Joker - Movie Review (Collaboration)
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
The Knights have joined together to give some views on the recent movie release "Joker".
Joker was directed by Todd Philips and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz, and is the first film in DC’s Black series of films. I wasn’t entirely sold on the concept when I first heard of a Joker origin film sans Batman; to have your lead be a merciless, murderous villain, without any equivalent opposition is a rough narrative prospect. You’d naturally want the audience to have sympathy for this guy, but how do you accomplish that when he’s just killing with nihilistic fervour? You’d have to shift the tone, and struggle for the lead in just the right way if you wanted it to work.
After seeing the first full trailer, I knew they had quite possibly nailed it. And they sure as hell did. The tone, pacing and choice of the narrative were perfect. I couldn’t imagine a better Joker origin film if I tried, and a lot of that has to do with originality. I’m a huge Joker fan, I’ve seen so many version of the character on screen and on the page, and this one is special because it stands out, and while that may put some fans off, I loved it. Phoenix is mesmerizing. His portrayal is his own, and the subtle nuance he brings to the character is layered and not easily noticeable to the untrained eye; he has a variety of laughs that all serve a function at hand, and his characterization is a dualistic balance of isolationist resentment, and mimicry. Mimicry is a big part of this character, and it blends into his laughter seamlessly. He is in nearly every shot in this film, and he is a tremendous presence as a result.
The supporting cast is excellent all around, De Niro and Beetz are great whenever on screen and their characters were functionally well-placed within the narrative in spite of not having a tremendous amount of screen time The score and soundtrack were so well crafted, and I loved the string compositions. The cinematography is top-notch, I have a truckload of favourite shots from this film. Lots of dark gritty shots, but also many with popping, bright colours.
This is most definitely a film that begs multiple viewings as well as discourse. It’s a work of art that deserves all the praise it has received, as well as being the highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time. I loved it, and I cannot wait to rewatch it. If you’re a fan and haven’t seen it, and are on the fence - give it a chance. You might not hate it.
Another Perspective By Phantom Knight
I discuss the premise of the movie in my short review which some may construe as containing spoilers.
If you have not seen the movie I would suggest that you DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER.
I for one was definitely taken in by the media hype surrounding Joker and to be totally honest, many times when there is a big comic book release concerning iconic characters I am always ready and waiting.
I suppose the question I should answer is did I enjoy joker?
Yes & no is my answer. To begin with, Joker hits many many high points. The acting is superb, the music is top-notch and is a real scene setter. The cinematography is also excellent with many shots taking place that really pop and without a doubt will inevitably become famous scenes over the years after its release.
The character arc of Arthur Fleck descending into the abyss that is madness is a haunting one and for me is directed in a superb way. In many respects, I fully expected to sympathize with Arthur much like many other films of this type. You expect to identify with the villain and gradually see their flawed & evil persona overtake them.
In some aspects and in many ways throughout most of the movie I could see that arc transpire but leaving out one key element. I didn't really sympathize with Arthur by the movie's end. A key element to sympathy for any villain is that you see the suffering that they have endured but continue to endure. To me, Arthur suffered but became his true self by the end of the movie. He was somewhat born again, washed away were all of the heinous acts committed against him, he was a new person, perhaps the person he was forced into becoming. My point is he was not a victim at the end, far from it in fact. He had transformed from the victim to the victimiser. He took control of the horrible hand he was dealt in life, he was standing on his own two feet, albeit in an insane and homicidal way.
Joker is certainly not a feel-good movie, of that I am certain. I left the cinema almost unsure of how I felt as I certainly didn't feel warm & fuzzy. Normally I travel to the cinema expecting to be entertained, feeling good as I leave the theatre. This was a different cinema experience and I left feeling down and dare say it a little depressed. It is a bleak movie and could easily have survived without the batman/joker paradigm. I fear that a movie with the DC back story definitely helped pull in the punters for which would have otherwise been a tough sell if you remove the iconic star name of the Joker.
With that said the Joker certainly made me think about how I felt, I had to decode in my own mind my feelings as they weren't abundantly clear to me at the end of the movie. After spending some time thinking about Joker, I can say, at least from my perspective, the movie is about the ways in which neglect, abuse, harassment, bullying and psychosis can affect the human condition. In today's society, many people commit heinous crimes but not a great deal is ever made of the reasons as to why this has occurred. This movie, in my opinion, deals with those ideas and shows what could happen when someone is marginalized to a huge degree throughout their life.
Overall, I can't really recommend this movie in the traditional sense. It definitely comes with a disclaimer from me. If you like movies that are based in psychology and show aspects of a person's slow demise into madness then you will get a lot out of this movie. If you are expecting this to be a typical DC movie where the Joker takes down a few scores, coupled with a few laughs along the way then it's not for you.