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     The Dark Knight
    Filed under: — David @ 7:26 pm

    Now that was the Joker.

    Unlike a lot of people, I’m actually not a big fan of the Jack Nicholson Joker. It was a good enough movie on its own, but to me that just isn’t the Joker. Where did the whole “homicidal artist” thing come from? And Jack may make a good villain, but I don’t think he makes a good Joker. I’ve always said I would have nominated Christopher Lloyd (see the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit) or Tim Curry (who almost got the role in the cartoon before Mark Hamill came along). But now they’d both be too old.

    Here, however, both problems are corrected. I found the way the character was written to be completely faithful to the Joker I know from the comics, and Heath Ledger’s performance fully lives up to the hype. You never think about who’s behind the makeup, which can’t be said about Jack.

    We saw the “IMAX Experience” version of the film, which I definitely recommend. Going in I thought the difference between the IMAX and non-IMAX scenes would be jarring, but it’s actually fairly subtle, which is good because the two are often actually intercut. It seemed like all the aerial shots were done in IMAX, plus a couple of other specific locations and of course the opening bank robbery sequence. The thing is that the screen is so big, the extra area covered by the IMAX shots is just about in your peripheral vision, so you might miss the transition until you look around a bit more and realize what an amazing panorama it is all of a sudden.

    It’s hard to say anything more that’s interesting without spoilers, so I’ll just go ahead.

    Part of the film’s story is how Harvey Dent became Two-Face. I thought this worked well. For one thing, they set up his coin-flipping habit in his first scene. I also liked the subtle references to him as a “hero with a face”, in contrast to the masked Batman. I was of course disappointed to see him die in the end (or did he?), but this was different from your standard “villain plunging to his death” situation. It was actually important to the story: there was a need to preserve the image of Harvey Dent as the “white knight” of Gotham City, a symbol of hope that Batman could never be because Dent represented the law.

    I was hoping Two-Face’s appearance would be a little less extreme, but I wasn’t surprised that they went that far. On a technical level, it works very well. But not only is it gross and distracting, it also strains credibility. How can a man in that condition not be in constant screaming pain?

    For me the most thought-provoking thing was the Joker’s expression of his philosophy. He reveled in the idea that he was immune to interrogation because there was nothing the police or Batman could use as leverage against him. There was nothing he wanted. But of course there was, or he wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble. What he wanted, and worked so desperately for, was to prove that any person will compromise their morals under the right circumstances.

    I can think of lots of responses I might give to this. So nobody’s perfect? That’s old news. Then there’s the problem with proving that something will eventually happen, but the only method available to you is trial and error. When you fail, all you have to do is say that wasn’t the right situation, and surely next time you’ll get it right.

    So why is the Joker so intent on proving this idea? Because if he’s wrong, then there is enduring good in the world, a constant standard against which everyone can fairly be measured. And he doesn’t measure up. That’s a hard thing to face.

    The mere fact that I’m having such thoughts is another testament to what a good movie this is. I could even see it again, once it stops being sold out.

    There were a couple of things that bothered me, though. As above, Two-Face’s scarring was unbelievably extreme. Another is the presence of guns on the Batpod. These car chases involve an awful lot of property damage, which Batman didn’t seem very worried about avoiding.

    And finally, what’s up with the mayor’s eyeliner?

     Where credit is due
    Filed under: — David @ 9:49 am

    Today, and for the second time, I got a free video credit for the iTunes Store because of a problem with my Avatar: The Last Airbender season pass. Actually, this time it was three credits.

    The first time was last October, when availability of episode 3, “The Painted Lady”, was delayed by a couple of days. I hadn’t even noticed because I hadn’t gotten around to check, but apparently the e-mail went out to everyone with a season pass.

    This week, Nickelodeon has finally started airing the second half of the season, after a delay that started with the writer’s strike and continued for no apparent reason. Also for no apparent reason, the downloaded episodes appeared in iTunes as simply “Avatar”, instead of the full title “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, causing the new episodes to be listed separately. Fortunately, the show name can be edited, so it’s an easy fix. I also decided to complain to Apple, and as my reward I got three download credits. Hooray for the squeaky wheel.

    Interestingly, the first credit was given in the form of a code that I had to copy and enter in iTunes. The second time, the credit was put directly in my account, requiring no action from me. I wonder if the system has changed since October, or if it’s just because it was an individual case.

    I just recently spent my first credit on Presto. Why did it take me so long to use it? I’m just a very picky shopper.

    But now I notice that last night’s Avatar episode still hasn’t shown up for download…

     Carbon vs. the iPhone
    Filed under: — David @ 11:20 pm

    I was going to do my usual WWDC post this year, but I keep doing other things instead of blogging. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it, I think I’ll just summarize.

    The overall impression I had was that things are seriously changing now. Carbon, the application programming interface that evolved from the original Mac OS, was almost completely absent from the conference. For years, Apple insisted that Carbon and Cocoa were equally good alternatives for Mac programming, despite some indications that at least some people inside Apple (not to mention outside) didn’t really believe that. Then came last year’s surprise of dropping 64-bit Carbon from Leopard. Few believe it was for technical reasons.

    Then there was the iPhone, the 800-pound gorilla of the conference. I wasn’t the only one who sometimes didn’t bother going to some of the iPhone sessions just because they would be too crowded. I have played around with the SDK some, and there are some very cool things in there. I just need to figure out how to devote time to software hobby projects like I used to, now that marriage has changed the definition of “free time”.

    Things are changing. Carbon was a link to the Mac’s past, and that link has been cut. Mac programming isn’t what it used to be, and I’m actually feeling nostalgic for the 90s. I thought that kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to me for several more years at least.


    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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