I saw Joker (2019)

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I saw Joker (2019)

Post by jayphailey » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:57 pm

I saw Joker (2019)

It's been a week since I saw this movie. I realized I hadn't reviewed it. And I should if anyone who reads these hasn't seen it yet.

Most Superhero movies are action movies. Things explode and move really fast. People fight for superhuman periods of time and still look like movie stars when they're done. No one hits their head wrong and winds up in a wheelchair.

Modern action is childish fantasy and that's okay. Just don't lose track of the difference between reality and fantasy.

Joker shares exactly nothing with that fantasy, except once.

Joker is a psychological disassembly of malfunction. It's about pain. Arthur Fleck is the protagonist but he's not the good guy. In this story, we ride with him into Rock Bottom. Everything good, every ray of hope in his life is either a lie, a delusion or a hallucination.

He doesn't just become The Joker. He collapses into it in stages. It's not Heath Ledger's Joker. It's not Jack Nicholson's Joker. In the end, Arthur is denied even that. His Joker is a hallucination other people see as he crashes and burns.

Batman is not in this film. And if he was and he punched Arthur Fleck in the mouth, you'd feel really bad for Arthur while agreeing it was probably for the best.

I have heard people compare this Movie to "The Taxi Driver" and I think that's a very apt comparison. I think its a deliberate homage.

This film is good. It tells a very clear story, well and in ways subtly. The performances are stand out. If any person in this film turned in a bad performance they could have sunk it. The Director knocks it out of the park. He set a target and then nailed it to the wall.

This film, is, true to Joker, a mirror image of a Super Hero Film. The protagonist falls, undone by his own weakness. Violence is not liberating or redemptive. It just makes things worse at every turn. Everything is dirty, sad and wrong. There are no super tech utopias in view. At the bottom when things are their very worst. Arthur loses himself and confronting his essential emptiness, succumbs to hopelessness.

In doing so, he makes the world a worse place.

now you may argue, with some justification that Joker's first three kills are actually good shoots. Well, the first two of the first three.

Spoilers -

Joker's first foray into violence. Arthur is riding home on a subway when he sees three drunk Wall Street types abusing a woman in the subway. Most of us like to think that we'd step up and interpose ourselves between the woman and the abusers. Experience shows this is less likely in the 1985 Gotham depicted. It's more likely NOW, but not enough.

Arthur has a brain injury. (Although we discover that later) When overwhelmed by emotion, he breaks into uncontrollable laughter. He can't help himself. This is an old injury. Arthur has had his ass kicked already in this movie.

Arthur is in clown makeup. He works as a rental clown (For a horrible Boss. I recognized that guy. I've worked for him a few times).

So seeing the Drunken, entitled douche bags macking on an isolated woman, his condition kicks in and he starts laughing. Hard. He never makes a choice. His condition activates.

This has good results for the woman. The drunk guys are distracted from getting her and she flees. But they turn their attention to Arthur. They come over. One badly sings "Send in the clowns". It is threatening the way High School jocks are. Arthur keeps laughing. He's already been viciously assaulted once this week. Here comes round two.

They proceed to beat up Arthur. They knock him down and begin to stomp him.

Arthur produces a no-doubt illegal handgun and shoots them. Two go down and the third injured flees.

Arthur chases him and kills him.

Now, If you're on the floor getting stomped by three guys and you shoot them, that's clearly self-defense.

But you know. You just know. In Arthur's world things don't work like that. He's going to get stomped flat for that. No one cares about him being in pain or getting injured. No one cares about him being in fear for his well being or his life. So the gates of hell are opened there. There's no way that ends well.

It also deliberately mirrors the Bernard Goetz shootings in the 1980s.

Now one of the drunken douche bags hobbles away, screaming. Arthur chases him. heres where the one action movie trope kicks in. Arthur shoots way too many times with this revolver.

But the effect is clear. Arthur pursues a fleeing assailant and shoots him in the back, a few times.

Then Arthur flees and we see his brain attempting to integrate and process this.

The "Clown Vigilante" becomes a thing in Gotham. Protestors and other anti-establishment folks start putting on clown make up. It becomes Gothams Guy Fawkes mask.

The rest of the movie is on a count down from this. It's only a matter of time until the consequences of the subway shooting catch up with Arthur.

I liked this movie.

It's ugly and painful, but I recognized some of the pain in it. In other ways, I have been an observer for that kind of pain.

its not a kids' film. It's not a classic superhero film. I am not even sure it's really part of the DC universe.

Heath Ledger's Joker had legs as an anti-hero. He was scary, dangerous but vague enough so you could paint whatever you wanted to over him. He represented power.

Joaquin Phoenix's Joker... Arthur. he's Arthur Fleck. He represents weakness. Weakness and pain. Weakness and Pain we could all feel and fall prey to. Weakness and pain that becomes a bomb that explodes pointlessly to almost everyone's detriment.

I think this is why expected copy cats and inspired by violence didn't follow this film. Arthur shows how pathetic school shooters really are. His violence simply adds to the sadness, pain, and brokenness.

If you see Jack Nicholsons Joker, you think "I am about to get assaulted by a Mafia Circus"

If you see Heath Ledger's Joker, you think, "What insanely complicated, 5d nihilist/anarchist plot to explode things am I in the middle of, but not seeing here?"

if you see Arthur Fleck you want to hit him in the head with a 2X4, wrap him in a straight jacket and then feed him chicken noodle soup. He's pathetic.

I give this one an A.

I have no desire to watch it again. I'm good. But it's the Cassandra to the Super Hero Movies Ceasar. Superheros stride across the world like Colossai. This movie whispers - "This is what putting on a mask and being violent would really look like"

So I think its a well done and necessary seasoning to the big stew of action and superhero storytelling.

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