Posts Tagged Joaquin Phoenix



A dark tale for our times

Dir: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Marc Maron
15 cert
122 mins

Joker is a film that depicts a damaged man in a broken society. It is an origin story that answers the question: “How did Arthur Fleck (played powerfully and convincingly by Joaquin Phoenix) become the Joker?”.

As you might expect the explanation follows a dark trajectory. The story is told entirely from the perspective of Fleck. He is tormented by mental illness in a harsh society that doesn’t care about him. He is exploited and abused. It’s a harrowing portrayal of a man about to go over the edge. You are never quite sure what is real and what is delusional as we are taken into his mind.

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Fleck and question the way society treats him. As Fleck becomes Joker it seems all too plausible. Is this transformation a further fall into madness or self-actualization? Joker leaves that question open but the scene where Fleck becomes Joker and triumphally dances down steps to the tune of convicted child sex offender Gary Glitter – “Rock and Roll Part 2” – is haunting.

One of the themes of the film is “you get what you deserve”. As Joker strikes back at the people who run the twisted, amoral society that has abandoned and rejected him he becomes “an icon of resistance to a mob of masked troublemakers” (as the Telegraph put it). Joker resonates with rioters who put on clown-faced masks. The violence is unrelenting and often difficult to watch. Our own society uses violence as entertainment routinely – the Director of Joker pointed to John Wick 3 when criticized in the media. Perhaps these films are our version of the Roman arena?

Will we see Joker and clown masks at real-world demonstrations/riots? It’s not impossible. The Guy Fawkes visage from V For Vendetta has been adopted by Anonymous, the Occupy movement, and most recently the Hong Kong marchers. Will we see the theme “You get what you deserve” adopted as a slogan? As our world gets madder it could happen.

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington


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Her (2014)

Her-with-Theodore-Twombly-on-red-movie-poster-wideI was recently talking to my father about how many films I’d seen lately that were lacking an interesting plot. I find it quite common in action films that the story is a bit weak but that the visuals usually make up for that, but I found myself craving a good story after seeing a string of action movies, which is when I read the synopsis for a film showing in the local cinema called ‘Her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Scarlett Johansson.
After reading that the film was a sci fi about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system I decided to see the film straight away. It’s set in the year 2025 and follows the story of Theodore Twombly played by Joaquin Phoenix. Theodore is going through a painful divorce from his wife Catherine (played by Rooney Mara) when he decides to purchase a computer operating system with artificial intelligence. This is referred to as an ‘OS’ in the film.
Theodore chooses for his particular OS to be female. He communicates with her verbally and vice versa. She is played beautifully by Scarlett Johansson who’s character chooses in the film to be named Samantha.
There is room for a lot of comedy due to the nature of Theodore’s situation and I found myself laughing out loud multiple times throughout the first half of the film. I got used to the theme of the film by halfway but also it took on a more serious tone as higher drama ensues around that point. I would describe the film as an emotional roller-coaster in that regard.
Once I had gotten into the flow of it and was expecting more comedy I was shocked by quite tender moments of conflict between Theodore and his OS Samantha. Wanting to see a film with a good story I was not let down by ‘Her’. While it is not an action movie it does offer some good visuals in the form of ‘future fashion’ as I would call it. People are dressed in a memorable style of colourful attire.
One slight drawback I felt was that Olivia Wilde’s character is used only briefly in the film. I became aware of Olivia Wilde for the first time when I saw Tron Legacy and because I liked her in that I had hoped she would play a bigger part in ‘Her’ but sadly that was not the case. Another thing that bothered me a bit was that only Scarlet Johansson’s voice is used in the film but looking back I can see why that was better for the film overall. Her voice acting is incredibly precise emotionally and I wonder how many takes it took to get it all just right.
Overall, I think it’s a great film and that has been reflected in its reception as it has received critical acclaim and has done exceptionally well at the box office in contrast to its budget.
Reviewed by Alistair Martin

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