*Some overall Batman spoilers here
I saw this movie last week and I have had a really hard time writing about it because I have been taking in all the discourse around it. I see people loving it, I see people confused by it, and I even hear co workers who are afraid to see it at night. All of this confuses me because I look at this as just another movie. I have seen similar movies to this in the past and I probably will see movies like it in the future. So maybe I just live in my own world, but to me this was just a really well made movie.
Should we talk about it?
SORRY wrong guy I know, I know, let me recalibrate.
JEEZZZZ I apologize I’ll get this right.
Thats better? Ok lets go, this version of the Joker directed by Todd Phillips, yes the one who directed Old School and The Hangover, is a story in the vain of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. It is a psychological trip through the brain of Arthur Fleck and how being beaten down by society can drive someone mad. We get to see Arthur bomb his way through a stand up routine and somehow find his way to the set of the Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) show in one of the tensest scenes these eyes have ever seen.
This is the Joker movie no one ever thought we would see, but boy am I glad it somehow made it to the screen. This was dark, gritty, yet really was just a throwback to the great movies of the 70’s. This seems to be the trend for directors like Phillips, or Taika Waititi, or James Gunn, where you have a great director making a great movie but disguising it as a superhero movie so that people will see it.
Before we get to stocks I just want to make sure to note that they did try and shoehorn some Bruce Wayne stuff into this, and I thought that did not work at all. All of those scenes felt out of place and of course they again show us another iteration of (SPOILER ALERT IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN ALIVE) Bruce’s parents being killed. All of this just felt like a different story and only in there because this was a Joker movie.
Stock Up – What can you say about Joaquin Phoenix? Simply put, the guy is one of the greatest actors of our generation. He gives the performance of a lifetime in this and felt perfect for the role. Of course he will be compared to Nicholson, Ledger, and hopefully not Leto (Remember Suicide Squad? LOL), but its important to note they all had a foil to play with. Phoenix was basically alone in this movie the entire time and showed us what you can do when the character is just an agent of chaos in society. This has Oscar nomination written all over it.
Stock Up – Todd Phillips as I said above has spent his career mostly in comedy, and really took his talent to another level with this. He showed he wants to be known as a prestige filmmaker and this was an amazing step on that path. He showed amazing camera work, great pacing, and a grittiness that is hard to find in movies now a days. I was just incredibly impressed with the look and feel of this movie.
*A couple other tidbits
- The Zazie Beets Fight Club story line did not work for me.
- I shivered every time Phoenix laughed.
- Robert De Niro is always great to see even if it was for a very limited time in this.
The last aspect of this movie I want to discuss is the idea that a lot of this movie might not be real due to the final scene. I do not want to speculate here but I will say Todd Phillips wants people to have their own opinions on it and I would love to hear them in the comments! Joker is the most controversial movie of the year, it has flaws, but this is one of the most well shot and powerfully acted movie this year.
*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.