Scenes Spotlight: The Dark Knight’s Interrogation and Harvey Dent Dinner scene

It’s only been four years since The Dark Knight opens, but it feels like ages. I’m watching it as I’m typing this, though this post has been in my draft folder since I read this Hero Complex article a few months ago. Well, since I’m hugely anticipating the final installment of Christopher Nolan‘s supremely lucrative Batman trilogy, it seems like it’s as good a time as any.

Hero Complex editor Geoff Boucher asked Nolan to pick his favorite scene from The Dark Knight and he answered quickly,

Nolan: To be honest, it’s pretty easy for me. The scene that is so important and so central to me is the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker in the film. When we were writing the script, that was always one of the central set pieces that we wanted to crack.

This is the scene where Batman nearly lost it… he’s pushed to the limit like he’s never been before. In the article, Nolan shared that he couldn’t find a moment “…where you actually worry that Batman will go too far. A moment where his rage might spill over and he would break his rules.” But The Joker clearly had such power to get into anyone’s skin, including our dark knight. He’s just so ruthless and has absolutely nothing to fear. And all for no real motive, just like Alfred’s story about the Burmese ruby, it proves that indeed ‘some men just want to watch the world burn.’

Even his outlandish appearance makes you squirm, the way he moves, constantly licking the side of his made-up mouth… it’s all very disturbing. And I think it’s amplified tenfold in this scene.

This might be one of the most bright-ly lit scene in the whole entire movie. Instead of the common dark interrogation room, we’ve got a stark room with a harsh, bright light and you see every single detail of both Batman and The Joker. Nolan said that the Batsuit was specifically designed for the scene in a way that it would hold up to the scrutiny of that glaring light.

What I like about this scene is that it’s got humorous elements – hence an easy target for a spoof just on Batman’s voice alone – but it’s also highly sinister, wicked, merciless as The Joker holds the answer to the lives of two people our hero holds dear. So it’s extremely personal for Batman, I mean, one doesn’t go THAT berserk if it weren’t personal, and you just feel for him, his agony. No wonder he’s all ‘bottled-up fury’ as Mr. Boucher said in the interview. I mean, most people might not survive such pressure! Both Heath Ledger and Christian Bale are in top form here.

I like what Nolan said at the end of that article that sums up this scene perfectly: How do you fight someone who thrives on conflict? It’s a very loose end to be left with.


You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain

That’s one heck of a great quote… and Aaron Eckhart is just brilliant in this role, absolutely brilliant. I feel like his character, just like Bale’s himself, is drowned out by people’s adulation for Ledger. And while that’s warranted because his Joker’s performance is truly iconic, there are other memorable characters that makes this film so rich.

Now, there’s a plethora of favorite scenes from The Dark Knight that would warrant its own top ten list, that truck flip scene is one of my top 20 scenes I could watch over and over, it’s just pure adrenaline rush! But the dialog is what makes a movie stand the test of time, and the conversation in this dinner scene is most fascinating to me. It’s not only the first time two of Gotham’s most powerful meet: Bruce Wayne and District Attorney Harvey Dent. Unbeknownst to him, Dent ends up defending the masked vigilante right in front of the man himself, and he believes that the Bat-man is on Gotham’s side. Thus, for the first time Bruce is hopeful that perhaps one day his city might not need Batman. That night he too, believes in Harvey Dent…

I LOVE this scene! It makes it all the more tragic what happens to Dent at the end… nobody at the table knew that philosophical quote he uttered here is the harbinger of things to come.

So have you been watching Nolan’s first two Batman movies before The Dark Knight Rises? What would you be YOUR favorite scene(s) from The Dark Knight?

Weekend Roundup: The Dark Knight & How to Train Your Dragon Blu-ray

Happy Monday, everyone. I didn’t get to the movies again this weekend, but a whole bunch of people showed up in droves to see Paranormal Activity 2, making it the #1 movie with $41 million! No surprise I suppose, as the horror genre usually reigns in October. As I’m not a horror fan, nor am I particularly fond of anything to with Halloween, we opted to see a fun family flick How to Train Your Dragon. Given all the positive reviews, we both had a high expectation for it. Fortunately it didn’t disappoint! LOVE Toothless, now I want my own pet dragon!

Anyway, this week is shaping up to be a cold and wet one in my neck of the woods 😦 Oh well, I knew we’d have to pay for all those gorgeous sunny Fall days we had all last week. But you know what, we’ve got something that might help chase out the blues of the upcoming Winter… we finally got our Blu-ray player! We were going to order online for our player but hubby took the day off on Friday and came across the exact Sony player we were going to buy at a giant retail store in town for 20 bucks cheaper! He then called me to ask which Blu-ray disc we should get first: Avatar or The Dark Knight. It didn’t take me a second longer to yelp, “The Dark Knight, of course! There’s no question!” He..he… I can be so decisive when the occasion calls for it 🙂

I was with my pal Prairiegirl Friday night to see this wonderful BBC production of the Taming of the Shrew, which is one of the four ShakespeaRe-told series, a modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. You can see a clip of Rufus Sewell and Shirley Henderson in my Rufus b’day tribute post, I’ll discuss this series in more detail once I see all four of them. In any case, as soon as I got home, hubby was already playing the disc so I couldn’t resist to join him and watch some of the scenes. The image quality obviously is striking in Blu-ray, especially the breathtaking truck-flip scene (so yep, it still deserves to be on this list). The movie itself still holds up well, we were as immersed in the story as we did the first time we saw this in the theater. And after that spectacular, cliff-hanger ending, I’m even more excited to see what Nolan has in store for us for Batman 3. Curious to see what he’ll call it. My friend Ted told me via Twitter he hoped it’ll be The Caped Crusader. Y’know what, I can live with that.

Well readers, hope your weekend was fun. Did you get to see any good movie(s)? Oh, just out curiosity, those who own a Blu-ray player, what disc did you either buy or watch for the first time? Any suggestion for a ‘must-own’ Blu-ray disc?

Counting Down to Inception! Ranking Christopher Nolan’s Top 5 Movies

Woot woot! Three more days until my most-anticipated flick Inception finally arrives! I haven’t talked to any movie blogger so far who aren’t excited about this movie, and most of my friends are psyched about this as well. I for one am trying hard to keep my enthusiasm in check, by playing this ‘game’ coined by MadHatter from The Dark of the Matinee, of ‘Avoidception.’ Basically I refuse to read anything about the plot or watching any clips from the movie, I even avoid watching the latest trailer, which is usually something I do over and over again when it comes to movies I’m looking forward to, as to ensure a ‘fresh’ movie-going experience when I finally sit down at the theater and watch it unfold. For once I’m actually looking forward to a movie more for its director than of its stars!

I also avoid reading the reviews (which currently still stands at 96% Fresh at RottenTomatoes with 27 reviews by the time this post is published), though I did peek at this spoiler-free compilation of them @ Cinematical. WOW, with such lavish praises bestowed upon this enigmatic sci-fi thriller, no wonder this LA Times blog writer even pondered if this flick would suffer backlash from too-great expectations. I sure hope this one deserves all the enthusiastic buzz and be the Summer flick that lives up to the hype.

Well, in honor of the movie’s release, I thought I’d list my Top Five Favorite Nolan films. Granted the 40-year-old British auteur only has less than 10 feature films under his belt, but surely he’s made an indelible mark in the history of cinema.

  1. Batman Begins (2005)
    The ultimate origins story and my favorite Batman film ever! Nolan’s got a reputation for cajoling exceptional performances out of his actors, but when you already have a thespian like Christian Bale as the lead, it’s pretty much a given. Surrounded by a slew of top notch actors such as Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy, etc., the movie also benefits from a fantastic script that rewards you with each repeated viewing. I’d even overlook the miscasting of Katie Holmes on this one, it’s THAT good!
  2. The Dark Knight (2008)
    It’s rare that a sequel lives up to the original, especially when one already sets the bar so high, but Nolan did just that! It’s nothing short of casting genius to have Heath Ledger play the Joker, though a lot of people were skeptical at first, the late Aussie actor’s iconic performance forever defined that character that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing that role (neither did Nolan as he recently said he won’t bring back the Joker character for Batman 3). The complex story and the level of character development in this film makes me forget this is a superhero film! Gone are the circus-y and frivolous-ness of the previous Batman flicks, as both Nolan’s versions become the quintessential thinking person’s superhero movie. This is definitely a welcome trend for this genre!
  3. Insomnia (2002)
    Did you ever notice Nolan’s really skimpy when it comes to his movie titles? His one-word-titled movie starting with an ‘i’ is a small film with a budget of less than $50 million. Under less capable hands, the story of  two Los Angeles homicide detectives set to investigate a methodical teenage murder in Alaska might’ve end up to be a run-of-the mill thriller. But the smart, twist-ridden script and excellent performances from the cast made this into something memorable and thrilling to watch. Al Pacino as the increasingly unhinged LA detective and Hilary Swank as the young cop who adore him work well together, but it’s Robin Williams’ as the creepy nutcase who’s the scene-stealer. I think comedians actually make for the eeriest villains. Despite the title, Nolan certainly kept the audience wide awake with this one.
  4. The Prestige (2006)

    Bale & Jackman as friends-turned-arch rivals

    Out of the five Nolan’s movies, this is my least favorite. Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean I dislike it, an OK movie from him is still better than average. The story is a riveting one: a tale of two magicians who become friends as well as rival, which intensified when one of them the ultimate magic trick. It’s got the recipe for a movie I’d love, especially given the cast that include Christian Bale (one of my faves) and the eye candy that is Hugh Jackman, as well as Nolan’s regular, Sir Michael Caine. Fans of David Bowie would also got a kick out of seeing him in a small but important role.

    I wasn’t blown away by it initially but upon re-watch, I had a whole new appreciation for it and felt that I could connect to the characters more, especially with Borden (Bale). The whole twist and turns are utterly perplexing (in a good way) and that ending is just WOW! Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Nolan did a fine job in setting up a beautifully-shot period piece with gorgeous cinematography, costumes and wonderfully-rich atmosphere.

  5. Memento (2000)
    One of the most original story and most innovative narrative structure, it’s one that rewards with multiple viewings. Nominated for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay, this is the first time mainstream audiences are introduced to Nolan’s genius work. A tale of a
    man who, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. Guy Pearce is astounding as Leonard, it’s a shame he was snubbed of any major acting nods! As #28 in IMDb’s Top 250 Movies(along with three other Nolan’s movies), this movie is etched in many people’s memories for years to come.

P.S. I will be revising this list now that I have seen Inception and watch The Dark Knight Rises. Stay tuned.

Ok, now your turn, everyone. How would you rank YOUR top five Nolan films?

This Just In: INCEPTION teaser trailer

Goodness, I’m getting buzz-overload here with all these sci-fi stuff…  but hey I’m not complaining =) First there’s District 9, then Avatar, and now, all the mystery surrounding Christopher Nolan’s Inception just got a potent boost thanks to the awesome teaser trailer that’s just released about an hour ago. The bootleg got leaked over the weekend but why settle for a low-res,grainy version when you can see it in its kick-@$$ HD glory!

All I can say is WOW! I don’t think Chris Nolan has done a bad movie in his short career and looks like he’s kicked it up a notch here. I’d think The Dark Knight is a pretty tough act to follow, but apparently not to Nolan. I respect the guy for refusing to be boxed into one type of genre. Composer extraordinaire Hans Zimmer once again collaborates with Nolan on the score and the bit that I hear seems to capture that dark and shadowy mood of the film

Billed as a mind-bending contemporary sci-fi thriller, the synopsis sounds mystifyingly fascinating: A thriller set within the architecture of the mind about a CEO who is involved in a blackmailing scandal. Looks like David Fincher’s The Game with Michael Douglas meet The Matrix. It’s an oversimplification on my part, as I’m sure Nolan can do better than those two flicks combined! Leo DiCaprio looks intense here as the CEO, and all that matrix-like moves in the hallway with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, way cool!  The movie also stars Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, and sir Michael Caine. What an impressive cast, wouldn’t you say? The NolanFans site has some on-set pictures in Paris.

This is definitely at the top of my must-see list for next year. Man, Summer 2010 can’t come soon enough!

Speaking of sequels … Batman 3 starts shooting in 2010?

Gary Oldman let it slip at the SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) that The Dark Knight sequel is definitely in the works! He told a fan who asked him about what’s happening with Batman 3,

“I think the next Batman is next year. We start shooting next year. You didn’t hear that from me.”

tdklogoIt’s unclear whether Christoper Nolan will be back at the helm though. So far he has not signed on the dotted line yet and from the start, he wasn’t too keen in making a Batman trilogy. Reportedly he’s still so shook up by the death of Heath Ledger who was originally going to be back as the Joker (read the detail report on Batman On Film). Nolan is currently working on Inception for Warner Bros, which is billed as a contemporary sci-fi action thriller starring Leo DiCaprio, backed by a strong ensemble cast that includes indie darlings Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page, as well as Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine who were both in Nolan’s Batman films. Since WB is the same studio that released The Dark Knight, there’s a possibility of some kind of agreement to bring Nolan back. However, in case that doesn’t happen, reportedly Zack Snyder is a strong contender. Wow, if he got this gig, Snyder is one busy guy working on both 300 and Batman 3 at the same time! It remains to be seen how he can pull this off though. Watchmen wasn’t as good as I thought it’d be—definitely didn’t live up to the hype—and 300 was not even remotely in the same league as The Dark Knight.

Meh, without Nolan’s extraordinary vision, I’m not as interested in this project. Not even sure if Bale is either, given his strong rapport with the British director. I guess I’m more intrigued by Inception, especially with Nolan also writing the script.

Charming bad boys on film

After watching Public Enemies this weekend, it’s clear the film portray the dangerous criminal as a charming hero. Obviously his real life story offers a stark contrast to how the film made him out to be.

Hollywood does this all the time it seems, making a hero out of otherwise shabby characters. I thought of some ‘bad boys’ that not only ‘captured’ the audience’s hearts, they are essentially the ‘heart’ of the movie itself.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. Phantom in Phantom of the Opera
This is the flix that I came to know and love Gerard ‘Gerry’ Butler. One look at this seductive brooding ‘opera ghost’ and you’ll know why Christine’s lured by him. The half-deformed rogue is supposed to be an ugly creature not much to look at, but it’s hard to take your eyes off Butler’s Phantom. Raoul who??

2. Castor Troy in Face/Off
This despicable character is fascinating to watch, played by both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. When playing Troy, each actor got the best lines and both seemed to have more fun playing that character than the good guy Sean Archer.

3. Hans Gruber in Die Hard
The masterful performance by Alan Rickman always made the list of ‘best villain.’ He’s ruthless but yet so refined, elegant and polite that you can’t help rooting for him. He offers such a stark contrast to the crass and ‘everyman’ John McClane (Bruce Willis) and made the game of cat and mouse so much more fun to watch.

4. Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma
The Bible-quoting outlaw played by Russell Crowe is a complex yet sympathetic character. Even Dan Evans (Christian Bale), the good guy who escorts Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma, can’t help liking the guy. The battle of wills between the two of them is the essence of the film right up until the end.

5. The Joker in The Dark Knight
The role that eclipsed the Dark Knight himself. Heath Ledger was ‘lost’ in this quintessentially evil character that might’ve cost him his own life. The Joker stole literally every scene he’s in, yet despite our abhorrence to the things he did, we were mesmerized by him.

Honorable mentions:

Simon Gruber in Die Hard 3 (Jeremy Irons)
Dr. Octopuss in Spiderman 2 (Alfred Molina)
Elijah Price in Unbreakable (Samuel L. Jackson)

What do you think? Any particular bad boy stood out to you?

Ledger had wanted out as Joker?

Vanity Fair Tribute to Heath Ledger
Vanity Fair Tribute to Heath Ledger

Well according to the Vanity Fair tribute to the late actor, that’s exactly what he wanted. That comes as a surprise to me as his performance was so masterful that you’d think an actor of his caliber would’ve welcomed the opportunity to play such an outrageous character. But his friend/agent Steven Alexander told Vanity Fair’s contributing editor that Ledger had a pay-or-play deal for his role as the Joker that he could pretty much bail and still get paid. So he purposely delivered such an over-the-top performance hoping he’d get fired so he could go on a lengthy vacation instead! Ironically, director Chris Nolan liked his performance and so did critics and film goers.

From what I’ve read, Ledger was a private person who shun publicity and the fame that came with the job as an actor. The article confirmed that unlike most actors, he definitely had an apathy for stardom. This was a quote from Alexander:

“[Ledger] was always hesitant to be in a summer blockbuster, with the dolls and action figures and everything else that comes with one of those movies. He was afraid it would define him and limit his choices.

Hmmm, strange that he thought so as I’d think the success would mean he could pick ANY role he wanted. Ledger had been quite well-known before he took on the Joker role so I doubt he’d be typecast into playing comic-book villains. Besides, he’s so unrecognizable anyway with all those goop on his face, most people probably won’t recognize him if they passed him on the street. Nobody will ever know how much of an impact the role had on him, whether it intensified his chronic insomnia to such a lethal degree. Reportedly, his breakup with Michelle Williams and fighting for custody of his daughter also hit him hard.

Just like Michael Jackson, Ledger seemed to have had everything but yet were devoid of hope and inner peace. No matter how HUGE our problems seem to be, I think they’re rather trivial compared to the larger scheme of things. As a Christian, I’m blessed to know where my hope and strength comes from (Philipians 4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength). I know I’m never alone in facing my troubles. As the world paid tribute to the King of Pop, I pray that we all would reflect on what really matters in life, and that we’d turn to the real King of heaven and earth, the only one who can help carry us through anything and everything.