The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012)

Since the bulk of this review–okay, maybe meandering essay is more accurate than review–will be about how I arrived at my judgment, perhaps I should dispense with the formalities up front: the judgment itself. WARNING: THIS ESSAY HAS SOME PLOT SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS AS WELL AS BATMAN BEGINS AND THE DARK KNIGHT. I believe plot spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises are minimal, but proceed at your own risk. Continue reading “The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012)”

The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)

I did not review The Dark Knight when it came out in 2008, though I did discuss the film in some depth with friends and colleagues elsewhere.

I realized this week, however, that I should probably try to collect those thoughts to provide a context for the forthcoming review of The Dark Knight Rises, which opens on Friday and which a number of my friends and readers are anticipating eagerly. I am prepared to like and/or even esteem the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s series, but I had deep reservations about the second film which temper my own enthusiasm and make my anticipation a bit more guarded. Continue reading “The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)”

Anarchy at the Movies (Part I)

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about Culture and Anarchy, Matthew Arnold’s series of essays that were later collected together as a book, is the title. No matter how many times I tell students–and I do–“Thus will be on the test,” the title makes them think that “culture” is the opposite of “anarchy.” Actually, Arnold sets up “tyranny” as the opposite for “anarchy.” Culture, he suggests famously, is “the best which has been thought and said.” Tyranny is when people have no freedom; anarchy results when there is all freedom and no commitment. In the wake of the reform bill of 1867, Arnold wondered how it would be possible to mold new voters–who may not have been raised with any values except a passionate belief in the freedom to do whatever one wants–into productive citizens operating out of some sort of civic principle other than plain, old fashioned selfishness. Continue reading “Anarchy at the Movies (Part I)”