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: “Wonder Woman” (2017)

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“Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

There is so much advantage to setting the pace rather than being forced to keep up. Charitably speaking, the D.C. Cinematic Universe (DCU) – D.C. Comics’ staccato, end around attempt to approximate the wildly successful, expansive sandbox (known colloquially as the MCU) in which Marvel Comics’ roster of movie superheroes has spent its increasingly lucrative summer tourist months of late – has so far been something of a bumpy ride. Its most recent offering, the theoretically anarchic and even more theoretically fun Suicide Squad, in which a motley crew of Rogues Gallery castoffs (plus “The Joker” in a glorified cameo) are recruited as wise-cracking, angst-ridden expendables and flung at/fed to the latest in what, for D.C., is already becoming a long and tiresome line of impossibly powerful final boss demigods, was a mercenary garbage fire that lacked the spine to make its protagonists truly bad guys despite that kind of being the entire point. Continue reading “Movie review: “Wonder Woman” (2017)”

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)”