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Posts Tagged ‘Joker’

Last year, shortly before the Oscars I wrote about how I thought Green Book was in with a real shout of winning the best picture Oscar Because of the way the best picture is voted for, it can be seen that the most popular film, doesn’t necessarily win, it is more that the least unpopular movie wins.  A quick recap on how voting works:  In other categories the voter picks their favourite and the person/people/movie with the most votes wins. In the Best Picture poll however, each voter ranks the films from favourite to least favourite.  All the votes are counted and if a film achieves over 50% of the vote it wins.  If however there is no clear winner, the film to achieve the lowest number of votes (or number one picks) is eliminated.  The vote is recounted; the second place pick of anyone who voted for the eliminated film is now elevated to the first choice.  This process is continually repeated until one film achieves over half the ballot and is declared winner.

Thus the least unpopular movie triumphs.  Green Book probably wasn’t the film to get the most number one picks, but it probably got a lot of 2nd, 3rd or even fourth place picks.  The complication this year is that it’s a really strong field, with no obvious Green Book.  The closest is probably either Ford v Ferrari, or Little Women.  Another curveball, Netflix.   It is often suggested that lots of voters don’t go to the movies so haven’t seen all they have voted for.  Sure, they get screeners of nominated films, but is there a higher chance that the will already have seen a movie on a screening platform like Marriage Story and The Irishman.  They we have the Hollywood effect, Hollywood has no vanity and doest vote for movies about itself does it?  Films about films and the industry tend to do well, and Once upon a Time in Hollywood is a real love letter to the town and the industry.  Joker and Jojo Rabbit may be just a little to divisive and Parasite has the massive battle of subtitles to overcome.

So who will win? who knows, and who really cares? The true merit of a film is how much the viewer enjoys it, not how many awards it wins, or how much money it makes!  With this in mind, here is my ranking the best picture nominations from favourite to least favourite:

  1. Once upon a Time in HollywoodOnce_Upon_a_Time_in_Hollywood_poster
  2. ParasiteParasite
  3. 19171917
  4. Jojo RabbitJojo Rabbit
  5. The IrishmanThe Irishman
  6. Marriage StoryMarriage Story
  7. Ford v FerrariFord v Ferrari
  8. Little WomenLittle Women
  9. Jokerjoker

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A varied month with debut features, sequels, a soft reboot of a franchise, a TV spinoff and a concert movie.  Here are the contenders for movie of the month: 

Roger Waters, Us + Them – Essentially a concert firm made up mainly of Pink Floyd material.  A sensational audiovisual show with a political edge.  The juxtaposition of proactive images with the timeless lyrics makes a strong statement about the UK and US governments, the refugee crisis, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Worth seeing for the music alone, but it has so much more to say. Roger Waters, Us + Them

Joker –  The clown prince of crime as you have never seen him before.  Joaquin Phoenix is excellent, the film is better than the backlash would have you believe, but not as flawless as early reviews suggested.  I really liked it but didn’t love it. joker

It: Chapter II – The first movie was excellent, part two had excellent early reviews but poor word of mouth.  I liked it, it is creepy without being scary.  The adult cast are excellent in the own right, and at following on from the kids in the first film.  It could have benefited from a tighter edit.  It Chapter II

Downton Abbey – I have seen a few episodes of the TV show but didn’t watch it religiously, as such I kind of knew what to expect, and that is exactly what you get.  Well shot, and well acted, not massively cinematic, but passed the time harmlessly.  Fans of the show will probably love it.  Downton Abbey

The Day Shall Come – Nearly ten years after his first film, Four Lions, satirist/agent provocateur Chris Morris returns with his second film.  A naive, impoverished, and deluded preacher is manipulated into an arms deal by the FBI so they can arrest him as a terrorist to improve their conviction rates.  An absurdist satirical comedy that while fictional in itself, the tagline and the opening caption says: Based On a Hundred True Stories. Lacking both the levels of heart and humour of Four Lions, it is still a compelling if frightening watch.  Marchánt Davis is funny, compelling and confident in what is amazingly his movie debut, I expect to see a lot more from him in the future.The Day Shall Come

Zombieland: Double Tap – Ten years after the first movie, the original quartet are back. Very much the same again: the plot is thin, and only there to link a series of set-pieces together.  However there are plenty of funny moments from the always watchable returning cast with Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch making excellent additions. Zombieland Double Tap

Official Secrets – True story of Katharine Gun, the whistleblower who leaked information to the press in the build-up to the  2003 invasion of Iraq.  A little on the nose, with a little too much of characters explaining the plot, but an enjoyable film with an import story to tell.  Keira Knightley is excellent, as are the supporting cast including Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, and Matt Smith.  Rhys Ifans appears to be in a different film playing an over the top character, I am led to believe it is an acurate portrayal. Official Secrets

Terminator: Dark Fate – Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in yet another Terminator, but this time Linda Hamilton returns to the franchise for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).  Thanks to the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, the plot kind of works with the other films.  The story returns to the plot of the first two movies of Terminators chasing someone, and a protector also sent from future trying to save them.  It is notable that there are essentially three female leads, Hamilton, along with Mackenzie Davis, and Natalia Reyes.  All three are really good, but the script can’t decide who the lead is and sometimes suffers.  Schwarzenegger is used well, but Gabriel Luna lacks the menace of Robert Patrick from T2, or Schwarzenegger in the original film. Terminator Dark Fate

The Peanut Butter Falcon – A young man with Down syndrome is forced to live in an old people’s home, as the state doesn’t know where else to put him.  He escapes and begins an adventure akin to a modern day Mark Twain character.  Zack Gottsagen who like his character has Down syndrome is a compelling leading man, and is supported by an ever reliable Dakota Johnson, and Shia LaBeouf who again reminds us that he is a really good actor and his dalliance with Michael Bay movies was just a blip. The Peanut Butter Falcon

Luce – Saved from a warzone in Eritrea and adopted by a middleclass couple, Luce is an all-star student.  A dedicated teacher suspects there is more going on with Luce than his parents and the faculty see.  The brilliance of the film is in its subtly, it doesn’t answer many of the questions it asks.Luce

The Last Black Man in San Francisco – Jimmie, a young black man spends his spare time returning to his grandfathers old house to maintain it, against the wishes of the current owners.  When they are forced to move out, Jimmie sees his opportunity to reclaim what he believes is his birthright.  Low on plot and deliberately paced, it is a slow and mournful lament.  There is a lot more going on under the surface than a movie about gentrification.  Amazingly it is the feature debut from director Joe Talbot.The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Many people will expect my movie of the month to be Joker, its good, but not quite good enough.  The Peanut Butter Falcon, Luce, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco are all contenders, but the film that has stayed with me is the first one I saw this month:  Roger Waters, Us + Them:Roger Waters, Us + Them Poster

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There is a line in Tim Burtons 1989 incarnation of Batman where Batman tells Joker “I made you, you made me first”.  This is one of the clearest examples in movies of how the characters need each other.  Without an adversary, they are just mad men in costumes, they give each other purpose, and giver the films a narrative.  Jack Napier as the person who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents, then later became the Joker is an invention of the Movie. The symbiotic nature of the Batman/Joker relationship is perfect; as is the Heath Ledger incarnation in The Dark Knight (2008).  We don’t know the origin of this version of the character, he tells just appears fully formed as a character.  At various points in the film, Joke tells different, conflicting stories about the scars on his face.  When arrested,  Gordon describes  what they know about him, nothing! “No matches on prints, DNA, dental. Clothing is custom, no labels. Nothing in his pockets but knives and lint. No name. No other alias.”

By the this point, there are so many Joker origin stories, who knows what is or isn’t canon.  In his comic books, the character was created in the 1940’s by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson (who is mainly responsible has been disputed).  Starting life as a criminal mastermind, intended for a single issue, he became a mainstay.  As the Comics Code Authority came into effect in the 1950’s be became less of a psychopath, and more of a prankster, before returning to darker roots in the 70’s and 80’s.  The idea of Joker as a failed comedian came from Alan Moore’s seminal The Killing Joke (2008).The Killing Joke

The One thing, they all have in common, is Batman.  Even when Joke is the focus of the story, his nemesis Batman is there, until now!  This new incarnation director Todd Phillips (who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver), is Batman free, we do see a young Bruce Wayne, and yet another death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but no man dressed as a bat.  This is cleary a story without Batman, and it wouldn’t work with Batman.  Joker would be a different character, and the film would be very different with Batman.  The Martin Scorsese inspiration is clear, particularly Taxi Driver (1976), and The King of Comedy (1983), this gives a more gritty reality than we have ever seen in a movie of this type, even Christopher Nolan’s trilogy.  The echoes of  Rupert Pupkin we see it the character of Arthur Fleck are emphasised by the inclusion of Robert De Niro who appears in Joker in what is essentially the Jerry Lewis role from The King of Comedy.

By the time I had seen the film, it had something of a critical rollercoaster; winning the Golden Lion  and Graffetta d’Oro Venice Film Festival, and a series of four and five star reviews were followed by a backlash of its portrayal of mental illness, and a sympathetic portrayal of a homicidal maniac. There was then a backlash against the backlash.  Whatever your thoughts on the film, there are two things that are hard to argue: Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as Arthur Fleck, and the score by Hildur Guðnadóttir is sensational.  Ultimately I think the film is really good, but not excellent, I can’t help thinking those who love it are blinded by how different it is to a typical DC movie, and those that don’t like it are concerned by the controversy, or sniffy about its comic book origins. Joker

As to the question, Can there be a Joker without Batman? that is something history will tell us.  The film is intended as a standalone story.  As this it works, and as a viewer, we can see a world in which a character like Batman could exist, we are seeing a cities decent into the crime ridden place we have seen in other Batman movies.  We see Jokers decent into madness, and his total disconnection with reality, but we don’t see a fully formed criminal mastermind.  This is where it needs to be left, lefty for the viewers imagination.  If however, the studio decide to catch in (at the time of publishing the world Box-office had topped $770million) it will dilute the story and have a negative impact on the original film.  Indications they are that Warner Bros intend leave Joker as a single film,  but will “launch DC Black” a series standalone films with a darker tone, based on DC Comics but not related to the DCEU. To put it another way, Joker as a character can work without Batman, but the film Joker can ONLY work without Batman, and not as a precurser to a Batman Movie.  

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