(Photo by the very talented Julia Wahl.)
Sure, I was in town for work stuff, the BlogHer convention and a few other social engagements but what I wanted more than anything else, was to see 'The Dark Knight' in IMAX with my favorite movie buddy of all time, James.
And so, we willingly signed up for the 'The Tweaker Screening' at 3:30 a.m. at the SONY Metreon IMAX and made our plans. This required some pre-event napping, the avoidance of alcohol (on a Friday night, no less!), some caffeine and perhaps a few other creative approaches. Best of all, the wild and weird evening all took place under a full moon - perfect conditions for caped crusaders and evil villains.
Luckily, we were able to keep ourselves awake by stopping in to the "Hubba Hubba Revue" at the DNA Lounge, a British-themed showcase of numerous burlesque acts. I wanted to see my old troupe, The Devil-Ettes, perform and see my favorite girls, Jamie Lee (The Assassin) and Baby Doe, (The Hellcat) once again. We saw lots and lots of glittered nipples and twirling pasties. Some acts were better than others. I was especially fond of the "Tit for Tat" act, which had two cute girls with chimney sweeps doing a very proper strip dance. They were so dainty and delicate, even with the 'soot' smudges all over their bodies. Delightful.
Eventually, it was time for the screening and we were beyond ready. Turns out, everyone else was too. There was the cutest scenario when James and I parked the car and scrambled into the elevator, with hyper-joy and nervous energy. We were giggling because we felt like kids.
Then, the elevator stopped at the next floor and another couple came aboard with the same exact look in their eyes. We four just looked at one another and started laughing hysterically and collectively yelled, "WE'RE SO EXCITED!!!!!!" No explanation was needed.
We then joined the long, winding queue and suddenly, it felt like we were at an amusement park and waiting to board a brand new roller coaster. I think others had the same feeling as I saw a few arms go up in the air. The crowd was loud and excitable. We looked like a bunch of 4th graders post-candy - ZOWEEEEE! WHEEE! HEE-HA!!!!
Once in the IMAX theatre, James and I fanned out to find the best seats. He'd picked two way upfront but it was much too close. So, while he held the seats, I went off and with his direction, landed two center seats. Perfect.
Then, we waited.
We were not patient or quiet. The crowd was so amped up, I thought that we were going to start clawing at the screen. At one point, we were doing the wave. People were clapping and stomping their feet: "BAT-MAN! BAT-MAN! BAT-MAN!" I don't recall ever experiencing that kind of mob excitement over a film - any film - in my lifetime. Folks were yelling and screaming - it was a madhouse. I can only imagine the blood level of caffeine, sugar and drugs in that particular audience. I'm just glad we were all there for entertainment reasons. Had been a political protest, cars would have been turned over and set ablaze.
I just remember one guy in particular sitting below me who came straight from the caveman era. He just kept grunting aloud: "MOOOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." And then, a few minutes later, "MOOOOOOOO-VEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" He was persistent in his protest.
Amongst all this, a odd scenario unfolded. A few people in the audience were watching movies on their laptops while they waited. This led to a great outcry and verbal harassment from the audience. I was even concerned that it might come to blows and they'd have to cancel the screening. James and I could not figure out what the big deal was but it clearly upset some people. Seems to me they were just passing the time but maybe I'm missing something.
ANYWAY, the film finally began and "The Dark Knight" did not disappoint. Ya'll have read the reviews by now and they are accurate. Heath Ledger is beyond creepy and he pretty much owns the film. Every second he's on screen, it's like a drug - you just can't get enough of him. It's more than the melted make-up and the lip licking, his performance is so swift and complete, you can't even recognize the actor. When asked, "Why Heath Ledger as the Joker?" direcotr Christopher Nolan said, "Because he's fearless." Damn straight.
But it's not just Ledger who blows you away. Christian Bale is, in my mind, the best Batman we've ever had. He's tortured and resolute; dark and determined. A big surprise for me was the performance of Aaron Eckhart, who plays a dual role of Harvey Dent/Two-Face. I wasn't expecting to get so much from him but he was intense.
There are two decisions made by director Chris Nolan that made this film so special - beyond cowriting the script with his brother and making brilliant casting choices. First, he shot at least four major sequences in IMAX, giving an amazing depth to some crucial scenes. Secondly, he avoided the use of CGI, unless absolutely necessary, giving the film a true gritty feel. Fans of the original Batman comic books, especially Alan Moore's "Batman: The Killing Joke" and "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" will appreciate this effort.
Of course, an indicator of a great film is when an audience spontaneously claps at the end, knowing full well that none of the cast and crew will hear them. Another sign is when most of the audience sits through ALL of the credits until the lights come up. I heard someone lament, "It's over."
Finally, we all stood up and I yelled, "Okay, everybody, back to bed!" A few responded to me bemoaning a different plan, "Man, I gotta go to work now." We walked outside and watched the dawn break over The City. Time for a nap.