Film Review: Joker
Updated: Feb 13
To give you an idea, we walked out after less than five minutes. What started off as uncomfortable viewing turned into a totally distressing situation. Frankly, it was disgusting so we left. The reason why we couldn’t watch anymore was because the air-con in Cheltenham Cineworld was broken. It was sweltering hot, with a stank air of sweat, breath, and B.O. That was after two minutes. Imagine two hours later. No thanks
So we got our money back and went back the following week and watched it. It was great.
I have to say I was a bit bored after the first scenes. I did find the cackling laughter annoying, and I found it was also buying time. If it was to be this all the way then I was looking to repeat last weeks action.
Then we found that we were getting into an interesting character. I loved how his laughter shuts off to an expressionless stoic after an off-colour cruel joke. It cleverly showed how his disease manifested in everyday life. I know it may seem like a clumsy exposition, but that is not why I liked it. It was Phoenix, and how he turned it off. I have heard that the hipsters in certain publications are scoffing and saying "Oh no....that is very juvenile, what are they trying to say, sooo obvious and adolescent". So to these precocious dough-zits I ask, are you not the same people who creamed over pretentious shite like "Requiem for a Dream" ( a film so lazy that it didn't even research the physiological effects of the drug it was about). Compared to that, Joker was Godart meets Fellini.
Still, it had a few points of wavering.
I am not sure if I liked Thomas Wayne being turned into the CIA chief from season two of Narcos, in both character and personality. It was unfair artistic licence to me. Thomas Wayne's being and legend (thanks solely to Mr Nolan) is too entrenched in our collective cinematic psyche to be granted flexi-licence. It is like making a movie where Mary Poppins is the head of a ponzi scheme. Before, the DK trilogy, you could try it, but Chris Nolan has earnt the cementing on that particular bod.
I would also have to say it was a swing-and-a-miss with the neighbour. It had the “Tyler Durden isn’t there” recap scene stuck to it the second she supposedly knocked on the door. Her constant walking off and not returning, plus the illogical conversation patterns were too easy. I really should not liken them to Fight Club as they were way weaker
The Gun drop scene was clumsily inserted for plot moving. It felt as though it was not actually written for any requirement. I could picture a runner sprinting up to the cutting room, panting and saying that they had just done this in the canteen and could you please squeeze it in somewhere? Although you could say that is how all films are written, I say that the good ones do it a lot smoother. No, not the good ones actually. As many way worse films than this, have done it better but ended up with an overall crappy movie. That for me was just a minor imperfection in the splendid effort I had just seen.
That said The film was, these things aside, brilliantly entertaining.
One bit, was for me, particularly thrilling. How fitting a tribute to one of rock n roll's greatest wild-men, Ginger Baker, who died the weekend of this films release, that the action peak used his bands greatest song, The White Room, in such a perfectly fitting synergy. I was truly impressed by that. I had goose bumps, as Jack Bruce and Ginger's Drum n Bass belted out and Clapton's whiny exorbitant guitar squeal pebble-dashed itself into the colourfully squalid scenes of degradation and angst. Just yeah!
The incident that sparked the whole movement, that took place on the train, was for me a simple one of siding with Arthur. The vile characters, you would say were not deserving of death. I saw a potential gang rape situation and a very near attempted murder...scratch that, a very actual attempted murder. For me, it made being in Arthurs corner, a very real possibility.
I found the change in Arthur Fleck, as he was in the mental hospital, leaning and waiting for the orderly, a truly inspired stroke. He starts to mumble, and acquiesce to what must be a voice in his head. He is going over, and I don't care what the left-wingers say, I thought it was subtle, involved, and bloody brilliant.
The (okay I will admit) clunky evolution of his slimy workmate as a future victim was toady. Still, they say that what is delivered is what makes the man. So the scene in which Arthur dispatches said obsequious scumbag, was darling. So powerful, and the brute physicality of it had my hands firmly under my thighs. I have a sneaking suspicion, that we wanted to kill off the other guy too. However, quite rightly for a movie, that is, after all (Guardian people) an ENTERTAINMENT format, you need to have at least some love in your heart for the anti-hero. It is rarest of rare to get an Alex-from-Clockwork-Orange anti-hero, who is truly awful, and never shows mercy or decency but still has you in his corner (sometimes). I believe, if Arthur had killed the likeable midget, we would have scene test audiences balk. I am not normally one for pandering to entrenched standards, this time I doff my hat.
I cannot say I thought much of Robert De Niro, but then again, that could be my slogan for this century, so there is no news there. As the splendidly splendid Doug Stanhope says, in one of his routines using Raging Bull when trying to explain who Jake La Motta is to a millenial audience. "Robert De Niro, used to be an actor". Gold.
The cinematography,the story, and the acting was all first rate. Some failings, some "exceeds expectations" but you would have to say, it's mastery outweighs its misery. So get yourself a seat and say "aaahh".
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