Joker ★★

This movie means nothing. They just went “what’s big right now? incels and antifa? those are the same” and rolled it all into an existing character that could use politically and socially relevant anxieties as developing characteristics... but to make absolutely no “message.” and no, films don’t have to have a message (lemme just preempt that dumb comment someone always wants to make) but it’s so clear that this movie wants you to think it has one. it doesn’t. joker insists on telling you he’s not political multiple times in the same way people tell you they’re “sick of politics,” only to ignore the influence of politics in literally everything that led to where he is— and you’re never given a clear sense of what Phillips wants you to believe from that point on, because the chaos is so much more intriguing to him than anything of substance. whatever.

i generally like superhero movies and think they’re fun, and despite this having a stellar performance from Joaquin Phoenix and generally enticing production design (whoda thunk a Taxi Driver-inspired film looks nice in 35mm!) , this might be the kind of superhero movie that upsets me the most, because it insists on masquerading as something smarter and more important than the “average superhero flick.”

also, a huge fuck you to Todd Phillips for casting a dwarf actor pretty much solely for the purpose of a horrifying gag.

EDIT: i’m docking it half a star because in thinking about it, the dwarf gag literally undermines the closest thing this movie has to a message, which is in the importance of civility and kindness, especially to the marginalized. to throw a misplaced, laughing-at-and-not-with gag where the audience laughs at a dwarf’s misfortune into all of that? absolutely fucking bite me, War Dogs

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