Bad Boys for Life
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The Tomatometer is an insufficient standard of measurement for the movie Joker, because it is an amalgamation of how much we personally enjoy the film combined with how much we would recommend the film to others. While these two measures are usually the same or similar. They are polar opposites for me with Joker.
I really enjoyed this film. It was beautifully shot. The script was tight and amazingly believable given its subject matter. Its acting was second to none, and its timing was perfect. Moreover, the sum total of Joker was greater than its parts, a sign of superior direction and production. If any one of Joker's attributes had been off, or incongruent with others, subtext of the movie would have been either too obvious or lost. Instead, the movie's subliminal message rested right at the perfect spot to change our thinking without being noticed. In its ability to place the worldview of Todd Phillips into our minds without going through our usual conscious filters, Joker is a masterpiece.
I enjoy art that conveys a subtle, yet powerful, message, even if I disagree with the message. I have sought out art shows that are controversial, and have allowed myself to feel the disgust the author intends, but I would not recommend those art shows to the general public. Not everyone appreciates being made to feel uncomfortable. Anyone who puts up mental barriers to emotional invasions would not welcome a recommendation to one of these shows. Some people are thankfully too innocent to absorb their subtext, even on a subliminal level, and exhibit their innocence via boredom. A third category of people who I would not recommend attend art shows with controversial subtext are those negatively affected, that is, people who have been traumatized, and who could be influenced to see the world and its people as irredeemably bad. Some art shows would tend to confirm this belief by conveying affirmation at a subliminal, unfiltered level.
While I personally can sense the worldview of Joker's writer/director/producer, and appreciate the artistic mastery in which he has conveyed his opinions directly into our minds, bypassing conscious thought, I do not share his view. I would not recommend the perspective of Todd Phillips for people who block uncomfortable feelings, nor for people too innocent for it to affect, as they would be either bored or agitated by its art.
Yet, neither of those two categories present a danger. The legitimate danger presented by Joker is in the third category, people who not only appreciate the art of Joker, but who will turn it into a cult classic, as though its underlying message is the hidden truth of this world. For them, the Joker is almost justified in his actions: while some of his experiences are undeniably delusional, his conclusions are not. This third category will pick up on subtle clues that the cops portrayed were dirty, that the Wayne Foundation changed hospital records, and that the rich of Gotham are the primary cause of the city's high crime rate.
Humble, gentle, and kind people who see the movie and never once consider these horrific possibilities should, by all rights, inherit the Earth. Others, however, will see the film and grasp, from a sympathetic perspective, why its portrayed riots against the rich happened. For them, the average citizen of Gotham had no other viable outlet for their understandable rage. Anyone who perceives Joker's riotous ending as a natural progression of what preceded it had to fill in some of its causation with their own experiences and values. These are the people who should definitely not see the film, because for them, the conclusion will be confirmation of the truth of the sick and destructive worldview already budding in their heads.
As for me, I have rated Joker a half star even though it was a masterpiece, because Rotten Tomatoes does not specify whether its stars represent the movie's production, or its message. With only one dimension available to convey my opinion on RT, it is MY responsibility to choose which measure is more important.
This is the most important movie ever made. It relates a remarkably accurate account of what an average citizen should do when confronted with the strongest coercion a corrupt state can levy. It proves that the people still have the power, as long as they recognize the enemy camp to include their own lawyers. Katharine Gun did not take the "advice" of her lawyers to plea bargain or make a deal, because that "advice" was nothing less than coercion by the enemy to sign a false confession. Gun refused to answer questions that she did not want the Bar to know because she knew her lawyers were members of the Bar first, and would help her only to the extent it did not damage their careers. Most importantly, Gun recognized that no lawyer or judge can change the law to suit the will of a president or prime minister, and refused to be bullied into saying otherwise, even when it meant her loved ones were being threatened. Because of people like Gun in Europe and the US, our countries are still free, and Bar bullies have nothing but empty threats to stand against righteousness.
In the style of Inglorious Bastards, Tarantino again shows us an alternate historic timeline in which the good guys try a little bit harder, averting the gut wrenching evil we remember.
"Free soloing is perfect execution, or certain death."
What makes "Free Solo" most unique is its providing enough backstory to answer the question of what drives Alex Honnold. We get to see inside Alex's brain, literally through a hospital scan, and also via what might be considered antisocial interactions with his girlfriend, mother, and the film crew. Ultimately, we witness Alex's unconventional intelligence save his life, fulfill his dreams, and prove to the world that compromise is not necessary for respect or love.
Career best performances by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. This is the rare period piece that stays true to its time, yet still makes audiences feel as participants rather than spectators. Moreover, an even greater feat is its portrayal of anti-heroes with whom we can still relate. "The Favourite" succeeds in avoiding any hint of heavy-handedness by refusing to blame human nature for the horrors and temptations it reveals, leaving a vacuum of culpability that can only be filled by the socio-political construct itself, poking at wounds we unfortunately still know intimately today. It exquisitely illustrates a perspective crucial to eventually curing the disease. While the rest of us commiserate with peers about being stepped on by evil hierarchies ruling our world, it is easy to overlook that hierarchical rule is unkinder to those on top, who have no peers with which to commiserate, and suffer the most chronic of loneliness, avoiding disaster to their particular realms only by recognizing any appearance of friendship, love, or mitigation of their mental solitude to be fraud and cruel deception.