If you haven’t seen “The Joker” yet, you’re missing out on something special.
Until a few weekends ago, I had never seen a movie about any comic book character ... none of the Batman movies, no Spider-Man, never saw the Hulk ... I mean none.
In fact, the only reason I decided to see this particular movie was because the trailer popped up as a recommended video on my YouTube account and it looked interesting.
If you’re like me, worried that you won’t like it because you’re not into those kinds of movies, you shouldn’t be. This thing is a work of art.
Of course, art of any kind is subjective. That’s part of its beauty ... that 100 people can see the same movie, painting, sculpture or read the same book and all of them can have their own understanding of what it means and be affected in 100 different ways.
From the first scene, I was completely spellbound by the ultra-thin Joaquin Phoenix, and there was a metaphoric and literal darkness to the movie that was the perfect complement to his performance. Whoever the casting director was should get a bonus because all of the characters were perfectly-fitting puzzle pieces.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this film. Many critics say it glorifies and promotes gun violence. On Twitter, I saw someone (who had obviously not seen the movie) tweet, “Another entitled white dude takes his problems out on society.”
Another controversy was the choice of director Todd Phillips to use Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” during a pivotal dance scene. Glitter, aka Paul Francis Gadd, was imprisoned for child pornography in 1999 and for child sexual abuse and attempted rape in 2006 and 2015. What had people up in arms was the thought that Glitter would profit from the use of the song, but it turns out that all rights to that particular tune are owned by Snapper Music and he will not earn a cent.
I thought the musical picks were right on the money, starting with the film’s score, which was composed by 37-year-old Icelandic cellist Hildur Guonadottir. She repeatedly hit the emotional nail on the head.
Then there was Jimmy Durante’s version of “Smile,” a couple of selections from Frank Sinatra — “Send in the Clowns” and “That’s Life.” The soundtrack also included “My Name Is Carnival” by Jackson C. Frank, Claude Bolling’s “Temptation Rag,” Cream’s “White Room,” Fred Astaire’s “Slap The Bass” and “Everybody Plays the Fool” by The Main Ingredient.
The movie is uncomfortable and unsettling. It is an intensely sad and realistic look into the life of a mentally ill man named Arthur Fleck. Arthur struggles with an assortment of mental health issues while being victimized by multiple people. The metamorphosis of Arthur into The Joker is a thing of beauty, and, yes, I did find myself rooting for him in spite of his actions.
To me, the Joker is about the reality of the lack of care for people with mental illness and about how people are fed up with the status quo and are teetering on the edge of rebellion.
One reviewer said, “’The Joker’ holds a mirror up to society.”
I guess it’s up to us to look away or take a good hard look at the reflection.