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Joker A Great Dark Unsettling Fascinating Character Study, as Joaquin Delivers! Grade: A-

Source: IMDB


When I was told my favorite actor Joaquin Phoenix was going to become the next Joker, I was very interested in how this will all play out. The teaser trailer debuted early in the year as my only thoughts were... This looks AWESOME! Arguably the best trailer of the entire year so far, debatable to The Lighthouse trailer too. All signs pointing that this was going to be a great one, as the release date was on my birthday so... A sign for greatness perhaps? Joker tells a story about Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a regular civilian in Gotham whom has mental health issues. He also works as a clown, sign spinning in the streets and cheering up sick kids, also wants to be a stand up comedian. Along with the mental health issues Arthur has, he also lives a tough life living with his sick mother as the civilians of Gotham treat him harshly. Arthur starts to lose his mind, as soon he becomes a natural born sinner and takes out those whom treat him wrong by violence. I have to say The Set Design is one of the best I’ve seen all year. As described Gotham is suppose to look like a city, that is unbearable to live in not only because bad people live in the city, but also it’s an extremely dirty city as this film captures that vision perfectly. Besides some fancy town hall theater and Arthur’s favorite late night talk show host studio, every where you turn it’s just an extremely depressing scenery that you can tell one could lose their damn mind in just by living there for a couple days. The dirty black stairwell as presented was simple yet effective to watch in the saddest scene and the happiest diabolical scene. I would’ve liked more out of the Arkham hospital location, exploring that location would’ve been very interesting, as the possibilities are endless to bring out some creative ideas while disturbing the audience. The Cinematography was great, the color pallet in many scenes are shot lovely. It’s a visually stunning film, great camera work as well, really enjoyed that aspect. The costume design was pretty good. Though Arthur Fleck’s wardrobe was simple, it still stands out nicely, especially the purple jacket type suit. I was really impressed with The Score of this film, it was great, perfect setting of dark disturbed tone music that really elevated this film in several scenes. I was not expecting Frank Sinatra music in a Joker film as I gotta say... Every time That’s Life came on, I got HYPED! It worked very well in this films favor I must say. The cast in this film all in all were pretty damn good as a whole. Arthur Fleck aka Joker played by Joaquin Phoenix performance was undeniably spectacular, this was a fantastic compelling brutal dark performance that is going to end up as an Oscar contender. This is a very unsettling performance, where it creeps you out the entire film as it should, Todd Phillips and Joaquin knew exactly how this character needed to be portrayed as they nailed it. I can understand those whom feel troubled by this character, as Arthur starts out as a protagonist as they feel he stays as a protagonist. People think this film is siding with Arthur the entire film, as they believe it’s condoning violence. Couple things to discuss here. Just because a character starts out as a protagonist, doesn’t mean they stay as one. In reality everyone starts out as a good person, when things hit the fan some are mature enough to react accordingly, some... Not so much. Also I feel it’s simple film logic, that the film is not siding with the character Arthur at all as they don’t get simple logic. The film is showing this iconic villain’s origin story, of how he used to be a somewhat decent person that the audience have sympathy for, into being one we can no longer side with as he looses his mind and results to violence. I felt the character was a great diabolical character, whom you understand his motives as to why he becomes a villain in the end. I get it: We live in a society that people overreact over everything, just sit, calm down, and think a little.... Why so serious? The people in the city of Gotham treats Arthur like he was a super rat on the street. They make fun of him, they beat him up, they get mad at him for making a kids day, his mother isn’t that kind to him, also dealing with unemployment as he’s discovering kept secrets for the first time ever in his life... One can understand why someone in his nature, while also dealing with a mental illness begins to lose his damn mind. I compare this character study to Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin, only differences is we get to see the entire life of Kevin from birth to teenager, as for Arthur we only see bits of his childhood past, also Arthur starts out as a protagonist while Kevin never once was. But both great dark character studies. Murray Franklin the Late Night Talk show host played by Robert De Niro was a pretty good performance. He did a dope job in every scene he was in, despite being a simple supporting role giving Arthur motive to be even more diabolical during a tough period in his life. Zazie Beetz playing Arthurs apartment hall neighbor Sophie played a good performance, I enjoy her in every role she’s in. I really enjoyed the plot twist for this character in the third act, I kind of saw it coming but it worked for Arthur’s character. You know whom also stole the show in every scene they were in?! Freaking Arthur’s co workers Randall (Glenn Flesher) and Gary (Leigh Gill), both performances and characters though small but they were great in every scene, hilarious moments as well. One other flaw to point out as this has been one on everyone’s minds... This film is heavily inspired by many films, one in particular Taxi Driver. You also can see a little Machinist and We Need to Talk About Kevin as well, but a major love letter to Taxi Driver with the opening font and story wise giving the audience a clear “Hey, I LOVED Taxi Driver as a kid!” I don’t think it’s a major complaint, but it has to be said. Before I start, I’d like to talk about the controversy that people are troubled by the violence in this film. Honestly I get it, but on another hand I don’t. Has anyone ever watched a Gaspar Noe film called Irreversible? Great film by the way, but the way people are talking about how violent this film is, I was expecting to receive a Gaspar Noe type film... If you’re troubled by the violence in Joker, oh boy you got a big storm coming, violence in other films are WAY more extreme than this one. Back to Joker: This film exceeded my expectations and more, I loved this film. The origin story of Joker has been one I would love to be explore, as I’m happy it was as I found this backstory to be extremely fascinating. Showing how a man whom is troubled but a decent human being, to become completely insane resulting in violence. It’s a very dark unsettling story, but keeps the audience engaged as to how Arthur came about becoming this way. I enjoyed the fact this film has clever dark humor, there are times where you should not be laughing, but you can’t help it because it’s funny... Much like Arthur with his health condition... Ah! It was a great story from start to finish, it kept you entertained, invested, as it also makes you think as well. Impressive direction by Todd Phillips, you can tell how passionate he was about this project as it shows with a strong direction. I’m happy DC let Phillips have total control in his vision for this film, you can create great cinema by letting your film makers breath and create, unlike some people... *Cough* *Cough* Marvel *Cough*. I also enjoyed that this film was played out as an arthouse indie style film, rather than being a big blockbuster special effect nonsense. It was refreshing to see a real film again coming from these DC/Marvel films, it had a story while also had something to say the way human beings can create monsters by the way we treat human beings... Like yes, give me more of these films please! I thought the third act was my favorite, the diabolical scenes, the music, the cinematography, everything about it was just fantastic. If Black Panther out of all movies in the world can get nominated Best Picture, then Joker belongs there too. I loved this film as I’m looking forward to rewatching it again sometime soon. Overall, Joker was fantastic. I highly recommend this film, especially for those that are tired of the same repetitive super hero films, this offers something different and it’s done very well. Marvel won quantity... DC slaughtered Marvel with quality *Mic Drops*. -Mitch Smietana

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