Forgive me, trying something new. Since I’ll be seeing most films now on Thursday night – the eve of the heavily brokered opening weekend – I find myself short on time to write anything resembling (rambling – fair to say) three thousand word essays on the latest plum to fall from the Hollywood plum tree. So I’ve chosen the difficult course of setting a timer to thirty minutes and pounding out (rambling still…) film reviews on my ancient iPhone 6 at a frenetic pace to still keep one pinky toe in the game. The truth is I like writing more than most movies I buy tickets for these days. And who can’t spare a half an hour to engage in something that they love?
DIRECTED BY: TODD PHILLIPS
We’ve never known the Joker’s origin until now, and depending on how you look at it, find ourselves fortunate to discover that his origins are just as confused in this latest film. In one scene he even admits that up until he murdered three drunken Wall Street powerbrokers on a train one night, he wasn’t entirely sure he ever existed at all. It turns out The Joker’s (Joaquin Phoenix) nativity occurs through his first forays into violence. Once a stringy creep named Arthur Fleck, he soon finds empowerment through acts of murder – both unintentional and savagely intentional. It’s a fitting name – Art. The Joker has always been a work of distinctly American art. Joaquin’s version being the tattered, shattered Andy Warhol of Genocide less so The Clown Prince of Crime.
The film itself is something of an – albeit manic – masterpiece. It’s the Anarchist’s Cookbook fused with comic book celluloid. The color palette is sallow and jaundiced – much like Joker’s lead. A character that, as it happens, we are never allowed a moment’s freedom to escape his suffocating suffering – even for the fresh air of a single scene without him. It’s also unnerving how quickly Fleck can toggle between his visage of confused, diffident eyes directly into cold steel just enough times in the running time to freeze an entire audience’s blood.
If only more comic book cinema took itself as serious (as in “Why so serious?”) as this film does I could spin my apathy for the subject back into something resembling fandom. Joker is the single best motion picture ever set in Gotham. Without question.
Statisticians might struggle with the numbers and odds as to how this film, based on this beloved villain (one that never required any origin story imho) from this director, (the Hangover trilogy?!) ever bucked the numbers to become something of a major work of cinema. Among its spandex wearing kinfolk, Todd Phillips’ Joker is something of a delicacy. A genuine ambrosia.