The Dark Knight – A Movie Review

(No Spoilers Ahead)

Simply “wow.”

This movie surpassed even my lofty expectations as a Batman fan.  Epic in nature with nonstop action and a tight, logical storyline that organically meshed with the characterization of its players, The Dark Knight deserves every bit of the accolades it’s amassing.

Christian Bale’s Batman is truly a force of nature-savage yet noble, fierce yet heroic.  He teems with intimidation and generally looks like he could explode at any given moment, which is all part of Batman’s psychological warfare against the criminal world.  Other actors have played Batman either too coy or too cool, but Bale depicts Batman as a warrior, someone ready to take back his streets by force.  Bale brings an emotional intensity to Batman that is totally necessary to the character and translates brilliantly to the screen.

With the untimely death of Heath Ledger, there was a palpable fear that folks would go overboard in applauding his efforts as the Joker.  Christopher Nolan earned my respect with Batman Begins, so when he broke convention and cast Ledger, I trusted his decision.  However, when people started talking about an Oscar for Ledger’s Joker, I snickered a bit.  Let me tell you, after seeing his performance, it would not surprise me in the least if Ledger was nominated.  Ledger was absolutely unrecognizable as the Joker.  It didn’t look like Ledger, it didn’t sound like him-it really felt as though what we saw on screen was THE Joker, not just an actor playing a role.  Ledger utterly disappeared.  I knew Ledger would be good, but he was so incredible brilliant, I was blown away.  And his Joker wasn’t the flamboyant “mobster” of 1989’s version or the harmless clown from the 1960s-his was a calculating, homicidal, disturbed, “agent of chaos.”  I rarely have nightmares, and just last night Ledger’s Joker entered my dreams and scared the pudding out of me.  No joke.

Aaron Eckhart’s role as Harvey Dent was much bigger than I expected, and he also brought a real complexity to the movie that added a thematic layer about “heroism” versus “duty” that really enriched the overall story.  His character when compared and contrasted to Commissioner Gordon’s and Batman’s showed you all the various shades of goodness and just how fragile such a notion can be. If you know the comic books, you know Dent’s fate.  I won’t spoil anything for you, though.

Finally, all the actors were sublime.  Oldman as Gordon, Freeman as Fox, Caine as Alfred, Gyllenhaal as Dawes-all of them worked hard to make their characters well-rounded, emotional people that we could connect with.  I think the actors’ dedication to their characters-no mater how small the role-along with Ledger’s performance and the raw emotion of the movie pleased me the most.

Director Christopher Nolan really seems to understand what makes Batman tick.  His The Dark Knight felt like all of the best qualities of a comic book blended with the noir of a thriller rooted in realism.  I’ve never quite seen anything like The Dark Knight, and judging from the box office, neither has anyone else.  Whether you’re a fan of Batman or not, this one is definitely worth the price of admission and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it on several levels.

Advertisements

First Reaction to the Watchmen Trailer

If you read my reaction to the Watchmen “first look” still photos released some time ago (https://scottwilliamfoley.com/2008/03/07/a-reaction-to-the-first-look-watchmen-photographs/), you know that I’m totally supporting Zach Snyder’s efforts with Alan Moore’s seminal series.

The first thing I’d like people to understand is that no one will create a “by the book” interpretation of Moore’s groundbreaking work.  The best we can hope for is for a Hollywood director to stay as true to the source material as they can while infusing their own artistry and panache.  Zach Snyder employs dazzling visual effects, and, judging from the trailer, he’s staying true enough to the original work and “look” to satisfy this writer.

However, by no means do I suggest this movie will ever serve as a replacement for Moore’s work.  I implore everyone to read the book before seeing the movie, because there really is nothing else like the book out there.  It’s influenced artists for decades and will no doubt continue to do so.

But with that being said, Snyder’s trailer looks to blend his personal style with Moore’s original characters and story enough to please old and new fans alike.

You can view the trailer (astutely coupled with The Smashing Pumpkins’ “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning”) by clicking on this link:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/watchmen/med.html

Dr. No by Ian Fleming – A Book Review

Even though Dr. No was dreadfully intolerant by today’s standards, had next to no real plot, and neglected to include any substantial characterization, I couldn’t put it down.

James Bond is confident, capable, cocky, rather sexist, and perhaps even racist in Dr. No, but the prose is written at such a fast pace, Fleming concocted such a ludicrous villain in Dr. No, and Bond prevailed in such “manly” manners, it’s  hard not to get engrossed in it all. 

Dr. No is a brisk, leisurely read that entertains and quickens the pulse.  I didn’t find Fleming’s writing style terribly adept, but the man knew how to hook a reader, and in the end, some would say that’s all that matters.

An Update on Kristen and Emma

Dear Friends and Family,

I just wanted to thank you all so much for the emails, phone messages, cards, dinner offers, and flowers.  I can’t tell you how much your kind gestures have meant to us.

 

Baby Emma is doing wonderfully.  She eats, sleeps, and poos like a fiend, which, according to our pediatrician, points to a very healthy baby.  She continues to get more beautiful with each passing day, and somehow Kristen and I find a way to love her more and more as each minute passes.

 

Kristen has been struggling with nausea due to her pain medication, which, when coupled with a newborn who needs to be breast fed every few hours, is resulting in very little sleep.  We saw our obstetrician today and made some changes, and have already noticed an improvement in her well-being as a result.

 

Mike and Jill, Kristen’s parents, came to stay with us yesterday when we realized we needed help and this has done much to improve our spirits and Kristen’s health.  Thanks to their extra eyes and love, I’ve caught up on my sleep and we’re slowly trying to get Emma on a regular feeding schedule so Kristen can get hers as well. 

 

I’ve been conveying your messages to Kristen, and her face lights up with every kind message, card, dinner offer, flower delivery, and voicemail.  I hope you understand that neither of us have had the time or energy to even respond, much less receive visitors.  We can’t wait for each and every  one of you to meet our little girl and appreciate your understanding as we hold off on visits until Kristen has recovered a bit more.

 

We’re blessed to have so many loving family members and compassionate, caring friends.  Your thoughts, prayers, and positive messages encourage, reassure, and fuel us as we adjust to our beautiful little girl and recuperate.

 

Always,

Scott

 

 

Emma Claire Foley Has Arrived!

I’m so proud to announce the arrival of our daughter, Emma Claire Foley.  She was born July 9, 2008, at 12:01 p.m.  She weighed in at eight pounds, nine ounces, and is twenty inches long. 

Both Kristen and Emma are perfectly healthy and we are so thankful for such a blessing.

More to come after we get to know our little angel and catch up on sleep!

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon – A Book Review

Maps and Legends was both a real pleasure and incredibly insightful in a multitude of ways. 

This nonfiction book by Michael Chabon, author of Wonderboys and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, offers a variety of essays that will assuredly please all readers.

That’s not to say that all readers will love each and every one of the essays in this book, though.  However, I know there is something for everyone to appreciate and even learn from in Maps and Legends.

Chabon essentially covers four broad topics in this collection.  He expends great energy discussing trends and personalities in comic books, the art of writing, various aspects of literature, and his own diverse influences and personal background.

Since these are four topics that I’m very interested in as well, I loved almost every single essay. 

Chabon is such an interesting man.  The idea that a Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes the time to lament the death of Will Eisner, acknowledge the brilliance of Howard Chaykin, analyze McCarthy’s The Road, and reveal deeply personal secrets (some even real) from his own life all within one collection, it’s just a pure joy for someone like me to experience.

However, I think the most valuable thing I learned from Chabon in his book is that the term “genre” in literature is not a naughty word.  He analyzes the importance of genre, especially in relation to the short story, and disparages the fact that people’s snobbery towards genre is actively executing the short story.

Furthermore, Chabon is utterly transparent in the essays involving his life, so transparent he even reveals he has lied to us and could be lying at any given moment.  That sort of honesty about deception is a breath of fresh air.

If you’re a fan of comic books, the art of writing, or Michael Chabon himself, I really encourage you to give this book a try.  I think you’ll be pleased with what you read.