The purpose of this blog is not critical. I mean that in two ways. I am not expressing views of earth-shattering importance, and I am not poking fingers into anyone's chest -- with the possible exception of the iniquitous David Ogden, who scammed me on craigslist, and the OPP who continue to inhibit my fast driving (reading a detective story yesterday, I came to a scene where the hero is following one of the bad girls. The sidekick asks why she is driving so slowly, and the hero suggests that she might have points on her license. Talk about literature speaking to you: Of course she does! I thought immediately. Reminds me of the scene in Bardell v. Pickwick where Serjeant Buzfuz -- I think that's the name -- makes a joke about greasing oats and one of the jury laughs because he had done it himself that morning.) What I mean is that I do not aim to be anyone's watch dog, or moral compass, or arbiter elegantarium.
So it's a bit of step out of line for me to review a film. But, see, my kids have been talking about The Dark Knight since it came out. It is, they all (yes, all of them -- and they hardly ever agree on anything) claim, the best film ever. Imo could not believe she could enjoy a movie so much. It's long, she said, but you don't want it to end.
My parents had a different take on it. The word that came up first in my mom's critique was : loud. It didn't seem fair to criticize a movie on volume alone. I understand that a lot of things blow up, I said.
Everything blows up, she said. All the time.
So it seemed to be a generation thing. I wondered which side I'd come down on. I have disappointed both children and parents in my inability to join their enthusiasms for, among other things, the movie Supertroopers, most modern jazz, and almost all of Viriginia Woolf.
Not to leave you on the edge of your seats for long, I saw The Dark Knight, and enjoyed it. But not all that much. It wasn't Duck Soup or The Palm Beach Story or Casablanca. It wasn't Pulp Fiction or The Godfather, or even The Big Lebowski. It was ... let me think of the right word: okay.
When I told her how I felt, Imo was aghast. I don't know that I can stay here in the same room with you, she said. So I asked her what she liked about the movie. And as she talked I found that we agreed on a lot of the best scenes. (They were all the Joker's, of course. It's his movie. And though he's only got the one schtick, it is a good one.) Making the pencil disappear, the shot from behind of him in the nurse's uniform, the sympathy he shows for the cop who has lost six friends.... So if you like all these scenes, she said, and if the acting is good (it is, mostly) and the special effects are okay (they are; some of them are quite good) then why don't you think that the film is great?
That might be a generation thing, or it might be just my kids. When they talk about something they like it's often: Remember that bit when .... For them, the whole is a sum of its parts. If there are enough good parts, then the whole must be good. Maybe it's their attention span: they remember intensely, vividly, but no more than a few minutes at a time. They like clip shows, where you see a collection of funny scenes from Family Guy or Seinfeld or whatever. Me, I hate clip shows. For me, the whole has to work as a whole. So The Dark Knight is less than the sum of its parts.
And the problem with Virginia Woolf is that not enough stuff blows up.