myReview 1 mo

Required Viewing: Joker (2019)

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker

The Joker is not a movie I particularly planned to see. I keep a steadfast and enthusiastic eye on what is being produced and released out of Hollywood, and I’ve always been a lover of film, thus watching countless interviews on the craft of acting, etc. over a lifetime, so I knew what to expect with this. It also made it into the news, the non-entertainment news. This intrigued my husband, but I had pretty much all but written off this genre, so when he put it on recently, for me it was background but not the going to be the centre of my focus, or so I thought. From the first frame and opening sequence, I really couldn't take my eyes off of it.

I've seen plenty of superhero movies, but I'm completely done with them now. After more than a decade of total market saturation, for me, they're totally played out, and I could care less, even if they do add 'real life', relatable themes to these fantastical situations. The Joker is not one of those movies. You do not have to have much context to refer back to, to understand this movie or character. For me, it was a concept that stands capably... separately, I will call it, from the rest of the franchise.

After an almost unanimous critical, and certainly box-office success, breaking several records, it’s no wonder Joker 2 is already in the planning stages, but they do not yet know who will play the lead, though it seems unlikely it will be Joaquin. (Call it possible but not probable.) Always craving challenge and never wanting to be locked down, he was, at the time of signing to do the first, resolute in doing just the one character study. And that makes sense to me. Joaquin is a true character and method actor. He loathes to be referred to as that, but his style and method of performing are so immersive and intense, it does not lend itself, or do justice, to being covered up in a suit and tonnes of CGI. He lost a whopping 46 lb for this role, and believe me, you're going to see it. Gollum, anyone? Also, in real life he has a painful issue with his shoulder, and while normally trying to correct and compensate for this on film, here he played into it, exaggerating it beautifully. His physicality is exquisite. His entire being is transformed, and I mean every ounce. It would be inaccurate for anyone to find fault in his performance here. (See his scene, alone, in the public restroom - choreography by Joaquin, with no direction or pre-planning (just the way he likes it. This was my favourite of the film. The musical score delicately yet powerfully in harmony.) And I tip my hat to Director Todd Phillips who had a masterful, deft hand at the helm. His past work is primarily in the comedy genre, but somebody obviously knew that he was capable of something completely outside of this. And, one must accept, push their own ego aside (not an easy thing for directors to do, I’m sure), and understand that you just cannot wrangle Joaquin. To do that too much would stifle him, and then his focus and inspiration dries up and self-doubt overtakes him. Todd and Joaquin have a magical alchemy together. (Todd has signed on to direct the next one. I think that's a good call. Consistency is important and I believe very much in singular visions when it comes to creating art.)

But what people talk about is comparing Joaquin to the beloved Heath. Heath's depiction was also phenomenal, without question. But must we pit the two performances against one another? I personally don't buy into all of these reboots, and I would call it rehashing just as much as retelling of essentially the same story, which looks to me not just like a gift to the newest generation so that they can see it with fresh eyes and with the full glory of today’s special effects, but it's a bit [financially greedy of the studios?], to have all these different angles and actor takes of the same character. But, people love Batman, so here we are. But this time, it truly is close to being a standalone product, and it does a huge service to rounding out this character, showing his origin story.

This is not so much the story of an evil genius or an arch nemesis or a psychopathic killer. It's a social commentary, completely apt for today's world, about a sad and disenfranchised man, who despite all efforts and optimism and desire for a normal life and to be a good person and be recognized for that, it just doesn't come to fruition. He is not the everyman, but he is not an uncommon man either. There are many men today who suffer from some of these same disadvantages. This movie is not a cautionary tale. There is likely little this character could have done to reverse his fortune or fate. More akin to a documentary or a biopic, a 'what if', if at every turn the road diverged, a man is struck unlucky? What leads to his ultimate downfall (or triumph, depending on your angle) was not one thing, but many. A series of unfortunate events. This film is impressive in its concept and execution. It is a movie mostly appealing to men, about men, and what struggles they face. But I believe everyone over a certain age should watch it. You could screen this movie in university classes, supporting various important topical subjects, and have potentially hours of discussion about many social and economic issues facing people today.

True superhero genre enthusiasts may be impressed, but somewhat disappointed. This movie is here to make you think. It doesn't want you to rest easy. Dark, gritty, brooding, cynical only scratch the surface of what it is. Much of our entertainment today centres around the idea of anti-heroes. They are extremely popular now (always have been, to some extent, but they have reached their apex, as of late), particularly with males. It's not difficult to decipher why. This film is sad, but important. It could have come in any recent decade (imagine it as the sub for Scorcese's/De Niro's 'Taxi Driver'), but it feels so exquisitely made for this time, it seems to slide in as if on a knife's edge. And a knife, not some other weapon, seems the only one appropriate. This movie cuts you. I don't think anyone who watches it could not be moved (and disturbed) by it, or feel immense empathy for the plight of this man. It is a reminder of how many other men out there are walking on a knife's edge, and like the totem in 'Inception', you just wonder if and when it will stop spinning. This is not one man's problem, it's society's problem. And we need to make some changes. Major changes.

Joaquin at his finest (choreography his own):

My second favourite scene. (See my physicality comments above.)

Required Viewing: Joker (2019)
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Most Helpful Girls

  • devilish-cutie
    I wasn't that impressed by the movie but what i liked about it and therefoe value it, is the representation and normalization of mental illness
    prefer heath tho but those films are completely uncomperable, one is drama and the other action thriller
    Is this still revelant?
  • Dazed0N0Confused
    I loved this movie, this shows what can happen when a human is pushed to their limits, when a system designed to help patients is underfunded or being taken from those who desperately need it. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest you do 😊
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Jjpayne
    I think it's a deep movie. But it's hard to watch. I don't think I could watch it again. It is so painful to see his transition and being treated poorly
    • Me too. That’s exactly what I said when it was over.

  • This was scene was so disturbing to me. He kills one of the guys and tells Gary that he can go. On his way out the door, Arthur screams and scares Gary (again) before helping him unlock the door.
    • Great take, as always Miss Amanda!

    • Robertcw

      Yeah. The character has completely given up on gaining acceptance or love from anyone and so acts like it. He's the ultimate troll.

    • Robertcw

      Plus he only let him go because he was also bullied for being short.

  • Bluemax
    I'm about to commit a GAG crime. I'm not really going to address your take, Amanda. It's well written, and I get that Joker can be viewed as a scathing criticism of mental healthcare in America, particularly for men. However, that's not what I'm going to talk about. Forgive me.

    Joaquin Phoenix delivered a stellar performance. He captured a sense of utter hopelessness that a less skilled actor would have had a more difficult time pulling off. And 90% of Joker is all about facial expression in this movie, again something for which not all actors are up to the task. Phoenix NAILS it! And the cinematography was without question spot on great! The dark nihilism was created to perfection. The dirt, the grime, the flickering lights. Wow. Just wow.

    But that being said, I actually HATED this movie. That's right. I hated it. Not because of Phoenix. Not because of any set design, costume design, or cinematography. I hated it because of the script.

    Joker, as he is portrayed in the comics, is BRILLIANT. It is STRONGLY suggested he has a scientific background. Hell, he makes almost as many gadgets as Batman does. He sometimes outwits Batman. Even when he doesn't outwit him, he gives him a serious run for his money.

    Phoenix's Joker shows none of the comic book Joker's brilliance. In fact, he's kinda stupid. He seems to have only one defining trait. He's depressed. That's about it.

    Now, I've heard fan theories that Phoenix's Joker isn't the actual Joker, but rather he inspired the actual Joker. Whatevs. If you have to resort to fan theories to rescue a movie, you've done something wrong.

    And don't get me started on that ultra irritating score. It's an even bigger slap in my face to know that Hildur Guðnadóttir actually won an Oscar for that piece of trash. It's virtually all just two note motifs, again... and again... and again... and again... and again... and again. By the way, I'm someone who thinks movie scores can make and break movies. I consider going to see Star Wars almost like a night at the opera. Any rate, a toddler can come up with two note motifs. And at the end of that movie, I was thinking, "If I have to listen to one more goddamn two note motif, Ima jam her bow up her ass!" I think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must have manure for their brains... or they're tone deaf... or both. I think Marin Marais' le Sonarie de St. Genevieve a much better model to convey hopeless madness than two goddamn cello notes played over and over and over
  • Anpu23
    I watched this movie, like you, completely unplanned. We, my wife and I, needed to kill a few hours (joys of electric car ownership) and just went to a theater to watch something. And this was what was playing at that moment. And like you I was rivited. I loved the subtle play in reality, what is real, what is dream? I see the parallels with Taxy Driver but I am not convinced that they are so much a part of the same narrative, as much as commentaries on each other. But yes see it.
  • DeeDeeDeVour
    It's a disturbing movie that Psychiatrists & Psychologists can have a field day with. I watched it to see for myself how well Joaquin portrayed the role. He's outstanding!
  • WhiteShoulder
    This is a really good review, but I preferred Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker as an evil nemesis
  • wankiam
    if it spoke to you thats great but for me leaving las vegas was more emotive than any other hollywood film i have ever seen
  • CallMeGarth
    I couldn’t agree more. Joker was one of the best movies of 2019. Phoenix’s Best Actor win was well deserved.
  • ImagineSketchy
    I like your analysis of Joaquin and the concept of the movie. I would never call it a super hero movie, and I wouldn't even lump it in with cape crusades or even the 2004 "Anti-Hero" movie "Catwoman". It's something all of its own and standing alongside the rest.
    I can't say the movie is relatable for me, but I can certainly see how people would be affected by it. That's basically what happened in 1980s Chicago, Jersey and New York area. That's what the place mostly looked like. It wasn't as dark as I was hoping. On a scale of 1-10, it might have reached a 5...
    I did enjoy the movie though, however I can't call him The Joker... Too much is missing for this Joaquin to be similar to any other Joker in the DC Universe.
    Guys on the subway got what they deserved though. Law of the jungle.
  • Jamie05rhs
    Good Take. I still haven't seen the movie, but I plan to watch it at some time.
  • olderbutnotwiser
    movie as a whole was underwhelming and not that interesting... Pheonix performance brought it up a few levels./
  • Ripper_E
    Movie wasn't that great. What amazed me was Phoenix performance.
  • Robertcw
    You know the Heath Ledger 'Dark Knight' film portrays mental health.

    Pheonix's Joker is really more about bullying, controlling mothers and self-defense.

    The killing scenes in Pheonix's Joker were not random. Especially on the subway.

    In the Ledger film, the joker just busts down a bank and shoots it up to steal the cash. F*cks with drug cartels and shoots random cops -- that's mental illness.

    The Phoenix Joker is a representation of the lives of below-average men in the 21st century.
    • Robertcw

      In fact, the Ledger movie represents the Phoenix Joker after he learns to stand up for himself and his haters.

      Of course, he is the anti-society -- hated by all. But of course that's what the joker is.

    • Robertcw

      He's what a person who gave up trying would look like. Basically a 'f*ck you' to all of society.

      In many ways, much like incel killers such as Minassian or Rodger.

  • BigDikEnergy001
    The joker is a masterpiece and anyone who disagrees is just s dumb feminist bitch.
  • yash77
    I missed joker in the whole movie. There was a killer but not the joker we had in all Batman series.
    • tiny81

      Considering this was really before he was the joker you know origin movie I don't see that as a problem.

    • yash77

      Yes maybe i believe the story writing must've been hard for joker.

  • Thefinisher11
    The movie was ok but it's not a masterpiece

    I think it's because of the oversaturation of superhero movies that make it seem like a masterpiece because it stands out from the rest

    The acting and musical score is phenomenal and Oscar worthy

    But everything else is just mediocre and predictable

    I was so excited and expecting some really dark shit because of the critics and stories about the audiences leaving the theatre because it was "soo dark "

    But it was just mediocre and predictable

    The movie was good and worth watching for it's acting and musical score

    But i personally seen darker and better movies about how society creates monsters
  • BasicBad
    This is an obnoxious wanna be movie review
    • Well Miss 'You can fit four fingers down there': (Nice profile, by the way. Got any other interests besides sex?)

      You can call it obnoxious but yeah it's a movie review. Under the myTake category that the site created, myReview. Duh.

  • Thatsamazing
    This movie was trash
    • You’re such a naysayer.

    • Only about things that deserve naysaying.

      If you want a serious film about craziness and violence and testosterone and all that, it was done much better forty years ago by Martin Scorsese-- it's called "Taxi Driver."

    • Uh, the one I mentioned in my review? Yep, I know it.
      There are things that are better about it, for sure. Scorcese is very talented. But what that film doesn’t give is a backstory to the character and why he is the way he is. De Niro’s character is also a vigilante, but he’s hardly a sympathetic character.

    • Show All
  • OfDeath
    Yeah it was alright
    I thought it was good
  • SecretGardenBlood65
    Good take
  • msc545
    Don't waste your time or money.