to compensate for their lack of education.
There is a correlation between this culture's new breed of internet savants and the deeply rooted racism that run rampart, unchecked with such liberties. Take for example the cancerous obsession with everything and anything celebrity. Sites such as http://www.perezhilton.com/ and the http://thesuperficial.com routinely open their forums for the willing to engage in the (sometimes deserving) lives of people who are thought to be important and influential. That's an easy target, I will not go there.
Take a look at this thread for example: http://thesuperficial.com/2008/07/paulina_rubio_in_a_bikini.php
There was one member in particular who stood out, who ironically goes by the name "Barack Obama". Seem like he/she gets a kick out of writing comments like the one below. Fictional or real and however despicable the remarks are, some people do think it's funny and that to me is unacceptable.
I like to fuck the illegal mexican girls, then call immagration on them. It makes for a good weekend. Promise them you will sponsor them and thier family and they just open thier legs. It is pretty easy. Throw in a shopping trip to WalMart and you can get some anal action from them.
Hold your head high! You may be a chalupa chomping piece of Mexican crap scuttling your way across the border screeching your gibberish music in the bastardized version of Spanish your monkey people blather in, but you're also hairy and greasy...
Um, wait... I don;t have anything good to say about her at all... or Mexicans in general... You wetback lowlifes can stay on your side of the border until 1/2 hour past checkout time so you can clean my hotel rooms. I may let you stay late to do the dishes or fix my "chebby".
But your crime-ridden cities, complicit cooperation with drug traffickers and government corruption to the highest positions means you are a 3rd world country for a reason. Take your pudgy, squat faces and your 18 children and return to the barren wasteland you screwed up.
#3: A masculine-looking nobody, like all hispandex women. She better know how to scrub a toilet. Wait, what am I saying, it says "Latin" right there at the top...
Notice they have one thing in common: Targeting mexicans.
While I won't go on and give a speech, it demonstrates the general racist sentiment among mexicans in this country. Mexicans represent THE latin ethnic group among the clueless adolescent minds whose prose adorn those pages. As part of a larger epidemic, they think of mexicans same as they think of ALL Latin ethnic groups, which is as second class citizens.
No one is above contempt just as no one is below praise. The world is comprised of elements of both and best personified by what we carry on our souls. Racism is old news, what's new is how it's morphed into the mouthpiece of those who hide behind their keyboard. Everyone's a critic, just like the internet allows us to express our innermost of sentiments.
But if you where to ask me why this irks me, it's because I have a very clear distinction on what constitudes the right from wrong. Sites like these engage in all sorts of soulless behavior as it's called freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech...a double edged sword it surely is.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The Dark Knight is an unprecedented visual triumph. If you read my review you would share my enthusiasm. Whenever something like this comes along it inspires me to write, it becomes an object of my cinematic obsessions.
Notable for being the first major film to be shot using the IMAX process, Dark Knight moves a step ahead by retaining film's essential quality: Photochemicaly. With an industry quickly adopting digital as the primary means of aquisition, Nolan and co went the opposite route and set out the unpresedented task of shooting a film of this scale using the format. It's a testament to the balls out approach that they managed to convince Warner Bros to buy into their scheme. The risk paid off handsomely.
First, a primer on the IMAX format.
While a standard film is shot and projected in 35MM, IMAX DOUBLES the negative size and has 10 times the resolution of 35MM film, resulting in a 70MM image. Not only do you see more at the top and bottom, but the composition size is enormous. The cameras a bigger and bulkier to use than standard 35MM, which makes operating the camera impractical compared to 35MM. Due to the size of the negative, a 500 foot magazine can only record up to 100 seconds at a time, compared to 10 minutes in 35MM. In order to expose at standard film speed of 24 frames per second, three times as much film needs to move through the camera each second. To do this, 70 mm film stock is run "sideways" through the cameras. While traditional 70 mm film has an image area that is 48.5 mm wide and 22.1 mm tall (for Todd-AO), in IMAX the image is 69.6 mm wide and 48.5 mm tall. In order to expose at standard film speed of 24 frames per second, three times as much film needs to move through the camera each second. (Source: Wikipedia)
IMAX is the highest quality motion picture format currently available, and while filmmakers employ digital tools that capture images at an inferior resolution than that of film, it's ironic that it took Nolan to explore the format's possibilities in a narrative feature. The last couple years has seen the format become commercially viable, as more and more Hollywood films where released in the format the additional revenue stream it provides makes it attractive to the studios, after all, tickets are more expensive thus the revenue's higher. I think this was a defining reason Nolan managed to sell Warner Bros on, as shooting in theformat is four times of standard the streams provided by tocket sales offset the costs. The film shot for 155 days on an estimated 185 million dollar budget.
Now the film.
Nolan and DP Wally Pfister shot the film's major action sequenecs in the format, expanding on what could be done with the cameras by employing them as never before. Because of the format's gigantic size, certain camera moves easily done in 35MM would not work. Focusing is also an issue, as the frame size is so big that keeping objects in focus became a challenge. This is evident during the opening heist sequence. There is very shallow depth of field on the images, especially during closeups.
The format's potential is realized especially during the spectacular aerial shots of Chicago. You really feel like you're there and the filmmakers used the format to immense the audience. The increased detail meant that the filmmakers had to be super diligent about hiding the lights and equipment, and the Joker's makeup is seen with every imperfection of it's grotesque glory.
The most impressive goal of the film is how the special effects don't upstage the action, rather complement it. In big Hollywood comic book films (like Spider Man) the special effects are so obvious that it takes the viewer out of belief. The use of CGI so plastered that audiences have become acostumed to it's obvious banality. Nothing amazes anymore, because everything is relentless, artificial, and overused. The Dark Knight, and to a lesser degree Iron Man wisely allow the special effects to complement the characters and immensing us in the story.
I loved The Dark Knight and think it's the most visually impressive genre movie since Terminator 2. Remember how in awe you where when you saw that? here you are in awe at how seamless Batman's universe is presented, and surprised at how immensive it can be when filmmakers use the technology in the service of the story. See it in IMAX if you get a chance, it'll blow your mind.
I'm not a professional but one thing I do know is that film critics can no longer be trusted to give a thorough opinion when dismissal is their main frame of reference. When a movie such as The dark Knight comes along it's worthy of discussion.
So much is inversted in the storyline and themes that simply dismissing it as popcorn entertainment condescends it's considerable achievements.
Armond White is a film critic for New York press, one that is widely respected as well as detested. He's a polarising figure for sure, as someone who champions films like The Black Dalia yet reduced this to mere insignificance. Here is his review and below i'll share my thoughts and contrast the two. It was a great movie why not talk about it?
KNIGHT TO REMEMBER
Christopher Nolan panders to hip, nihilistic tendencies, forgetting that superheroes are also meant to inspire hope.
By Armond White
The Dark Knight
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Every generation has a right to its own Batman. Every generation also has the right—no, obligation—to question a pop-entertainment that diminishes universal ideas of good, evil, social purpose and pleasure. And Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, is a highly questionable pop enterprise. Forty-two-year-old movie lovers can’t tell 21-year-old movie lovers why; 21 can only know by getting to be 42. But I’ll try.
After announcing his new comics interpretation with 2005’s oppressively grim Batman Begins, Nolan continues the intellectual squalor popularized in his pseudo-existential hit Memento. Appealing to adolescent jadedness and boredom, Nolan revamps millionaire Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the crime-fighter Batman (played by indie-zombie Christian Bale), by making him a twisted icon, what the kids call “sick.” The Dark Knight is not an adventure movie with a driven protagonist; it’s a goddamn psychodrama in which Batman/Bruce Wayne’s neuroses compete with two alter-egos: Gotham City’s law-and-order District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and master criminal The Joker (Heath Ledger)—all three personifying the contemporary distrust of virtue.
We’re way beyond film noir here. The Dark Knight has no black-and-white moral shading. Everything is dark, the tone glibly nihilistic (hip) due to The Joker’s rampage that brings Gotham City to its knees—exhausting the D.A. and nearly wearing-out Batman’s arsenal of expensive gizmos. Nolan isn’t interested in providing James Bond–style gadgetry for its own ingenious wonder; rather, these crime battle accoutrements evoke Zodiac-style “process” (part of the futility and dread exemplified by the constantly outwitted police). This pessimism links Batman to our post-9/11 anxiety by escalating the violence quotient, evoking terrorist threat and urban helplessness. And though the film’s violence is hard, loud and constant, it is never realistic—it fabricates disaster simply to tease millennial death wish and psychosis.
Watching psychic volleys between Batman, Dent and The Joker (there’s even a love quadrangle that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal’s slouchy Assistant D.A., Rachel Dawes) is as fraught and unpleasurable as There Will Be Blood with bat wings. This sociological bloodsport shouldn’t be acceptable to any thinking generation.
There hasn’t been so much pressure to like a Batman movie since street vendors were selling bootleg Batman T-shirts in 1989. If blurbs like “The Dark Knight creates a place where good and evil—expected to do battle—decide instead to get it on and dance” sound desperate, it’s due to the awful tendency to convert criticism into ad copy—constantly pandering to Hollywood’s teen demographic. This not only revamps ideas of escapist entertainment; like Nolan, it corrupts them.
Remember how Tim Burton’s 1989 interpretation of the comics superhero wasn’t quite good enough? Yet Burton attempted something dazzling: a balance of scary/satirical mood (which he nearly perfected in the 1992 Batman Returns) that gave substance to a pop-culture totem, enhancing it without sacrificing its delight. Burton didn’t need to repeat the tongue-in-cheek 1960s TV series; being romantically in touch with Catwoman, Bruce Wayne and The Penguin’s loneliness was richer. Burton’s pop-geek specialty is to humorously explicate childhood nightmare. But Nolan’s The Dark Knight has one note: gloom. For Nolan, making Batman somber is the same as making it serious. This is not a triumph of comics culture commanding the mainstream: It’s giving in to bleakness. Ever since Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic-novel reinvention, The Dark Knight Returns, pop consumers have rejected traditional moral verities as corny. That might be the ultimate capitalist deception.
A bleak Batman entraps us in a commercial mechanism, not art. There’s none of Burton’s satirical detachment from the crime-and-punishment theme. In Nolan’s view, crime is never punished or expunged. (“I am an agent of chaos!” boasts The Joker.) The generation of consumers who swallow this pessimistic sentiment can’t see past the product to its debased morality. Instead, their excitement about The Dark Knight’s dread (that teenage thrall with subversion) inspires their fealty to product.
Ironically, Nolan’s aggressive style won’t be slagged “manipulative” because it doesn’t require viewers to feel those discredited virtues, “hope” and “faith.” Like Hellboy II, this kind of sci-fi or horror or comics-whatever obviates morality. It trashes belief systems and encourages childish fantasies of absurd macho potency and fabulous grotesqueries. That’s how Nolan could take the fun out of Batman and still be acclaimed hip. As in Memento, Nolan shows rudimentary craft; his zeitgeist filmmaking—morose, obsessive, fussily executed yet emotionally unsatisfying—will only impress anyone who hasn’t seen De Palma’s genuinely, politically serious crime-fighter movie, The Black Dahlia.
Aaron Eckhart’s cop role in The Black Dahlia humanized the complexity of crime and morality. But as Harvey Dent, sorrow transforms him into the vengeful Two-Face, another Armageddon freak in Nolan’s sideshow. The idea is that Dent proves heroism is improbable or unlikely in this life. Dent says, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” What kind of crap is that to teach our children, or swallow ourselves? Such illogic sums up hipster nihilism, just like Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World. Putting that crap in a Batman movie panders to the naiveté of those who have not outgrown the moral simplifications of old comics but relish cynicism as smartness. That’s the point of The Joker telling Batman, “You complete me.” Tim Burton might have ridiculed that Jerry Maguire canard, but Nolan means it—his hero is as sick as his villain.
Man’s struggle to be good isn’t news. The difficulty only scares children—which was the original, sophisticated point of Jack Nicholson’s ’89 Joker. Nicholson’s disfigurement abstracted psychosis, being sufficiently hideous without confusing our sympathy. Ledger’s Joker (sweaty clown’s make-up to cover his Black Dahlia–style facial scar) descends from the serial killer clichés of Hannibal Lecter and Anton Chigurh—fashionable icons of modern irrational fear. The Joker’s escalation of urban chaos and destruction is accompanied by booming sound effects and sirens—to spook excitable kids. Ledger’s already-overrated performance consists of a Ratso Rizzo voice and lots of lip-licking. But how great of an actor was Ledger to accept this trite material in the first place?
Unlike Nicholson’s multileveled characterization, Ledger reduces The Joker to one-note ham-acting and trite symbolism. If you fell for the evil-versus-evil antagonism of There Will Be Blood, then The Dark Knight should be the movie of your wretched dreams. Nolan’s unvaried direction drives home the depressing similarities between Batman and his nemeses. Nolan’s single trick is to torment viewers with relentless action montages; distracting ellipses that create narrative frustration and paranoia. Delayed resolution. Fake tension. Such effects used to be called cheap. Cheap like The Joker’s psychobabble: “Madness, as you know, is like gravity—all it takes is a little push.” The Dark Knight is the sentinel of our cultural abyss. All it takes is a push.
The Dark Knight.
My jaw dropped on the floor.
The Dark Knight is the one comic book movie that redefines how comic book movies are made. This is what brass balls filmmaking is all about. Wildly ambitious, dark, preocupied with alot on it's mind. It succeeds brilliantly because the weighty thematic elements work in perfect unision with the popcorn munching requirements.
Lemme just say that I am not a fanboy geek. I could give a shit about the adolecent preoccupations of that audience. I take joy dissecting the film thematically by examining it's plot and character. The acting, sight and sound to me inform what it's about. I'm the first to admit i've never been crazy about Christopher Nolan, but he stepped up his A gam here. I liked The Prestige and I found Batman Begins too ponderous and boring to be satisfying. Safe to say that here the proceedings fire on all cylinders, as anything i've seen done with Batman is being reevaluated. The Dark Knight is the most ambitious movie of it's kind since The Empire Strikes Back, and it plays like a fully formed creation instead of fragments by commitee becasue Nolan was allowed to make it uncompromising. First thing he's done right? the screenplay (cowriten with his brother) is layered with thematic weight, framing the characters in an universe that doesn't transcend them, instead embraces them. This is unlike what Tim Burton did in his movies. Nolan wisely (and without irony) represents the Batman mythos seriously. Every character represents sides of the same agenda. The chips drop and consequences ensure.
Remember when you first saw the Empire Strikes Back and once Luke lost his hand all bets where off? this is THAT Batman movie. There's a level of uncertainty and an undercurrent of dread that's palpable as you see every character put in circunstances beyond their control. Only fate determines the outcome. This emotional investment of theme and character, chance and fate succeeds partly because the acting is so superb and because the direction is so confidently executed. In the first film Batman's need for justice was his sole motivator, here the results have dire consequences beyond his control as the odds stack up against him. The preocupation with justice and it's moral implications pepper the film with a complexity uncommon for this type of film. The dissertation on the nature of good and evil is what anchors the movie. Mistaking bleakness for thematic emptyness is invalid. Film critics often submit to cynicism because they prejudice the joy an immersive experience like The Dark Knight provides. You need your brain as well as your eyes here, because it's an incredibly immersive movie. Don't you think it's uncommon seeing somthing this complex in what's essentially a cash machine?
I find it subversive that a commercial entity designed soley to make money comproses a platform to discuss such weighty issues. The city and it's citizens evoke post 9/11 panic. When the joker instills anarchy onto Gotham the results are exactly how a city in panic reacts to an uncontrollable force. I find it subversive that a commercial entity designed soley to make money comprise a platform to discuss such weighty issues.
Second thing Nolan got right: The conception of The Joker.
Heath ledger creates a performance so inedible that an undercurrent of sadness is all but inevitable knowing such a gifted performer is no longer here. Every expression feels organic, rather than prerehearsed. Ledger nails every gesture, every weird tick for this maximum impact. What makes the character so memorable is that he has no identifyable agenda, he's simply a symbol of anarchy. He enjoys driving the city to it's knees. Joker's determination to expose Batman as a fraud presents a psychological component of uncommon gravity for this sort of film. While Jack Nicholson played it for fun, Ledger makes him off the handle terryfying. One of the things the reviewer above got wrong is calling it a "ham" and one note, mistaking purpose of character for nihilism. If you appreciate good acting then you will see that a great actor disappears into the role and that's exactly what Heath accomplishes. Rather than go the usual route of taunts and antagonisms, Joker outlines his dilemma and the reasons for them. Credit Nolan and his brother for writing intelligent dialogue.
The impressive thing about Nolan's confident direction is how all the plot theads manage to run parallel to advance the story, instead of stopping and starting. This is one 2 1/2 hour movie that never falters because the narrative elements are precisely in their right place. Kudos to the editor, I envy you.
This is by far the most visually impressive Batman movie since Batman Returns. Lemme pause for a minute to pick up my jaw from the floor. Nolan shot the spectacular action sequences in IMAX and the results are outstanding. Michael Mann is a frame of reference evident in the opening heist that launches the movie. Gotham city is less gloomy than the first but in return has more gained more clarity and is better intergrated into the story. Gone are the awkward fight scenes from begins, here everything is dynamic, perfectly realized. Nolan's DP Waly Psister deserves an Oscar nomination for his work, as his lighting scheme is incredibly intricate without resorting to the typical artifice. It FEELS like it should. Worthy of mention is the scene where Joker exits the hospital. I fucking peed my pants almost. The action scenes evolve in a coherent manner and are visually dynamic, yet theu never upstage the characters and this allows us to be absorbed into the story rather than be distracted.
As for Batman? well that's the least interesting element of the movie. He does get to do more detective work this time around and his resolution is terrific, I was surprised at how screentime Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckard) had. His character is arguably the most prominent to the story. Two face is a grisly creation and certainly very cool indeed. Katie Holmes? Gillenhaal is an improvement but not hot enough to warrant the extremes Harvey Dent would later go to. In fact this was the weakest link in an otherwise flawless film, I just didn't think their relationship had enough gravity to warrant the preceeding shitstorm. Rachel is a thankless role and more designed to move the story along, the other is The Joker's resolution. The stakes where so high that...it was all forgotten in favor of Harvey Dent's character arc. I hear reports that Nolan shot scenes for the third film that would complete Joker's arc but that's just a rumor.
Nolan has crafted an epic where every action has a reaction, and everyone's fked to some degree. Every character at one point stands to lose everything. Towards the end Batman makes the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good, his choice resonates and is true to character. The Batman mythos all but demystified. The end barelly allows hope to peek though because when all is done, the chips fall where they may.
The Dark Knight is the best comic book movie ever attempted. Nolan has crafted an intense and unrelenting ride. That it deserves further discussion is a sign of it's merits. Superbly realized and without peer, comic book films reach a zenith to a level of art with The Dark Knight. Along with Children of Men, It may very well may be one of the decade's crowning achievements.