This Is Nothing To Joke About

Note: Originally Published 8-1-06

First and foremost, if you are not a fan of Batman Begins or, more specifically, Batman, than this little article will not interest you in the least.  However, if you are a Bat-Fan, then you must read on.

It has been confirmed by Warner Brothers that Heath Ledger will play the role of the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins, called The Dark Knight.  Now, a lot of the fanboys have already started with the “Brokeback Joker” tirades and are dismissing Ledger as a respectable Joker.  I couldn’t disagree more.

First of all, highly respected filmmaker and director Ang Lee hired Ledger to star in Brokeback Mountain, a very serious drama that required real courage to take part in.  Second of all, Ledger has had some nice moments in his acting career thus far.  For instance, I thought he was very good in The Patriot, and though it was a comedy, I also thought he did a nice job in Ten Things I Hate About You.  And yet, I will admit it, he’s had some flops as well.  But, you have to think, if Christopher Nolan, the director of Batman Begins and its follow-up, has faith in Heath Ledger, than shouldn’t we as well?  After all, he brought in Christian Bale, someone I never would have dreamed of, and Bale brought an intensity to Batman never realized on film.  He brought in Cillian Murphy, a truly creepy villain as the Scarecrow, and need I mention all the big names he brought in to play minor roles.  Nolan is respected and Nolan is intelligent.  He knows what he’s doing.

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “But Scott William Foley, Ledger will never be able to out-do Jack Nicholson’s hilarity as the Joker!”  You’re right.  You’re exactly right.  You’re right because Jack Nicholson, as awesome as he was, was playing Jack Nicholson.  You looked at the screen and you didn’t see the Joker, you saw Jack Nicholson in white make-up.  And what was fine!  He rocked!  I loved his Joker.

However, you want to realize that what makes the Joker work is not his flamboyancy, it’s his utter and psychotic maliciousness.  The Joker is a mass murderer.  The Joker is sick and twisted, he is terrifying, remorseless.  Imagine a Joker who wasn’t funny at all.  Imagine simply a psycho who looks like a joker from your deck of cards.  Imagine the intensity required for that sort of Joker.  I think Ledger can pull it off.

I will now undo all of my previous arguments by saying that I still wanted Crispin Glover to get the role.

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The Departed – A Movie Review

My wife and I finally watched The Departed last night and all I can say is that it was an electrifying and outstanding movie.  I initially was hesitant to watch it because I heard it was very violent, but the violence actually was neither terribly gratuitous nor gory.  Still disturbing, mind you, but not in an over the top way. 

The story itself was wrought with tension and very, very engaging.  I literally did not know for sure what was going to happen next, and that was a nice feeling in today’s movie world.  Though the film lasted two and a half hours, it flew by surprisingly fast. 

The acting absolutely was superb and I am not exaggerating.  Jack Nicholson made me laugh, he creeped me out, he made me feel sorry for him, he made me hate him.  Matt Damon more than held his own and, while he still played the emotionally restrained type that is beginning to plague his career, he did a great job.  DiCaprio has left behind his teen heartthrob image once and for all, and he truly shined as he gave us an emotional depth and complexity that made me thank God I wasn’t in his character’s shoes.  Baldwin, while his part was smaller, was hilarious in a totally underplayed manner.  The one who stole the show, though, was Mark Wahlberg.  While his part also was rather small, he stole every, and I mean every, scene he was in.  I will be rooting for him at tonight’s 79th Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor.

I tell you, I hope Scorsese finally wins for Best Director.  I believe this film easily could have been just another cops and robbers movie, but Scorsese made us care about each and every one of these guys, and that’s something special.  I even wouldn’t be too upset if it beat out Little Miss Sunshine for Best Picture.