Tag: joker

Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

I really don’t like doing three columns in a row about the same subject, unless that subject is me. But some people are working hard to keep alive the spirit of Fredrick Wertham while exercising their unimpeachable right to be a self-righteous arbiter of what other people should enjoy.

Yes, I’m talking about Martin Scorsese. I love almost all of his work and regard him as one of the finest filmmakers in history, but that doesn’t mitigate against his talking anus. Worse, I now have cause to conflate Scorsese with Bill Maher.

Now, I like Maher as well and I’m with him on a lot of important issues. He does confuse me because our nation’s leading advocate for the legalization of marijuana really shouldn’t be so damn skinny. He should use more indica and less sativa, except on show days. But I digress.

Bill’s been rattling against superhero movies for many months now, and I think he continues this crusade strictly because us fanboys keep on getting in his face. This starts a vicious circle. Why is he still ragging on comic book movies when he should be in Washington getting arrested for fighting for what’s left of our the environment, like Jane Fonda? And now Marty Scorsese is in the frame.

My gripe is not that Scorsese and Maher dislike superhero movies. That’s their prerogative, even if they don’t see such movies. I don’t go to movies that seem unappealing, although if enough people whose opinions I respect suggest I check something out, I might.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…””

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #060: The Man Who Destroyed Time

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #060: The Man Who Destroyed Time

“It starts when you’re always afraid.” – Stephen Stills, For What It’s Worth

At first, I thought it was just another sign of senility. You gotta expect that, I guess. Then, I thought I was having one of those LSD flashbacks I was promised a half-century ago. I briefly considered the possibility I slipped through a hole in the time-space continuum, but, damn, no such luck. I had to face the truth.

Donald J. Trump destroyed my sense of time.

And I am not alone. Not by any means. I might even be in the majority; that’s a unique experience for me. Certainly, you’ve noticed this yourself. If you watch any of the talking heads panel shows, you’ve heard others bitch about this. You’ll hear of something Trump did yesterday – yesterday! – and you’ll say to yourself “Oh, yeah. Damn. I thought that happened a couple weeks ago!”

It’s not disconcerting the first time, but after a while (obviously, sooner than you think) you begin to think of senility, flashbacks – if you’re a geriatric hippie – and that time warp thing. Once to accept the truth, you just shake your head, shrug your shoulders, and wonder if you can hold on until this particular Joker is gone. Even if you’re part of the 55% of Americans who disapprove of him, you’ve got to face this important fact:

Donald J. Trump broke time. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #060: The Man Who Destroyed Time”

Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?

Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine came down to choosing between going to see Joker, going to see It: Chapter Two, or standing in line at Popeye’s for a chicken sammich.

Instead, I stayed home and wrote this.

I didn’t see It: Chapter Two because: a) I’m not interested; I already know clowns are disgusting and evil, and b) not having seen the first one, I’m afraid I’d feel lost. I didn’t see Joker because I’m a pathetic fanboy who is annoyed that this Joker isn’t THE Joker and, besides, if I want to see mindless violence I’d fly down to Texas and watch people shoot unarmed black boys who have the audacity to testify against a cop who murdered a peaceful civilian in his own apartment. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

Arthur Fleck has been through some shit, kiddos. And any of it — had it happened to you — might be enough to drive you insane. But if you already suffered from any number of mental disorders, well, it’d be enough to push you into a realm beyond insanity. Poor schmuck Fleck, for those not in-the-know, is the titular protagonist of Todd Phillips’ Joker. While a large part of me wants to dive deep into a nuanced spoiler-filled review of the film, it’s still fresh off its debut. I’d rather pivot to discuss some specific bits of internet-debate over the film instead. So, let me get this out of the way:

Joker is an amazing film. I would feign perhaps only to compare it to Logan; in so much that it’s a film first, and its roots to pulp and paper serve merely to enhance the final product. Remove a detail or two, and frankly neither film should be name-dropped alongside any other movie tepidly denoted as a comic book movie — which itself is becoming shorthand for flicks that are somehow less than, in spite of them largely being truly awesome entertainment. But, as usual for me, I digress. Joker was jaw-dropping. I suggest you catch it. Cool? Cool. Moving on. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?””

Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.

Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.

As we await all the violence and mayhem at this weekend’s debut of Joker, theaters all across this great nation are advertising: “If you’re a dejected, pissed off incel who couldn’t get laid on the night they cure AIDS and you’ve got a gun, we’ve got the movie for you!!!”

There are problems we create, and there are other problems we create by trying to fix them. The law of unintended consequences reigns supreme, but that never stops us from baiting the tiger-of-the-month.

In anticipation of the latest DC movie that has little to do with DC Comics, movie theaters are banning their patrons from arriving in costumes, masks and/or make-up. As we all know, the mere sight of a Batman villain in costume causes Batfans to go batshit and reach for their AK-47s.

Now we see the gigantic and fan-favorite Alamo Drafthouse theater chain going to great lengths to promote how they’ll have “additional” security at their sundry Joker screenings. Yeah, that’ll stop shit just fine. A couple thousand people in a dark theater who are physically incapable of exiting the room in an emergency are going to be saved by a freshman rent-a-cop working for minimum wage. Happens all the time.

Give me a break. These measures are so insipid they don’t even qualify as band-aids. They address neither the problem of gun violence nor the problem of wandering vicious miscreants who are looking for an excuse to blow away the masses. All this so-called solution will do is promote the fact that the theater owners think this movie is so violent they should follow their insurance company’s orders and deploy useless measures that actually promote the anticipation of violence… and that little trick does more to foster evil than it does to prevent it while at the same time making a truckload of money.

Is Joker too violent? For that matter, what is too violent? We survived the genius of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino, Walter Hill, Martin Scorsese, and John Ford. Their movies were violent. They keep on grinding out Evil Dead movies and RoboCop remakes. Brian DePalma hasn’t died for anybody’s sins. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.”

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

I just concluded a scientifically-ridiculous survey and the results are staggering. I still have not met a single person who is looking forward to WarnerMedia’s new Joker movie.

Reportedly, this latest incarnation of our favorite playing card-based villain has nothing to do with any other Joker in any version of the character in any manifestation of any of the overpopulated DCUs. The authenticity of that remains to be not seen. But it appears this DC-logoed movie has less in common with the comic book legend about to endure its 80th birthday than it does with James Bond playing baccarat at the Casino Royale.

That’s okay. The most overused character since Wolverine (who, I believe, showed up in a Planet Terry story arc), I can’t recognize The Joker from one bloated comic book story to the next. Great character, dumb character, confusing character… well, I never met the guy. And seeing that for the past 29 years Warners has been disinterested in making a Batman movie worthy of the cellulose acetate upon which it’s memorialized, I really don’t care. I’ve given up. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #032: The Best of the Worst!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #032: The Best of the Worst!

If you need a gentle refresher as to my rules of these here listicles? Well then, partner… check out part one. Assuming you did and have come back? Welcome to my evil lair!

When it comes to the cream of the evil crop, I fretted feverishly over my particular placements. But after much deliberation, hung upside-down in an elaborate death trap? I feel like I’ve come to a sound conclusion. No further preamble needed; let’s get down to the best of the worst.

5. Danny DeVito/Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer/Catwoman — Batman Returns

Batman’s rogue gallery is hands down the best collection of wackos, nutbars, psychopaths, and ne’er-do-wells in comics. But how does one top Jack Nicholson’s turn as the clown prince of crime in 1989’s masterpiece, Batman? Well, you double the villainy!

To be clear: Batman Returns isn’t anywhere near as good as the original. It’s crammed from gills to gonads with odd set-pieces, unnecessary angst, and a third act more bloated than Danny DeVito’s Oswald Cobblepot by several orders of magnitude. But those gripes apart, I can say nary a bad word for either DeVito’s Penguin or Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman.

With the aforementioned aviary-under-dweller, we are given a true freak turn on the classic Bat-villain. And rather than give us an elitist with a foul face, Tim Burton gifts us with a mutated face-biter— with a short temper and a predilection for biblical crimes by way of weaponized wildlife. It’s so far of left field from the original source material that I should dock points, but I’d be lying if I said that should matter given the sum of the parts. Oswald is tragic, black-hearted, and unforgettable.

Selina Kyle travels from sad-eyed secretary to a one-woman advertisement for BDSM across Returns. And with her rise from mouse to cat, she encapsulates the spirit of the character from the pages of Batman comics, with an original spin that hasn’t been bettered by any incarnation since. Catwoman vexes Bruce Wayne, and climbs across the scenery of the movie with the superhuman grace that could only be bestowed by super-powered mystical cat-resuscitation.

4. Michael B. Jordan / Killmonger — Black Panther

There’s so much to like in Black Panther. From the amazing visuals — like the sprawling vistas of Wakanda or the purple-tinted visits to the spirit world — straight through to the actual story of the movie… there’s no doubt in my mind why it was nominated for so many awards this past year.

But what should not be overlooked here is the performance and character of Killmonger, as presented by Michael B. Jordan. He is the fulcrum by which the movie rises above the rest of the comic movies to date. In Jordan’s portrayal, we are given a sympathetic villain whose methods and desires are rooted in an injustice we can almost side with. He’s a hardliner strategist looking for vindication and retribution for the sins of the past. That he not only bests T’Challa in wade-pool combat, but then immediately sets out to change Wakanda without monologuing his way into the throne is a boon of storytelling that Jordan presents coolly across the film. Simply put? He’s amazing, and makes each scene he’s in better.

3. Nick Stahl/Roark Jr. (Yellow Bastard) — Sin City

I recognized as I traveled up this list a need for a pure villain. Someone whose chaotic malice comes from the worst corners of humanity. And no one stepped up to the plate better to me then Nick Stahl as that Yellow Bastard. Underneath layers of perfectly comic-proportioned prosthetics, Stahl is still able to seethe, and make us cringe. With his false-bravado played against Frank Miller’s adapted noir dialogue… I dare say no villain on this list better represents a direct line from the paper he was printed on.

2. Michael Fassbender / Magneto — X-men First Class

Ian McKellen’s take on the mutant master of magnetism was a rare(ish) case of the actor being seen above the role as presented on screen. The gravitas played against Patrick Stewart’s Professor X made both leads in the the Singer-born X-men films feel more or less like brilliant stunt-casting. Two scene-stealers doing Summer Stock for shits and giggles.

I say this to contrast with Michael Fassbender’s take on the same villain in the First Class precursor to the aforementioned film. The portrayal in First Class feels worn-in, in the best way. Whereas McKellen’s Erik Lehnsherr floats above the crowds and looks down on the world through weary eyes… Fassbender presented a Magneto with the same elitism underneath a total disdain for human life. Look no further than his understated uttering of “…perfection” at the visage of an azure Mystique. Simply put, Fassbender made me feel Magneto’s pain, and understand his violent mission. While neither Magnetos would be given good sequels to further explore being the de facto nemesis to the X-men properly… I believe Michael Fassbender brought the powerful profligate of polarity to screen as close to perfect as one might want.

1. Heath Ledger / The Joker — The Dark Knight

Is there really an argument to be made here? What more can I add the litany of words drowning on the internet regarding Heath Ledger’s immersion as the most recognized villain in all of comic bookery? From his weird ambiguous voice, to the specific presentation of his well-staged chaotic lessons to the Gothamites in his way, the Joker of The Dark Knight is the standard by which any actor should study under when trying to own the films they terrorize. His Joker was a threat that couldn’t be punched harder to defeat. His actions spoke louder than his words, and rather than chew the scenery, Ledger sunk into it. He was a product of this realistic world. Somehow, he made the audience laugh at the improbability of a man fighting crime as a bat… through a Glasgow smile and greasepaint. That it was The Dark Knight‘s Joker that made me forget I was watching a comic book movie and just a great crime drama tips the scales above any other actor’s turn to the dark side. Except for…

Supreme Mark Hamill / The Joker — Batman, the Animated Series

And since it’s my rules kiddos, we’re going to just jump the shark to offer the singular performance that eclipses Ledger’s Joker; that of Mark Hamill’s portrayal of the crown prince of crime. Close your eyes, and imagine the Joker speaking. It’s Mark Hamill. And if it’s not? You’re doing a disservice to your subconscious.

From the sing-songy laugh that can ooze down, and spike up chaotically with a flip of a vocal chord, to the graveling grousing from being foiled again… Mark Hamill owns the Joker. Everyone else truly is just renting it. And no other actor or actress holds a candle to the inferno that Hamill represents as the comic book villain.