The Joker Hustles

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Constance Wu. J. Lopez, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Keke Palmer. 

It’s a wee bit cloudy. I’m jonesing for some sesame pork, looking for potato starch at the boxstore of the damned AKA Wal-Mart. It’s a nope on the potato starch, but hey corn starch will do. I walk by the Red Box, slow. Joker is out. I’ve heard it’s great. I’ve heard it’s not great.

Please note that I tried another grocery store before venturing near the Great Box of Death.

I get the spray bottle and cheaply cheap corn starch. I decide, yes, I will rent some flicks. I got some small royalties in. I have to wait for the slow boomers poking at the screen to get done. I do mean poking. Muttering, snorting, poking at the touchscreen like something out of, well, a movie.

I rent two. Hustlers, with Jennifer Lopez. And yes, Joker, with Joaquim Phoenix. Actual physical have to take the movies home and then return them old-fashioned rentals, even! How quaint!

So. Hustlers. I have no idea what the story is. Something about sex workers? I remember, vaguely, Lopez was fantastic in it, a ‘real’ surprise. Um. She can actually act when given a decent script, y’all. Out of Sight, hello.

Hustlers, with Constance Wu as well in it, is the tale of strippers hustling Wall Street guys from about the 2000’s until the hustling hustlers got caught. Based on a true story. We get that these women are friends, they look out for each other, that they are trying to pay bills, take care of their kids and families, have lives. This is done subtly, just part of the conversations as they get ready for work in the dressing room or on breaks. At the heart of this film is the friendship that develops between Ramona and Destiny. And the question—how real is it? As Ramona knows all the tricks, is a slick, very good hustler who knows how to read the men around her to empty their wallets. Is she just using Destiny or is there an actual connection there?

Lopez plays a seasoned, been there, done that pro who takes the newcomer, Wu, under her fur-covered wing. And Lopez struts her stuff and then some. She gathers a gang as the fortune’s of the strip club decline, due to the recession that hits, and the four decide to hustle Wall Streeters without having to do much more than smile and drink. I don’t want to give away the plot more than that. There’s betrayals and trust broken and a truly quiet heart-breaking moment near the end. Well done. Well done, Hustlers!

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Joker.

What can I say that has not been hashed out until the cows dance home covered with greasepaint?

I could not stop watching Phoenix. More to catch moments when he was just being, not ACTING. The story, eh. White guy gets ignored; already nuts, gets more nuts, sad, bang bang, Batman villain.

I should write movie plots for a living. 

So a stray thought after the movie ended. What if Batman is a figment of Arthur’s imagination? What if there’s no Gotham superhero? What if Arthur made up an arch nemesis to make himself seem more important? As he spends the entire film doing what now? Oh yeah, imagining how important and loved he is. 

Kind of like the Buffy episode where she thinks she’s in a mental hospital just imagining she’s the slayer. [Normal Again, Season Six]

Buffy chooses her reality, we’re left a bit…oh crap, what if she’s actually just some insane young woman with these dark delusions? Then season seven happens and you sort of long for season six. For season six to reassure you most of season seven is just a fever dream from season two. If anyone gets that, they are true Buffy fanatics.

I kept waiting for the Joker to give me more, I guess, is my take on this. Yes, Phoenix delivers his usual stellar totally immersed in it performance. He’s ACTING. He starts at eleven and goes to twelve. He never let us forget that he’s ACTING DAMN IT.

Not. One. Time.

This is his There Will Be Blood on steroids role. He channeled his inner Daniel Day Lewish, and are we not entertained? Oh my gosh, imagine Russell Crowe in this. Or Tom Hanks! TOM HANKS AS THE JOKER. Oh my lordy, Hollyweird– MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Back to Phoenix, who is this generations De Niro. Bwha ha ha ha. It snowed, I’m a bit giddy. There’s chocolate in the house. Okay!

It’s uncomfortably repellent to watch his character. Yet it’s reassuringly ‘this is every crazy guy since Travis Bickle’ at times as well.

De Niro appears in this as a talk show host—which is why I kept flashing to Taxi Driver?

I also had another THOUGHT. What if this is the director’s ode, subconscious or not, to Taxi Driver? I am so damn original it slays me. Get it, Buffy fans?

A lone, socially awkward man with delusions about life, women and fame, turns into a criminal/hero uneasy mixture while committing murders.

The lone wolf vigiliante gunman the peasants can rally around trope/archetype/American masturbation go-to. 

The Joker torches off actual protests in a city run by rich fat cats, Bruce Wayne’s dad being the fattest cat of them all. Where the poor might actually start eating the rich at a moment’s notice. Gee.

Those opposing what the rich are doing are painted as thuggish criminals with clown masks on. Um. Gulp. The scenes with the throngs of what looks like men seem lifted straight out of a medieval painting about hell. Fire, leering demons with strange fixed faces, violence, chaos, destruction of property. Might as well call the clown-masked protesters Antifa and rake in the cash. Have narration provided by Handtitty or Fucker Carlsfart.

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A Bosch? Not sure. 
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The planned protests in Joker turn violent…

This film seems more about comforting those in charge, than upsetting any actual apple carts. It offers nothing new or insightful.

Do we sympathize with this repellent character or root for the repellent other side on all this? What are we supposed to do here?

All while setting up how a white savior in a bat suit will return Gotham to Law and Order and get those Family Values back into hearth and home.

Protestors, schmo-testors! Let them eat cake. They’re all nuts who just want to burn everything down. The Jews are probably behind all that…Sorry. I’m crossing my streams. Yes, that is a Ghostbusters call out. Yes, it is. 

Sure, this film reads almost like right wing propaganda. Almost. Strangely, there’s three Wall Street guys, employees of Wayne Enterprises, who set off the clown stuff. With people shrugging, going, eh, who cares, they deserved it. Rather like the sentiments in Hustlers. I somehow picked out two Fuck Wall Street movies. Except. Wall Street wins in both movies. The hustlers face consequences, Arthur Fleck faces consequences, Wall Street hustlers and murders without a care in the world. Yeah. I need some cake.

note--The sesame pork turned out really good. So proud of myself there. And of course after spring-like warm weather, last night it snowed. Teach me to rent movies I have to old-fashion return to the nearest Red Box. 

 

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Emo Joker! 

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