Joker (2019) Review

Joker (2019)

Directed by Todd Phillips

Based on Characters by DC Comics

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An origin story set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City.

My Opinion:

I guess it’s about time I review this? As it came out in October, I didnt review it as I was only posting horror movie reviews. Plus I didn’t really have the energy to review it while everyone was freaking out about it on Twitter. While people were using the phrase “toxic white males” yet again (as if ALL humans aren’t toxic pieces of shit) and while America was freaking out about people potentially being shot in cinemas showing Joker since America allows everyone to walk around like armed vigilantes. Do I swear too much?! When I tried typing “cinemas” just now my spellchecker changed it to “cuntbags”. Anyway, while things have calmed down a bit, I’ll now review this. Can’t wait for the next Shitstorm when this is up for Oscars!

This is a good film with a great performance. Is it a masterpiece? Not in my opinion but I wouldn’t argue with those who did love it as I can see the reasons why. I have to admit I’m sick of “comic book” movies but especially sick of Batman & the Joker. I haven’t really liked either character since Tim Burton’s versions in 1989. I’m even almost starting to hate Christopher Nolan’s films as they’re SO overhyped by obsessive fans (although I did think Heath Ledger was very good). Okay – I don’t know Mark Hamill’s version but do love the guy so would likely enjoy his Joker. I have NO knowledge of the comics or these characters beyond what’s been shown in movies. I admit that. This review is based only on my opinion as a lover of film.

What I did like, not being a comic fan, is that Joker didn’t feel at all like a comic book or DC movie. Hell, it barely felt like the Joker character to me. It truly is more like a Martin Scorsese film (specifically The King Of Comedy, as everyone knows). I think Scorsese’s films are very good, although he’s not a favorite director of mine as his movies aren’t usually my type of thing. I did a Scorsese Top Ten list (HERE). I do really like my top five or six and The King Of Comedy is one of them, so I did enjoy Joker’s homage to that film and its brilliant use of Robert De Niro. I liked the film’s tone and its score was perfect for it. I did think Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic and absolutely deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for his performance (even if it sounds like he’s a pain in the ass diva to work with). Yeah, yeah – Actresses aren’t allowed to be “difficult” while actors are called brilliant when they behave that way. I totally agree there’s a double standard there and it’s unfair. I think all artists should be allowed to be difficult (within limits, obviously) if it produces great results. I guess it worked in the case of Joker as it’s certainly Joaquin’s performance of a lifetime. I don’t care – I’ll never work have to work with him! I preferred River Phoenix anyway (R.I.P. – I’ll forever be sad about that one the way younger people still aren’t over Heath Ledger).

I suppose I better address some of the controversy. I’m still a little baffled by it. I can see people thinking the movie may encourage people who feel fucked-over by society to engage in violent and destructive behavior. But movies like this one have existed for years. Why are we suddenly worried that a movie will push some people over the edge? Or is it because of social media that we just hear the complaints more these days? I remember it being controversial but did people freak out quite as much when Natural Born Killers came out?

I think the issue here may be that people think the Joker was portrayed as a sympathetic character and one who disturbed people may see as a sort of hero. I admit that I did feel somewhat sympathetic toward his character to start with. But that was gone by the end. People don’t like that the movie is blaming society for the seeming rise in violent & dangerous men. But, well, it IS to blame. Is it not? Gotham City in this film looks and feels no different than any big American city now. The movie is also trying to make a point about failing those with mental health issues.

Well. Whatever. I don’t give a shit about any controversy. I think there are far more offensive and far more destructive films out there. This is probably the best movie that has the Joker it it. I just wish it wasn’t the Joker. I’d rather it was a regular, non-comic book guy who gets pushed too far. But it’s a very good film. It’s better than most comic book movies. The fact that it is still a comic book movie to me probably keeps me from seeing it as an instant classic the way some people are seeing it. Maybe I’m snobby like Scorsese.

My Rating: 7.5/10

My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies

Happy Birthday to Morgan Freeman, who is 80 today.

Freeman is easily one of my favorite actors. Who doesn’t love Morgan Freeman??? Plus that VOICE of his! Perfect for God in Bruce Almighty. And just thinking of his Shawshank Redemption narration gives me happy goosebumps.

Looking at this list, he’s only been in one movie that I really love. But I’ve seen quite a few of his films as he’s one of those actors who will make me watch a movie that I might not have watched if it starred someone else. It’s a pretty mixed bag – he doesn’t stick to any one genre. I think he’s fun when in comedies but probably like him most in things such as Shawshank & Million Dollar Baby.

Here are My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies (not performances) counting down to my favorite:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

22. Hard Rain
21. Chain Reaction
20. Nurse Betty
19. Dreamcatcher
18. Wanted
17. Now You See Me
16. Gone Baby Gone
15. War Of The Worlds
14. Bruce Almighty
13. Outbreak
12. Ted 2
11. Lucy

Top Ten:

10. TIE: Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves & Driving Miss Daisy

9. Oblivion

8. Seven

7. Unforgiven

6. The Bucket List

5. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy

4. Deep Impact

3. Million Dollar Baby

2. The Lego Movie

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Saw But Don’t Remember Well So Can’t Include Them:
Kiss The Girls
Glory
Lean On Me

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Teachers, That Was Then… This Is Now, Clean And Sober, Johnny Handsome, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Lucky Number Slevin, Evan Almighty, Invictus, Red, Last Vegas, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Transcendence, Now You See Me 2, Ben-Hur, Going In Style

My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies

Happy birthday to Gary Oldman, who turns 59 today. I’m posting a Top Ten on a day other than Thursday! This is messing with my head. I think I’m actually just putting off reviewing that pointless remake of Beauty And The Beast

Anyway, back to Gary Oldman! I must admit that I never really noticed Oldman until more recent years. But I don’t mean that in a bad way – I think it’s a great thing. I’ve seen him called a chameleon many times & it’s very true. It’s amazing how utterly & completely different he looks (and acts) from one role to the next. He truly becomes the characters he plays and not every actor does that. I mean, I feel like I pick on Tom Cruise too often for some strange reason but he’s just always Tom Cruise to me. Even in roles where he gives it his all, I still just see Tom Cruise. Tom Hanks is that way a bit too much too (but you still gotta love Tom Hanks). Okay – I barely remember JFK AT ALL now all these years later but I’ve stuck it in the top ten even though I didn’t realize Oldman was in it. Seriously. Then when looking for images of him from it, a lot were in black & white so I thought they were the real Lee Harvey Oswald. How can you look like Lee Harvey Oswald just as much as Sid Vicious???

Well, as always I’m ranking these according to how much I like the movies as opposed to the individual performances as I find that harder to judge. This is probably why I appreciate actors like Oldman – I care more about a movie’s story & its characters than who is starring in it so I like actors who become the characters as completely as Oldman does.

Here are My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies (and, also as always, I cheat a little and count series films as one). 😉

**Updated Feb 2018 to add Darkest Hour**

The Three Extra I’ve Seen:

13. Hannibal
12. Air Force One
11. JFK

Top Ten:

10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

9. Kung Fu Panda 2

8. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

7. The Harry Potter Movies

6. The Batman Movies

5. Darkest Hour

4. The Fifth Element

3. Léon

2.True Romance

1. Sid And Nancy

Saw But Don’t Remember:
Lost In Space

Not Seen:
Henry & June, Romeo Is Bleeding, Immortal Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Murder In The First, Basquiat, The Contender, A Christmas Carol, The Book Of Eli, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Red Riding Hood, Lawless, Paranoia, RoboCop, Child 44, The Space Between Us

Hey UK people – remember that One2One campaign starring Gary Oldman in the commercials? I just remember how much I loved the music featured (Lovely Head by Goldfrapp) so I found the ad on YouTube to share. Still love the song. At least Sid Vicious selling mobile phone service isn’t quite as weird as Johnny Rotten selling butter 🙂

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) Review

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Directed by Chris McKay

Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

My Opinion:

The LEGO Batman Movie is easily my favorite 2017 UK release so far! Well, okay – it’s only February and I’ve only seen three other movies (La La Land, T2 Trainspotting & Split). But I’m sure it’ll be in my top ten at the end of the year. It really cheered me up after a crappy day at work – it’s lots of fun and the humor is genuinely funny. And I mean an “all ages” funny – this is one of those movies I’m sure plenty of adults without kids are wanting to see as well. Go to it! You’ll like it no matter what your age, especially if you’re a superhero fan. Although you don’t really have to be a superhero fan, either – I’m a very mild one. In fact, I’m so superheroed-out that I went to, I think, only one of the superhero movies released last year. I didn’t go to that Batman/Superman thingy! I’m pretty sure The LEGO Batman Movie is superior to that anyway from what I’ve read.

I absolutely loved the first The Lego Movie, which I re-watched with the kid again this week. I thought that was one of the best family movies in recent times and it somehow actually manages to still go up slightly in my estimation anytime I see it. This LEGO Batman “sequel” follows a similar sort of hero’s journey narrative and delivers another great message in a thoroughly entertaining, funny, and non-preachy way. I still adore the message from the first film and, while this second film is much more obvious with its straightforward message and the story isn’t quite as “deep” or as uniquely told as in the first film, it’s still a wonderfully written film and so much better than the majority of mindless kids’ films that get made with only cheap laughs and cheap toys in mind. Crap like Trolls! What’s the message in that? Be happy no matter what! Tra la la, stupid happy songs, don’t think for yourself, don’t have emotions…

I also want to emphasize the “non-preachy” message thing, as I get so thoroughly annoyed by preachy kids’ films (I seem to have a very unpopular opinion on Zootopia but I sincerely felt that it rammed its message down our throats. Plus, the film was just boring so that didn’t help). These LEGO movies, like the Pixar films and most (not all) Disney films, get the perfect balance. It feels like the focus is first & foremost on telling a good and entertaining story, which ultimately does a better job in getting its point across anyway since any message it may have doesn’t feel forced.

I suppose I should end this review by actually talking about the movie in some way?? I don’t do that a lot anyway since I like to avoid spoilers and prefer to just discuss my feelings about a movie. What can I say? I thought the jokes in this were genuinely funny (almost as funny as in the first film). “Clever” funny. I’m very picky on comedy and like very few adult films in the comedy genre. Why is the best, most well-written comedy in films nowadays in these so-called kids’ movies? The LEGO movies (and everything made by my beloved Pixar) put all the immature, silly, live-action “adult” comedy to shame. Are adults idiots or something? Considering that our cinema screen was nearly empty when we went to see this while queues were going out the door for that new Fifty Shades movie, I’m thinking that must be the case.

I can’t help but compare this to the first LEGO movie, of course, but to say it’s not quite as good as that one isn’t really an insult as that’s a hard one to live up to. Batman himself is great but the rest of the characters are a bit weak in comparison. The focus is on Batman’s relationship with each of these people, though, and this is done really well. You gets loads of fun pop culture cameos (Gremlins & a Twilight Zone reference put a big goofy grin on my face) and I know there are plenty of superhero in-jokes that I’ll have missed but that hardcore fans will love. I saw so many “dads” alone with their kids at this one and I’m sure they loved it as much if not more than their kids. I like to pretend that those dads’ wives weren’t next door at Fifty Shades… This is why I don’t get along with many other women! Do any girl bloggers out there who prefer LEGO Batman to Fifty Shades want to be my friend??. 😉

The story itself is, well, a pretty standard superhero storyline. But better. I wish more live-action superhero movies were half as good as The LEGO Batman Movie. This film is more lighthearted and “fun” than the first one but it still has a fantastic message and put as big of a smile on my face as on my husband’s and, most importantly, our daughter’s. Well, maybe slightly bigger smiles on ours. But her generation of kids are gonna be great adults thanks to growing up on good movies like these and like those made by Pixar. This generation of kids are gonna save the world! They’re gonna be better adults than all the current idiot grown-ups! If we all live that long. Hmm. This review took a dark turn. Kind of like the death metal songs written by LEGO Batman.

My Rating: 7/10

My Top Ten Tim Burton Movies

Happy Birthday to Tim Burton, who turns 58 today.

I figured it was time to do a full updated list of My Top Ten Tim Burton Movies. Okay – I WAS going to include only the movies he has directed but I just cannot exclude The Nightmare Before Christmas. That movie is SO Burton’s film – it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t the director. I also really liked his Vincent & Frankenweenie short films but will only list full-length movies.

Well, here’s My Tim Burton Top Ten! But I’ll rank all that I’ve seen…

The Rest:

18. Alice In Wonderland
17. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
16. Sleepy Hollow
15. Planet Of The Apes
14. Big Eyes
13. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
12. Frankenweenie
11. Dumbo

Top Ten:

10. TIE: Mars Attacks! & Batman Returns

9. Beetlejuice

8. Big Fish

7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

6. Corpse Bride

5. Batman

4. Ed Wood

3. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

1. Edward Scissorhands

Not Seen:
Dark Shadows

And here’s the Ice Dance scene from Edward Scissorhands. This is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes and Danny Elfman’s beautiful music in this clip still gives me chills every time I watch it. I watch this clip every once in a while for a pick-me-up (along with the final scenes from Cinema Paradiso & City Lights). Gorgeous. Perfection. This is the type of scene that made me fall in love with movies. 🙂

My Top Ten Jack Nicholson Movies

Happy Birthday to Jack Nicholson, who turns 79 tomorrow! 🙂

I love Jack. Jack is cool. I’d love to be as cool as Jack! He’s been a favorite actor of mine for years – Probably ever since I saw my top two movies on this list at the age of 15 or so. And, okay – since I also saw Batman at that same time. I became slightly obsessed with Jack’s Joker. I even had some awesome Joker earrings that I wore for months in 1989. What a nerd…

Nicholson has been in some damn good films. It’s not often that I do these Top Ten Actor lists where a couple of the movies are all-time favorites of mine but I can say that’s definitely the case this time with the two that top this list. Absolute classics! I like all the movies in this list but the top two are truly special and a lot of that is thanks to Jack’s performance in each of them. He’s my favorite crazy bastard.

Let’s get this started! Wow – it’s also not often that I’ve reviewed NONE of the films in a top ten I’m doing. A lot of that is down to me being uncomfortable “reviewing” the movies I love the most & I keep putting off reviewing the top two for my IMDB Top 250 Project. Anyway – here are My Top Ten Jack Nicholson Movies (not ranked by performance) counting down to my favorite:

10. TIE: A Few Good Men & Mars Attacks!

9. Easy Rider

8. Tommy

7. Terms Of Endearment

6. The Bucket List

5. The Departed

4. Batman

3. Chinatown

2. The Shining

1. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

**In case you wonder why some movies are missing, it may be because I haven’t seen them. Here are the remainder of his films that I’ve seen, but some were so long ago that I need to re-watch them:

– How Do You Know (the only one he was in that I’d consider “bad”)
– The Witches Of Eastwick (need to re-watch)
– Something’s Gotta Give
– Little Shop Of Horrors (need to re-watch)
– As Good As It Gets
– Anger Management
– About Schmidt (Jack was great in this)

Also, here’s a quick Happy Birthday tomorrow to the gorgeous Catherine Mary Stewart (57 – one of my favorite Twitter buddies). Yes, Catherine Mary Stewart & her co-star Kelli Maroney both followed me on Twitter after I reviewed their classic 80’s movie Night Of The Comet. And I use every opportunity possible to keep mentioning that on my blog… 🙂

(Some of my other celeb followers: Zach Galligan, Linnea Quigley, a girl from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the dude who got his throat ripped out in Road House!!!! I love my mostly-80’s celebrity Twitter followers!) 😉

Finally, there is one cool celebrity birthday that is actually today: Iggy Pop has just turned 69. Wow – he doesn’t look a day over 109!