Hello everyone, greetings and salutations from the Pacific Northwest. Well, I’d been promising myself I’d get round to this. It’s time for my review of the movie Joker. A couple things to be made aware of. 1. All pictures and videos used in this are legal under the terms of fair use. 2. There’s going to be some spoilers here, so be aware.
Joker, a DC Universe movie that dares to tell the origin story of one of the most iconic Batman villains of all time, the Clown Prince of Crime himself. I had been wanting to see this movie for some time, but life and work kept getting in the way. So, I finally just bought it on DVD to watch at home. No offense against Streaming, but I prefer physical media, I’m old-fashioned like that. But I digress, let’s get to the review of this movie.
from the opening of this movie, there is an underlying malevolence that's palpable. I’m not talking the horror movie kind, but a subtle feeling from the lighting, the attire that people wear, and the overall atmosphere, that this story is not going to end well.
Welcome to Gotham city in the year 1981, a lovely metropolitan city that’s comparable to a powder keg about to go off.
How so? Well, as the radio stations report, economic uncertainty due to lack of employment, a failing infrastructure, and rampant crime, check on all three. Into this potential disaster waiting for something, or someone, to set it off, comes the protagonist, Arthur Fleck, as played superbly by Joaquin Phoenix. Arthur is a struggling, mentally-ill stand-up comedian living with his mentally and physically ill mother Penny, played by Frances Conroy. Arthur has a medical condition which causes him to laugh at inappropriate times. Not exactly the sort of thing which makes you sympathize with the character. Worse still, the man is dependent on several medications thanks to Gotham social services.
The lack of anything pleasant starts from the get go, when Arthur is waylaid in an alleyway by a group of junior delinquents after they swipe his sign.
We see how his medical condition alienates people around him, when an on-edge mother on the bus he’s riding tells Arthur to quit bothering her child. As Arthur begins to laugh, the woman looks openly disturbed by his inappropriate cackling. Yeah, definitely getting a creepy feeling about this guy.
Arthur makes it home, to the apartment where his mother and he live in squalor. Penny Fleck is somehow convinced that Thomas Wayne, who in this universe is a candidate for Mayor of Gotham city, is going to save it. A move that seems to be naïve and unsettling all at once. They sit down to watch Gotham’s version of Late night, which features a character named Murray Franklin, played superbly by Robert DeNiro, who will have a role in Arthur’s downfall. DeNiro described the role as a tribute to the character Rupert Pupkin, a comedian obsessed with a talk show host from the 1983 film King of Comedy.
Arthur is given a gun by one of his co-workers, Randall, played by Glenn Fleshler, for protection purposes. And just afterwards, is given a dressing down by his boss on complaints from some clients for the party clown company Arthur works for.
On his way back to his apartment, Arthur meets Sophie Desmond, as played by Zazie Beetz, who becomes Arthur’s love interest. There’s an air of cynicism to her character too. Not surprising, considering the decaying state of Gotham city.
While Arthur is entertaining kids at a local children’s hospital, the gun he got from Randall falls out on to the floor. Oops, awkward. Randall then lies, and says Arthur bought the gun himself. Stabbed in the back by a co-worker, wow! Arthur is then fired by his enraged boss from his job. While heading home, and still in his clown makeup, Arthur notices three drunken businessmen from Wayne Enterprises. They start off by harassing a woman on the subway train. At that moment, Arthur’s condition flares up again drawing the attention of the three drunken men, who quickly turn their ire on him.
The three proceed to assault Arthur, until he shoots two in self-defense, and brutally executes a third on the train platform. He flees to a public restroom, and breaks into a…dance? Okay yeah, something’s definitely not right up there!
This is followed up by a scene where Arthur returns to the complex and enters the apartment, and welcoming arms, of Sophie.
The next evening, Arthur and his Mom are watching a program which has Thomas Wayne on. Wayne condemns the attacks, calling the person who committed the crime someone who is “envious” of other people’s success. However, Arthur’s actions have lit the fiery powder keg that is Gotham. Demonstrations have begun against Gotham’s well-to-do citizens, and the Demonstrators are taking the clown mask of Arthur as their symbol. Sometimes it really does take just one person, whether intentional or not, to cause a bad situation to erupt into much more.
Meanwhile, bad news for Arthur. Funding cuts shutter social services, cutting him off from his medication. Oh dear, this is not going to end well. The point is emphasized, when Arthur’s counselor explains that the people in charge of Gotham don’t care about the little people. Ooh, harsh truths!
Sophie attends Arthur’s Stand-up show, which ends up going disastrously bad. Even from the beginning, there was a sinking feeling that something was about to happen. The mentally ill man’s condition causes him to laugh uncontrollably.
As a result, his act is mocked by popular talk show host Murray Franklin. Ooh, ouch! Things really start to go downhill, when Arthur intercepts a letter that his mother wrote to Thomas Wayne claiming that Arthur is their illegitimate son. Uh-oh, this definitely won’t end well! Arthur is positively furious, and berates his mother over it. He heads off to Wayne Manor to confront the man he believes is his biological father. There, he meets Thomas’ son Bruce Wayne. Things really take an ugly turn when Arthur is forced to flee after a scuffle with Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne’s butler. Way to go Alfred!
Later on, Arthur is confronted in his apartment by two Gotham city detectives investigating his involvement in the Train station murders. The shock of this causes Penny to have a stroke. Yup, it’s all downhill from here.
The next day, at a public event, Arthur confronts Thomas Wayne. The influential citizen of Gotham tells the troubled man that his mother is delusional and not his real mother. This shocks Arthur down to the core, causing him to break out in another wave of inappropriate psychotic laughter.
This results in him getting punched by Thomas Wayne. In denial, Arthur goes to Arkham State Hospital and steals Penny’s file. He learns that Penny adopted him as a baby, and allowed her abusive boyfriend to harm them both. When confronted with this, Penny explains that allegedly Thomas Wayne fabricated the story of Arthur’s adoption and had her committed in order to hide their affair. Distraught by this, he flees back to his apartment complex and enters Sophie’s apartment. The frightened woman demands Arthur leave and explains that his supposed encounters with her were all in his mind. Uh-oh, taking Arthur off his medication and ostracizing him from society was a big mistake. The next day, Arthur goes to the hospital and kills Penny, thereby sealing his fate to go over to the dark side.
Soon Arthur gets a surprise when he’s invited to go on Murray Franklin’s show. It seems the clips of his disastrous comedy act have made him surprisingly popular. The man is then visited by two of his former work colleagues, Randall and Gary, played by Leigh Gill. However, Arthur remembers how Randall stabbed him in the back, and kills the larger man. Gary, he leaves alive, as the diminutive clown always treated Arthur well in the past.
Next, comes what could be considered one of the most iconic scenes from Joker. Arthur strides towards the apartment elevator in slow motion, followed by a cut to him dancing on some stairs while Gary Glitter Rock and Roll part 2 plays. This scene has been openly embraced by the public, and used for everything, including memes. Wow Joaquin, how does it feel knowing that a role in your illustrious career is getting you some immortality as a meme? It’s a celebration because it shows Arthur is finally embracing who he is. As festive as it is, there’s an underlying ominousness about the scene.
That celebration is ended moments later, when two police officers come looking for Arthur in connection with the subway station murders. He flees from the detectives and on to a train. Here’s where things get messy. One of the train cars is packed full of Clown mask protesters. One of the officers shoots a protester, even as Arthur has disguised himself as one. This is the proverbial spark that lights the keg of gun powder, as it causes a riot where the police officers are severely beaten. Arthur uses the cover to slip away. From a meek nihilist to an anarchist causing chaos, this is getting really bad!
At the studio, before the show goes live, Arthur insists that Murray introduce him as Joker, a reference to Murray’s previous derision.
Once he comes on, Arthur launches into a monologue about how comedy is subjective, then goes on to tell morbid jokes, confesses to the murders on the train, and rants about how society treads on the downtrodden and mentally ill. During this time, the thought of, “Murray, call security and get that man off the stage if you want to live,” was thought by myself and probably a lot of other people who watched this scene.
Too late, as Murray resumes control of the show, Arthur pulls out a gun and kills him. As he's arrested, riots break out across the city. One of the masked Clown rioters confronts Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, before killing them, while sparing Bruce. Ironically, this will set the stage for the eventual rise, of every Gotham city criminal’s worst nightmare. Some of the rioters in an ambulance crash into the police car Arthur is in. Freed from his bonds, He dances to the elation of the lawbreakers, and gives them a smile. And thus is born the clown prince of crime.
Later on, in Arkham, Arthur laughs about a joke, then tells his psychiatrist she wouldn’t understand. Arthur then runs from the orderlies leaving a trail of bloodied footprints. An interesting scene at the end, but perhaps unnecessary.
Okay, for starters, I had a hard time watching this movie. It wasn't because it was bad. This movie was great, it was fantastic. Todd Philips did a great job of directing as well as writing the screenplay with Scott Silver. This movie was hard to watch, because it made me, and no doubt many others, feel uncomfortable. This movie addresses a lot of issues such as when people in power forget their responsibilities, obsession, and the biggest one here is mental health and wellbeing. As someone who’s got a mild form of autism, this is a subject that’s rather personal to me. When we ostracize those with mental issues, just because we don’t want to deal with them, inevitably bad things can happen, very bad things.
Joaquin Phoenix lost a huge ton of weight for this role, and shows why his Golden Globe and Academy Award wins were no fluke. This was a superb performance, on his part, and shows why he will be remembered fondly in the decades to come.
Robert DeNiro, while definitely getting older, shows that when it comes to acting, he still has what it takes in his performance of Murray Franklin. Incidentally, Philips and Silver admitted that part of the inspiration for the scene where Arthur kills Murray, came from the Batman Returns scene where Joker kills a talk show host and entire studio. Wow, just yikes!
While this is a comic book movie, this is one that fully embraces its R rating and goes all out with the grit and depressing darkness. This is definitely a movie for adults, not the kiddies. It also has the whole late 70’s, early 80’s Martin Scorsese vibe to it.
Overall, good writing, superb acting, and a wonderful cinematic score that goes from happy to sad as quick as anything is why Joker is a wonderful film. but it's not one for the faint of heart.
I hope you enjoyed this review of Joker. Please like and remind this on to your timeline, share the link across social media, and please subscribe to me here on Minds or on Gab. If you’d like to go further in your support, feel free to wire me tokens on Minds or monetarily donate whatever you can afford to my PayPal and/or Subscribstar accounts. I’ll put links below to the aforementioned sites. I’m Animeman73, until next time stay true to yourselves, stay classy, and God bless you all.