Vicious Mayhem & Over-the-Top Violence
It isn’t often a movie makes my stomach turn, but the new Joker movie, directed by Todd Phillips, is a certain cookie tosser. However Supposedly a prequel to all that came before in the DC Comics Batman series and how the Joker character came about, this film will delight rabid fans.
Phillips has not only directed but also co-wrote (with Scott Silver) a tale of poor, neglected and abused Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comic currently working as a clown at parties. To be sure, this is a tour de force for three-time Oscar® nominee Joaquin Phoenix. He appears on screen in almost every horrifying scene. At the age of 44, he lives with his mother (naturally), which makes him a candidate for mental illness as his mom is played by the annoying Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”). Since Arthur seems off-balanced from a childhood of abuse and abandonment by his father, one automatically thinks he’s going to “off” his mother. Arthur is like a firecracker ready to go skyrocketing at any minute without provocation.
Usually abused by everybody he meets, Arthur is the type of character you will think deserves it. He is not likeable in any way. Through some fluke, he gets discovered by famous TV host Murray Franklin, a mix of Johnny Carson and other late-night hosts and played superbly by major star Robert DeNiro. Naturally, Arthur does everything he can to muff his television debut, including taking a leaf out of the famous Peter Finch Network “madness on live camera” scene which ultimately won him a well-deserved Oscar® in 1975.
There seems no doubt that Phoenix has grabbed probably the best male acting role of the year. However, it is a stomach-churning part that could alienate many who see it and encourage some audience members to use their bag of popcorn for an air sickness receptacle. The violence goes way over the top and is not a film for children who probably are comic book fans. One should not let any child see this movie. The blood spurting, gratuitous shootings, and vicious mayhem go beyond even the worst horror films imaginable. I found it plainly disgusting and a stain on fine Hollywood film making.
(Released by Warner Bros./ Village Roadshow Pictures and rated “R” for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language, and brief sexual images.)