Movie of the Week 46
Chappaquiddick 2017 drama history
Set during the summer of 1969 – two events occurred almost simultaneously – the drama of the first Apollo moon landing, and Ted Kennedy’s car crash at Chappaquiddick Pond that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. The moon landing was a Triumph; while the word Chappaquiddick became synonymous with the word Scandal. The movie rolls the camera back to that fateful night with the focus firmly on Senator Ted Kennedy as we watch what he did and more importantly did not do. Through it all, Ted shows little remorse or concern over the dead woman, preferring to strategize with his sharky team to preserve his reputation. The film has a made-for-TV feel and look, but is still worth watching for the outstanding performances. Jason Clarke (Ted Kennedy) creates a convincing character you can fully believe is capable of walking away from a damsel in distress. After all, he is scion of the famous Kennedy clan with droves of “boiler room” girls following him like hypnotized puppies. Boston accents are very difficult to do without them sounding fake but somehow Jason Clarke, an Aussie, nails it. A shame he did not score at least a nomination for best actor. Andria Blackman (Joan Kennedy) has a short but pitch perfect scene. Would like to see more of her.
Movie of the Week 45
Joker 2019 drama, crime
This film fits neatly into the “mind games” movie genre because the narrator, Arthur Fleck (aka Joker) has serious mental health problems treated with seven drugs. In one particular key scene, early in the film, Arthur came off of his medicine, which I assumed are a mix of anti-psychotics. So at this point we know, or at least suspect, that we are watching a wild mix of fantasy and real life during the transition of Fleck into Joker. This device makes Joker a rare bird, and I rather enjoyed the ambiguity and the change of pace. Not to reveal too much, the first scene I thought was pure fantasy in Arthur’s mind involved his female neighbor in the shitty apartment complex. Arthur has a crush on the attractive, single mother living down the hall, but there are a few tips that the relationship was pure imagination.
Arthur and the subway mass shooting was a scene I thought was reality based. Gotham City, Arthur’s home town, is made to look like early 1980’s New York City. There are neither desktop computers nor cell phones. Arthur’s TV is a boxy CRT on stick legs. The cars are obviously 1980s vintage. From my perspective, the character of Arthur Fleck seemed to be, in part, based on Bernhard Goetz. As I recall, Mr. Goetz, a white male, shot four black muggers on a New York subway in 1984. Goetz was arrested and his trial became a major three-ring circus. Goetz soared to Folk Hero status and the shooting focused the media and public attention on the serious escalation of violent crime in NYC. Feeling the heat of millions of angry, fed-up citizens (voters), the normally complacent, useless NYC politicos decided to make major changes and adopted “broken windows” policing. Goetz was acquitted by the jury, and with a new sheriff in town, the crime rate was under control.
The climax of the film is Arthur’s guest appearance on the Murray Franklin Show. Is this event real or fantasy? The last half of the movie might actually be one of Arthur’s fantasies because we watch as Arthur empties out his mother’s refrigerator, climbs inside, and closes the door. We never see him emerge from the refrigerator, so did he die in the icebox making the whole latter half of the movie a dying man’s hallucination? Yes, it is that kind of movie.
I have read both glowing and scathing reviews of Joker – people either love it or hate it, but all the movie reviewers agree that the film is technically very well done. I recommend the film without hesitation – it is not a typical comic book movie. I plan to watch it again. If you are the type of movie fan that is comfortable with a degree of vagueness or uncertainty in a film, I suggest two more films for your watching pleasure; Mullholland Drive (2001) and Detour (1945). In both movies the narrator is unreliable, just like in Joker, so keep asking yourself – Am I seeing this straight? For an extra bonus, find the hidden clues in Mulholland Drive here.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.