Tuesday, August 05, 2008

We sat outside at some Mexican place on Columbus before the movie and it smelled of dirty dishes, mold and rot. That particular odor that busy, bad bars get; that chain restaurants get. Places where the busing station's always burdened by a tub of dirty dishes.

I drank salty-syrup margaritas until it was time to go and I had a good old-fashioned headache. We crisscrossed the IMAX room, dim, steep and infernal, in search of empty seats. Finally I clambered over to a single space in the middle, near the front of the balcony.

It was "The Dark Knight," and I could barely for the life of me understand what was going on. Seemed like a deliberately nasty movie, bleak, unfunny. People crashing about and you can't focus on a body part. Dehumanizing. Antihumanizing. And Heath Ledger's performance nagged me throughout: Who had he imitated to form his version of the Joker? The voice, I was certain, is Tom Waits. But where does the flickering tongue come from? He gives the impression that he has to remember not to bite it every time he speaks. There seemed to be aspects of Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote. Maybe some old-time comic, some contemporary of Milton Berle's? Something about his twisted-lispy voice, the way his smile would collapse into a grimace. I don't know. Reminded me of someone in particular and I still can't tell exactly. I have a feeling that once I do his performance will be demystified and seem empty to me, but until then I suppose I have to hand it to him. If he's created a character everyone recognizes but nobody knows, more power to him still.