Friday, October 18, 2019

Joker is the greatest movie of all time

Joker. I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it's a fucking comedy. Pretty damn solid. Might even be transformative to the superhero genre like The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger's Joker performance was in 2008. However, don't see the flick as rewatchable as those Christopher Nolan Batman flix. I mean, you never really forget that you are watching a guy suffering from serious mental illness that society doesn't give a shit about. Not my idea of a movie I want to watch a whole lot. Like Taxi Driver, which everyone keeps comparing it to, in that way, but worse.

Gist of the movie is that Arthur Fleck, a mentally disturbed aspiring comedian, basically completely loses his shit after getting pushed to his breaking point. After getting jumped for the second time in the movie, he kills some stock brokers in self defense but guns another down as he is trying to escape. From there it is all down hill as he becomes an icon for the oppressed of Gotham City.

Stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joker (aka Arthur Fleck) and has a notable appearance from Robert De Niro as late night talk show host Murray Franklin. Something cool about having De Niro in the film is that it connects all the allusions to Taxi Driver (maybe De Niro's most memorable role) that are in the film. Both take place at the same time and Joker references this by talking about the garbage strike. This isn't laid out in Taxi Driver but it was filmed during a massive garbage strike in the mid 1970s in New York City. That is the reason the city looks like such shit in Taxi Driver and Travis has his whole fixation on washing away all the trash.

Other people you are likely to recognize are Zazie Beetz (a pretty lady who was in Deadpool 2) as Joker's love interest, Frances Conroy--whom you may remember as Ruth Fisher in Six Feet Under--plays Joker's mother (Penny Fleck), and Marc Maron whom I always assume is incredibly famous but no one seems to really know when I geek out whenever he shows up in anything (he is only the star of GLOW, Maron, and the host of WTF?, sorry he isn't Ben Shapiro or Joe Rogan or whatever). Then there are several "that guy"s like Glenn Fleshler who plays this monster clown coworker of Fleck's. This guy is brutally killed in everything I have seen him in including True Detectives (he is the serial killer in the first season) and Barry (he is the leader of the Chechens). Then the little person, an actor named Leigh Gill, was in Game of Thrones and Fantastic Beasts is somewhat recognizable but I think is mostly because he was the other little person in GoT.

First off, Phoenix was pretty great. Not anyone going to make a convincing argument that he didn't win the movie. It is nuts. Also, interesting stuff written for his character. One of the coolest things is the allusion to the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs which the Joker character from the 1940 Batman #1 comic was the obvious inspiration. Like the title character from that film, who looks exactly like the Joker, Fleck laughs despite the really fucked up shit that goes down around him. He has this disorder that resulted from severe childhood trauma where he would laugh uncontrollably when in extremely uncomfortable situations (which is how he ends up on Murray Franklin's show). I think I may have this for all I know made up disease, by the by (see my review for Pet Semetary, but I won't get into it here. He then can't really laugh when things are actually funny but sort of fakes it. As an aspiring comedian, we see him at a comedy club taking notes and such and faking a laugh like a second off from the audience in an obviously fake, not getting it way. I find that sort of shit extremely off putting. It is one of several ways that they show us that he is not in control. Another way comes after he starts his crime spree, killing for the first time. He is kind of freaking out but definitely sort of digging it. He goes to a filthy restroom to compose himself and does a sort of beautiful dance that is really something. Reminds me of a mime or a marionette. This stuff was really good shit.

As far as De Niro's character goes, he is a Johnny Carson type Pushing a civilian over the edge like that is pretty fucking gross. He wasn't asking to go viral. You are sort of on board with that shit, his rage. Then he shoots the guy in the face and at least I was like, "whoa buddy." Sort of like when Mike Tyson was all "I'm the best ever; there's never been anybody as ruthless" and I was all "yeah." "My style is impetuous." Yeah! "My defense is impregnable!" Yeah!!! "I'm ferocious. I want your heart." YEAH!! "I want to eat his children." Hold the fuck up, man, I'm not signing up for all this now. Same shit. Shoot a guy in the face on TV. Talk of butchering and eating a baby. Not quite at that level. Though we'll see how this Trump thing goes. Maybe in a year I will be. Anyway. Love that they do this shit. You see this in a lot Batman comics and graphic novel, Joker going on talk shows and then murdering people, and it is portrayed really ingeniously here.

Other things that are of note is what an asshole Thomas Wayne is. Dude is a one-percenter and is finally fucking portrayed like it. Fuck him. I always thought he was secretly a prick. If I have to watch him die in the same way for the 10th time on film, it better offer something. This totally does. Another thing is this twist that happens. Totally didn't see that shit coming. I think it is obvious that there would be one but this was not one I was expecting. Enough said there.

Complaint is did it need two goddamn endings? The first one was solid. The second was complete shit. Not going to give it away in detail but this is sort of a spoiler. It is like the studio and all the rich fucks that had say were like, "I'm a little uncomfortable with this ending, we have to make sure everyone knows he is in Arkham." Horseshit.

Overall, though, the film is a really fascinating study of how when pushed to the breaking point and politicians and agents of order just keep pushing, shit will go the fuck down. I would say if you ignore the second ending, it is a call to action of sorts (or maybe more of a warning). It says that we are fucking living this shit. The film doesn't fuck around with that. This may take place in the 1970s, but this Gotham is Trump's American. Burn the mother fucker down.

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