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.
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