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#72 July 20, 2011

"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." - from LIFE ITSELF

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Ebert Club

#71 July 13, 2011

Marie writes: Once upon a time when I was little, I spent an afternoon playing "Winne the Pooh" outside. I took my toys into the backyard and aided by a extraordinary one-of-a-kind custom-built device requiring no batteries (aka: artistic imagination) pretended that I was playing with my pals - Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too - and that there was honey nearby; the bumble bees buzzing in the flowerbeds, only too happy to participate in the illusion. And although it didn't have a door, we too had a tree - very much like the one you see and from which hung a tire. A happy memory that, and which came flooding back upon catching sight of these - the animation backgrounds from the new Winnie the Pooh; thank God I was born when I was. :-)

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Dark Knight Quiz #1: What's wrong with this picture?

NOTE: Reader Cameron Smith has noticed that this shot has been cropped for the DVD version of the film. See his explanation here.

Although I enjoyed certain aspects of "The Dark Knight" (especially the gorgeously real Chicago cityscapes, which I thought stole the movie out from under even Heath Ledger), I have confessed I couldn't tell what was supposed to be going on from one moment -- often one shot, or one line -- to the next, and, for that very reason, soon stopped caring. Now that I've been able to go through it several more times since its release on DVD and Blu-ray last month, and have cross-checked the movie itself with the screenplay for clarification (it's available as a .pdf here, For Your Consideration), I'm able to better understand exactly why. And it's not just me. Now, at last, we have the means to really look past the phenomenon directly at the picture, and to understand how it works. Or doesn't.

Let me start by asking you to examine one simple, minor early example that has to do with narrative logic and, perhaps, setting up the audience's willingness to suspend disbelief in a comic book universe rendered with hyper-realistic visuals (even, occasionally, in IMAX): Please watch the shot above, the final piece in the opening sequence, showing the Joker's escape from the "mob bank" robbery and giving us our first "overview," if you will, of the scene. The Joker has backed a school bus into the lobby of a bank, filled it with mob cash, and then makes his exit.

After the jump is the script's description of the shot. But before you read it, please leave a comment with your account of the shot AND your assessment of how the Joker planned this getaway. Pay special attention to the timing (dust/debris, busses, traffic signal, arriving cop cars). Ready? Begin.