1. The Dark Knight
I saw this movie on Friday and it was so very good. I'm not a big fan of superhero movies or superheroes in general, but I have always liked Batman for his complexity. The cartoon was so awesome and I love the philosophical matter of what it means to "do good." I hate Superman because of the way the series presents an oversimplified dichotomy of good guys vs. bad guys.
As far as the movie, I haven't seen all of Tim Burton's Batman versions, but I hear that they are, in true Burton fashion, a lot more whimsical. I love the darkness of Nolan's Batman series; the Joker was genuinely creepy. There were so many elements of Se7en in there and though Ledger as the Joker was amazingly sick and hilarious, it really left me feeling disturbed. I also felt incredibly sad, because Ledger was almost too good. Given his death, it was eerie in that it seemed to indicate some larger personal issues that could have led to his downfall.
I love the corollary between current political issues: the Joker is a true terrorist, and Batman makes some decisions (regarding surveillance) that Morgan Freeman's character Lucius questions in terms of morality (the Patriot Act, anyone?)
The movie is minimally flawed. A Salon piece said that Nolan's vision is generally very good, but complained that Batman is no longer presented as a deep thinker; instead, he is painted as a darker James Bond, complete with all kinds of gizmos and gadgets. To paraphrase the article, there is little light shed on the fact that Batman himself is arguably just as insane as all the villains he fights. In response to seeing his parents brutally murdered, he dresses up as a bat and takes it upon himself to protect an entire city? Not quite the most logical or healthy way, in most people's opinion, to deal with the trauma he suffered as a child.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the flat character of Rachel Dawes perfectly competently, but Dawes is so one-dimensional and not quite likable. That's the one thing I disliked about the Batman series: the lack of strong female characters (except Catwoman. Oh, and Batgirl, ha!)
Though I enjoy the newer movies much more, no one can deny the brilliant campiness of Adam West's Batman. See below:
2. Summer Heights High
This is my new favorite show. It takes place in Melbourne, Australia, at the public school where my best friend Justin attended when he lived there. The thing about Australia is that public school is seen as a refuge of the working class. Instead of paying for university, college is pretty much free, so instead, the kids with a fair amount of money go to private middle and high schools. Instead of being a privilege, it's basically a right and public schools are seen as trash in a way that I as an American can't quite fully understand. Justin can attest to this: the teachers would throw chairs and the school was severely underfunded. My high school sucked, but because of the tyrannical administration rather than lack of funding. In fact, we had such large programs (especially sports) that class started at 7:20 so that there was enough time for afterschool activities. The fuckers. There was also a little bald man who drove around in a golf cart making sure kids wouldn't cut class. It was atrocious.
Anyway, the show is based around three characters at a public high school, all played by the talented comedian Chris Lilley. There is Jonah, an islander immigrant who causes trouble (supposedly a well-known stereotype in Australia); Ja'mie, a bitchy private school exchange student; and Mr. G, an effeminate drama teacher who takes his role a bit too seriously. Hilariousness ensues. I think I like Ja'mie the best because I have actually witnessed girls like this. Lilley's characters are so spot on, it's scary. See her first moments:
The show is being broadcast on the BBC right now, I think, and will be on HBO in the future. Check it out!