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Thursday, July 17, 2008
Some early raves have cited The Dark Knight as the film that lifts director Christopher Nolan into the big leagues of the crime film genre. Writing at Horror.com, Staci Layne Wilson began her review with what she confesses is extra "sizzle" designed to draw readers in:

Martin Scorsese's The Departed. Michael Mann's Heat. Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. And now, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight can join the list of one of the most absorbing and intense crime dramas in modern movie milestones.

Scott Mantz at Access Hollywood wrote that "The existential, psychological, intelligent approach of The Dark Knight makes it less of a superhero movie and more of an epic crime drama that puts Nolan in the same league as Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann." Sounds like if crime movies are your thing, these are the directors to look out for.

But while some critics this week have been less enthusiastic (with most of the latter citing a lack of spatial clarity and quick-cut editing as part of the film's problems), Armond White has set himself apart as the man who refuses to laugh in the face of this somber Batman. White's review of The Dark Knight in this week's New York Press, which is generating hate posts at Rotten Tomatoes (and inevitably soon-to-be-published hate mail at the New York Press itself), sees the film as a cold commercial enterprise that corrupts "ideas of escapist entertainment." White compares and contrasts Nolan's film with Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns, but he also finds muse to link and compare it to De Palma's The Black Dahlia. White suggests that Burton's romantic affiliation with the lonely characters in the Batman mythos "was richer" than what he calls Nolan's one-note tone of gloom. White writes:

For Nolan, making Batman somber is the same as making it serious... As in Memento, Nolan shows rudimentary craft; his zeitgeist filmmaking—morose, obsessive, fussily executed yet emotionally unsatisfying—will only impress anyone who hasn’t seen De Palma’s genuinely, politically serious crime-fighter movie, The Black Dahlia. Aaron Eckhart’s cop role in The Black Dahlia humanized the complexity of crime and morality. But as Harvey Dent, sorrow transforms him into the vengeful Two-Face, another Armageddon freak in Nolan’s sideshow.

White also references De Palma's film in his description of Heath Ledger's Joker ("sweaty clown’s make-up to cover his Black Dahlia–style facial scar"). As might be expected, some of the posts at Rotten Tomatoes are using the fact that White prefers The Black Dahlia to The Dark Knight as proof that the critic just doesn't get modern art.

Posted by Geoff at 7:56 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2008 8:01 PM CDT
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