I write reviews to inform the potential movie fan about a particular film. I always have the intention of giving a reader enough knowledge to decide if he or she should see that film and if the kiddies should see it. At the end of this piece, I offer another view of the job of a critic.
Some of us might doubt that a serious film can come from a comic book origin. Not so with “Joker.” The film exploration of the personality of the comic book mad villain has already lapped up four awards, three from the Venice Film Festival. In the leading role, Joaquin Phoenix has already stirred up buzz of an Oscar.
Director Todd Phillips directed the well enjoyed “The Hangover” and numerous other less well-received films. He also wrote the script. His previous scripts include “Borat” and “War Dogs.” His writing partner, Scott Silver, wrote the Coast Guard thriller “The Finest Hours.”
It says something when movie icon Robert De Niro rates only a reference as “also appearing.” This film belongs to Phoenix. The wonderfully named Zazie Beetz (“Deadpool 2”) also appears.
“Joker” has no parallel this year in terms of intensity or in terms of a truly memorable performance. We must think of this film as an intimate look at insanity, it’s causes and the hovering possibility of munificent horror.
The central character had a certified lunatic for a mom and suffered severe abuse as a small child. When we meet him, he has seven different medications for the tangle of psychic disorders he has come to own. Among his maladies, we include a mental distance from others which allows him to kill without hesitation or regret. This monster dances in blood, not a metaphor. Gotham City seems headed for some hard times. It will take young Bruce Wayne 20 years or more to grow up into his Batman suit.
The soundtrack includes tunes by Frank Sinatra and Cream. .
Not so fun fact — at any given time between 25 and 50 serial killers roam at large in the U.S. We can look at the numbers another way; of the 15,000 murders a year, serial killers kill about 150.
The horrifying “Joker” gets an outstanding four sawblades. The presentation of Phoenix, however, rates a solid five by any measure. He lets us see into the tortured soul of “Joker.”
The R-rated exploration of mental illness runs for two hours and one minute. This magnificent cinematic experience brings with it monumental disquiet. We get not a drop of fun here.
Current Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher once opined that, “A critic is someone who comes onto the battlefield after the battle is over and shoots the wounded.” I hope I do not do that.