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The Dark Knight

The last couple of months have been pretty hard for a number of reasons. Firstly, work has been busier than it's traditionally been for me at this time of year, which has cut down on the amount of time I've had to write. Secondly, the free time that I have had has been curtailed by fun and games with builders. The issues with the builders is a long story that I'm not going to recount fully here until it's been finally resolved, but suffice to say that it's been dragging out now since the beginning of the year, the problem still isn't solved and every time they come in to do work, I end up spending hours having to clean up after their clean-up. At some point, I'm going to write a short story about builders, just to get the feelings of frustration and rage out of my system. And finally, that remaining sliver of spare time has had to be divided between reading commitments for the T-Party and taking a look at my dad's book on World War I, which is due for submission to his publisher at the end of this month.

On the writing front, I'm almost at the 20,000 word stage and the eagle-eyed amongst you will note that this isn't much further along than I was last month. In my defence, I can say that I have made some progress on research for one of the historical scenes in the novel, which is set in Venice in the mid-fourteenth century whilst the city state is gripped by Black Death. Did I mention that I was writing a book aimed at teenagers?

Last night I went with a few other T-Party members to see The Dark Knight, which was an interesting film but needed about 30 minutes cut from it. I can see why everyone's raving about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, which seemed to me to cleverly incorporate elements from Ceaser Romero and Jack Nicholson's performances but at the same time remain an original and frightening interpretation. Aaron Eckhart also did an excellent job as the tragic Harvey Dent and I think that more mention should have been made in the press of Gary Oldman's performance as Jim Gordan because whilst his is not a flashy role, he manages to convey decency tempered by necessary compromise in a credible way.

The big weakness of the film in my view was the fact that Batman at times seemed to be overshadowed by everyone else in the story, which made it difficult for me to emphasise with him. I think that the Nolan brothers tried to off-set this by inserting the love triangle element between Bruce, Harvey and Rachel and although I thought that Maggie Gyllenhall brought more strength to the role than Mrs Cruise did, Rachel just wasn't a developed enough character on the screen for me to connect with. Also, I have to say that while I'm a big fan of superhero movies, I'm getting a little tired of the female roles almost always falling into the following categories:

- loyal-but-ultimately-useless-and-always-needs-rescuing; or

- sexy-vamp-bitch-who's-in-league-with-the-baddies.

I'd love for a superhero film to have a female character who is neither of these things and able to stand up to the male lead without being hopelessly in love with him or dying for the greater good.

There aren't many films due for release in the near future that I'm particularly excited about, with the possible exception of Tropic Thunder, which had me falling about laughing during the trailer (particularly the scene where Ben Stiller's character licks a severed head). Both Twilight and the X-Files movie seem to have AVOID! written all over then, although a mate of mine is v. keen to see X Files and I said I'd check it out because I'm like that (i.e. stupid). Actually, I'm going to see The Dark Knight with her on Sunday at the IMAX theatre, so it'll be good to know if my opinions on it change with a second viewing.

Right, to the writing cave!