Here’s a movie that can’t win. We’ve already had the definitive Batman. Unforgettable scenes are already in our heads. Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his immortal turn as the ultimate villain. There is no way to top The Dark Knight. No reason, ever, to want to go back; unless, of course, you count money. And it’s fair to say, the one thing new movie doesn’t lack is adequate funds. Bruce Wayne goes bankrupt in this film, in what could be read as an in-joke about exorbitant costs. The Dark Knight Rises is bigger in every way than its predecessor. But you can’t buy lightning in a bottle. No paycheque will bring Heath Ledger back. As Bane, the muscle-bound new villain has to learn, there are limits to bulk.
I like vulgar movies. I’d pick a vulgar movie over something “tasteful” any day. This isn’t specifically because I like to be shocked. I just think there’s more life in so-called bad taste. William Friedkin’s Killer Joe (based on a stage play by Tracy Letts) is a good example of what I mean. Very little of what happens in this movie is pleasant. It starts with scheming, betrayal and a middle-aged woman brandishing her pubic hair, and it only gets wilder from there on out. If I didn’t like the movie, I’d say it was lurid. But I did like it, so I say it’s vulgar. I grant you, the difference between the two words is subjective, perhaps even spurious. If I had to try to define it, I guess I’d say I prefer the baroque to the grotesque.