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Movies => Sunset Boulevard => Topic started by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 03:42:PM

Title: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 03:42:PM
Director: Todd Phillips
Actors:  Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz |, others.

Release: October 3, 2019 (UAE)

IMDb link (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7286456/)
A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.

Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 03:52:PM
This is one of those movies where it is easy to admire the individual aspects. A lot of that good comes together to make a very effective movie. Most of my discussion will be around what didn't work for me, or what did *despite* that it shouldn't... but let it not suggest that I didn't like the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would watch it again. Especially for the tour-de-force performance of Joaquin Phoenix (so easy to discount it since we know he is this good) and the surprisingly strong visuals from a Cinematographer who isn't known for it. I mean, look at Lawrence Sher's filmography (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003394/): Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Dictator, Hangover I + II + III, Due Date, The Dukes of Hazzard, etc. Not one movie that suggested this strong an artist in him.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 04:19:PM
To repeat some things I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't think Todd Philips is as good as this movie is. The theme and tone are clearly an imitation or homage (take your pick) to Scorsese, while the narrative and character-focus are more similar to Aronofsky. But weirdly, and I echo Fizz in this, the obviousness of the imitation did not detract me from the movie. And I have to give the director and the movie credit for that.

I *hated* Hanover II (http://forum.filmphoria.com/index.php/topic,3602.msg38976.html#msg38976) and III, and to see the same Director, Editor, DoP make this movie is... disorienting. Is this a fluke? Is this where these artists have found their calling? Their next movie will tell us how to judge them in retrospect, but within this movie their work is indeed commendable. For now, I'll call it a fluke. And we're the beneficiaries of it.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: fizz on October 05, 2019, 04:19:PM
The film is certainly stitched together - from the dark, angry Scorcese of the late 70's and early 80's to the use of symbolism as a form of protest, the staple of any film exploring the breakdown of society. But then again, so much of Matrix was patchwork but what it did so extremely well and Joker does too to an extent is make something meaningfully whole and relevant out of its numerous inspirations. The success of any film confronting someone or something grotesque is to make it both watchable and relatable (sometimes in equal measure) and director Todd Philips, he of the man child comedy genre, manages to partially succeed. Partially because while there is some praiseworthy exploration of how the world treats people with mental disability (e.g. the early scene with Arthur on a bus trying to amuse a child), the deliberately repetitive nature of narrative in making us realise that the world doesn't understand Fleck and that every social interaction he has ends up alienating him even more is a bit too on the nose. How this harms the film is that is makes it relatively easy to relate to by those that want their fix of entertainment with a tinge of depth that seems within the grasp of the common man resulting in vague, superficial conversations about how reflective the film was. Of course, Philips can't faulted for this - he is working entirely outside his comfort zone, more so than fellow comedy director Adam Mckay who also made a half attempt at tackling drama (though his The Big Short was big on laughs as well) and so must be applauded for this visual and cinematic audacity in pulling this off.

 
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: fizz on October 05, 2019, 04:27:PM
MAJOR SPOILER TALK AHEAD:

I have more to write, and I will in time, but, I wanted to say ask/say this - in a film that is full of nods, inspirations, homages, references etc. was I the only one who thought that the scene where Joker is taken in a police car after he's killed De Niro's character and with the theme music (great soundtrack by the way) playing over anything else we hear, almost identical in terms of how its shot and framed to a similar moment from Nolan's The Dark Knight where he's caught and taken away?
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 04:27:PM
Partially because while there is some praiseworthy exploration of how the world treats people with mental disability (e.g. the early scene with Arthur on a bus trying to amuse a child), the deliberately repetitive nature of narrative in making us realise that the world doesn't understand Fleck and that every social interaction he has ends up alienating him even more is a bit too on the nose. How this harms the film is that is makes it relatively easy to relate to by those that want their fix of entertainment with a tinge of depth that seems within the grasp of the common man resulting in vague, superficial conversations about how reflective the film was.

A misunderstanding that I am seeing mostly is people blaming the movie as an attempt to empathize with a serial killer due to his mental illness. I don't read it that way. Joker is one of the most popular comic book characters, and is known by almost everyone watching this movie that he is a psychotic killer, a deranged madman that kills without remorse. And that he is <surprise!> a comic book character.

The movie shows us that Arthur Fleck is an unreliable narrator, which is totally in character ("Do you wanna know how I got these scars?"). Yes, he has bad genetics and an even worse childhood. But he does NOT have a moral compass; he is inherently a bad person, and no amount of help was gonna fix that. This is shown when he commits those first murders on the train as well as kills his ex-colleague at home -- the confidence he gains from killing people is in stark contrast to the timidity he has otherwise. Heck, carrying a loaded gun to a children's hospital is clue enough of how deranged he already is.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 04:30:PM
was I the only one who thought that the scene where Joker is taken in a police car after he's killed De Niro's character and with the theme music (great soundtrack by the way) playing over anything else we hear, almost identical in terms of how its shot and framed to a similar moment from Nolan's The Dark Knight where he's caught and taken away?

There are a few such scenes, especially all the ones that are the wide-angle of Gotham that recall Nolan.
In fact, I think the director deliberately peppered call-backs to other Batman movies too...
1) We see a Joker kill the Waynes. That's a Batman 1989 reference, that works in-movie too.
2) The Waynes leaving the cinema, the building has an Excalibur poster outside just like in Batman v Superman.

These are that come to mind immediately. I remember noticing a few more.
(This is also why I want to rewatch this movie)
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 04:33:PM
Yes, one more...

3) The font used for the talk show hosted by Rober DeNiro is *exactly* the same font as the one used for the title of Batman: The Animated Series".

Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: fizz on October 05, 2019, 04:36:PM
1) We see a Joker kill the Waynes. That's a Batman 1989 reference, that works in-movie too.

Yes, that one was quite obvious. I don't know why people are commenting on what an inversion of the genre it was to have the Joker be responsible and not (as Nolan most strongly suggested and as I believe the comics do too) the other way round. Didn't Burton explore this theme already in the first Batman? Do people have such short memory spans (I think I only watched the film once - when it came out!).
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 05, 2019, 04:39:PM
1) We see a Joker kill the Waynes. That's a Batman 1989 reference, that works in-movie too.

Yes, that one was quite obvious. I don't know why people are commenting on what an inversion of the genre it was to have the Joker be responsible and not (as Nolan most strongly suggested and as I believe the comics do too) the other way round. Didn't Burton explore this theme already in the first Batman? Do people have such short memory spans (I think I only watched the film once - when it came out!).


Yeah, Joe Chill is the killer canonically (like in the Nolan movie too). Never the Joker, unless it is an Elseworld story. But people are people and everything is hyperbole.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: PUP on October 06, 2019, 10:29:AM
MAJOR SPOILER TALK AHEAD:

I have more to write, and I will in time, but, I wanted to say ask/say this - in a film that is full of nods, inspirations, homages, references etc. was I the only one who thought that the scene where Joker is taken in a police car after he's killed De Niro's character and with the theme music (great soundtrack by the way) playing over anything else we hear, almost identical in terms of how its shot and framed to a similar moment from Nolan's The Dark Knight where he's caught and taken away?

Yes, I thought the scene was very similar too, except I remember Heath Ledger sticking his head out of the window and letting the wind through his hair. The camera was also fixed to the vehicle. Similar but uncanny. 
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: PUP on October 06, 2019, 12:34:PM
I get some of the points raised here and very valid, but I think we need to give Todd Phillips a break (or give the devil his due?) if only for the notion that in Hollywood, a director is only as good as his last film (producer for Bollywood). I think I’ve seen all his bromance films (I remember watching Road Trip on my first trip to Melbourne, AU and the fact that it was uncensored made it even more enjoyable for me). What I’m coming to is Phillips has made some senseless comedies but it all seems just for fun. For him to take on something like Joker (including writing the script), he must have been stoned or made a half-hearted attempt at ‘seeing where it goes’. From what I saw in this film, it doesn’t appear to be either of. Yes, a lot of inspiration from Scorsese but what’s wrong with looking for inspiration? As much as I like Tarantino films, tell me which of his films was not inspired by works of previous directors. Worse, Tarantino also steals scenes (Lucy Liu holding that sword towards the end of Kill Bill Vol1 is the exact stance from Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood). So I have no problem with Phillips being inspired by Taxi Driver of King of Comedy. In that context it doesn’t make Joker an original story, but it does make the Joker’s story original as compared to what we have seen before.  I also thought the age difference between Fleck and Master Wayne was huge, but then I released we are not watching a franchise. Saying that they’re step brothers is ballsy. Making Thomas Wayne not care that he fooled around was even more ballsy. That’s not inspiration, that’s brilliant, daring, against archetype. I think the problem, especially from trolls like Peter Bradshaw, is looking at what Phillips has done before and comparing those to what he has done with Joker. Wasn’t it Ayaa who said in the BTTM chat that Old School and Hangover films “has a mean and dark undertone so this seems like a logical progression”? And that’s even before he saw Joker. So it’s easy to misunderstand this film, or compare it to Phillips’ previous films (which is in no way comparable), or look to his next film to say how really good or bad this film is. But why? If his next film is a failure then criticize him for that film. If you enjoyed this film then praise him for this film.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: PUP on October 06, 2019, 12:36:PM
Besides all the other praise for this film, this is how I like to look at Arthur Fleck: The evolution of a nobody into a somebody.
Nobody – Arthur Fleck – never heard that name before in cinema or DC Comics. Can be any John Doe. But this nobody becomes a killer not because of his mental illness but because of how effed up the system is. He was at Arkham Asylum, then released back into society with just medication. If he was smart enough to convince them that he can be released from a mental asylum, then he’s not all that deranged or a psycho. He kills without remorse and in the open, so he knows, plans and executes with intelligence. He then initiates a fight against the system, the same system that created him. If the system is corrupted (and controlled by the rich, or the 1%), then he is fighting corruption as a vigilante. In doing so, he gathers a large following (like V in V for Vendetta) to take up arms against the system (and probably why security was beefed up for the release of Joker in big cities in the US). With a large following (they wear clown masks to be like him) he is now a leader – somebody.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: PUP on October 06, 2019, 01:04:PM
PS. I didn't get a wink's sleep last night so I'm just rambling and hope I'm making any sense at all.
PPS. The forum works at work  ;D
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 07, 2019, 11:54:PM
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 17, 2019, 12:27:PM
On my second vieweing of Joker, I noticed one specific line that Arthur Fleck says at the Murray show.

Once he embraces his inner Joker completely, Arthur makes the Knock Knock joke about the woman's kid dying and people go "Oooo". Murray then says something similar to "Can't joke about death...". Arthur replies"Humour is subjective." And then he says this to the audience: "You guys decide what is right and what is wrong. Similarly, you decide what is funny and what is not".

When I heard this time, I realized that Fleck is now completely transformed into the Joker we know. He has no moral compass of right and wrong. It doesn't mean anything to him, it doesn't matter to him. All that matters to him is "Is it funny, or not?"
Whether it is to kill, maim, or to produce a gun with a BANG flag when he himself is being beaten up, it's not about winning or losing or getting caught or getting away with anything. It is just about being funny or not.
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: shariqq on October 22, 2019, 12:29:AM
Here's an excellent, but short, talk on the movie by the director Todd Phillips after the DGA screening of the movie.

Two links to the same podcast episode:
Title: Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Post by: ayaa1977 on June 30, 2020, 01:15:PM
Attending Joker on a Friday night in a fully booked cinema, I have never felt so lonely watching a movie. I felt I was the only one who is kept at an arm's length with this one, while everyone around me in a a hall that was perhaps 75%  occupied by men in their 20s or 30s.

Let's start by what I think the film did well. Joaquin Phoenix obviously knocked it out of the park with a performance that is guaranteed a place in the list of the greatest performances of the year. Whether his or Heath Ledger's is the better Joker is something time will decide, but I know where I stand personally (I will give you a hint; not with this one). I loved the world building, the cinematography, the recreation of early 80s New York (I mean Gotham 😉), and especially the haunting score. What did I dislike? I am not really sure. I only know this one did not move me as as I think it should have, and by the end of the film, everyone around me was clapping and cheering, while I was left cold, and I could not have ran out of the screen fast enough.

So I kinda understand other people especially men loving this film, but I don't, and for me this is one of the most overrated films of the year, perhaps of many years. Many people tried to persuade to give it another look, but I don't really have the urge to rewatch any time soon.


My Rating: ★★★