Monday, 18 August 2008

A Shining Performance?


Went to see The Dark Knight last night.

Anyone else think Heath Ledger's much hyped performance was overrated?

Not so much Ledger playing The Joker as Ledger playing Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrance playing The Joker.

19 comments:

tim f said...

No! Ledger's joker couldn't have been more different to Nicholson's. Nicholson was a flamboyant, OTT, manic-depressive cartoon character. Ledger's was understated, gritty, twisted and most importantly, credible. His insight was that if the Joker was played as a real character rather than a comedy villain, the terror would show through naturally without having to over-egg it.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a comic book performance in the way that Nicholson's was. Or maybe it was drawing on a different strand of comic book. Nicholson's Joker was a brilliant grotesque. I could laugh at elements of the performance. Ledger's was still a grotesque, but darker and uglier. I wasn't laughing.

Andy Jones

Glen Marshall said...

Not Nicholson's Joker. Nicholson playing Jack Torrance in The Shining. Hence the clever (but obviously too subtle) post title.

tim f said...

ah, that makes more sense. Sorry.

But if that's the comparison then it's not unfavourable. Both were great performances under talented directors bringing life to terrifying characters whose insanity was believable.

Glen Marshall said...

I'm not saying the performance is bad, it's not, it's good. My gripe is that it is too derivative to be lauded quite so much.

andy amoss said...

Very clever title. Yes, it may be derivative (and brilliant), but what is worthy of being lauded is that Ledger took a comic book character and was able to inject into it the natural terror that characters like Jack Torrence, Nurse Ratchett, Tommy DeVito and numerous Christopher Walken incarnations evoke.

I can't think of another comic villian, particularly from a family friendly rated film, that is anywhere near as scary. That is worthy to be praised... without wanting to sound too much like a Christian chorus.

andy amoss said...

Also, if i cover my left eye and look at your blog, i see that you've created the illusion that even 'his royal highness the archbishop of canterbury, peace be upon him' is bricking it at notion of Ledger's Joker. Good work!

Glen Marshall said...

Which reminds me I also thought the film was far too dark and violent (and long) for a 12a.

The AB of C thing was of course deliberate.

Had you spotted that Mr. Messy is a Charismatic?

tim f said...

I was surprised that they could get away with a 12A rating too. The grounds the classification people used were particularly poor (they said they'd have got complaints from parents who couldn't take their children to see it if it was a 12 or 15 rather than a 12A). If they are going to make decisions on that basis then perhaps there ought to be a 15A rating too - at least then parents would know what they're taking their kids to see.

On the other hand, if a 12A rating hadn't been granted, they would probably have cut bits out of the film so it could retain a low rating and they could maximise their potential box office sales, resulting in a worse film.

andy amoss said...

That sounds a lot like the system the have in the States; PG13 and R17 etc. It's a good, perhaps better idea than the one we operate. The down side of course is that the ruling is for an underage person to be with "an accompanying adult". This means that all kids (of ANY age) have to do is join the queue (for ANY film) and find someone who's prepared to say to the teen in the box office that they're accompanying them.

andy amoss said...

Mr Messy the Charasmatic, yes, good. Reminds me of a gag Justin used to do with bottle opener; pulling the screw down and making the arms wave in the air.

Glen Marshall said...

Justin doing a drinks related gag!?! Never.

Angela said...

We saw the film last week [camping holiday in Ireland- freak rainstorms, therefore hide in a dry cinema!]
I thought it had a lot of gratuitous violence, and was horrified by the number of young children in the cinema. EITHER they will become traumatised OR they are already de-sensitised to such horror. Neither situation is desirable.
It shouldn't have been a 12A rating.
Bring back Adam West, Burt Ward and the Biff! Splatt! Ouff! of the original Batman programmes!

andy amoss said...

No way!

Better gratuitous violence (which the dark knight's violence wasn't - it's about a disturbed vigilante; violence is going to be what the story is about, and people going to see it know what they're getting) than gratuitous pantomine.

Though as Tim, Glen and myself have already conceeded, it may have been mis-rated.

tim f said...

To be honest I prefer violence which is treated seriously, where there is blood and where people actually die or get hurt, to comicbook Biff!Splat!Ouch! violence where no-one actually gets hurt. What kind of message does it send to kids if people get hurt then next minute they're walking around like nothing happened?

If there's a link between what young people see in tv/movies and how they act, it's not (except in a few rare cases of disturbed people who never got the help they needed) copycat behaviour, it's in the impression that you can carry weapons and there'll be no consequences or somehow it'll keep you safer. For that reason I was impressed with the bit in Planet Terror where *SPOILER, DON'T READ THE REST IF YOU'RE INTENDING ON WATCHING PLANET TERROR - HOWEVER I DOUBT IF MOST PEPOLE READING THIS WILL SEE IT, SO YOU'RE PROBABLY OK!*









RR's kid accidentally shoots himself in the head after being handed a gun. In the commentary he explains that in a film with so many guns he thought he ought to make that point or he thought it might end up glorifying guns.

andy amoss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andy amoss said...

Hi Tim, I saw Planet Terror (and Deathproof) last week. The point you make is good, except that Robert Rodreguez clearly does love guns and after the credits have rolled....

*SPOILER WARNING










The little boy appears on the beach with everyone else, playing with his turtle and scorpion, and smiling and winking at the camera.

tim f said...

That's true, except it's meant to be a homage to the discontinuity errors in exploitation flicks of old, not an indication that the kid lived on.

RR also explains that the reason that shot even got filmed is that there is a whole alternative sequence where the kid doesn't shoot himself - because he didn't want his own son [to anyone else reading this - if it's not clear, the director's son played the kid in the movie] to think he died in the film! He says that at some point when he tells his son Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny don't exist, he'll also tell him that he died in Planet Terror.

I haven't seen Death Proof yet - what did you think? I like RR a lot, but I'm not generally a fan of Tarantino. I would've gone to see it as Grindhouse in the cinemas if it'd been shown that way as I liked the concept; as it was I just got Planet Terror on DVD.

andy amoss said...

Well, i thought to myself 'screw Miramax, i want to see Grindhouse' and bought both and watched them back to back. I watched Deathproof first, and was glad, since Planet Terror references a couple of things that happen in it.

It's good. It's much more about dialogue and tension compared to PT which is much more splattersplattersplattersplattersplatter repeat to fade.

It is what it said on the tin; a very different genre of the same kind of exploitation flick - if you follow. It's worth watching, though i will be glad when QT gets back to making more original stuff rather than paying homage to things he raised himself on.