TAS Reviews: Joker

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TheAmazingSpidey

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Edited By TheAmazingSpidey  Online

TAS Reviews: Joker

It's been over 3 months since my last movie review. That isn't because I haven't been seeing any movies. Since then, I've seen MiB: International, The Lion King, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, It: Chapter 2, Hobbs and Shaw, and although I left the theatre with a lot of mental bullet points, none of them left me impassioned enough, one way or another, to commit to weaving these thoughts together into a solid review. If I'm going to write a review, I want it to be of quality, and that requires a lot of time, investment and most of all, passion.

Writing a review for a can be difficult, and as a writer, it's easy to feel like what you're writing about, at times, just isn't significant enough to continue with. It's easy to start writing a review, and end up scrapping it midway because you feel like what you're saying just doesn't need to be said. It is this that makes Joker so special to me. Joker is the first time in months, where a movie left me feeling compelled to talk. Immediately after I left the theatre, I felt obliged to share with everyone just how I feel about this movie. I felt an urge to get on here, and tell everyone just how I feel about Todd Phillips's R-rated envisioning of the origins of Joker.

No Caption Provided

I seriously cannot remember the last time I've reacted so strongly to a movie emotionally. This is a movie that reminded me why I loved movies. For me, this movie was more than just an enjoyable movie experience. It is a movie that rejuvenated my love for cinema as a storytelling art form, reminding me of the endless possibilities, emotions and meaning that can be created and invoked by cinema. Joker is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece. This is an intimidating review to write because I genuinely don't know where to start. There's just so much to praise about it. However, since this movie is a character-focused drama, where the lead character, Arthur Fleck, is in almost every frame of the movie: it feels appropriate to start with him. This movie is all about Fleck's transformation from a timid, mentally ill loner, into the titular villain.

No Caption Provided

I love stories about descents into madness, but this one I felt was particularly powerful. Arthur is in a completely different place by the end of the movie than he was in the beginning, and this change is illustrated beautifully. The reason this transformation works is because the filmmakers do such a good job early on in the movie getting you to sympathise and feel for Arthur, that when he begins to commit violent, inhumane acts, it genuinely feels disheartening, disturbing and hard-hitting. I love movies like John Wick, where we can sit and cheer on as the lead-character blows the brains out of (more often than not) nameless baddies, but in this movie, there was nothing cheerful about the violence the lead-character committed on screen.

No Caption Provided

I always say that character-driven movies live or die by the performance of their lead-actor, and this movie could not have asked for a better fit for the title role. Joaquin Phoenix delivers the greatest performance in comic book movie history, and it's hard to imagine anyone for the rest of the year, across any genre of cinema, delivering a better performance. If the Academy Awards were hosted tomorrow: I would not hesitate for a second to choose him as my Oscar favourite. It's hard to articulate in words just how incredible the performance is: but he imbues the lead-character with so many different nuances, painting him as a truly 3-dimensional portrait of a man gradually losing the sanity and normalcy he had left in him. In regards to the transformation of Arthur into Joker, a lesser actor would've slapped on clown makeup and called it a day, but Joaquin ensures that he represents the change from Arthur to Joker in his performance, and he does so beautifully.

For instance: whereas Arthur's laughs appear to cause him genuine pain infliction, Joker's laughs are absent of infliction. Whereas Arthur's body language is tense, wound-up and timid, Joker's body-language is expressive and free, physically representing the sense of liberation and freedom that the transformation into Joker gives Arthur. This is such a multifaceted character - from his desire to care his mother, to his hunger for validation and acceptance, to his love for dance, which is used as a storytelling tool, in a movie that paints a devastating portrait of a man's descent into madness, and it's hard to imagine anyone embodying this portrayal of Arthur any better than Joaquin.

It's impossible to praise this movie without praising the top-notch technical aspects. Hildur Guðnadóttir's score is almost a character of it's own, contributing to the sense of dread and horror of watching Arthur descend into madness. The cinematography of the film is also just stunning. There are shots in this film that feel like paintings come to life, particularly in the third-act of the movie. It also does a fantastic job transporting audiences into the time-period this movie is set in.

No Caption Provided

To end this review, I'd like to discuss the controversy surrounding this film. I'm not interested in discussing whether I agree with the argument that this movie will inspire real-life violence. What I am interested in discussing is the argument that it is wrong for Todd Phillips to create a movie sympathetic of such a violent, inhumane and unethical character. Here's the thing. Storytelling has historically made us sympathise with characters who do terrible things.

This has been a thing since storytelling has existed, and has applied to movies, novels and even video games. In this case, I'm going to use a video game to illustrate my point. In David Cage's Heavy Rain, the protagonist, Ethan Mars, loses his son, Shawn, in a car-accident, and later on, loses his other son Jason, to a kidnapping. For the rest of the video-game, Ethan sets out on a mission to rescue and reunite with his kidnapped son, and even (depending on what the player chooses to do) commits unethical acts to do so, including the killing of an innocent man.

This is such an inhumane and terrible act, but what made that game so great, is because it held a mirror to the audience. Although the protagonist was committing inarguably inhumane acts, audiences still sympathised with his plight, and were left asking themselves: "would I do the same thing if I was placed under the same circumstances?" Maybe your answer is yes. Maybe your answer is no. Maybe you don't have an answer. But either way, the best, most compelling stories in human history have been the ones that ask the difficult questions.

The richest stories in human history have been those that provoke thought. The best examples of storytelling, for as long as storytelling has existed, are those that make us question things about the human condition. The filmmakers know that what Joker is doing is unethical and inhumane, and it is that which makes this movie such a powerful piece of storytelling. Watching Joker commit and revel in these acts of violence and inhumanity is so painful to watch, yet you're left asking yourself: "well, would we have done the same if we lived the life that we lived?" Regardless of which conclusion you reach, the film made you ask that question, which is worth something.

Conclusion

No Caption Provided

Joker is a movie that reminded me of why I fell in love with movies as an artform. This movie is so rich that I still feel I've only touched the tip of the iceberg, but I guess I'll leave it here. With Joker, Todd Phillips has created a devastating, beautiful, thought-provoking portrait of a man who gradually loses everything that meant anything to him, and descends into madness. Joaquin Phoenix is ridiculously good in the role, delivering a performance that should go down as one of the greatest in cinematic history. It is an absolute masterpiece of a film: the best movie of 2019, the greatest comic book movie ever made, and a new personal favourite of mine. It's a movie that reinvigorated my love for the artform, but the same time, made me think: "damn, why can't all movies be this good?" It's that good.

Score: 10/10.

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MICKEY-MOUSE

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#1 MICKEY-MOUSE  Online

As always great writing. Looking forward to seeing this for myself.

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Zezima

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Amazing review. Glad to see it's living up to the hype. Really intrigued by his performance, calling the GOAT performance is incredible praise. This made me want to watch the movie even more.

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Heatforce

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Lol you always get to see movies before anyone on the vine. Luuuuuuucky. Nice review 👍

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the_stegman

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#4  Edited By the_stegman  Moderator

Man, I'm jealous of your reviewing prowess.

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MarvelandDCfan24

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#6  Edited By mrmonster

Forget the movie, if anything deserves a 10/10, its this review. I'm really struggling to find the words to describe how perfect this review is.

Even though I haven't seen this movie yet, I also want to briefly chime in on the controversy. I think it's odd that even before the movie came out, people were just assuming that this was a condonement of violence instead of a condemnation of it. I believe that people are right to point out that Arthur Fleck strongly reflects real-life monsters like Adam Lanza, but I don't actually believe that's a bad thing. As you already pointed out, great movies should ask difficult questions, and I think it's good that this movie will get people to ask why so many Arthur Flecks in our world seem to turn into Jokers.

But anyway, congrats on an A+ review, and I can't wait to give my thoughts on the movie sometime in the next couple days.

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Green_Tea

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Reading this review was actually pretty entertaining and interesting, I’ll check out the movie next Tuesday

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Ready_4_Madness

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It sounds amazing!

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MonsterStomp

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I've been absent from the Vine for quite some time. It wasn't until the release of this movie that I thought about your inevitable review. I've yet to see the film myself, and I admit I was a little sceptical as the trailers left me feeling no excitement. On top of that the RT scores for the film are average at best.

However, this review has me convinced. Great write-up and glad to see you back!

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Super_ninja

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i've seen it, i love the film ! i'd give it 5 stars.

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WolverineBatmanFTW

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Excellent review and I am very much looking forward to this.

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amazing_webhead

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well now i'm worried that i might not like it, because a lot of times I end up not liking movies that everyone else goes wild over and vice versa, and i hate how it makes me feel like those annoying people who purposefully do the opposite of everyone else just to make themselves feel special.

and I'm sure Joaquin Phoenix does a great job, but the downside to that is now we'll have to hear even more whining about how much everyone and their mother hated Jared Leto.

on the plus side, if Robert De Niro's character dies, i'll get to pretend it's his character from Once Upon A Time In America :)

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TheAmazingSpidey

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As always great writing. Looking forward to seeing this for myself.

Thank you! Hope you enjoy it :)

@zezima said:

Amazing review. Glad to see it's living up to the hype. Really intrigued by his performance, calling the GOAT performance is incredible praise. This made me want to watch the movie even more.

Really appreciate it! I know it sounds hyperbolic, but his performance really is that good.

Lol you always get to see movies before anyone on the vine. Luuuuuuucky. Nice review 👍

Haha movies generally come out a day or two earlier in Australia (where I live).

Man, I'm jealous of your reviewing prowess.

Damn man.... that's incredibly kind of you to say!

Forget the movie, if anything deserves a 10/10, its this review. I'm really struggling to find the words to describe how perfect this review is.

Even though I haven't seen this movie yet, I also want to briefly chime in on the controversy. I think it's odd that even before the movie came out, people were just assuming that this was a condonement of violence instead of a condemnation of it. I believe that people are right to point out that Arthur Fleck strongly reflects real-life monsters like Adam Lanza, but I don't actually believe that's a bad thing. As you already pointed out, great movies should ask difficult questions, and I think it's good that this movie will get people to ask why so many Arthur Flecks in our world seem to turn into Jokers.

But anyway, congrats on an A+ review, and I can't wait to give my thoughts on the movie sometime in the next couple days.

Duuuuude you're too kind. This legit made my morning :D

I'm super excited to hear what you have to say about it!

Reading this review was actually pretty entertaining and interesting, I’ll check out the movie next Tuesday

Glad you enjoyed it!

It sounds amazing!

It really is. When are you seeing it?

I've been absent from the Vine for quite some time. It wasn't until the release of this movie that I thought about your inevitable review. I've yet to see the film myself, and I admit I was a little sceptical as the trailers left me feeling no excitement. On top of that the RT scores for the film are average at best.

However, this review has me convinced. Great write-up and glad to see you back!

My fav person on this website - good to see you again! :D

When are you watching it?

i've seen it, i love the film ! i'd give it 5 stars.

Glad you loved it!

Excellent review and I am very much looking forward to this.

Thank you xx I hope you enjoy it.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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well now i'm worried that i might not like it, because a lot of times I end up not liking movies that everyone else goes wild over and vice versa, and i hate how it makes me feel like those annoying people who purposefully do the opposite of everyone else just to make themselves feel special.

and I'm sure Joaquin Phoenix does a great job, but the downside to that is now we'll have to hear even more whining about how much everyone and their mother hated Jared Leto.

on the plus side, if Robert De Niro's character dies, i'll get to pretend it's his character from Once Upon A Time In America :)

Haha on the bright side, the movie is quite polarising, so not everyone loves it. As long as you give it a fair chance, you'll be fine!

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RavenVice01

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@super_ninja: joaquim's laugh was off like heath's in dark knight but a bit more pathetic which is probably what they were going for. the whole relation to Thomas Wayne could be conceivable because with enough money and pull, one could make it look like penny fleck was crazy and forge her son's adoption papers in order to hide the fact that joker was Thomas' illegitimate kid.

it was a depressing movie to watch almost like Logan. I know this movie is a thought provoking film but it takes away from the bond that batman had with joker when he inadvertently created the clown in the DC Universe.

I get the message: anyone can become like the joker who views life as a cruel joke or tragic comedy. It was a good movie but not great. I'm sure it will become a cult classic like taxi driver but not something I would watch again and again.

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Ready_4_Madness

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war of light_2814

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Ok, I'm hyped. This is the first time I see you give a movie 10/10.

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Lan_Fan

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Darkthunder

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Dude I am not going to see the movie so I was hoping to read the plot. But I don't care I am gonna watch it all because of this review.

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buildhare

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Think a lot of people in my showing didn't know what they were going into, a few groups walked out and afterwards a lot of people were ragging on it, which amazed me because I thought the film was outstanding.

On par with Logan for me.

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Mekboy

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After the colossal disappointment that was Endgame this year, at least this film lived up to the hype for me.

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im_late

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That is some seriously impressive prose.

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Super_ninja

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TheAmazingSpidey

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@im_late said:

That is some seriously impressive prose.

Thank you very much!

@mekboy said:

After the colossal disappointment that was Endgame this year, at least this film lived up to the hype for me.

The more I think about Endgame, the more I realise how disappointing it was. Solid movie, but not as great as it could've been.

Dude I am not going to see the movie so I was hoping to read the plot. But I don't care I am gonna watch it all because of this review.

That's the highest praise a reviewer could hope for :)

@theamazingspidey: I’m watching it today

Tell me your thoughts on the movie afterwards :)

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Darkthunder

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@theamazingspidey: If you are a professional writer, please tell me anything you have published I wanna read it. I mean it really

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Michaelbn

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@theamazingspidey:

the greatest comic book movie ever made

You really want to piss some people off.

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darkenjol

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good movie but the ending makes us relate or is on criminal sides you think ? the movie was great and it was cold and serious like it should be but the scene on TV talk show was shocking

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CocaColaMan

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@theamazingspidey: How would you say this movie compares to the likes of The Dark Knight and Avengers: Infinity War?

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MonsterStomp

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@theamazingspidey: No clue as to when I'll get around to seeing it. My brother is back for this long weekend so I'll probably be spending time with him.

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@ravenvice01: i think Joaquin Phoenix should get an Oscar for the movie that how good it was for me.

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#33  Edited By DreMarceaux

@cocacolaman said:

@theamazingspidey: How would you say this movie compares to the likes of The Dark Knight and Avengers: Infinity War?

apples and oranges boss, once you see the movie if you haven't already then you'll understand... those two movies & this one can't really be compared to one another in the "comic book" sense...

You could replace Joker with "Arthur" and change the Gotham setting to "New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, or San Francisco (which is what this Gotham's setting in terms of the messaging really mirrors in real life between the disparity between the rich & poor)" and then you'll see why the comparison can't be made, at all...

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@theamazingspidey: amazing film, 9.5/10 for me personally. Officially my 2nd favourite CBM. Phoenix performance was disturbing in so many ways, extremely engaging...BUT Heath Ledger’s Joker is still No.1.

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Mutant1230

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#37 Thor_Parker82  Online

Watched it today, excellent movie, I absolutely loved it, and the MVP is Joaquin Phoenix, this dude gave one of the best performances I have seen in any movie, his body language alone is insane. The entire movie was engaging, well written and very well done, but the last 20 minutes are the definition of PERFECTION, and that last part with Joker saying "nah, you wouldn't get the joke" gave me chills.

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Zezima

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You were absolutely spot on, his performance is truly remarkable, the movie is absolutely amazing.

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@super_ninja: he just might get one. at the same time he might not. johnny Depp should have gotten one for jack sparrow in the first POTC. jim Carey should have gotten an oscar for the Grinch. Joaquim might get passed off. I think the only reason why Heath got one for Joker was out of sympathy for his passing.

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Quinlan58

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Loved your review. Sums up most of what I love about this movie.

What makes it feel fresh is that it takes it's inpiration from a different place than other CBMs. It's not trying to be a sci-fi blockbuster, or a crime-thriller, or a western. It's all 70's New Hollywood cinema. Take "Taxi Driver", add elements of "A Clockwork Orange", add enough real life references to feel fresh, substract any subtlety (sadly, one of its flaws), and you get "Joker". As in "Taxi Driver", the film links the main character's breakdown to the social realities around him, with the protagonist constantly struggling with what exactly they are going through but never quite managing to express it (Arthur Fleck gets closer than Travis Bickle, but you can tell even his responses at the TV show near the end don't quite cover everything he feels, it's just the best he can manage). As in "A Clockwork Orange", the artistic side of the protagonist (music for Alex, dance for Arthur) add depth to what could have easily been a caricature. And like both of those films, it would all fall apart if the lead actor couldn't pull it off, but Phoenix does pull it off, giving us an incredibly well-delineated protagonist, expertly using his body to convey the character's thoughts, emotions and backstory. The photography also deserves a lot of praise, perfectly reflecting Arthur's mood in every situation, from depression to desperation to pure bliss and freedom to cocky confidence at the very end. It's extra impressive because the movie insists on a rather muted color palette, yet manages to feel far more expressive than most more vividly colored films.

Of course, it has its flaws. There's nothing subtle about it, most of the plot threads are predictable (though you could argue it's because so much of it feels inevitable), there's quite a few things Arthur where you have to suspend your belief much more than the movie usually asks you to. I also already have a headache thinking about all the people who will take Arthur at face value and think his words at the end are incredibly deep. But all of these feel forgivable in the face of things like Arthur's first murder (terrifyingly brutal in its lack of theatrics), or the way the dance sequences paint a perfect picture of freedom in the most oppressive of circumstances, or the final "gotcha" moment with the footprints.

In other words, this is the greatest CBM I've ever seen, either my favorite or second favorite movie of the year, and about as great as I can imagine a movie being without flat-out being a masterpiece. It gets the highest 9/10 I can give.

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Super_ninja

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@ravenvice01: Johnny depp is a great actor, i like him in Public Enemies.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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@theamazingspidey: How would you say this movie compares to the likes of The Dark Knight and Avengers: Infinity War?

I like it more than either of those films. I'm pretty sure this is my all time favourite superhero movie.

@theamazingspidey: No clue as to when I'll get around to seeing it. My brother is back for this long weekend so I'll probably be spending time with him.

Is your bro interested in seeing it?

@theamazingspidey

Would you say you liked Joker or Infinity War better?

Joker.

@theamazingspidey: it’s a masterpiece!

So glad you enjoyed it. This movie deserves all the love!

Watched it today, excellent movie, I absolutely loved it, and the MVP is Joaquin Phoenix, this dude gave one of the best performances I have seen in any movie, his body language alone is insane. The entire movie was engaging, well written and very well done, but the last 20 minutes are the definition of PERFECTION, and that last part with Joker saying "nah, you wouldn't get the joke" gave me chills.

I looooooove that ending scene. Just give Joaquin the Oscar already.

Loved your review. Sums up most of what I love about this movie.

What makes it feel fresh is that it takes it's inpiration from a different place than other CBMs. It's not trying to be a sci-fi blockbuster, or a crime-thriller, or a western. It's all 70's New Hollywood cinema. Take "Taxi Driver", add elements of "A Clockwork Orange", add enough real life references to feel fresh, substract any subtlety (sadly, one of its flaws), and you get "Joker". As in "Taxi Driver", the film links the main character's breakdown to the social realities around him, with the protagonist constantly struggling with what exactly they are going through but never quite managing to express it (Arthur Fleck gets closer than Travis Bickle, but you can tell even his responses at the TV show near the end don't quite cover everything he feels, it's just the best he can manage). As in "A Clockwork Orange", the artistic side of the protagonist (music for Alex, dance for Arthur) add depth to what could have easily been a caricature. And like both of those films, it would all fall apart if the lead actor couldn't pull it off, but Phoenix does pull it off, giving us an incredibly well-delineated protagonist, expertly using his body to convey the character's thoughts, emotions and backstory. The photography also deserves a lot of praise, perfectly reflecting Arthur's mood in every situation, from depression to desperation to pure bliss and freedom to cocky confidence at the very end. It's extra impressive because the movie insists on a rather muted color palette, yet manages to feel far more expressive than most more vividly colored films.

Of course, it has its flaws. There's nothing subtle about it, most of the plot threads are predictable (though you could argue it's because so much of it feels inevitable), there's quite a few things Arthur where you have to suspend your belief much more than the movie usually asks you to. I also already have a headache thinking about all the people who will take Arthur at face value and think his words at the end are incredibly deep. But all of these feel forgivable in the face of things like Arthur's first murder (terrifyingly brutal in its lack of theatrics), or the way the dance sequences paint a perfect picture of freedom in the most oppressive of circumstances, or the final "gotcha" moment with the footprints.

In other words, this is the greatest CBM I've ever seen, either my favorite or second favorite movie of the year, and about as great as I can imagine a movie being without flat-out being a masterpiece. It gets the highest 9/10 I can give.

Excellent post, dude!

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@super_ninja: u raise a good point he played that role well. there was a dillinger movie back in the 70s with richard dreyfus as baby face. I gotta watch that again and compare the two. Christian bale was more on point on his character in public enemies than the original actor

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Thor_Parker82

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#44 Thor_Parker82  Online

@thor_parker82 said:

Watched it today, excellent movie, I absolutely loved it, and the MVP is Joaquin Phoenix, this dude gave one of the best performances I have seen in any movie, his body language alone is insane. The entire movie was engaging, well written and very well done, but the last 20 minutes are the definition of PERFECTION, and that last part with Joker saying "nah, you wouldn't get the joke" gave me chills.

I looooooove that ending scene. Just give Joaquin the Oscar already.

I swear, if he doesn't at least get a nomination, I'll riot.

This movie had so many great moments, one of my favorites was when after getting saved by the ambulance crashing the police car and the thugs carrying him out, he just got up and started dancing on top of the car to the crowd, it captured the Joker perfectly.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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@theamazingspidey said:
@thor_parker82 said:

Watched it today, excellent movie, I absolutely loved it, and the MVP is Joaquin Phoenix, this dude gave one of the best performances I have seen in any movie, his body language alone is insane. The entire movie was engaging, well written and very well done, but the last 20 minutes are the definition of PERFECTION, and that last part with Joker saying "nah, you wouldn't get the joke" gave me chills.

I looooooove that ending scene. Just give Joaquin the Oscar already.

I swear, if he doesn't at least get a nomination, I'll riot.

This movie had so many great moments, one of my favorites was when after getting saved by the ambulance crashing the police car and the thugs carrying him out, he just got up and started dancing on top of the car to the crowd, it captured the Joker perfectly.

That entire second-last scene was just brilliant. The bit where he uses the blood on his fingers to draw a smile on his face sent chills down my spine.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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#46  Edited By TheAmazingSpidey  Online

@darkthunder said:

@theamazingspidey: If you are a professional writer, please tell me anything you have published I wanna read it. I mean it really

You're seriously the kindest person I've met on this site xD Unfortunately, I am not a professional writer. I used to aspire to become a writer and wrote a lot of short stories (none of which were published), but I sort of lost the passion I once had for it. Who knows? I could decide to pursue it once again in the future :D

Thanks once again for being so kind.

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Scholomance

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What Phillips and Phoenix did in this movie is mind blowing and the ending? WOW!!

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MonsterStomp

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@theamazingspidey: Nah, my brother isn't really a film fanatic like us :P

My girlfriend will be keen to see it though. Might go on Monday or Sunday if she gets out of work early. Can't wait.

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SaintWildcard

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#49  Edited By SaintWildcard  Online

I fell sleep for like 30 minutes of it in the first half of the movie (work related), so I can't truly give an honest review of the movie.... buuuuuuut I thought Visually interesting and it has a solid last 15 minutes

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Gaoron

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Great review man. Loved the movie too :D