DC’s finest

October 6th, 2019

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I’ll keep this short, sweet, and as spoiler-free as possible (we can get into point by point spoilers over in The Gung-Ho Group if you like) while it’s still vividly burned into my retinas: this movie is a spectacular achievement when it comes to comic book movies, 2019 cinema, and film in general. There isn’t a single scene, line, gesture, or musical note that I felt was out of place, or crammed in to pad out the runtime, and there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind that Joaquin Phoenix’ performance would be stellar no matter what. Thankfully, there’s much more to it other than his performance, and it all goes wonderfully (and madly) together to form quite the entertainment spectacle.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am momentarily committing the biggest crime that a DC fanboi ever has: I hereby proclaim Joaquin Phoenix the best live action Joker we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing yet - he was more engrossing, grounded, and terrifying than Ledger and his laugh was even more intoxicating and bewildering than Nicholson’s.
Incidentally, this is hands down the best DC film that has come out since Batman Begins, and quite possibly the best superhero film since Logan, in my opinion, with which it shares some tonal similarities in the bleak (and I mean capital B to the L-E-A-Krist alive, bleak!) outlook on life that it serves up.

Let’s also get the stupid out of the way... No, this is not an incel manifesto. Nor does it glorify villains or have any depictions that might cause people to go trigger happy out of the blue. If you walked out of the cinema for whatever reason (generally knee-jerk offense or a weak damn heart, as far as I’ve read on Twatter), this movie simply wasn’t made for you.
Or you’re just a big, contextually challenged tit.
If anything, this is one of those awareness raising pieces that the people who like throwing “incel” around like it’s open frisbee season should take a step back and appreciate. The themes and realities expressed herein are harsh, logical, and posed as warnings. It all casts a crisp spotlight on how and why a single, relatively normal and unassuming individual can just up and lose it one day. Ironically for a film with this title, that’s no laughing matter.
That’s what gives it gravitas: there aren’t any mad toys and vats of acid, no outlandish set pieces or transformations, just a constant, grim transition of one Arthur Fleck into Joker. And what a transition that is to behold…

There are many things that need to happen in order for it to take place and some of them are very deeply rooted in the distant past of the film’s mythos. This only becomes apparent as the story and Arthur’s madness start spiralling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole lined with claustrophobic close-ups and stifling character moments or monologues that are brought to life both by Phoenix’ performance as well as the score that always seems to create an uneasiness about every scene. Not that any scene really needs any audible help to achieve that.

Bears mentioning that there are also a few (well, quite a handful if you’re a little unhinged) laugh out loud moments that cover anything from slapstick comedy to language or situational gags, something that works well to offset the darker (holy shit, are they dark…) points of the film. Arguably the biggest laugh is drawn right after one of the most visceral scenes the movie has to offer. Said scene is also wildly cathartic and defining for the main character’s arc.
Now that I think about it, both it and the sequence of jokes it relates to might draw some ire from the more PC review crowd, and probably already has. I didn’t care enough to give the sad sods any clicks just yet, but I imagine they’d call it “crude” and “unbecoming of 2019” or whatever the hell the moral high ground, entertainment-killing pep squad sound like these days.

Bottom line: check any perception of happy-go-lucky, colourful, carbon copy comic book film plots you may have at the door because Joker takes a hard look at any mainstream tropes of the genre, lines them up neatly against the wall, lights up a cigarette, and gives them exactly what they deserve: a stylish, slow-dancing middle finger.
And then proceeds to blow their brains out in a ruthless and shameless fashion.

You don’t need an exorbitant amount of DC comics knowledge to enjoy this one, either, even though it, too, falls into some “obligatory fan service” territory. That said, it’s a different twist (several twists, in fact) than most we’ve seen thus far in film or comic form, come to think of it.

We’ve got a future classic on our hands, undoubtedly well worth your time and money.
I’m gearing up for seeing it again next week, which is something I seldom (if ever) do with movies these days.

P.S. whoever the hell you poor excuses for parents were, bringing that 9 or 10 year-old kid into the movie and then covering his eyes during that ONE particular scene, having the poor thing ask “Can I see now? Can I see now? Can I see now?” for a good couple minutes… what the fuck did you think this was, a gorram Sunday morning cartoon?!

P.P.S. he’s probably already seen worse on those Russian car wreck websites you don’t know he frequents, you clueless twats.

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