film reel image

film reel image

Friday, November 1, 2019

Joker 2019 * * 1/2 Stars

JokerDirector: Todd Phillips
Year: 2019
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy

I've seen four actors play the Joker in my forty-five years of existence. They are Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix. With Phoenix in 2019's Joker (my latest review), I've never witnessed someone go so far down the rabbit hole as he does in this role. Let's hope he got out of character when production ended and quick. Talk about some madness in that method.

Anyway, Joker is a little bit Network, a little King of Comedy, and the lonelier version of Taxi Driver (I didn't think that was possible). Heck, this flick is so dark and depressing it seems that director Todd Phillips wanted you to forget that he ever had a hand in making Old School (or Road Trip, take your pick).

Image result for joker movie scenes 2019As a film about how failed comedian Arthur Fleck converts himself into the offending intellect known as the Joker, Joker just protrudes as it goes on and on. Its glamorization of comic book muck makes you wanna take a shower and then cleanse yourself (you won't wanna put on a "happy face" when this thing's over).

So yeah, Joker is not a superhero movie, an action movie, or a DC Comics-felt movie (the rating here is a hard R). In fact, Joker is more of a balls-out character study that's messy, incessant, glum, intermittently violent, and in dire need of some editing.

At a running time of two hours and two minutes, Joker also stars Shea Whigham, Frances Conroy, and tack man Robert De Niro (hint, hint). Todd Phillips tries to include the portable cast but this is clearly Phoenix's show. Included in almost every frame, Phillips shoots Phoenix in wide screen, close-up, ground level, and every other way to give him that glaring, cuckoo look.

Image result for joker movie scenes
Bottom line: Joker is worth seeing for Joaquin Phoenix's tour de force performance and the noxious atmospherics that border him (Gotham City in 1981 never looked so swallowing). Otherwise, I'd be "joking" myself if I ever had the gumption to recommend the tranquilizing woe that is Joker. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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