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Wick's Review

Created Nov 02, 2019 09:29PM PST • Edited Dec 13, 2019 09:50PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    You laughing at me!? That’s directed at society in general by Joker, the movie of the year if not the decade.

    Todd Phillips has unleashed a monumental monstrosity on us, a movie that works on so many levels it requires an intellectual elevator to visit them all. Let’s peek in on a few, shall we.

    First, Phillips focuses on a character that has underlain several indelible performances. Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the ginormous 1989 Batman was THE MOVIESTAR performance of the decade. Heath Ledger’s Joker in the epochal 2009 Dark Knight became the new benchmark – brilliantly mannered, stunningly unique, coldly terrifying. Then in the most Hollywood move ever, Ledger died before the movie came out.

    Joaquin Phoenix now enters the acting pantheon, joining De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Hardy and the other Method Immortals. The moviestar meets his monumental moment as Arthur Fleck — Phoenix’s Joker.

    The second level at which it works is perhaps the most important of them all. Arthur Fleck is mentally ill, batshit crazy, you might say. Joker is thus an unflinching stare at mental illness, the scariest illness of all.

    Third, Joker tweaks our time, even though it’s set in the Big Apple, er, Gotham City during the ragged Seventies. It spoofs cheesy pop culture and populist politicians, lurid phenomena then and now.

    Fourth, it takes on anarchy, the fetish of the Left. The professional Left isn’t happy about this, even as the people have made Joker the biggest R-rated movie of all time. More about this in Reality below.

    Finally, it eschews the supernatural hocus-pocus of superhero movies even as it serves as an origin story for both Joker and the next Batman. That’s quite a trick, one that gives new life to the Batman franchise.

    Batman has spawned the best spinoffs of all the superheroes. Spider-Man had caught up, but not now that Joker joins The Dark Knight and The LEGO Batman Movie in the upper reaches of the cinematic Batcave.

    Bring on the sequels!

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Joaquin Phoenix plays internally tortured characters supremely well. Arthur Fleck / Joker now becomes his signature role, in what was already a monumental career. First was his Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Then The Master and Her confirmed his superstardom. Arthur Joker Fleck elevates him higher in the pantheon.

    Not only does Phoenix possess an extra-large moviestar face, it’s rubberized, perched above an apparently tortured body, bizarre physical attributes he used notably well in The Master. His Joker goes next level, evincing a dancer’s pained physique, protruding ribs and all. Chaplinesque movement tops it all off.

    Great method actors must be great physical actors. Phoenix is, a la Brando, Tom Hardy & Dustin Hoffman.

    Robert De Niro’s performance as a cheesy late-night talkshow host is of bombastic perfection, but it’s his casting that tickles even more. This is because Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck mashes up De Niro’s own Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver and his Rupert Pupkin from The King of Comedy, Scorsese pictures both.


    • Zazie Beetz jumps offscreen, as she does, here a MILF with a soft spot for the weirdo next door.
    • Frances Conroy is heartbreakingly wan as Penny Fleck, mother to the future Joker.
    • Brett Cullen is mostly a cipher as Thomas Wayne, millionaire father to Bruce Wayne.
    • Douglas Hodge doesn’t register as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler.
    • Dante Pereira-Olson appears as young master Bruce Wayne.
    • Glenn Fleshler and Leigh Gill give the cast character as clown co-workers
    • Bill Camp and Shea Whigham as Gotham City PD detectives
    • Marc Maron snorts as a late night TV producer
    • Brian Tyree Henry jumps offscreen in a bit part as a clerk at mental hospital.
    • Gary Gulman almost slays as a standup comedian.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    All hail Todd Phillips, who has graduated from directing brilliantly bawdy comedies like The Hangover to now writing and directing a virtual reinvention of the comic genre in Joker.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Horrid 3.6

    Lewd, savage and nasty, Joker is horrid overall

  15. Sex Lewd 3.6
  16. Violence Savage 3.6
  17. Rudeness Nasty 3.6
  18. Surreal 2.1

    Joker employs modest hocus-pocus as comic movies tend to go, yet still edges into serious surrealism if not extreme surrealism. Movie magic aside, Todd Phillips’ Joker makes its primary reality impact by implicitly commenting on the current fashion for anarchical behaviors.

    To wit, the irony of anarchism is that it purports to be a reaction of the powerless towards the powerful, yet it is the weak who get hurt first and worst when order and stability break down. Joker dramatizes this well.

    Finally, Andrew Klavan over at the Daily Wire writes Leftists Hate ‘Joker’ Because Joker Is The Left.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.5
  20. Biological Surreal 2.2
  21. Physical Glib 1.5


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