Promise: No Spoilers, “Joker”‘s Wild

(Public Service Announcement: DO NOT TAKE ANYONE UNDER 17 TO THIS!)

Joker, directed and co-written by Todd Phillips is worth seeing. I don’t usually see super dark films since I’m sensitive to violence, a hide-behind-my-sweater-type, as well as a staunch believer that what we ingest visually has the psychological nutrition equivalent of gorging on a deep dried bologna sandwich with a side of deep fried Twinkie. But considering Mr. Phillips’ previous films were mostly comedy; (Old School, Hangover) AND given that his co-writer, Scott Silver, wrote one of my favorite movies of all time, The Fighter, I took a chance.

As a huge Joaquin Phoenix fan, my two favorite Phoenix performances being “Two Lovers” and “The Master”; I knew the performance would be breathtaking and indeed it was. With ribs protruding from his skinny physique, Joaquin giggles maniacally and dances like a mixture of Fred Astaire meets Justin Timberlake. His poignant performance gives us a slightly similar feeling to the closure of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, emphasis on slightly.

No plot spoilers, but the cinematography in Joker’s dancing scenes, in the public bathroom and on the super tall ascension of outdoor stairs, are mesmerizing. Likewise the multiple subway scenes, both quietly eerie and violently chaotic have a deep impact. I’d like to think that Phillips and Silver wanted to wake our distracted ignorant technology fixated society in one of the most impressionable scenes where a wall of tv screens shout their competing cacophony drowning out human suffering.

A topnotch soundtrack added to the film’s hip milieu: Smile
(Jimmy Durante) written by the great Charlie Chaplin (who gets his own cameo shown on the big screen in one scene), Laughing (The Guess Who), and White Room (Cream) to name a few. My favorite, That’s Life (Frank Sinatra), is used in a Johnny Carson-like late night show (hosted here by Robert DeNiro) that Joker watches religiously, added to the mad mix of emotions I felt leaving the theater. I got in my Uber with that other worldly feeling great movies give you, even if it wasn’t the happy face the Joker’s mom always told him to wear.

As I rode along in the dark, listening to NPR News detail separate stories that President Trump wants Biden and his son investigated since their new business made millions and yet Biden raised ‘only’ 1.5 million far below Elizabeth Warren 4 million….I couldn’t help feel like our political system has become surreal; coincidentally a core foundation of Joker the film, that the fat cat Governor of Gotham, doesn’t truly care about us average Joe’s, I mean, Jokers. The solution isn’t violence, but positive, loving changes to our mental health system AND restrictions on guns meant for warfare.

Alex Ross Perry Deserves More Love: Her Smell

In Stephanie Goodman’s New York Times “The Best Films of 2019 (So Far)”, she compiled among others, AO Scott’s pick “Her Smell” written and directed by Alex Ross Perry.

Having loved Elisabeth Moss in “The Square”, I was up for the scent (get it, her smell). Adding to my enthusiasm was my previous shock and thrill (respectively) by previous Alex Ross Perry projects “The Color Wheel” and “Listen Up Philip” (see previous blogs).

And voila`! “Her Smell” solidifies Perry’s significance in artistic and powerful cinematic story telling. In fact, Perry deserves more attention and love!

“Her Smell” is precisely organized into five long scenes each with an equally different, but engaging impact. The ensemble of actors was perfect (save one). First, the acting super stars: no hyperbole, Moss deserves an Oscar nom making Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash work look like a walk in the park. The other ladies of Moss’s punk rock band were also stellar: Agyness Deyn and Gayle Rankin both superbly raw.

To Eric Stoltz’s agent I’d like to say, ‘You’re fired! This man should not be languishing in lame tv shows!’ He was tremendous as the ‘pull my hair out’ band manager. Dan Stevens was terrific as Moss’s husband and in one of my favorite scenes (part 4 in a face to face with Moss).

The only wrong note or to go with the scent analogy, who stunk, was fakey fake fake Amber Heard who’s permanent shit eating grin simply should be the quintessential poster she-devil on a Hitchcock billboard that screams: Revenge is sweet and not fattening. Heard looks like she’s going to a Halloween party in every scene. But then again, maybe we needed the off key just appreciate all the perfect notes.

Unfortunately for whatever b.s. mass media rules, you can see Captain Underpants on the big screen, but for this quality gem, you have to view it at home. At least it’s available on Itunes!

Woody Allen’s The Irrational Man, surprisingly not ‘The Donald’s Story’

Parker

I went confidently to Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’, thinking, Joaquin and Parker Posey could save any movie. Ugh, except this one. Woody, you need a retirement intervention, focus on your clarinet.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but when a brand new recliner seat can’t save me from fidgety ennui, I’ve got to speak the truth. Let me be a role model for Mr. Trump in being frank; just state the facts man, no insults needed.

Most scenes were first, acted out, then separately narrated to jazz music. Yes, I get it, Joaquin’s character is nihilistic. Yes, I get it, Emma Stone has a father fixation on her professor. Yes, I get it, her boyfriend is the ‘nice guy’ who’s going to finish last for awhile.

Parker Posey literally had to hide her beautiful quirkiness amidst the bored desperation of an unhappily married professor. Please someone give this woman a script! Let her last great film not be the satirical “Best in Show”.

On Marc Maron’s podcast interview with Parker, she was told it was ok to improvise. When she did she reported that W.A. screamed something to the effect of no, terrible.