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Joker: Finally, A Movie Not Afraid To “Go There”…

Joey Boats

Okay, so it’s Thursday and yesterday marked my second viewing of Joker. For the record, I always elect to wait 3-5 days after the release of a movie for a review because, quite frankly, most people don’t rush out to the theater anymore. There are always a few exceptions (Endgame, this new Star Wars movie) and although this is one of those situations, I’d rather have the opportunity to exploit spoilers so here’s my disclaimer.

Disclaimer: Below will include spoilers, and not the type of spoilers you would customize and throw on the back of your Lamborghini Murcielago police car in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 on Gamecube.

Alright, so considering I have formatting ability of a scatterbrained catfish, I’m going to workshop a new format for these movie reviews. Instead of trying to string together a laundry list of thoughts, I’m just going to shoot from the hip using bullet points. That’s basically it. Okay…

* First things first, AMC should be ashamed of themselves. Although Endgame broke the all time record this year, it’s no secret that box office numbers aren’t necessarily thriving. One can ascribe a lot of that to the surplus of platforms through which we can consume media but I’m not sure. To be honest, the fact I had to take out a loan to see a 4 PM showing yesterday was a joke. Eighteen fucking dollars to get through the door and I nearly fainted when the cash register displayed $8 after I placed a Dasani water bottle on the table. Instead, I elected to just grab a free 3-ounce dixie cup of tap water, which was coincidentally on-brand for the movie because I presume that’s what they provide patients at methadone clinics when distributing daily medications.

* There’s just SO much to dissect here but I’ll just start here: This is Joaquin Phoenix’s movie. When it’s all said and done, this is more of a character study than any film I’ve seen in recent memory. Although you have names like Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz involved, the only character that even slightly moves the needle in this movie is Phoenix and damn, does he knock it off its rocker. I’m sure Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will give him a run for Best Actor this February, but I personally think it would be an absolute crime to give it to anyone other than Pheonix.

* For those of you out there suggesting you heard Joker “wasn’t that great,” I’m not here to say you’re wrong but I kind of am. I can see where the negative press is coming from—it’s currently sitting below 70% on Rotten Tomatoes—but make no mistake, that’s BULLSHIT and completely misleading. Through scanning reviews, I quickly realized that a large majority of the negative reviews didn’t actually concern the movie; it concerned the sociocultural impact of the movie, which is pretentious as all hell. Half of these woke idiots had their review penned before they sat in their seats. When push comes to shove, they aren’t creative people. They have no idea what it’s like to captivate a room; therefore, they don’t fight for the right to do so. They feel like everything intended for public consumption should align with their political agenda, which just doesn’t work. For an artist to operate, he/she needs to be sincere and I’m glad Todd Phillips and company didn’t capitulate to outrage culture.

* More on the previous note: I was worried when I saw all the backlash concerning this movie. To be honest, I thought it was more of the same overblown outrage stemming from the fingertips of media elites, propping themselves on their soapboxes, narcissistically asserting themselves as paragons of virtue in attempt to rake retweets. Turns out, it low key wasn’t. Normally I can’t even remotely relate to the sentiments expressed from these people but I don’t know dude, Joker fucking went there. Not to spend too much more time on it, but it was just refreshing to see Hollywood throw its balls on the table in the face of “public” scrutiny for once.

* Last Thing: Entertainment is a reflection of society, not the other way around. I refuse to shut down or deprive others the opportunity to enjoy something strictly because an obscure minority of our population elects to do something reckless with it. Long story short, nobody’s shooting up a movie theater exclusively because of a movie; I’m sure there’s a track record of situations that went towards such a decision and to condemn Hollywood is just insane.

* One of the most impressive aspects of the movie is how smooth the character development is. As I said, the entire movie is essentially just a character study, and a fluid one at that. It’s a slow build, but nothing was rushed and nothing felt forced. Pheonix’s character arc from struggling entertainer to a renowned agent of chaos was relatively seamless.

* EVERYTHING about Pheonix in this movie was “off.” Not only did it look like he lost 50+ lbs. for the role, but he also does this weird thing where he juts out his shoulder blades and rib cage that’s too unhealthy to describe. And I think that was the point…

* The most UNSETTLING aspect of Joker—and why it’s received so much more criticism than other Joker portrayals—is just how rooted in reality the story is. With Ledger’s performance, there’s enough to convince the audience that what they’re watching is a movie; with Joker, the reality that “Hey, this could actually happen” is unavoidable. Furthermore, it’s difficult once you realize that Pheonix’s Joker just flat out isn’t all there. Unlike other portrayals where the Joker is more a tapped mastermind of sorts, Pheonix’s Joker clearly has something significantly wrong with him. Depending on how you feel about that will change how you ultimately view the movie, so act accordingly…

* Throughout the movie, Pheonix does this weird dancing thing. From one lens, you could call it artsy or beautiful, but through a different lens, it’s incredibly dark and tragic. His movements seem involuntary, almost like a possessed ballerina. It’s sort of a microcosm for the whole movie to be honest and I loved every second of it.

* I couldn’t help feeling like this script wasn’t initially intended to be a super hero film. It was just incredibly strange when things like “Gotham” or “Wayne” or “Arkham” would get brought up, to the point where it would almost take you out of the film for a second. I feel like the suits read the script and saw an opportunity to apply the Joker’s likeness to the character; after a few revisions, voilà: a movie that MILLIONS of more people will head to the theater to see. That’s the power of brand recognition…

* To piggyback on that last sentiment, this movie SHOULD NOT have a sequel. I’m never on the side of “it’ll ruin the original” but in this situation, it could. This movie should remain what it was intended to be: a remarkably well done outlier.

Final Score: 9.5 Boats out of 10

– Joey Boats (@joey_boats)

2019-20 Reviews

Fighting With My Family: 8.9

Captain Marvel: 6.4

How To Train Your Dragon 3: 8.7

US: 8.1

Dumbo: 4.3

Shazam!: 7.5

Avengers Endgame: 9.6

Detective Pikachu: 5.5

Booksmart: 9.3

Rocketman: 7.9

Toy Story 4: 9.2

Spider Man Far From Home: 9.0

The Peanut Butter Falcon: 8.1

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