The blogathon's theme is pretty much what you'd expect: Pick a film that "everyone" loves (at least 75% on Rotten Tomatoes) that you hate, and a film that "everyone" hates (at most 35% on Rotten Tomatoes) that you love. Then say why.
This was far more difficult to do than I thought it would be, but the fact is: Since time is (unfortunately) a finite resource, I tend to only see films that I know I'm going to like, and there are very few cases in which I saw something despite terrible reviews. I almost didn't find films that fit the criteria Dell set up! Except in the case of a film that "everyone" loves but I hate. I kept trying to find another one, but I just couldn't do it.
The Dark Knight is two-and-a half hours of relentless darkness, with a murky, byzantine plot that on repeat viewings only shows more and more holes. It is a punishing film, not just because that amount of cynicism and darkness over that length of time would make anything a tough sit (and the film is far too long to sustain the mood effectively), but because there's not a single moment of levity in the whole damn thing. Heath Ledger gives a great performance as the Joker, no doubt about it, but he's not funny in a fun, belly-laugh way - he's funny in a queasy, sick-to-your-stomach way. He's insane, and he renders Bruce Wayne/Batman the biggest idiot in the world with his mere presence. The man was trained by the freaking League of Shadows... AND THEN BEAT THEM, and yet he's not smart enough to figure out that the freaking Joker is not exactly a man you can trust to tell any part of the truth. AND, despite their admirable ultimate choice in the ferry boat standoff, the citizens of Gotham are proven to be the ultimate sheep, blindly following whatever voice screams at them the loudest in the moment, blaming Batman for the Joker's reign of terror instead of the police, the federal government/policing agencies, or, ya know, the clearly crazy Joker himself (they get even worse in The Dark Knight Rises, BTW). Which wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except that it begs the question: These are the people Bruce Wayne is so intent on saving?
And despite the strength of the film's cinematography, the editing is all over the place, often resulting in action sequences that are very nearly incoherent. And if you haven't yet done so, I urge you to take a look at the video below, which goes into detail on this very topic.
But my biggest problem with The Dark Knight, the one that completely outweighs all my other problems with it as a film in its own right, is that it's basically the film that was responsible for the cult surrounding Christopher Nolan, a group of people who think that every thing he does is an instant work of genius solely because he deigned to touch it, and that the man himself is infallible. Nolan is clearly very talented, and I've been a fan since Memento, but after The Dark Knight, a film wholly unworthy of being called his best, he was put on a pedestal as The Greatest EVER by a squadron of comic book fanboys, and it has become impossible to get a word in edgewise or have even a slightly negative view of Nolan or any one of his films without getting ripped to shreds.
But hold off on the ripping of me to shreds for just a little bit, because...
...WAIT FOR IT...
I LOVE EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE.
Unfortunately, it falls just a bit above Dell's threshold for this part of the project (it's at 40% on Rotten Tomatoes), which I found surprising given the vitriol often thrown this film's way. So I can't "officially" pick this one. But I wanted something shocking, and there you have it. I like the ways in which it differs from the book, I like that it allows the kid to be as difficult as he is in the book (which is a lot, and which is both very true to life and very different from how kids this age are usually depicted onscreen), and I love the performances from every single cast member. I also think it nails its big scenes in a way that feels authentic and doesn't pander to the audience's tears, but earns them through virtue of the actors' honest performances and good direction. BOOM.
ANYWAY, my "official" choice for this one is...
TOUCH OF PINK.
But Touch of Pink, I love. It starts with Kyle MacLachlan's sublime performance as Cary Grant, the imaginary friend of the film's main character, Alim. The thing is, MacLachlan doesn't really look or sound like Grant, but it goes so far away from being a good impersonation that it somehow goes all the way back around to being perfect. In many ways a lot of the film is like that. It's not "good", but everyone involved genuinely poured their hearts into it, and it shows: The film feels warm and loving. Alim is a gay Indian-Canadian man living with his partner in Britain. His mother comes for a visit, and since she would be shocked and hurt enough as it is to hear he was dating a white person, he introduces his partner as his roommate. Complications and heartfelt revelations follow. The characters don't feel lived-in, exactly, but they do feel honest. And while the plot may be contrived and cliché, it's still very enjoyable watching these performers spin gold (or something like it) out of straw.
I love it, and you should, too.