The Morning Read: Joseph Kahn and Jim Emerson do battle over ‘The Dark Knight’

Welcome to The Morning Read.

By far, the most entertaining thing going on out there this morning is Joseph Kahn versus Jim Emerson on the subject of “The Dark Knight.”  Here we are, three years down the road from the release of the movie, and look at the passion this one sequence seems to inspire.

Kahn, of course, is the director of “Torque,” as well as the upcoming “Detention,” which has been playing the festival circuit, and he’s got a commercial and video resume a mile long.  He’s got an active Twitter presence, and he’s fairly blunt about his work and his opinion.  I like the guy, and that’s a real evolution from my position when “Torque” was released.  I also like that “Detention” fiercely divided people when it screened at SXSW, and critics I like and respect reacted in an absolutely opposite fashion than I did when reviewing it.  Lately, he’s been engaging a lot in the discussion of fight geography and the use of sound in cutting action and defending the work of Michael Bay at length, and well.  This piece he published today is the culmination of a lot of conversations over the last week or so, it feels like.

As far as the order of events goes here, Jim Emerson and Matt Seitz published a video essay on “Press Play,” an IndieWire blog.  Emerson, of course, has his own blog, “Scanners,” and is the founding editor of  He’s a fairly sizable presence in his own right these days, and he’s part of a particular circle of film critics and writers.  There were ongoing conversations in print and comments between all of them that led to this piece in the first place, so it’s something that’s been brewing along, and this is only one of three pieces in the “In The Cut” essay series by Emerson.  The fact that he uses “Salt” as an example of great recent action in his second piece baffles me a bit, but this isn’t about whether I think Emerson is right or whether Kahn is, or even who expressed themselves more clearly.

I just love the heat here in this conversation.  I love that we’ve got a director taking the time to mount the rebuttal he did.  The fact that he engaged to that degree is awesome.  You seriously could lose your whole morning reading all of this if you’re just catching up, but it’s worth it.  It’s always worth a real conversation about aesthetics instead of commerce.  I’ll take a thousand arguments about film language over one more conversation about something’s awards season potential.  This is the sort of stuff I wish we woke up to every day.

Meanwhile, here’s what Harry Knowles is thinking about:

RT @headgeek666 So this new binary star with a planet thing. 1 red 1 yellow – That’d make for one helluva squirrelly SUPERMAN – only super when Red eclipsed

You know what he’s talking about, right?  The planet Tatooine.  The real one.  The one they just announced.  This one.  It’s technically called Kepler-16b, but the scientific community seems to have agreed that’s it simply more fun to call it Tatooine, since it’s the first two-sun planet they’ve ever found.

Leave it to Harry to take something that incredibly geektastic in the first place and then ladle on the syrup.  I’ve got a review of the film that Harry was in Toronto to promote coming up during the rest of my Toronto Film Festival coverage.  Just because I’m back in LA and publishing other things again for a few days doesn’t mean that I’m done with my Toronto stuff.  I’ve got a few more reviews, and good stuff, too.  “Sleepless Night.”  “Livid.”  Jennifer Garner in “Butter.”  Luc Besson’s new film “The Lady.”  It’s crazy how rich this year’s line-up was in terms of worthwhile conversation, and it was great meeting many of you face-to-face in the streets and theaters of Toronto this year.  I had nothing but great experiences with the volunteers, the filmmakers, the programmers… and I’ll be summing all of it up for you as the weekend concludes.

Oh, wait… that’s not even the interviews.  Wait until you hear the special Toronto podcast that’s coming up, a two-parter, in which we’re bringing you interviews with Paul Williams, Bobcat Goldthwait, the filmmakers behind Midnight Madness selections “Lovely Molly” and “Livid,” and Mark and Jay Duplass the morning after the rousing public screening of “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.”  It’s an amazing array of conversations from this year’s festival, recorded on the run, and I think it should be a great way to start next week.

And then you know what next week is, right?  Fantastic Fest.  Which means there’s a Fantastic Fest preview piece coming so we can sort out what I’m about to tackle in my second non-stop movie-overload sprint of the month.

Will I survive September?  Most likely not.  But that’s what makes it exciting, right?

Because of my travel, I missed what sounds like a really great crazy nasty willd night at Hollywood Forever, where they had the LA premiere of “Chillerama,” the anthology horror/comedy from Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, Adam Green, and Tim Sullivan.  It looks positively filthy, and I can’t wait to see it.  I watch this piece by George Pennachio, and I am really sorry my flight to LA didn’t land until pretty much the moment the movie ended.

This is like reading an anthropological report from another planet.

So is this.

And finally, since I’ve got a lot to do today, and I’ve already piled on a lot to read in today’s column, I’ll leave you with perhaps the best way to bookend the “Dark Knight” conversation, which is a totally different threepart meditation on the nature of action filmmaking language by Film Critic Hulk, who is probably the freshest in-character voice in film criticism since Vern was released from prison oh so many years ago.

I hope you guys are enjoying September here on the site, because I sure am.

“The Morning Read” appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn’t.