****/**** Image B+ Sound A+ Extras B
starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman
screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
directed by Christopher Nolan
by Walter Chaw It's the best American film of the year so far and likely to remain that way. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is revelatory, visceral, grim stuff--a vision of the failure of our idealism before the inexorable tide of entropy, another masterpiece after last year's No Country for Old Men that as much as says that the only morality in the midst of chaos is chance. No coincidence that both films feature villains who let a coin-flip act as judge and jury. But what's adjudicated? What shape does the court take? The failure of reason is the great bogey of this modern day--and the inability to properly frame questions, much less ken answers, feeds this feeling of hopelessness. That widening gyre, it turns out, is a labyrinth, or an Escher print, illuminating a Sartrean paranoia of no hope for escape, no possibly of exit. Nolan's Gotham City is a beatification of Chicago: the city's glass and metal elevated into holy relic and presented in such grand, panoramic vistas that the little things done in spite of it or on its behalf seem like so many futile pittances--the dreamlife of mice in their sterile maze that is this sprawling microcosm of all of the miseries and suffering of the world.