Let’s the get the obvious stuff out of the way first. In terms of looking at society’s outcasts, Joker owes a great deal of debt to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy (Scorsese was attached to Joker as a producer at one point). Happily, the movie gets its nods to those movies out of the way early as well, allowing us to then look at what it takes for an outsider to suffer the last straw.
All his life, Arthur Fleck (a crazily transcendent Joaquin Phoenix) has been taught by his deluded single mom (Frances Conroy) that he must bring smiles to the lives of everyone he meets. Too bad nobody returns the favor. When he does an everything-must-go promotion with a sign on a street corner, some thugs steal the sign and then beat Arthur senseless with it. And Arthur’s unsympathetic boss makes him pay for the sign out of his meager salary.
Arthur has only two things going for him: a hint of a career at stand-up comedy, and a vague possibility of romance with a fellow apartment dweller. Sadly, both of those outlets show more promise in Arthur’s mind than in harsh reality.
When Arthur scores a major revenge on three bullies who hassle him on the Gotham subway, it briefly tips the scales in his favor. He becomes the flavor-of-the-month superhero, even ending up as a guest on the talk show of his favorite celebrity, Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro). (Yeah, I know, another Scorsese reference, but who’s counting?)
The trouble is that, knowing Arthur’s utter lack of social skills, we can see disaster looming on the horizon of his every public appearance. The movie’s amazing dichotomy is that we can nevertheless feel for this poor guy every step of the way. For this we can credit Phoenix’s full-bodied characterization. He fearlessly throws himself into the role and makes us shudder for and pity him at the same time.
Be warned that Joker earns its R rating with unrelenting violence. But it’s balanced out by Todd Philips’ solid writing and directing, and sincere performances by all, especially Phoenix.
So, would you like to know how technologically inept I am?
One weekend in Feb. 2019, my computer had an Internet connection, but I couldn’t get anything to come up on my computer screen. As is the way of all non-savvy computer nerds, I quickly deduced that the best way to get everything going again on my screen was to purge everything I could think of. By mistake, that included the user ID and password of my WordPress account.
When I tried to get back into my WordPress account, WordPress asked me for my user ID and password. I had forgotten my password long ago (I only use a few thousand of them), and the user ID was an email account that I had deleted long ago after it got hacked. WordPress informed me that, unless I could send them an email message from my user ID’s account, they would not be able to send me a new password, and therefore, I would be locked out of my own account.
And so it went. My access to four-and-a-half years of blogging and several hundred blog subscribers were suddenly locked behind bars. (I imagined hearing a loud “cha-ching!” from the TV series “Law & Order.”)
So I’ve decided to try and make lemonade out of my WordPress lemons. I am resuming my blogging career on this “sequel” blog.
Of course, I still have a “history” of previous blogging that I’d like to reference on occasion. So be forewarned that now, I will often hyperlink to my previous blog. For example, if I’m writing about Charlie Chaplin, and I want to reference a Chaplin movie review from my old blog, I will link to it like this. So please note that, obviously, if you go to that hyperlink, you will have to press the “Back” button on your computer keyboard in order to return to this “sequel” blog.
If, by chance, you know anyone who followed my previous blog but is not aware of my current situation, please let them know so that I can restore some of my old readership. And of course, please feel free to return to and reference my previous blog, whose URL is listed on the masthead of this blog.
Thank you for bearing with me through a quite troublesome situation.
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2 thoughts on “JOKER (2019) – What’s so funny?”
You’ve seen the kinds of movies I watch. You must already know it would take something really outre to disturb me. That said, this movie takes the prize. I didn’t walk out on it but I was extremely disturbed by it. I think Arthur Fleck makes Travis Bickle look like Barney the Purple Dinosaur… Joaquin Phoenix will probably win the Oscar…
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I can’t quite tell — did you like it or not? I thought Joaquin Phoenix gave a riveting performance.