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Joker sucks. So does Downton Abbey (2019) Cannoli Send a noteboard - 06/10/2019 12:26:32 AM

Joker
It's slow, boring, psychological and set in the late 70s or early 80s for purely aesthetic purposes. And that's not a particularly attractive aesthetic. Aside from the clothes and appearances, the politics and social phenomena are actually more like modern times, with the Joker going viral and becoming a meme overnight. How would that even happen? I was alive at that point in history. They had a cable box with a sliding switch that went up to 36. There was no room there for CNN or Fox News. I also don't think class consciousness akin to the Occupy movement or vitriol at the 1% was a thing back then. So basically, the movie is lazy in its refusal to commit to its premise. The psychological stuff is cheap and shallow, although very well performed by Joaquin Phoenix, at least to my jaundiced eye that isn't good at assessing the craft of actors. I just know that Phoenix does not have a lot of margin for error with me, but he really sold the character. But the psychological stuff doesn't add up, and the twists and reveals are weak and boring.

Also, we get yet another glimpse at young Bruce Wayne and younger, tough guy Alfred. Because we needed that. Brett Cullen, who was on "Lost" and "Person of Interest" plays Thomas Wayne, but he's more of a McGuffin to remind you that the movie is set in Gotham, not New York. It doesn't really matter that he's Batman's father, it could have been any rich guy. Also, his role in the movie is kind of shared with Robert DeNiro, who plays a Johnny Carson-type late night host. And the resolution of their roles in the movie kind of weaken each other. Like, it might have been better to merge the whole thing into DeNiro's character, drop the Occupy politics and sacrifice the Batman winks and nudges in order to tell a tighter story. But as I said, the film lacks the guts to do that.

The mom from "Six Feet Under" plays Joker's mom. Domino from "Deadpool 2" plays his love interest. Shea Wigham is one of the detectives who investigate stuff that happens. I expected a little more when I recognized him, but no dice. I would rather have watched "Suicide Squad" again.

Downton Abbey (2019)
Is it fan fiction if the creator of the IP is making it? Downton Abbey the TV show had very, very low stakes, but if you are looking for an achievement for this film, it manages to win a round of limbo in that regard by managing to find something even lower.

Before she went to go see this movie, I, who had watched the trailer but not the show, told my mother that Queen Elizabeth I used to use royal visits as a weapon against her political enemies. She'd show up, eat the noble out of house and home, drive him into bankruptcy from the cost of entertaining her, and then leave, with him financially neutered and unable to effectively rebel against her or resist her governance, while by society's rules, he was supposed to be grateful for the honor of this sort of thing.

But in the reign of George V, that's not a thing. The Royal Family pops in for a couple of meals, they send their own servants in advance to scope the place out, prepare the food and clothes, supply the food their chef will be preparing, and have their own servants wait at table and during the bit where they mill around the room pointlessly. And their security was for shit. But for some reason, the fact that this visit costs the household nothing and the servants get a couple of days off is the PROBLEM. A notion occasionally expressly articulated on the show and in the movie, but never examined closely, is that the tail very much wags the dog here. The function of the aristocratic family, whose name is Crawley, but whose title is Grantham, is to provide jobs for the servants. And the servants take so much pride in their service, that it is sometimes suggested that their standards are higher than their employers. The one time the Countess gets pissed at the servants on her own, is portrayed like she did a horrible thing. Otherwise, they get mad at servants on behalf of the servants' overseers. Really, the lords and ladies are a kind of final appeal for a servant who is being picked on or condemned by their peers or immediate superiors. It's the butler and maids and footmen who are most likely to get pissy about the nobles' behavior or failure to live up to their potential for decadence. If a servant wants a favor from a noble, the family are usually very happy to entertain the request, the obstacle to getting what they want is usually the butler or housekeeper or cook who might prevent them from bothering their employers, punish them afterwards.

Throughout the show, an ongoing thing is that the whole way of life, with a huge manor and large domestic staff and loyal peasants farming the surrounding countryside, is dying out and getting way too expensive to maintain. The elder generation of Crawleys had to marry wealthy common folk to maintain their lifestyle, and the younger generation needs a fortuitous inheritance to keep it going. The younger generation spends a lot of time turning traditional English tenant farms into something productive and using their huge swathes of empty land as the location for revenue-producing enterprises, like a garage or housing development. So from that point of view, not having to take out a mortgage to entertain the King and Queen and Princess Royal and Cousin Delores Umbridge (who is married to The Butler in real life! ) in style, should be an awesome thing. But the servants are pissed. And we all know what's really important here!

By the way, a thing in the last season of the show was that because the world was changing and moving on, a lot of the servants were doing the same thing. Oh, except not. In the last season, two characters had a baby, so close to the end of the show that we never learned the baby's name. And that baby has to now be in kindergarten, from the size of the kid the father is carrying in one scene in the film. So all the stuff about settling down on farms, or transitioning to full-time school teaching, or degenerative conditions forcing people to retire...that should all be well advanced, right? Nope. Its the same full staff we saw in the last season of the show. Moseley & Andy are the footmen, Daisy is still the only thing in the kitchen more off-putting than English food, and they even drag Carson out of retirement for one last job.

The major conflicts "upstairs" as it were, have to do with Delores Umbridge, who is a minion for the Queen, having an ongoing feud with Violet over an inheritance, and the Princess Royal and her husband are having issues. And there might be some security interest in Tom, even though it's been years since he's had anything interesting in his arc to do with his various terrorist affiliations (not to mention the fact that, like, half the staff has spent time behind bars so there might be better focuses for the security people's attentions). And Mary's husband might be late for the Royal Visit and just when things are going so awesome for Edith, her husband might be required to pay attention to someone other than her so we get her whiny face. Oh, and they have to set up chairs in the rain.

So, if you're a fan of Henry or Bertie or Bates, this isn't going to be your favorite super-long episode. If you have bought heavily into Thomas' issues, that's a thing here. If you really love Daisey being shrill and contrarian, get to a theater FAST before this one's run is over. If you want to see Anna coast to a couple of wins because the plot says so, here you go. If you like Violet having melodrama, you'll love it. And if you're a shallow Tom fan who wants good stuff to fall into his lap, this is what you've been waiting for since the hot daughter decided to elope with him.

But it's really a badly plotted bit of fan service that rolls back some characters to make the plot happen.

Cannoli
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
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Joker sucks. So does Downton Abbey (2019) - 06/10/2019 12:26:32 AM 100 Views
For Mookie since he did not like the Material. - 12/10/2019 04:13:49 AM 21 Views

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