Thursday, October 10, 2019

MOVIE | JOKER (2019) - SPOILER REVIEW

Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
The pre-released hysteria of this movie was insane. I didn't even realise when it started but my twitter timeline went crazy and most of them said "Jokes is too violent for viewers," or "It triggers mass shooting..." and such.

Those comments made me terrified. I don't like watching movies that have heavy violence scenes or gore, or thrillers. They are not my thing. But I love Joaquin Phoenix in every movie he's in, he's one brilliant actor! Back to last year when I came to MIFF 2018, I watched You Were Never Really Here directed by Lynne Ramsay. That movie was very hard for me to watch but I went anyway because I want to appreciate my favourite actor and I want to see the different side of him portraying such a complicated, dangerous man.

So I went to see Joker anyway because why not?

I only watched the trailer once and that's it. I didn't know why, but earlier this year, I just stopped watching trailers at all. I found this way I did not have any expectations and when I don't have them, I won't get disappointed or less disappointed.

To be frankly honest, I have mixed feelings about this movie - not that kind of mixed feelings when you love and hate it, I feel strange because I'm all about against violence and yes, this movie has some violent scenes in it, but I do enjoy this movie. I love how they sort of created the early life of Joker which I'm pretty sure we never had before. I love the fact that Todd Phillips, the director, just made his own universe without really making the connection with DCEU or Nolan's universe. I love how they focused on the different side of the story instead of the horrible things Joker would do.

This is a spoiler review. I will share my thoughts and interpretations of this movie. If you haven't watched this movie, you probably don't want to read this review but if you don't care about the spoilers, it's up to you.


Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
I took some times to actually write the review because usually, I watch the movie at least twice until I write a review but for Joker, I will never watch again. Well, maybe, 6 months from now when it is available on iTunes but, in the near future, I won't.

Why?

I love this movie, I really like how this movie turned out as a stand-alone movie for Joker. I love Heath Ledger's Joker, he was one of a few villains that I think deserve to be called supervillain. However, like I said before, it's nice to see the different side of Joker. So Joaquin's Joker has a real-life - sort of - his story that we can actually understand and relate to. Over the years, we only knew Joker as Joker but now, we know that Joker is his stage name and his real name is Arthur Fleck, although not sure how old is he or what happened to him before he was being treated at the mental hospital, as Arthur said in the movie, who knows? We know his relationship with his mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), his job, his dreams, and everything. He is a real person, a human being who lives his day to day live struggling with his condition and you know, the environment he lives in is not the best, very shitty actually. His boss is a pain in the ass, his workmates are horrible, and just a terrible society in general, even the person who Arthur looks up to, Murray (Robert DeNiro) is also a horrible one.
Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
But there is a possibility that any of the horrible things in this movie is not really happened. As we saw, Arthur is not in a relationship with Sophie (Zazie Beetz), his neighbour. They just talk once in the elevator (that we know of) and that's it. When I saw the beginning of their relationship, I was like, oh no, this can't be happening. Because it seems so strange that this relationship happened so quickly and easily, and when they were out and about people seemed to not notice Sophie's presence and we also never saw Arthur communicated with Sophie's daughter or Sophie with Penny. Logically, if Arthur was really close to his mother, he would tell her everything and he would be very proud and would introduce his girlfriend / his neighbour to his mum, but no. We never saw that.

There's also a stand-up scene when Arthur was so struggling to tell his first joke and the audience was not laughing at all, and they looked so disappointed, some of them was actually angry, but Sophie was smiling. This scene is actually really sad. For Arthur, this is his moment, the event that he'd been dreamt of for a while. He used to take notes and now he's the one who stands in the stage, telling jokes to the audience. But that is not what actually happens, Arthur probably had a great night, but that only happened in his mind. The way that he perceived things is not the same with how others feel. He's so disassociated with the rest of the world. At this moment, we realised that he's very different and he's mentally ill. So, it is hard to believe is things really happen or it's all just in his imagination? But then again, Arthur said that his whole life he didn't know that he really existed but now he realised he is real and people start noticing.


Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
Story-wise, one of this movie focuses is mental illness. There are so many brilliant lines in this movie, but one of my favourites is when Arthur says, "the worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don't." and sadly, that is true. The idea of a person has a mental illness irritates society. Having a mental illness is not a choice, it can happen to anyone. No one would ever say that he or she wants to have depression. Nobody wakes up smiling and breathing the fresh air and they decide that today is a good day to have anxiety. No one. This movie wants us to understand that at some point, we probably failed people. How is it that we're not paying attention when we should? How is it when we should care but we can't be bothered?

Speaking of the story, the twist about Arthur's real father gives me mixed feelings. I like how they created another division of the plot but also this division seems to ruin the original storyline. It made sense now why Joker hates Bruce Wayne so much but also, they are half-brothers now? I don't know. As the story goes, we know that Penny is crazy, could be delusional. But when Arthur does his makeup on Penny's vanity, we saw her picture with TW written on the back. I read on the article that this movie will not be making any connection with DCEU - well, they have their own squeaky clean, not insane Joker (Jared Letto) but honestly, I wish Todd Phillips has his own universe with this movie. Maybe with Robert Pattinson's Batman? I think that'd be great to see another perspective of the story. This whole time, we always see the story from superhero's side, aren't we? 


Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
This movie is also not glamorising violence as what people said but yes, this movie could be triggering to certain violence. What it does is not showing violence explicitly - there are some scenes that make me closed my eyes and missed out on the movie, for example when he killed Randall. I saw Arthur shot him and I did not open my eyes until my sister taps my shoulder, so I didn't know what happened next but this movie does put your mind or planted some ideas of anger and hate toward people, or society, or maybe even government. It can be triggering for some people but again, I don't see this movie as dangerous as what people said. I understand people's concern. Maybe because what is happening in the world right now with the protests and the riots, everything. So when this movie came out, it seems like this movie supports the idea of those horrible things. It's almost like a coincidence. I'm surprised they did not push back the release but also glad that they still did release the movie.

Yes, this is not an easy movie to watch, it contains violence and planted some violence thoughts but then again this is a Joker movie, this is the villain stand-alone movie, so what do you expect? Seeing Joker kills someone by tickling them to death?

There are more dangerous movies out there and people seem okay with it. There's a movie that glamorising sexual abuse and people LOVED it because the man is a good looking one he's happened to be very rich so all the fancy things covered it up but if you turned the table and imagine he's a poor guy, what would be? Yes, sexual abuse. It did not make sense. Someone's appearance should not define or justify their action. Even in a movie as in fiction.

So it depends on how you receive the movie, I guess. I'm not defending the movie just because I love the actor or because I love comic-book or the universe, but let me compare to more violence movie than Joker: Deadpool. I love Marvel, I love Deadpool but yes, I also say this is a very violent movie. Deadpool has more violent scenes than Joker but also because Deadpool has more comedy, people okay with it. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but personally, I slightly disagree with the pre-released hysteria.


Credit to Warner Bros Pictures
The production-wise, I adore the colour palette and everything they did for this movie. The editing and the colour palette remind me of Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises (2012) it's dark and daunting. The set they built (I'm not sure about this one thou) is also very similar especially the outside theatre and the alley where Thomas and Martha Wayne killed. I'm not saying someone copies someone, I just noticed the similarities. Maybe they're setting up for a sequel or another movie of the Batman-Joker story? Who knows. 

Now I really want to talk about the amazing Joaquin Phoenix. Man, this actor has nailed it! Since the first scene when Arthur draws his clown face and tears falling down on his right eye, oh my God! I have never seen anything like that in the movie! All the times Arthur laughs and he makes strange noises on his throat as if it is too painful for him to laugh, as if there's someone choke him when he laughs, I don't know how Joaquin do that. The end scene when Joker draws the signature smile with his own blood creeps me out! I can see his anger, his satisfaction, his next goals on his eyes and the way he smiles. I never gasp so loud on the theatre since Captain America (Chris Evans) picked up the Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame (2019). If Joaquin did not get the Oscar, I don't know what level of acting Academy Awards wants on the movie. 

What do you think about this movie? Do you agree with the pre-released hysteria? 


Love, Vera
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