After months of building hype that quickly turned into a widespread controversy, the movie ‘Joker’ has finally been released. However, Cameron Heffernan can’t help but feel like he’s seen this one before.
I enjoyed ‘Joker’ a lot better when it was called ‘Taxi Driver.’
Look, I could Wikipedia mental illness and then make a borderline shot for shot remake of ‘Taxi Driver’ and slap the name Joker on it so the movie doesn’t bomb. If this movie wasn’t called ‘Joker’ and didn’t have that comic book affiliation, it’d be a mediocre movie that does a really bad job at conveying its’ points, but a really good job of glorifying violence.
On the other hand, it was an entertaining movie at least.
It’s just stylized enough to make you think it’s important. But that’s all it is: style. It’s a facade, hiding someone’s vapid attempt to remake ‘Taxi Driver’ in a time where movies like that don’t succeed and just aren’t really needed. Put a comic book character tag on it and it’s bound to succeed no matter what.
‘Joker’ tries to make really good points on mental health and what someone dealing with schizo typical personality disorder and delusional behavior deals with and how society has failed them. It tries to show how they’re faced with having no recourse or path to help in life. Then, at the same time, just says “fuck it, ultra stylized violence is the key with a sprinkle of comedy.”
The movie itself has a split personality and it’s not by design. You want to think it is but the film goes out of its’ way, and the director and star for that matter, to let you know it isn’t.
It’s telling you that violence is the answer and really does nothing to tell you it’s not. By the end of the film, Joker is almost a Christ-like figure to the people of Gotham. It has a lot of ideas but they’re all half-baked. All-in-all it’s just a glorification of people, who are the types, who seemingly every day now will walk into a place and shoot it up because the world has wronged them- in their own minds- and this is the only way to show these people (and the world) that this is “what they deserve.”
At no point does this movie make that seem like it’s the wrong way to go about it. And it has really no accountability because it’s the Joker and can just all fall under that guise. That’s why Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips have gotten mad and stormed off in interviews: they seemingly weren’t intelligent enough to make a fully-fleshed out idea about the intricate things the movie is trying to tackle. So just throw the name “The Joker” on it and it makes it all a lot easier.
I could go on and on about this, there are myriad items to go over, but much like this movie, I’d rather just say fuck it. Throw my hands in the air and dance around like I just don’t care.