Movie #1: Joker

I saw Joker.

Here’s a thing you need to know about me and movies: I like them. Not in a “cinephile” way. Not in a remotely sophisticated way. I just like movies.

As I write this, I can remember precisely three movies I haven’t enjoyed. I’m sure there have been more, but by and large, by the time I’m sitting in a chair in a theater? I’m going to enjoy myself. It doesn’t take much. (The three I didn’t enjoy? Titanic, 50 Shades of Grey, and Blair Witch Project. There’s a 4th, but you have to click on the link to learn about it.)

I recently saw “Joker.” I. Fucking. Loved. It.

I don’t read a lot about movies. I tend not to read movie reviews unless/until after I’ve seen a movie. I let people close to me identify the movies I need to see. That works well for me. I don’t mind reading a review before I see a movie – I have retention deficit disorder, and so, by the time I see a movie – even if I read a review on my way in – I lose track of whatever I might have learned in the review, so the movie unfurls itself to me unimpeded. (I’ll write a bit about that experience in the coming days, about movie #3 in this series – “Pain and Glory.”)

Anyway: here’s my remarkably unsophisticated, un-cinephile take on “Joker”: it’s fucking awesome. Joaquin Phoenix (who I saw in “Her” about a week ago) gives a (to-me) Oscar-worthy performance in a film that won’t reach the right audience.

Joker’s not a superhero film. It’s not a super-villain film. It’s a movie about mental illness, isolation, shame, loneliness, pain. It should’ve been divorced from the Batman/DC universe, because 90% of the people who would like it – people interested in a complex portrayal of suffering – will be turned off by the universe in which it occurs, and 60% of the people drawn to it for that reason will be turned off by how little it actually has to do with that universe.


I don’t know how Oscar politics work. But I’ve never been moved to cry in a movie by a character’s laughter. Before “Joker.”

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