By Corey "Salty Truth" Floyd
Todd Phillips, who I’ve known to pull off some of the funniest and raunchiest comedies of our time. ie: Hangover and Old School decided to flex his artistic chops by writing and directing a dramatic film. That’s okay. it’s not like it hasn’t been done before... look at Jordan Peele. Needless to say, I was truly looking forward to seeing if he could thrive in the dramasphere. Then things really got interesting when they announced that a story about the Joker was the movie that Phillips would sink his new drama chops into, and that Joaquin Phoenix will play him. I knew there would be an opinion storm brewing after the first trailer, so I completely blocked all that shit out to ensure that I saw the new movie with fresh eyes.
By the end of the film, I wasn’t sure whether to love it or hate it.
Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck a man whose life has been rough, to say the least. He has a crappy job as a sign spinning clown in the harshest version of Gotham City circa the 1980s. He suffers from mental disorders and takes care of his mother, all while holding on to the dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. He’s very shy and extremely lonely so he loses himself in a late-night show fantasy hosted by our national fucking treasure, Mr. Robert De Niro. When he’s not fantasizing about being on tv the world is kicking the crap out of him literally and figuratively. Teens beat him up, co-workers don’t respect him, but he has the love of his sick mom. Their moments together are touching, and she tries to fill him and herself with hope, but it all comes crashing down, or does it? I won’t go any further because I truly do want you guys to see it.
Phoenix is a great actor and he put everything into this role and I really appreciated his efforts. He deserves any and all accolades that come from this film. He earned it. Because of his stellar performance, I will not entertain the typical “who’s the better joker?” And, I don’t really believe that it would be fair to the other portrayals of the character. Phoenix is in 90% of the film. His screen time eclipse all the other jokers combined. The supporting cast does a great job as well. shout out to a Zazie Beetz as Sophie and Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck Arthur’s mom, outstanding work indeed. A Huge shout out to Brett Cullen who is the first actor to play Thomas Wayne longer than three minutes and not ignite my anger. Phoenix is an Oscar nominee for sure.
Okay now that I’ve got the good stuff out of the way I wanna address a big issue and it’s with Todd Phillips. Although, I like this movie, I can’t give the director/writer a lot of credit. Why? Cause it seems like he copied a lot of key moments in this film from a movie called “The King of Comedy” from 1982 by Martin Scorsese. I don’t wanna give away what happens in “The King Of Comedy,” because it will surely spoil the Joker for you. ç I should not be able to make that statement! I understand that sometimes movies play homage to older works, but this wasn’t the case here, and that’s why I find it difficult to give Phillips a lot of credit for this project. I’m sure De Niro found it funny since he was in the older movie as well. I urge you all to search the internet for the movie after you’ve seen the “Joker” so give it a watch and maybe you will understand my qualms. That being said, the cinematography was absolutely amazing, shout out to Lawerence Sher, the visuals alone are more than worth the ticket price. If this were a retelling of the original I wouldn’t be upset at all but what I got was a movie posing as something new when it’s really something old.
I also want to address the walking out situation. I did want to walk out of this movie. Why didn’t I? I like to finish what I start. Though walking out did cross my mind several times. This film is very sad, dark and stomach-churning. It gave me memories of people I’ve known who have battled mental illnesses and the system wasn’t equipped to handle them. I felt horrible for Fleck and in the third act where people cheered for him my heart broke. This is not the comedy prince of crime! This isn’t the “do you wanna know how I got these scars? This was a person whose psyche has been shattered and put back together by a destructive society. Or is it?
Final Grade A * (without Phoenix D-)
I hope you guys enjoyed the film please fill free to tell your thoughts in the comments section. This is Corey for Amerime Media see you next time for Gemini Man.