It’s No Joke
When I first heard that Heath Ledger would be playing The Joker in the upcoming Batman movie, “The Dark Knight” I was less than thrilled. He seemed too serious, his voice was too deep, too grounded, too brawny. To me this wasn’t ideal casting for a character we’ve often thought of as lanky, psychotic, and with a high-pitched giggle. Really? Ennis Del Mar is the Joker? I didn’t see. Then I saw the trailer and realized I knew nothing and Christopher Nolan knew everything. In those 2 ½ minutes Ledger’s Joker was everything I thought he wouldn’t be and more. And that was just 2 ½ minutes! I was stoked (and still am).
This week Heath Ledger gave us a reason to be so serious.
Last Tuesday afternoon, on the day the Oscar nominations were announced, the man who I was now eagerly awaiting to see play the clown prince of crime was found dead in his NYC apartment. He was only 28 years old.
I’ll admit it the first thing that popped into my head was what a cruel publicity campaign Warner’s was trying to run. Now I wish that had been true. He was truly becoming a master of his craft. He was just beginning to produce some truly remarkable work. Sadly, thats all gone now. And more importantly, a family has lost a father and a son.
Warner’s has said that all of Ledger’s work on “The Dark Knight” was completed before his death. So come July we’ll all get to enjoy his complete performance and try to forget that it was his last. Life is sadly temporary, but film is immortal. My thoughts go out to his friends and family. He will be missed.
The 2007 Oscar Nominations
As I said above, the Oscar nominations came out last Tuesday. I can’t say I’m surprised by any of the nominations. Two of my favorite films of 2007, “Gone Baby Gone” and “Charlie Wilson’s War”, only managed get 1 nomination each (well deserved supporting nods for Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman). “300” was shut out completely (a film I would’ve thought would be a shoo-in for technical awards at the very least).
But none of it truly bothers me. I still dig the movies I put on my top 10 list and stand by them. The Academy Awards are a very political process because studios believe that an Oscar nomination gives their film credibility (“Transformers” got three nominations, by the way). Nominations and awards are stamped onto DVD packaging so the average consumer will be “informed” as to what are the “good” movies. It’s ridiculous.
Star of a 3-time Oscar nominated film.
Steven Spielberg didn’t win a Best Director award until 1993. Martin Scorsese got his first last year. Alfred Hitchcock never won an award for one of his films (he was given a lifetime achievement award).
It’s impossible to choose one great film over another as being the best (or one actor or actress, or one screenplay, and so on). Some years, one film or performance truly does stand above the rest but most years there are easily a half dozen films that are all on the same level. Just because your favorite film of the year wasn’t nominated for an award doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good film. It entertained the hell out of you, didn’t it? That should be success enough for you. Besides, might not even be an Academy Awards show this year.
Onto the lighter side of things. There’s an odd phenomenon going on at the Sunset 5 theaters here in LA on the last Saturday of every month. At midnight, one of their theaters is packed for this little (and quiet terrible) movie called, “The Room” which was made in 2003. I set out in a rare Los Angeles monsoon to give it a look.
Make no mistake, this movie is AWFUL. A true vanity project for writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau plays Johnny, a creepy looking guy with long black hair and pale skin whose fiancee Lisa cheats on him. Plot elements and characters come out of left field. The dialogue is cringingly bad, the performances even worse. Wiseau’s Johnny looks easily 20 years older than his costars and appears sedated through most of the movie. It’s misogynistic. It’s discombobulated. It’s often out of focus. I’ve rarely had a better time watching a movie.
This is a rare film that you HAVE to see it in a crowded theater. It’s an experience where shouting at the screen is downright encouraged (don’t worry, you won’t miss any crucial plot twists, there aren’t any). Most of the loyal fans have seen the movie dozens of times. They shout out lines, point out obvious plot holes, and inexplicably throw plastic spoons in the air. And they cheer from the moment the film starts and stay right through the end credits. It’s really a great time.
All the best.
(and Godspeed, Heath).
-Brett Deacon has spent much of his spare time this week in Los Angeles lining up animals two by two.
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