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PCR #434 (Vol. 9, No. 29) This edition is for the week of July 14--20, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Dark Knight"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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The Tampa Film Review for July by Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, and John Miller
"The Dark Knight"  by Mike Smith
The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part 8 by William Moriaty
DVD Review: “'Til Death Do Us Part (Complete First Season)”  by ED Tucker
Presenting "Brainjacked" - New Feature Film, "Horror-Fi"  by Andy Lalino
No Football For Old Men .... Rays Letter To The League .... Don’t Miss The Espys .... No Peyton In Pre-season .... I’m Rich, B#@!% .... Sports Writer Sued In Ok .... ....  by Chris Munger
Mmmmmmmmmm......movie .... Funny Stuff .... Of Course You Can Go Free -- Not! .... The Scariest (at Least For Now) .... Correction .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1956 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 22 mins

One can only imagine what the entertainment world was like fifty years ago. Before hype and publicity and wall to wall, 24 hour a day news. Imagine sitting in a darkened theatre watching “Giant,” and sadly realizing that James Dean would never make another film. Such was the world in 1956. Audiences loved Dean’s performance, with early predictions of Oscar gold arriving shortly after he died. Dean didn’t win the Oscar he was destined to be nominated for (in fact he was the first actor to be nominated for an Oscar posthumously, and he achieved that honor twice as he was also nominated for his work in “East of Eden”), but his performance as Jett Rink in “Giant” is still heralded fifty years later. I bring up this piece of film history because fifty years from now, film fans will be looking back at Heath Ledger and “The Dark Knight the same way…with a mixed sense of marvel and sadness.

Gotham City. Night. A brazen group of men wearing clown masks has just robbed a bank. The men make the usual demands of the authorities. Soon they find themselves surrounded by the one and only Batman. Than another. Than another. It seems that when the Bat Signal is lit, often times the real caped crusader doesn’t show up. However, inspired by his deeds, average citizens have taken up the cowl, though usually with unsuccessful results. After rescuing one such group of “Batmen” during a botched attempt at fighting crime, one of the impostors demands to know what the difference is between he and the real deal. “I don’t wear hockey pads,” is the reply. Things are looking up in Gotham City. Newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) has sworn to shut the mob down, assisted by his beautiful assistant (and love interest) Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who also has an interest in wealthy Bruce Wayne (Bale). Also included in cleaning up Gotham is police lieutenant James Gordon (Oldman), who isn’t sure if he trusts Dent. Back in the days when Dent worked for Internal Affairs, the cops he investigated gave him the nickname “Two Face.” Just as things are beginning to look up, a new criminal appears on the horizon. His name: The Joker (Ledger).

It is getting increasingly harder this summer to write about this season’s crop of super hero movies without using the same superlatives. Last week I called “Hellboy II” ‘a work of magic.’ “Ironman” was ‘top notch.’ Heck, I even enjoyed “The Incredible Hulk” and “Hancock.” So what can I say about “The Dark Knight?” How about “BAT-riffic?” Director Nolan has built on the dark images he first exposed with “Batman Begins.” His Gotham City is dark and dangerous, and almost always shown at night, when the shadows mingle. The screenplay, by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, builds on the characters of the last film, only now giving us an insight into their emotions. You begin to truly care for these people (and despise others). The film is full of twists and turns that will both shock and surprise you. Bale once again gives us a look into the psyche of Bruce Wayne, making the audience decide if Batman is truly a heroic figure or just some rich guys play toy. His co-stars are his equal, inhabiting their roles and connecting with the audience. This leads us to Heath Ledger. His hair a mess of grease and tangles, his make up smeared and his voice almost monotone (think Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter) yet full of life, Ledger has left us with one of the most brilliant performances ever put on film. While Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker will always be memorable, Ledger’s is sure to go down as iconic. Director Nolan has captured a talented actor at the top of his game, and for preserving that performance has ensured that 50 years from now it will still be discussed. I have no idea if Ledger will win the Oscar next year. James Dean didn’t. However both men left us, albeit too soon, with performances that will endure forever.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “The Dark Knight”


This week's movie review of "The Dark Knight" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.