Posts Tagged ‘heath ledger’

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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)

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Bunch Of Short Movie Reviews

June 16, 2009

Okay, so my goal to make a new post each day might have been reaching a bit. I clearly am not meeting that goal and on Fridays and Saturdays I simply don’t have the time to do it. So I’m going to lower my expectations and shoot for 4-5 updates a week. I’m finding myself having a hard time writing movie reviews. I want to talk about some of the films I’ve seen recently, but I can’t seem to find my voice. It just isn’t feeling right to me lately…. with that said, here are some quick thoughts on some recent films I’ve seen:

Zack & Miri Make A Porno – I liked this a lot more the second time I watched it. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood during my first viewing, or my woman was dragging me down, or my expectations were too high after hearing so many people say how good it was… whatever the case may be, I was really underwhelmed the first time I saw it. However, my initial reaction was misguided as this was a fun and humorous flick. It has a unique plot and plenty of crude humor and it’s Kevin Smith’s best film in nearly a decade. Also, Justin Long absolutely kills it in his cameo role as a gay porn star at a high school reunion. “Yes… fucking movies”

Grade: 6 out of 10 (recommended)

Observe & Report – I went and saw this with a group of people and I liked it more than everyone else. Seth Rogen seems to be in everything lately, but this is the first time I’ve seen him in a darker role since he played a random bully in Donnie Darko back before he was a star. I think this was Rogen’s best performance to date though and I found this dark comedy to be pretty damn funny and entertaining all around. Spoiler alert… the ending was pretty shocking when Rogen’s character walks up and shoots the streaker. That took me by surprise… what was even more surprising was how everything in the film was building up to a depressing conclusion, but somehow an unemployed former mall security guard can walk up to someone, shoot them in broad day, and not only avoid a jail bid, but have everyone cheering for him like a hero in the end. I thought it was a corny way to end an otherwise ominous film.

Grade: 6 out of 10 (recommended)

Milk – It took me forever to watch this movie. I rented it on March 11th and returned it on May 19th… I started watching it at least eight different times before I finally sat through the whole thing. That’s not a knock on the film though, it’s just a reflection of how much of a priority film-watching has been to me lately… because this movie was really, really good. I was shocked when Sean Penn won Best Actor earlier this year since all the hype was pointing towards Mickey Rourke and, to a lesser extent, Frank Langella. I saw both of those performances before the awards and even though I hadn’t seen Milk yet, I didn’t think Penn was going to top either one. I was wrong. Having seen all the nominated performances (aside from dude in The Visitor), I think Penn was hands down the best. It’s one of those rare performances where the actor completely becomes the character… so much that you forget that you’re even watching Sean Penn. It was truly remarkable. On top of that, Harvey Milk’s story was an interesting one, James Franco was really good, and Emile Hirsch is quickly rising on my list of favorite actors. While Milk probably won’t have enough replay value to be worth owning for me, it’s definitely something I’d highly recommend everyone see at least once.

Grade: 8 out of 10 (excellent)

Rachel Getting Married – I only rented this movie because of the buzz surrounding Anne Hathaway’s performance… an actress more known for corny teeny-bopper flicks than Oscar-worthy material. I can’t say the story particularly interested me, but Hathaway was as good as advertised and I’m looking forward to seeing her test her acting chops even more in the future. The best scene in the film is when Hathaway gives a grimace-inducing speech at her sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner. This movie is worth watching for Hathaway alone, but if you don’t care about great performances in mediocre movies, you can skip this one.

Grade: 5.5 out of 10 (worth watching/recommended)

Lords Of Dogtown – Yeah, this movie is a bit older. It’s basically a film adaptation of the excellent 2002 documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys and follows the rise of a group of teenage skateboarding phenoms who build their skill sets by sneaking into someone’s back yard, draining their swimming pools, and honing their talents on their makeshift half-pipes. I can’t think of too many documentaries that have been recast with actors and turned into feature films, so I can see a lot of potential problems with the concept–most noticeably having an actor playing a real person that has already starred in the same story as themselves. However, all the actors did fairly well, and once again, Emile Hirsch knocked it out of the fucking park… which would give him a streak of three straight solid-to-excellent performances I’ve seen from him. Heath Ledger was also in this and was nearly as unrecognizable and amazing as he was playing The Joker. I didn’t even know it was him until halfway through the movie…. probably the first time he showed potential of his greatness. Overall, a fun and loyal adaption with surprisingly solid performances, but honestly, the documentary was much better and more interesting.

Grade: 6 out of 10 (recommended)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – This movie got kind of slammed by critics, but I enjoyed it. It didn’t blow my mind and it doesn’t hold a candle to the much superior superhero films of last year (The Dark Knight & Iron Man), but I had fun watching it. I can’t say I’m familiar with any Wolverine comics at all, so I can’t comment on how faithful the adaptation was or if fanboys are going to think they butchered it. For all the hype surrounding a long awaited Gambit appearance, his character was pretty lame, didn’t contribute much to the film, and wasn’t nearly as bad ass as I remember him in the cartoons or video games. All I can really say about this movie is that it was entertaining, Lynn Collins is fucking gorgeous, and I need to get on Hugh Jackman’s workout regime for this film ASAP.

Grade: 5.5 out of 10 (worth watching/recommended)