Currently browsing the "Joaquin Phoenix" tag.

Review: Joker

Disturbing. That’s really the only word that comes to mind when attempting to process my thoughts on Joker. Did I like it? I don’t know. Not really. Did I not like it? No. It’s okay. Am I glad I saw it? Yes, but only because I wanted to be able to respond with first-hand knowledge to the hoopla over whether it might somehow incite violence; and, I wanted to know if Joaquin Phoenix’s performance might be deserving of awards consideration, as many have already suggested. I’ll get to that. But first, a warning of sorts about the film for anyone who might be expecting a typical action-packed DC Comics ‘super-hero’ or ‘super-villain’ movie. It’s not that. In DC Comics fashion, it does skew dark. But there are no heroes. No superpowers. No joy.

Review: The Sisters Brothers

It seems the western will never die. The allure of rugged men out there slinging guns and making their fortunes panning for gold was too much for French director Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone, The Prophet) to pass up. And he didn’t’ even have to come to the US of A to shoot this his adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s rambling, sometimes funny novel. Who knew Spain and Romania could stand in for the American West? What The Sisters Brothers has going for it mainly is a great cast — Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Riz Ahmed — and you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s enough to make it worth your while.

Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Director Gus Van Sant has brought us some very powerful films in the past — Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, to name just a few — and he frequently pushed the envelope in the way he tells a tale — To Die For, My Own Private Idaho — but his latest is a pretty straight forward bio of alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan. Played by chameleon Joaquin Phoenix, the arc of the tale is Callahan’s coming to terms with himself after a life-changing accident while getting sober at the same time. There are some funny moments for sure, and an odd romance, and also some insightful AA bits. And it is a pleasant entertainment, though not terribly memorable.

Review: You Were Never Really Here

Joaquin Phoenix is a phenomenal actor, but his choices of roles lately tend to be odd loners in strange situations (Inherent Vice, The Master, Her, to name just a few)) You Were Never Really Here continues that trend. It’s a very arty film that some have compared to Taxi Driver, with Phoenix playing Joe, a hired gun (or hammer, his weapon of choice) who specializes in tracking down missing and sex trafficked girls. He’s got a lot of personal demons that intrude on his life, but he’s good at the job. But when his latest assignment goes sideways, and he’s surrounded by violence and death, nearly dragged down by it, he keeps himself going by thinking of the missing little girl. It’s grizzly.

Inherent Vice

I have liked Paul Thomas Anderson’s films a lot in the past (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, There Will be Blood), and Inherent Vice has a lot of the elements he is known for — a great ensemble cast, intertwining story lines, a sense of the world being off kilter. But in this case, it just never seems to come together. By the end of two and a half hours, you are as befuddled as the pothead protagonist, all the while thinking that it has to ultimately make sense. My suspicion is that adapting this (or any other) Thomas Pynchon novel seemed like a great challenge, since no one has done it before. But I think this film should serve as a cautionary tale for future screenwriters who think they’ll be the one who gets it right.

Her

Her is really all about him, him being Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his personalized operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). If this sounds a bit weird, it is, but only for a bit. In this film set in the very near future, true love is as elusive as ever, and a new technology allows people to become intimately entwined with their computers’ operating systems. Lonely Theodore is still recovering from breaking up with his wife (Rooney Mara) and isn’t having a lot of success in the dating world, so when Samantha enters his life through an earpiece and a mic, her ability to see and appreciate him is incredibly attractive.

The Master

You can tell from the opening frames of The Master that it takes itself very seriously and expects the same of you. Its world is very heavy. And I think that is a conscious stylistic choice, not a directorial ego trip by Paul Thomas Anderson who tends to make big movies with big themes, most of which I have liked a lot (There Will Be Blood, Magnolia). This is Cinema with a capital C. It pulls you in and makes it impossible to look away. And that is aided by having two really amazing actors at the center capable of carrying it. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the weightier character, a cult guru called The Master, but Joaquin Phoenix is the more interesting Freddie, an unmoored alcoholic searching for purpose, and his full-body immersion performance will most likely earn him another Oscar nomination.