Captain’s log: it’s the second week of my journey to watch all the movies nominated for Best Picture this year. I thought I would have more time than I actually do, but I did manage to watch a couple more movies on the list this week- that, and Dolittle. Delightful.
This past week, I watched two movies with little in common- “Joker,” a dark take on one of Batman’s most notorious villains, and “Jojo Rabbit,” an irreverent satire with heart about a young German boy, his imaginary friend, Hitler, and the changing world around him in the final days of WWII. So, I’m back with more reviews!
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a professional film critic. I just enjoy movies! The best part about taking in artistic projects is that we don’t have to agree all the time. We may very well have different opinions, and that’s fine! In fact, I’d love to hear them- I love discussing film. With that being said, let’s jump in!
This wasn’t a movie I was super stoked for at first- I’m a casual “Dark Knight” fan, but I didn’t feel the need to rush to theatres to take in Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of this character. If anything, I could wait until I could rent and watch it at home, which is exactly what I did this past weekend. I was intrigued. I had heard so much about the performance of Phoenix specifically that I wanted to see what the buzz was about.
“Joker” creates a unique story based on the notorious villain that shares its name, and depicts the story of struggling party clown and aspiring comedian Arthur Fleck’s descent into violence and madness in Gotham City. The movie is directed by Todd Phillips and Phoenix is joined by Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy.
If you’re bad with gore or violence, watch with caution. There’s a few very graphic scenes, and I found myself turning away or closing my eyes to escape the gruesome images! This was definitely a unique take on a villain origin story, but I assumed it would be a predictable, dark flick with no surprises. I was wrong- I couldn’t have predicted the turns the film took, especially late in the movie! Phoenix’s performance was captivating, but I was expecting a descent into madness. Honestly, I would’ve been drawn into the world of Arthur Fleck if I hadn’t heard anything beforehand, but that’s not the movie’s fault.
Favorite Scene: The scene where Arthur clears out his fridge and climbs in to it??!?
Unlike Joker, I had no expectations coming into this movie. I didn’t know much about it, except that someone would be playing Hitler. None of my friends or family had seen it, either, so I had the benefit of the element of surprise.
“Jojo Rabbit” follows a young boy, his mother, and of course, his imaginary friend Hitler, and their life in the final days of WWII. Jojo’s life as a member of The Hitler Youth is interrupted when he finds a Jewish girl living in secret in his home. The movie features newcomer Roman Griffin Davis and industry heavyweights Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Taika Waititi, who is also the film’s director.
To say I was pleasantly surprised by the movie was an understatement. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t be scared away by outward appearances. The film is a perfectly bittersweet in an incredibly unique way, and what seems on the surface to be an irreverent comedy is really a comment on how we teach children love and hate. I laughed, I cried, I pondered- what more could you ask for from a movie?
Favorite Scene: The final moments of the film (dancing!)
Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more reviews!