Posts Tagged ‘dark knight’

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Joker (2019)

October 5, 2019

Joker (2019)

Director: Todd Phillips (The Hangover movies, Old School, Road Trip)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Anticipation Level: Epic

How Was It? Honestly, I thought a one-off Joker movie that had nothing to do with the current DC movie universe being directed by the guy responsible for The Hangover movies was a pretty terrible idea. But then Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the lead role and suddenly you had to wonder what this movie might be because Phoenix is a generational talent. And then the first trailer dropped and I was completely sold. By the time Joker won Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival and the first critical reactions started rolling in, Joker was my my most anticipated film of 2019.

And it totally lived up to the hype. It’s my favorite film of the year with just under three months left in 2019. It almost feels cliche to make that claim since everyone knows I’m a diehard Batman fan (my nickname is Dark Knight, for crying out loud), but it’s just phenomenal. All the praise being lauded on Joaquin Phoenix is well deserved. He’s incredible. It’s hard to imagine anyone giving a performance that can even hold a candle to what Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight, but Phoenix does just that in this movie. I think Ledger’s Joker is more in line with what comic book fans have come to expect of the character (i.e. genius psychopath/criminal mastermind), but the Joker in this movie is perhaps even scarier because he’s born out of mental illness and neglect and, well, there’s nothing supernatural about that. In fact, it’s easy enough to imagine that some people in the real world are actually out there boycotting this film right now because they are worried about its potential influence. You know… because it’s so different than all the other violent movies and video games out there that it deserves its own special spotlight. *eyeroll*

Joker is a very unsettling film. I mean… I loved it. I absolutely loved it, but I would not say it is an easy watch. It is a difficult and disturbing film. Joaquin Phoenix dives so deep into this role that I saw one reviewer say, “I’m worried about him” and that person wasn’t trying to be funny. He’s so good I can’t imagine anyone else winning the Best Actor Oscar this year. The only way he loses is if this role is too dark for the Academy or if they have some sort of recency bias against handing over a statue for the same role twice in just over a decade. Taron Egerton was great as Elton John in Rocketman but Joaquin Phoenix is simply better.

The cinematography and score are also Oscar-worthy in this movie. The film is beautifully and intimately shot, keeping the viewer highly invested in what’s happening on screen and the score ratchets up the tension and never lets up. You will be on edge the entire time and if you are concerned about what might happen, you probably should be.

My problems with this movie are pretty minor. Obviously, Joker takes place in Batman’s world, but this film never really feels like a comic book movie. The story occurs long before Bruce Wayne donns and the cape and the cowl and while the Waynes are a presence, Bruce is just a young kid and his influence on the story is pretty minimal. That’s fine. This movie is about Joker, not Batman. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine this Joker being Batman’s biggest foe 15 years in the future. Joaquin Phoenix is almost 45 and there’s no indication that Arthur Fleck is much younger, so… this Joker is going to be 60 when Batman starts showing up? Uh, okay. But that doesn’t really matter as this movie is a standalone film and Todd Phillips has indicated that Phoenix’s Joker will not be appearing in any upcoming Batman films and setting up that future rivalry is not the point of this movie anyway.

Joker might not be the most enjoyable film experience due to its dark and disturbing nature, but it’s my favorite movie of 2019 so far and Joaquin Phoenix gives another remarkable performance that just might earn him his first Oscar.

Replay Value: It’s a tough watch, but I’m ready for Round 2 and it’s a must own film for me.

Sequel Potential: A Joker movie that happens before Batman becomes Batman? How could there not be a sequel? Because Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t do sequels and I don’t expect him to appear as Joker again.

Oscar Potential: Phoenix is a lock nominee and my favorite to win Best Actor right now. I think the cinematography and score also have a chance to get nominated. I’d put it in the Best Picture race myself, but the fact that 30% of critics have given it negative reviews isn’t very promising in that regard.

8/10 (Must See)