Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Dark Knight: A Love Story

Now that the hype surrounding The Dark Knight has, for the most part, subsided, Plabnox is ready to present its review.

Below: Christian Bale as Dracula in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

Christopher Nolan's latest ejaculation, The Dark Knight, known primarily for its loud and phallic attributes, relates the epic romance betwixt Batman (Christian Bale) and the Joker (Heath Ledger). The movie is preceded by a clump of earsplitting, undifferentiated trailers from Warner Bros., each of which announces its action genre membership with the telltale T-Rex footstep sound effect from Jurassic Park. The first is a revisionist Keanu Reeves version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, what appears to be an unmemorable paraphrase of the Michael Rennie original. Watchmen, from the director of 300, promises to take you on a deafening apocalyptic journey led by Aryan protagonists; like 300, it targets the director's demographic of young, male, racist homophobes.

After the vociferous prelude, The Dark Knight mires its audience in a classic tale of Eros. The Joker, an example of the abject gay man with an enlarged vaginal/maternal mouth, woos Batman, a closeted homosexual male.

Below: The Joker's abject vaginal wound.

Batman deals with his repressed sexual yearnings by dressing up like his hero, Dracula, a famous effeminate leading man. By day, however, Batman operates under the pretense of being in love with Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a female downer, and the only woman in the movie. Batman quickly extinguishes the sole vagina in a life-or-death quandary; he chooses to save Rachel's comely beau, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), instead of her, and the phalli reign supreme over the remaining 100 or so minutes. Batman, now part of a love triangle in which he, the Joker, and Harvey form the points, must court the other two and decide on a mate. Harvey, the 19 year old district attorney, is the more socially acceptable choice. In order to please his butler-cum-doctor-cum-father-figure, Michael Caine (Caine invokes a strident cockney accent and shaggy dog stories to lend his character credibility), Batman tries to make it work with Harvey. However, he cannot resist the dark erotic force of the Joker and his abjections. The Joker, unhappy with Batman's amorous flirtations with Harvey, incites Batman's jealousy by seducing Harvey while dressed as a sexy nurse. At long last, Batman and the Joker straddle a rigid tower and, while costumed in their respective role-play outfits, wrestle, grunt, and secrete, like the men in D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love. The movie terminates in confusion and a moustache (convincingly portrayed by Gary Oldman) delivers a Shakespearean monologue that is absorbed by the music and wildly throbbing sound effects; the message that resonates with viewers is that if society continues to oppress homosexuals, they will sublimate their unsated homoerotic drives into humanitarian vigilante acts of charity.

Below: The couple's foreplay includes an interrogation role-play. Here, the Joker considers using his safe word when things get rough.

Plabnox would like take some time to touch on other salient aspects of the film. First, the sound-mixing, which drowns out most of the dialogue and heightens the crashes, sonic explosions, and bass noises, enables moviegoers who survive the aneurysm-inducing experience to carry on feature-length conversations with their neighbors at a shout, while other attendees remain none the wiser. Nolan's radical aural theory, reified in The Dark Knight, critiques the movie dialogue system and renders moviegoers co-screenwriters in an ad hoc performative script.

Another noteworthy Nolan invention is the redundant dialogue motif, which arrives in its purest form during the chase sequence among the Thomases and the Joker's abject garbage truck. For approximately ten minutes, the only dialogue uttered onscreen is the line, "What was that?" and various permutations thereof. Merely through virtue of repetition, Nolan poses this ontological question, not only to the characters in the diegesis, but to the audience as well. As if to underscore the absurdity and semantic ambiguity of that question—one which we are all guilty of carelessly posing at one time or another— Nolan, in a wry gesture toward the end of the chase sequence, endows the one of the Thomas drivers with a half-eaten submarine sandwich. The film imparts no clues as to how or when the driver acquired the sandwich (did he make a pit stop in the tunnel, amidst a barrage of bullets; or did he have the bread chunk stored in a lunch box all along, finding the time to retrieve it during a lull in the pursuit?), let alone had the chance to munch on it; thus, Nolan uses the sandwich to exemplify the meaninglessness of the seemingly innocuous question, "What was that?"

Despite the fact that The Dark Knight adheres to a traditional hero's journey structure told in the classical continuity style for 95% of the movie, Nolan opts to disrupt this consistency during the party scene at Batman's abode. The Joker crashes the party and immediately announces that his objective for the scene is to locate Harvey Dent. Batman hides Harvey in a closet (womb) and then returns to the ballroom. Meanwhile, the Joker has molested Rachel’s mouth (vagina) with a knife while the 400+ hale and robust partygoers—all in close proximity to glass, forks, knives, and heavy objects—watched inertly. When Batman returns, the Joker has just defenestrated Rachel and ejected her into the ether. Batman follows her trajectory and cushions her fall . . . somehow. The scene ends and cuts to what is presumably the following day at Harvey’s office, where he nonchalantly goes about his daily business. How Harvey emerged from the closet, what the Joker did at the fĂȘte after Batman vacated the premises (e.g., hunt for Harvey with his henchman in order to accomplish his aforementioned goal, fill his dance card, ingest some vittles, or all of the above), and general party clean-up protocol remain cloaked in mystery, never to be resolved.

Below: The Joker prepares to widen Rachel's vag.

Below: Penetration impends.

Nolan's rendition of Batman is that of the superhero plagued by minutia. Although Batman can fly, employ previously covert CIA tactics including using an umbilicus to parachute back into a helicopter after disembarking therefrom, and possess a practically indestructible vehicle, he is beset by a design flaw in his mask. The specifics of the flaw are unknown and apparently irremediable, and the fallout is twofold: 1) the flaw causes Batman's voice to take on an irritating nasal quality whenever he dons the mask; 2) the skin beneath Batman's nose is depressed and forces his upper labium to protrude outward like the petals of a thick and fleshy flower. Though harassed by these side effects, Batman perseveres in his mask-wearing endeavor.

The Dark Knight exhibits an innovative manifestation of the doppelganger motif. The doppelganger motif implies an affinity between two similar subjects; furthermore, showing one subject as a doppelganger of him- or herself (e.g., in a mirror) indicates duplicitous motives afoot. Nolan does not invoke mirroring, but rather utilizes the erection doppelganger. At the climax of the chase scene, Batman's Batmobile suffers "damage catastrophic"; he must abandon the impotent shaft and mount its scrotum-shaped motorcycle, presumably the car's only virile subsection, which, appropriately, emerges from the bowels of the Batmobile. Incensed, he proceeds to overturn the Joker's largest Thomas by riding it. From end to end, the stiff monolithic member rises and falls with a jolting crash, which pleases the Joker. In response to the Joker's display of pleasure, Batman motors his testicycle up the steep wall of the nearest concrete edifice, revving the ragged engine frothily. Thus, in a Hegelian dialectic, we witness one erection, that of the Joker's Thomas (thesis), reflected in another, that of Batman (antithesis). The montage of the two erections in sequence generates a synthesis that is greater than the sum of the two erections.

Below: Batman atop his testicycle.

In the rising action that segues to the aforementioned chase scene, we learn that Batman's pursuit of justice includes flagrant disregard for the safety of bystanders during said pursuit. While honing in on the Joker in the tunnel, Batman, wings a-flap, blithely crashes into parked cars and causes several moving ones to flip and explode in towers of fire, endangering the lives of their passengers as well as pedestrians who may be cremated alive or dismembered by flying rubble. Nolan shows us several enthralled car passengers, innocents, who witness this behavior at close proximity, yet do not fear for their own lives. The spectacle is worth the price of admission—for them.

On a sober note, Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker has got some critics crying "Oscar!" What has incited such prognostications is the Academy's effort to recognize impoverished moviegoers during the recession, for in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger is the Poor Man's Jack Lemmon. He simpers, simultaneously grins and grimaces, and recreates the trademark nervous mannerisms of Jack Lemmon. To top off his historical reenactment, Ledger mimics Lemmon's infamous cross-dressing in Wilder's screwball comedy, Some Like It Hot; even here, Ledger opts for a nurse's uniform, which is more affordable than the couture gowns worn by Lemmon.

Below: Jack Lemmon/Heath Ledger

Our final remarks regard the moustache (Gary Oldman), who sired at least two seeds prior to the narrative's inception. In the penultimate scene of The Dark Knight, the moustache is verbally assaulted by an irate Harvey Dent, who threatens to smite the moustache's male scion. During the heated negotiations with Harvey, the moustache elects to recline on the ground in a supine position, for in this stance his persuasive powers are strongest.

1 comment:

Chris F. said...

I'm young, male, and a racist homophobe. I give this movie two thumbs up!