Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Heath Ledger

‘The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus’ Trailer

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Here’s the trailer for Terry Gilliam’s latest, Heath Ledger’s last film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Excited for this. (Via Gynomite.)

Written by gerrycanavan

August 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

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V-Day Links!

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V-Day links.

* I feel stimulated, and I bet you do too. Here’s Arlen Specter with your partisan post-mortem.

“When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today,” said Specter, “one of my colleagues said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ My Republican colleague said, ‘Arlen, I’m proud of you.’ I said, ‘Are you going to vote with me?’ And he said, ‘No, I might have a primary.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know very well I’m going to have a primary.'” […]

“I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation,” he said.

Your modern Republican party.

* The headline reads, “Large Banks Are on the Brink of Insolvency.” You heard it from Brad Miller first.

* Heath Ledger fans want the Joker retired in honor of Ledger’s turn in the makeup.

“When Michael Jordan retired, they withdrew the number 23 jersey as an honor. It’s the same thing with Heath.”

Yes, it’s exactly the same.

* Space debris. Via Cynical-C.

* Images from Watchmen. Clock’s at 11:59…

* Paul Auster, science fiction writer.

* Joss Whedon, cultural humanist.

* And Henry David Thoreau, vegetarian.

Vegetarian ideas figured prominently in 19th-century intellectual circles. Though practicing vegetarians remained outside the mainstream, as they do today, vegetarianism itself was intriguing, its arguments compelling. Thoreau, for instance, was not a strict vegetarian, but he did believe that the vegetarian diet was “the destiny of the human race.” Not because animals were cute and fuzzy and therefore ought to be saved from brutality, but because they were dirty and difficult and expensive. “The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness,” he wrote in Walden, “and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth.” You can stand around in the forest, waiting to spear, skin, and roast a bunny for your next meal, but…why?

Shia Labeouf as Robin Is a Nice Touch

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I’ve said for years there’s only one man who can follow Heath Ledger’s Joker, and that’s Eddie Murphy as the Riddler. Shia Labeouf as Robin is a nice touch.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 18, 2008 at 6:16 am

Completely Unserious Links

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Completely unserious links.

* Ask yourself: What would Don Draper do? What would Joan Holloway do?

* Take the Zombie Survival Quiz. I got a Z+.

* Behold the Hand Drawn Map Association.

* Three’s a trend: Is The Dark Knight cursed?

* Two good posts from Cosmic Variance: Obama backing off of plans to cut NASA’s budget and what will the Large Hadron Collider find?

* And is Michael Cera the greatest comic mind of this generation, “the Bob Newhart of the 21st century”? You know where I stand on this.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 5, 2008 at 2:12 am

Batman and Politics

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Everyone is getting all political over Dark Knight.

* Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal finds the movie a grand apologia for Bush:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

* But Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias want to trouble this understanding, where Matt makes what I thought was an interesting point about the leap from comic to film:

Shifting a bit away from the issues of the day, though, one interesting thing about the film is what a difference it makes to rip Batman out of the context of the broader DC universe. The DCU’s other anchor character, Superman, is far more powerful than Batman. And of course Superman’s hardly alone in this regard — Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc. all wield vast power and even lesser lights like the Flash outpace Batman by far.

In that context, Batman rather uniquely doesn’t suffer from a substantial legitimacy problem. You don’t look at Batman and say “no man should wield this much power” in a world where Superman can see through walls. It’s those other guys who have legitimacy problems and Batman is one of the important checks on them — especially on Superman, who specifically entrusts a kryptonite ring to Batman for that purpose.

* But it’s Kugelmass who has probably the best review I’ve seen thus far.

The reverse is also true, though—The Joker can’t kill Batman, because, he says, “you’re just too much fun.” That’s what we have to understand first before we can pick up on Ledger’s mannerisms and bizarre intonations. The Joker feels about Batman the way Shakespeare might feel if performances of Hamlet were being blocked in court by Thomas Kyd. In the previous film, Batman has taken the crucial plunge by deciding that his own personal neuroses have a global significance and relate in some meaningful way to the ebb and flow of order (law) and chaos (crime) in Gotham City. As a result, the whole city of Gotham has to play along with Batman, pretending as though shining the Bat Signal into the clouds and having one man karate chop his way around the city is the best way to fight crime. Being Batman is an incredibly excessive, libidinal kinkiness, but it is also a sort of splendor, without which the impetus to fight crime is lacking. It may seem ridiculous to assert that we have to let people dress up as sleeker versions of furries in order to persuade them to wield the baton, but in truth The Dark Knight is just illuminating the fantasies that play themselves out more tamely in normal professional lives. The Joker understands this so well that he’s out to climb the ladder and throw it away, by which I mean that he wants to turn the battle between criminals and vigilantes into a non-stop morality spectacular in which every normal ferry trip becomes a live, game show version of the prisoner’s dilemma. His polymorphous perversity is an end run around Batman’s incompletely sublimated fantasies. It’s not necessarily disappointing to him that the people on the ferries don’t detonate each other—I mean, isn’t that wonderful? They got to prove they were good people—Eichmann on the one boat, Bigger Thomas on the other. The Joker claps when Gary Oldman is made commissioner, perfectly well aware that this scene of goodness rewarded is only possible because he (the Joker) killed Commissioner #1. Ladies and gentleman, we are tonight’s entertainment.

That’s why it’s ridiculous to criticize The Dark Knight on the grounds that it is a children’s film or infantile; it is about infantility, and raises questions about how much we can really escape from apparently embarrassing wishes. Part of the problem with a fiction like Enchanted or Harry Potter is that it allows adults to feel themselves at a safe distance from kids’ stuff through (respectively) ironic misdirection and misty, head-patting sentimentality.

* And for the fanboys in the audience, via Jacob, 8 great villains we want in the next Batman movie.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 25, 2008 at 1:57 pm

The Dark Knight

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If The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero movie of all time—and I think it probably is—it is entirely on the back of Heath Ledger’s immaculate turn as the Joker. Ledger is utterly, utterly, utterly perfect in this role—so perfect in fact that it is impossible to imagine either anyone else ever playing the Joker or any other villain stepping in to carry a sequel.

(Who’s even still on the bench at this point? The Penguin? Riddler? King Tut? Catwoman can’t carry a movie all by herself. The best bet, it seems to me, would be to go forward with the long-teased Batman vs. Superman project; it’d be something of a genre mismatch for the Christian Bale franchise, but at least it’d spare us all another round of movie nonsense with the highly overrated Riddler.)

There’s no question about it: Ledger’s performance is simply stunning. His sociopathic Joker is so good that it’s hard to say that the movie is actually enjoyable to watch—I feel exhausted after seeing it, disturbed and just a little bit broken. In this sense The Dark Knight isn’t really a superhero movie at all, but a horror movie, a slasher flick, and really—with Ledger so famously dead by suicide* just after shooting—a snuff film. As David Denby put the point in the New Yorker:

When Ledger wields a knife, he is thoroughly terrifying (do not, despite the PG-13 rating, bring the children), and, as you’re watching him, you can’t help wondering—in a response that admittedly lies outside film criticism—how badly he messed himself up in order to play the role this way. His performance is a heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss.

This is in all respects an astoundingly dark movie that’s hardly suitable for adults, much less children. And if The Dark Knight doesn’t quite possess the necessary sense of self-awareness to be the Watchmen of superhero film, it may well be its Dark Knight Returns (wiki)—or, perhaps more directly, the story from which it draws its most direct inspiration, Alan Moore’s definitive Joker story, The Killing Joke (wiki).

What Moore gets, of course, is what the film is only able to hint at: the extent to which Batman and the Joker (to mix my supervillain metaphors) are two sides of the same coin. It is not just that they are both insane, but that they are both equally insane and insane in exactly the same way—just in opposite directions.


* Abe rightly points out in the comments that Ledger’s death by overdose probably wasn’t a suicide. Obviously I’m not watching enough entertainment television.

Heath Ledger, Dead at 28

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Heath Ledger, dead at 28. It’s completely too soon to ask how this affects the Batman sequel, but that hasn’t stopped people from going there almost immediately

Written by gerrycanavan

January 22, 2008 at 10:38 pm

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