JOKER (2019)



Directed By: Todd Phillips
Written By: Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Based On Characters Created By: Bob Kane, Bill Finger & Jerry Robinson
Cinematography: Lawrence Sher
Editor: Jeff Groth 

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert DeNiro, Brett Cullen, Francis Conroy, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Josh Pais, Marc Maron, Bryan Callen, Glenn Fleshler, Chris Redd, Brian Tyree Henry, April Grace 

Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale. If you are looking for a comic book tale. You will be disappointed. While it doesn’t include the joker and the Wayne family as well as Gotham and arkham. It seems more tied into a psychological character study thriller. That uses all those comic book elements and storyline as a frame for it’s own ideas.

This film comes across more a mainstream director tryouts by to make an art film. It seems since Todd Phillips moves to more dramatic films he has gained style but still. This could have been a character study and the Gotham stuff just felt tied in and a way of making a one off of a gritty 70’s/80’s style film they never have to worry about backing up with sequels or it being cannon. The dancing bits especially after the kills.

There are times when it feels like it is trying to be provocative then feels it back. As it seems like with most Todd phillips films. it wants to go right to the edge then go back and the. Come from another direction to try and shock you. As everything is built in anticipation. Here he reves up the tension as that is how most of the film plays. It just feels like a film that tries to feed off of the culture climate right now and then tie in a superhero villain and his Lore into it to say it is just a movie character study.

As it seems his recent focus on more dramatic tales has also brought out a stylish side that seemed to be minor or missing from the comedies he directed.

Joaquin Phoenix is Marvel In this and comes across as even better than the film that you wish he had a movie as great to be in. As he truly is exceptional and seems to be on another wavelength almost haunted. He seems to make up for everything that was missing in Jared Leto’s Performance in SUICIDE SQUAD as the Joker

When it comes to the final act and the killing of Thomas Wayne and his wife which becomes the genesis of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Yep they didn’t deserve the murder. Though at least the joker inspired the killing. I thought the ending was gong to be he is killed in the crash and someone takes over the identity. Sort of like Batman’s message from the dark knight rises in reverse that anyone can be the joker. Which is why he had no origin he just keeps being remade and comes back as someone else who was inspired by him. Sort of like masked wrestlers in WWF. The third act reminds one of an insane man who other follow blindly and taking action in the streets feeling empowered. Even though he is supposedly representing the poor. Then you also have Thomas Wayne kind of the establishment even though he is rich just deciding to enter the race because he can.

I liked this film I didn’t love it. Not sure how many times I would watch it again at home.

There are plenty of scenes that were a bit much and indulgent. Like the dance he does in the bathroom after him shooting the guys on the train. This Joker reminded me of Donald trump a bit or at least his influence, Getting people to follow you by seeming. To stand for one thing that they can tap into but not realizing where you are exactly coming from and how deranged who they follow and hold up as a hero can be and using him and the sense of rebellion to commit crimes in the name of justice but really is still just trying to justify what are crimes against others as well as harm.

Now while Thomas Wayne’s Character isn’t a Saint he can be accused of the same thing of being Trump like by keeping the poor citizens in their place and labeling them. While deciding to run for political office just because you can and you believe you know better. While also having a dark Side and have crimes of your own that will be your ultimate undoing. As this does taint the Batman story a bit or set it up –It’s a comic book origin story that is being used to tell and bring up and showcase other different types of issues as well as give the audience a character driven film.

This film just feels like a lightning rod as you can read it so many ways. That it leaves itself to be more transparent or a film that those disenchanted with the world can easily grab onto and see a hero a kind of mascot or savior and those who are easily triggered can watch the film to condemn it as a film they believe will inspire or seems to trade in behavior and subjects they are against.

The character is disturbing yet sympathetic he is a monster. Who seems pushed there out of beurocratic neglect. Who focuses his anger on an unfeeling millionaire. Who he also believes at first lied to him then is mad for giving him the brutal truth. He ends up becoming a deranged mascot in a search for justice and revenge. Living out the fantasy of some while inspiring others to do what his mission seemed to be before interrupted. As at one point they Hold him up as a messiah and an influence into an inciting him incident that helps to create Batman.

It feels like a remake of other films that inspired it where it wears it’s Influences on it’s sleeves. Like TAXI DRIVER and KING OF COMEDY. Even having Robert DeNiro who was the anti-hero, anti-Authority protagonist. Here play a role where he is more part of the system the lead is rebelling against and trying to fight.

It throws you off as you believe at times you know where it is going and while the action does happen it comes from another source that you wouldn’t expect.

The film also feels like it want to upset and pick a fight be a provocateur. Sort of like it plants the seeds and wants to challenge and feed of it’s anger and beliefs and tries to tempt the audience with it. It the. Tries to be on it’s best behavior and hint at what to expect but more Or less keeps it composure.

The film achieves what it set’s out to do disturb and unsettle the audience. So that you never feel comfortable, but it lacks a certain quality that while showing you the ugliness and dangers of your actions. It also never makes you really pay for them or make you think about them too much.

Quite Frankly by the end of the film I Felt quite drained and depressed. It’s an effective movie but not one I would rush back To watch Over and over again as it makes and leaves it’s Mark. Though still far from a masterpiece as many have said,

It seems a film made to effect everyone and for everyone to read it a certain way that makes sense to them and for those who feel like outsiders to embrace watching and somewhat identifying to some degree. Sort of like how teenagers seemed to find the movie DONNIE DARKO over the years. Even though it bombed in theaters.

A film some might dismiss but if you say anything harsh it can be explained away as you didn’t understand or get it by some

Grade: B

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