No Joke

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2017-08-07T09:00:00-04:00 August 7th, 2017|Entertainment|

Heath Ledger is gone. There’s no Aussie accent, swooning good looks, charm – it’s all swallowed by the Joker, the “Brokeback Mountain” actor’s last complete role before his too-soon death in January at 28.
He licks his upper lip like someone in dire need of ChapStick; his scars, outlined with red make-up, are barely visible through his clown-looking face. And that high-pitched giggle? It’s pure evil.
“Some men just want to watch the world burn,” Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) tells Bruce Wayne, played by the beefy Christian Bale.
Legions outside of Jack Nicholson’s campy go at the evil quipster, Ledger’s ominous, thrill-killing turn in director/writer Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” plays up the role like a kid playing dress-up: Ledger. Is. The. Joker. And he won’t let Gotham City residents forget. Or us, for that matter.
Long after a pulse-surging final half pumps-up the adrenaline level to infinity with a fist-clenching tunnel chase, a hospital pyrotechnic show and surprises galore, Ledger’s Joker is what will haunt, and not for the reason many assume. Every ounce of the actor’s skin is shed as he saturates his role and, odds are, many posthumous Oscar votes.
Bale, as the caped crusader, Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon, and Aaron Eckhart as the District Attorney (and, later, Two-Face) are also positively right-on, shifting “The Dark Knight” from a mere comic-book flick into a gritty reality. It helps that the two-and-a-half-hour film was shot on location in Chicago, with galvanizing aerial shots that fantastically capture more than just a cartoon fantasy (especially in IMAX, since Nolan and crew shot six action sequences in that format).
That “The Dark Knight” – the follow-up to 2005’s “Batman Begins” – is pretty darn brilliant really shouldn’t be alarming; in the last few weeks, folks have shot it more kudos than the Joker does quips, calling it the best comic-book film. Ever. It’s true.
And that’s mostly due to Nolan’s raw vision, twisting what was once a cartoonish saga into a chilly, sadistic skin-crawler built on its evil protagonist. As Ledger’s final film goes (no word yet on how footage from Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” due out next year, will be used, if at all), it’s a fitting bookend to his repertoire. Not because of who he plays, but how he plays it. A

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.