Movie review: “Joker” (2019)

“Do I look like the kind of clown that can start a movement?”

Temper your effusive praise of Todd Phillips’ Joker for a moment and ponder what its $1 billion box office take (and counting) might have to say about the world in which we live and your place as an audience member within it. “The times maketh the man,” goes the wise, old, unattributable quote. Or did I mean to say, “the clothes”? For The Joker, maniacal ancient scourge of Gotham City, both catalysts apply. Every new wave of filmgoers seems to get the Joker it deserves somehow, be they glib, if sinister, inveterate pranksters in the animated mold of Mark Hamill or, applying a slightly sliding scale, Cesar Romero, ugly, enigmatic loose cannons as in the late Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal, or, to an obnoxiously lesser degree, whatever the trashy nu-metal hell Jared Leto was trying to accomplish, or slick, cruel, strutting peacocks like Jack Nicholson’s 1989 paradigm shifter. No matter how committed or complete the performance, in the end they are still just especially vivid aspects of an unknowable greater whole. Continue reading “Movie review: “Joker” (2019)”

Movie review: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

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“You see, Clark Joe, what we call ‘God’ depends upon our tribe, because God is tribal. God takes sides! No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from daddy’s fist and abominations. I figured out way back that if God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful…and neither can you be.”

I began sharpening my metaphorical knives in preparation for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice from almost the moment it was first announced; from the moment Ben Affleck was controversially tapped to slip into the departing Christian Bale’s cowl as the caped crusader; in truth, from the moment the (approx.) fourth hour of Superman origin redux/endurance grit-a-thon Man of Steel’s overbearing climax began and my face more or less went numb. You didn’t need to be a prognosticator to feel something in the wind besides dust and falling debris. There was simply no way that grim, audacious, titanic experience would prove to be a standalone anything. Although technically a Man of Steel sequel, Dawn’s above title billing is surely no accident. Continue reading “Movie review: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)”

DVR Hindsight #14 (11/17/15): Gotham and/or/vs. Supergirl

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Batman and Superman aren’t only doing battle on movie screens next summer. In the relative calm before the computer-generated storm that will be Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, they are already fighting by proxy on television as their B-teams (for the latter, his fair-haired, similarly-powered, older cousin and assorted cross-overs/hangers-on; for the former, no less than the collected origin stories of the caped crusader, police commissioner Jim Gordon, and the top two to three tiers of his infamous “rogue’s gallery” of enemies) take a field that a, scant few years ago, contained the barest trace of superhero DNA and no horizon to speak of, but today boasts no fewer than six separate shows (and even more if you count streaming services). “Batman vs. Superman” has been a passionate and evergreen alpha-hero debate among comic book fans for more than twice as long as I’ve been alive, but this latest round, willed into existence and shoehorned clumsily into place by the rivalry between two of the biggest networks on broadcast television, just doesn’t have a consequential feel to it yet. Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #14 (11/17/15): Gotham and/or/vs. Supergirl”

Movie review: “Batman” (1989)

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“And now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives. But, as my plastic surgeon always said, ‘If you gotta go…go with a smile!'”

Historically, comic book creators and writers have had to strike a precarious balance between fantasy and reality in order for their tales to work, to create a world where super-powered heroes can battle outlandish villains in a way that, ideally, still carries weight and is grounded enough to be relatable. Tip the scale too far to one extreme or the other and the proceedings risk total collapse, played to the tune of either a cartoony jaunt or a funeral dirge. Continue reading “Movie review: “Batman” (1989)”