Review: Joker

Why so happy?

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) works as a rent-a-clown and has a mental condition that causes him to burst into laughter he cannot control. He has never known a day in his life where he was happy. After impulsively committing a murder, Fleck finds himself the new face of an uprising within Gotham City.

You all know the discourse surrounding this movie by now. Someone else who doesn't have "rambling" in their blog title probably said it better elsewhere so I'm not going to get into that too much. I was prepared for a lot of different feelings in this movie. One I didn't anticipate though was boredom. 

Joker is a slug of a movie. Its nihilistic point of view drags from one scene to the next and even when the film does something interesting and you think "This is a nice place to end" it just keeps going. Todd Phillips, whose comedies I didn't hate. In fact, I liked a decent amount of them is incompetent as a dramatic director. There isn't an an original bone in this films' body. He attempts to be Scorcese but the problem is, he doesn't seem to understand Fleck. Fleck has a few interesting characteristics on paper, but Phillips doesn't seem to know how to handle them on screen. The statement they are trying to make on mental illness is rendered disingenuous when Fleck makes his big monologue. It felt like a throwaway buzzword when we hit that point in the film. The film also glorifies the Joker so blatantly that I'm surprised the director even insisted otherwise in the first place. He's literally worshiped, though the film isn't nearly as violent as I expected it to be. But not understanding Fleck brings me to my next point.

I don't believe Fleck could become the "Clown Prince of Crime" that we know in the comics. Sure, he doesn't have to be, but the only coherent thing he does in this entire film is his big ending monologue which felt like it was coming from a different Joaquin Phoenix character. - and speaking of Phoenix, he's awful in this. He's essentially doing his "I'm Still Here" shtick where he's overacting and hamming it up. He never once loses himself in the character like he normally does. I know this is a weird hill to be on with everyone praising his performance, but I've been a fan of Phoenix for years. This is bad. He's been so much better.

Now that you've listened to be complain, the film does have some redeeming qualities. The score is beautiful. Possibly one of the most memorable ones of the year. I really loved it. I did enjoy the few short scenes of Bruce Wayne as well, but that reminds me of my initial concern before anyone knew this movie was going to turn into incel-mania*. Sometimes villains are only interesting when the hero is involved. The Joker's appeal to me was always the mystery surrounding him. Joker needs Batman. Without him we get, well...this. 

Recommended: No

Grade: D 

Memorable Quote: "Is there someone I can call for you? Is your mother home." - Sophie (Zazie Beetz)

*And before you come at me in the comments, I don't think everyone that likes this movie is an incel.  I use that term broadly because that's been a major talking point. I can see why this is appealing to some. With a better director and script, it probably could've appealed to me too. 

26 comments:

  1. "He has never known a day in his life where he was happy." fuck me, even this thing's description is attention whoring edgy and trying too hard.

    Good luck and Godspeed to you in that comment section :)

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    1. lol. That's an actual line from the movie too. He's given a very generic tragic backstory (including the ultimate abuse trope..being tied to a radiator)

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    2. It reminds me of "Bobby Newport never had a real job in his life" from Parks and Rec, I even read it in Adam Scott's voice 😂

      How original of them, you can just sense the meltdowns if it misses Best Screenplay nomination

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    3. The only Oscar nom this deserves, IMO is score. The music is wonderful.

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  2. Great review! I agree on the idea that this is not the Joker we know and that it's a rather boring film. I do think Phoenix did a great job, so I guess we can agree to disagree on that point :) But, yeah, overall, I don't get the fascination with it, either

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    1. I know I'm in the minority on Phoenix but that was the one part I was expecting to love lol.

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  3. "Joker" is a ludicrously over-rated pile of exploitative garbage, everyone involved in the making of the film should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

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    1. I don't think it's exploitative personally, but it acts as if it's the first gritty super hero drama out there and and it just isn't. lol

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  4. Ayyyy we definitely had different takes on this. What I can commend the most is Phoenix's performance, which I thought was spectacular (and I've seen I'm Still Here). To each his own with this one though.

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    1. I know! I read your review earlier today. I hated him in it. I'm going to put HER in again to rid myself of this taste lol

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  5. I'm gutted you didn't like it, especially as a Phoenix fan! I'm seeing it on Thursday and I've got my expectations set somewhere in the middle of 'meh' and 'can't wait!'
    Being a movie blogger would be boring if we all felt the same way about every movie :)

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    1. Definitely. I'm glad this is working for some people but I was just put off.

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  6. I might see this film this weekend as I'm surprised that it's gotten a polarizing reaction considering it was well-received upon its premiere in Venice. I admit to not being a fan of Todd Phillips' work as a filmmaker as I think he's hit/miss and I'm not really fond of The Hangover movies at all. I'll give this film a shot.

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    1. I hope it works better for you than it did for me. I'm baffled by the praise from Venice. It's like all those people didn't see Logan and thought this was the first time a comic book film said "fuck" and killed someone.

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  7. I do want to see this movie but i will be comparing him to Heath Ledger even though I don't want to. To me nothing compares to Heath's performance but I hope I will like it better than you did. A friend of mine is going tonight to see it so i will see what she thinks

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    1. No one will ever top Ledger, IMO. The only time I compared them though was when Phillips also attempted to do a shot of him looking out a police car window and it just didn't work.

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  8. Very interesting write-up Brittani, its always fascinating to read someone else's opinion when it is the opposite of your own. It makes you think.

    You mention his monologue, I can't even remember it! What was it roughly? I ask cos I'm wondering how it affected the commentary on mental illness. He eventually becomes delusional, meaning he loses touch with reality completely. I can say from experience that when you're delusional, you literally believe everything you do is god's work. Perhaps my past was one reason why I loved it. But I'm wondering what was in the monologue to undermine that mental illness aspect. Argh, I hate my memory!! I'll need to see it again.

    It's interesting that you are a fellow Phoenix fan ;) but you didn't like him here! It makes me think back.. I think he maybe could have done some things better/different. I can't remember thinking he was over-acting at all, but I'm gonna go see it again tonight.

    Did you at least think he was good in the scene where he is desperately trying to not laugh? That part really got to me. C'mooon, you know you enjoyed that part :P Or was that part of what you said was over-acting? That would make sense.

    Also, when you say 'discourse' around the film, do you mean the 'copycats' stuff? I don't really see what would be copied if I'm honest! tho I know I'm crazy.

    I dunno... I guess I don't understand how that could affect anyone's enjoyment of the movie, yknow? (I don't know if any of the review was taking that into account, to me it didn't read like that).

    I thought it was really relevant, a depiction of how someone can turn into a monster, like these school shooters and the other awful stuff happening in the US. If the world consistently shits on you, it is going to affect you in some way. Here tho it was just one part of what was happening.

    Apart from that ending, which I though was shit tbh, how did you think they glorified him? That was something I was looking from as well as I didn't want that, but didn't see it until that shitty ending.

    The Joker doesn't need Batman!:P We'll agree to disagree on that one eh? Hehe. I kinda liked that this wasn't like any other 'comic book' movie.

    Sorry for the long reply Brit! I obviously disagreed with a lot of your points, but this is gonna make me see the movie differently tonight :) I'm also interested in what you're reply will be, since I asked a few questions in there.

    OK, Jordan, shut up now!!!

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    1. That's okay! We're all allowed different opinions in the blogosphere. To address your points
      1) The monologue he gives when he says "what happens when a mentally ill man, etc etc" rang false for me. We never hear Arthur speak about his illness so nonchalantly and it didn't even feel like it was coming from the same character at that point. It was just exhibition.

      2) Joaquin normally disappears into his roles, he didn't here. I was always aware that this was Joaquin putting on a show, like he was in I'm Still Here. For me, this isn't even top 5 Joaquin. It might not even be Top 10.

      3) The discourse I was referring to was whether or not this movie will encourage incels to commit more acts of violence. That, I disagree with. I do think there's a bit of a conspiracy theory going on there. I think it's already rightwing incels making these types of claims which is in turn causing other publications to ask the question in the first place. Frankly, the trump administration is already empowering these racists.

      4) They glorified him by having those men carry him out of the car, literally lay him on a pedestal, and cheer around him as he stands up and basks in it. He was worshipped.

      I think I got them all

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  9. Ouch! Our reviews definitely land in different places But I completely respect your take on it. I’ve seen it twice now and I am so impressed buy this film. I was really skeptical going in but left with my mind swirling. I am really glad you liked the score. It’s one of my favorites of the year.

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    1. The score is amazing. I'm glad this worked better for you than it did for me.

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  10. Agree there's a generic tragic backstory though I think Phoenix made it watchable with little things like wiping the blood on his mouth into a smile, and the laugh/crying. Arthur had an innocence and humanity that I hadn't seen in the joker before. Without Phoenix it would be bad lol!

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    1. This wasn't even peak Phoenix but he did try so at least there's that lol. I just don't feel like Arthur could even become The Joker at this point.

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    2. There's a fan theory that Arthur inspired the batman-hating joker. Todd Phillips has confirmed this theory as possible:
      https://www.indiewire.com/2019/10/joker-fan-theories-coincidence-todd-phillips-1202181970/

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    3. I saw that! It seems kind of cop out-ish but honestly it makes sense because no way Arthur ever becomes the Clown Prince of Crime, IMO.

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