Ken On Film Vol. 1: The Killing Joke


I’m not sure how aware you are of the fact that I’m a fairly serious movie buff. Not obsessed, like some people I know, but a lover of the art of movie making in general. There is a good sized home theater here in the Compound that we regularly use for screenings of new releases and the annual replaying of old favorites.

Showings of Casablanca or The Third Man have been just as popular as Sin City or Children of Men. We have annual festivals like Woody Allen Week and Krazy For Kubrick. This year we started the Punkathon which featured all night consecutive showings of The Filth and the Fury, Sid and Nancy, Control and 24 Hour Party People, amongst others. That 2007 documentary Joy Division was a monumental, profound experience for all, with all the newly presented archive material alongside new interviews with all the key (still living) people who were involved.

So this week has been Dark Knight week, as the blu-ray version of the film has made it’s way to our modestly sized high-def screens.

Astonishing film, of course. That’s not news to anyone. What has been a revelation, after watching the film itself, has been the extra material included on the discs.

Now, it’s very rare that I ever watch DVD extras. Not that there isn’t sometimes interesting stuff there, it’s just that there is barely enough time in my day-to-day world for me to watch a film or two let alone hours worth of behind the scenes stuff. In this case, however, I made an exception and was well rewarded.

I’ll not go into it all but suffice to say there is some amazing insight into what was a brilliant production, brilliant approach to filming by Christopher Nolan and company. For example, all of the live, in camera affects in the film. The destruction of Gotham General was the most impressive as they decided, hey, what the hell, let’s blow up an entire building. As Heath Ledger is walking out of it. It’s an absolutley incredible sequence. Obviously they had one chance to get it right and Ledger, the composure of his performance, is astonishing to see when you consider the pressure of that moment. A nice treat in that segment was a look at a scene not included in the film’s final release, of the Joker riding away in the bus as the building goes down live behind him.

And Ledger never even glances back.

Gives you the fucking shivers, it does.

The other aspect of it that I enjoyed immensely was a segment on the score and the sound design. I was well aware from my first viewing that something unusual and fascinating was going on there, especially during the Joker sequences. What I didn’t know was that Hans Zimmer and associates had submerged themselves into that mental landscape so utterly in order to produce a sound that would so unnervingly mirror Ledger’s performance. The high pitched whine you hear from moment one, designed to put the audience right on edge, drawing them into the madness slowly but inexorably. Sounds of razor blades on strings (literally) and all manner of disturbing found sound, warped and mixed just right to suit the tone.

Zimmer even references a punk approach to the sound, which I had not considered. Is there something of John Lydon, in his prime, in the Joker? The tattered style, the love of anarchy, the mocking derision of the facade of normalcy most people wear to give themselves the illusion of control. Certainly, there is something of Jaz Coleman there, as well.

Another man who liked to paint his face and wanted to watch the world burn.

All in all, a truly rewarding experience on many levels. I don’t think I need to recommend it to anyone because I know you’re all aware of the masterpiece that has been produced here. I simply would like to recommend you watch it very closely and repeatedly to appreciate the level of craft and creation that went into it.



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7 Responses to “Ken On Film Vol. 1: The Killing Joke”

  1. Gonz O'Lager Says:

    An incredible film and one that inspired me to produce my one-man show based on the Penguin. The herring torture scene alone drew raves reviews. Are you interested in hosting a performance at the Bunker? We could use Garage #4 — the chain link fences and corrugated metal you have in there would make an awesome set piece.

    Oh, and regarding your home theater… screw Imax. You’ve got BUNKERVISION.

  2. Ken Socrates Says:

    As you know well from your last visit, Garage #4 is like your home away from home now. I haven’t even taken the hammock down yet, so consider it reserved for you whenever you want it, be it for that performance or just a place to crash when you’re on the lam. Hell, next time I might even throw a space heater or something out there.

    For no other reason than just to avoid another hypothermia incident with those “exotic dancers” you insist on bringing with you. Bitches can’t hack it up north, eh?

  3. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    Dangit, I want a Blu-Ray Player.

  4. Ken Socrates Says:

    Congratulations! You’ve just won a prize for the first use of the word “dangit” on this blog. Please check your mail in 4-6 weeks for your reward.

    Shipping and handling charges do apply. The KSWNO reserves the right to change contest rules at any time and substitute prizes of equal or considerably lesser value or to pretend it was lost in the mail and file a fraudulant claim on your behalf and split the compensation 75-25.

    Enjoy and thanks for reading!

  5. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    Is my prize a Blu-Ray Player?

  6. Ken Socrates Says:

    As far as the post office knows, it’s two of them.


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