The joke is on

My girlfriend took me to see Joker last night. It’s a film I’d thought it’d be interesting to see, certainly, but had no expectation of actually catching. When we’d decided that we’d go out, it was the Harriet Tubman movie (something I’d still like to get to before it’s moved on) that was on my mind; I thought it the likeliest thing showing that we’d both be interested in. As it turned out, T. had been reading (unknown to me) a bit about Joker, and that became our choice.

For my part, I’ve read nothing about this movie — even now that I’ve seen it. I’d been ignoring 99% of the stuff about it that’s come along in the Twitter feed and so forth, and still am, for the moment. Up to last night, what idea I had of its comment-worthiness has been pretty vague.

I’m not going to say much about the film here. Whether I liked it or not seems an odd question to ask about such a piece of Hollywood work; it’s a question I’m setting aside for now. Whether I’d see it again, on the other hand, is easy: I’d sit through it again with no hesitation. I was riveted last night. I have no doubt that I would be again — maybe for many viewings.

That’s not an endorsement, I want to emphasize. I don’t know that it’s a good movie, don’t know that it’s ‘great filmmaking’ or what have you. It might take me some time to form those kinds of judgments about it. Good or bad, though, one thing this flick certainly is is a terrific twist on the big-dollar superhero-comics-property movie (right at 30 years from Burton’s Batman, interestingly — the movie I think of as the beginning of the trend, though of course you can argue for other films’ claim to that place). What’s going to follow such a twist, I wonder? Does this movie mark an ending of, an exhaustion to, the superhero blockbuster, in some way? If it were that, it strikes me as a more than fitting, if not really a probable, thing. If it’s not that, though, does something new in movies in this line begin with it — and if so, what? Or is it going to be a one-off, a parenthesis, more or less? The thought of a number of movies perhaps to be made in this mold featuring the DC and Marvel figures isn’t terribly appealing, I’ve got to say.

I’ll just add that I was a bit shaken up at points, early in the movie and not necessarily at obvious moments for it. It’s hard to think of anybody but Phoenix on screen in this role who might’ve lent the thing that tendency to affect me. I expect I’d have been no less spellbound watching him in the part for two hours with no sound at all. The complex of emotions I was experiencing had a good deal to do with the soundtrack, too, though — about which, alone, one could no doubt write a really interesting review. But this isn’t that.

 

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