Joker [2019]

[★★★★★★★★☆☆] 8.4

Of course you should be skeptical about going to see yet another comic book inspired movie. Imagine sharing with legendary Hollywood directors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens* that in a few decades Hollywood would be dominated by films based on comic books. Comical right? figuratively and literally.

Joaquin Phoenix’s portrait of Arthur Fleck in Joker delivers the goods. The bar was set high by Heath Ledger, and Christopher Nolan with The Dark Knight. Todd Phillips, who directed Old School and The Hangover, has created a film on par with The Dark Knight, arguably the best film of the comic book genre, and there are many to choose from. If you are familiar with Todd Phillips films, sophomoric comedies staring former SNL characters like, Will Ferrell and Rob Riggle, it might come as a surprise he would deliver such a dark, complex, challenging film.

Joker owes so much of its success to Joaquin Phoenix. This was a very clever casting choice. The films direction and content seemed to be shaped around Joaquin…that is to say… was the film created around its central character? In the film, Arthur Fleck is invited to appear on a late night talk show, (hosted by Robert De Niro) this event is mirrored in real life by Joaquin infamous appearance on David Letterman's Late Night. And the Joker, a misunderstood character, trouble by drug abuse and metal health issues are paralleled in Joaquin Phoenix 2012 film I'm Still Here about himself, which was said to be a big joke, but may have been as much self portrait.

The response to the film is very interesting. users, over five thousand of them give Joker a 9.2 score out of ten. Favorable to say the least. By contrast critics give the film a 59/100. Visitor to iMDb give the film a whopping 8.7. Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 88% and a critic score 69%. I have to wonder what the critics know what the audience didn’t.

*Check out “Five Came Back an American documentary based on the 2014 book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by journalist Mark Harris. It was released as a stand-alone documentary in New York and Los Angeles, and as a three-part series on Netflix, on March 31, 2017” Wiki

I’m Still Here [2010]

[★★★★★★★☆☆☆] 7.3

Directed by Casey Affleck, and staring Joaquin Phoenix, this low budget film follows Joaquin Phoenix, mostly with a handheld camera, over a period of many months as Joaquin is pursuing a new career choice as a rap artist and desires to drop a new album in collaboration with Kanye West.

Much of the film comes across as lunacy or absurdity, as our central character does not appear to posses any musical talent, and spends most of his time in the pursuit of finding and doing drugs. He occasionally interacts with fellow celebrity, some of whom appear to be in on the joke others out of the loop.

The film is said to be a big joke played on the audience, however it in part appears to be a joke played on Joaquin Phoenix. Casey Affleck, who never appears in the film, seems to benefit by just having a camera rolling at all times documenting the crazy that is Joaquin.

The Master [2012]

[★★★★★★★★✫☆] 8.5

Another great film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, [Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love] and staring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, this film is terrific! [cooming soon]

Brick [2005]

[★★★★★★★★☆☆] 7.8

Directed by Rian Johnson [Knives Out, Looper, Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi] and staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This modern film noir is chock full of style and story. High-schoolers mixed up in drugs, crime, gangs and violence...

John Hughes meets John Huston. Sixteen Candles meets The Maltese Falcon. If you’re a fan of the noir genre, you will probably enjoy this tip of the hat to those classic films of the nineteen-forties.

In one scene the central character is being chased through a school yard, running at top speeds, over concrete. The chase ultimately comes to an abrupt end, with an equally abrupt bit of audio, which thoroughly ends the chase. The simplicity of this scene and all that it accomplishes with nothing more than two characters running, accompanied by a little bit of audio is very satisfying. No special effects. No computer graphics. Just some film, some sound, some clever editing and voilà, movie magic.

The heavily stylized dialogue, at first gets in the way of the films great writing. At least for me it did, kinda like a thick accent adorned by a favorite actor/actress might cause one to cringe. Someone thought historical, geographical, cultural accuracy was more important than the suspension of disbelief The dialogue might (or it might not) get your way, but after some time, and some suspension of disbelief, you will be rewarded.

“A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.” iMDb

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