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post #1 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Joker Ultra HD Blu-ray Review



In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He soon embarks on a downward spiral of revolution, bloody crime and eventually the path that brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: Joker. Check out Ralph Potts' Ultra HD Blu-ray review of Joker from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

96



Details:

Studio and Year: Warner - 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 122 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Francis Conroy, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Music by: Hildur Gudnadottir
Written by: Tod Phillips, Scott Silver
Region Code: A


Release Date: January 7, 2020


"Put on a Happy Face"



Synopsis:

In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.


My Take:

Forever alone in a crowd, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) longs for any light to shine on him. Trying his hand as a stand-up comic, he finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty and, ultimately, betrayal, Arthur makes one bad decision after another that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events.

Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis of one of DC’s biggest heroes and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips' exploration of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale. I went to see Joker when it was in theaters and found its alternate perspective on Gotham City and the origin tale of Joker to be engrossing. I liked the idea that it took place in an undisclosed time period, which appeared to be somewhere in the mid nineteen eighties and how it made very specific references to the Wayne family and Joker’s connection to Bruce Wayne’s beginnings.

Don’t misunderstand, this story is most definitely about Arthur Fleck, a loner who has spent his life on the brink of insanity, only needing a push to cross the line. We see, in great detail, who he is, why he is and, his propensity for violence, that stirs just under the surface, waiting to be unleashed. He begins as an empathetic nebbish that lives with his sickly mother, trying to make ends meet with the scraps left to him by the high society types of Gotham. The evolution of Arthur’s story is born out in a making of a madman character piece that is brought to disturbing life by Joaquin Phoenix’s tour-de-force performance.

Is it a perfect film? No. There are plot points that begin, seemingly for no defining reason, some of which aren’t taken to fruition and others that raise questions that aren’t answered. Be that as it may there is much to enjoy as the unraveling character study takes a dark turn while we witness Arthur’s spiral after the only things that have meaning in his life are stripped from him.

Joker definitely played better upon a second viewing which allowed me to focus on the small but tangible elements found in the story, background and Phoenix’s terrific performance. I have to imagine that Joaquin Phoenix will receive an Academy Award nomination but, regardless, his portrayal of this character is among his best. Joker may not have broad audience appeal however, those that appreciate something that sort of reinvents the wheel will surely find it to be time well spent. For me, it turned out to be better than I’d hoped.



Replay Value: 4.5 Stars


Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:



UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:




Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
  • Entertainment factor:



Joker comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray Joker was derived from 3.4K/4.5K/5.1K sources and finished on a 4K Digital Intermediate.

The 1080p transfer of Joker is a good one and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail and visual depth. This is a period style film that was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in this presentation. This isn’t an overtly colorful film. Other than several well-chosen moments where sepia tones and rich chromatic variants are used, the film doesn’t make for especially eye-catching levels of color. Over the course of the film the presentation’s earth toned and primary colors benefited from UHD's wider color gamut but, not to a defining degree.

The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes is immediately noticeable. The cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. The blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked very natural. The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. A fine example is the film’s opening moment which features a close up of Arthur as he dons his clown makeup. At times, the level of minutia is eye opening, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, costumes, interior sets and exterior venues is resolvable.

The application of high dynamic range takes on a lesser role in this presentation but, this seems to coincide more with the film’s innate elements rather than the nature of the encode. It wasn’t something that I missed based upon what I was seeing onscreen. I think that Joker most definitely benefitted from the Ultra HD treatment. The improvement over its 1080p counterpart is a discernible one that elevated the experience of watching the film. I thought it looked simply fantastic.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR-10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference Panasonic UHD player in DV and HDR-10 modes. The title looked terrific on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. While I found that the DV presentation offered slightly better delineation of color it wasn’t enough to warrant a rating difference. Inevitably you can’t go wrong with either but, if pushed, my preference was the Dolby Vision presentation.


Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act, there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. This continues with the film’s action-based sequences as they convey the breadth/expanse of interiors and exterior venues, which bristle with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:


Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


Joker comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Joker looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 channel soundtrack features crystal clear dialog, robust dynamics and when called upon, an engaging surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension, and directional effects. This worked hand in hand with a resonating low end that underscored the film’s thematic tone. I found this to be an involving audio presentation that complimented the video resulting in an entertaining viewing experience that enhanced the source material.



Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Joker Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Joker Blu-ray
  • Joker: Vision & Fury
  • Becoming Joker
  • Please Welcome…Joker!
  • Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos
  • Digital Code



Final Thoughts:

Joker is a decidedly dark origin story that in the hands of co-writer/director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix pushes the envelope, resulting in a disturbingly twisted tale with a bite that leaves a mark. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring faithful, reference quality video, excellent surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fair supplemental package. Joker may not have broad audience appeal however, those that appreciate something that sort of reinvents the wheel will surely find it to be time well spent. For me, it turned out to be better than I’d hoped. In that light it comes highly recommended on Blu-ray.













Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


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post #2 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 03:52 PM
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I saw this at a 70MM film screening (not a digital file) and I found the 70MM print enhanced the "period piece" experience the filmmakers clearly intended. A) Did you get to see a 70MM print screening of this film and B) if so, do you find the UHD presentation does a good job at recapturing that aesthetic?
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post #3 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 04:03 PM
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definite blind buy for me...I never saw the movie in theaters so am looking forward to watching the UHD...every review I've read calls this a reference quality 4K title...I'm leaning towards picking up the standard 4K Blu-ray as the Best Buy exclusive steelbook doesn't do it for me...I wish Target offered a 4K Digibook version

although I disagree with Ralph as far as this movie not having a broad appeal...it made over $1 billion globally so it definitely has broad appeal
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post #4 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 07:40 PM
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definite blind buy for me...I never saw the movie in theaters so am looking forward to watching the UHD...every review I've read calls this a reference quality 4K title...
Yup. Colors looked fantastic in HDR. Really added to the theme of the colors and made colors pop where needed. The audio was also fantastic. A proper setup you get all the sounds from all the speakers and the low frequency was fantastic. I have a mini-marty cube setup placed right next to the couch and never even bothered to turn the couch bass shakers on. Low frequencies shook through the couch as trains rattle by and the big action sequences took place.
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post #5 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by z284pwr View Post
Yup. Colors looked fantastic in HDR. Really added to the theme of the colors and made colors pop where needed. The audio was also fantastic. A proper setup you get all the sounds from all the speakers and the low frequency was fantastic. I have a mini-marty cube setup placed right next to the couch and never even bothered to turn the couch bass shakers on. Low frequencies shook through the couch as trains rattle by and the big action sequences took place.
I'm surprised to hear that the HDR is so good as the reviews all make it seem like the HDR is very restrained and not the eyeball melting kind...but I guess the disc stays true to the director's intent
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post #6 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 08:32 PM
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Thanks Ralph Im very excited to pick this up.
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One of the best movies I saw last year. Joker is deeply disturbing, thought provoking, confusing, but ultimately successful in achieving its goal. You could tell that Todd Phillips encountered no Fincher/Alien 3 style studio interference in making this movie as controversial as it is and kudos to Warners for not meddling.

Arthur Fleck is an interesting character. He reminds me of misanthropes on the internet who flock to an AV site to pedantically bicker about life altering topics such as copper or diamond coated interconnects or whether $1000 2 ft. HDMI cables improve picture quality or if Sandy Gross is a man or a woman (she's a woman BTW; I met her at AXPONA).
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post #8 of 74 Old 01-05-2020, 10:47 PM
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Thanks for the great review Ralph. I will definitely have to get this one.
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post #9 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 06:17 AM
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The movie itself is one of the greatest films I have ever seen. A 10/10 (rounded up from like 9.7/10) and now it gets the coveted 100 UHD rating?
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post #10 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 08:38 AM
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This one should be in my mailbox tomorrow. I can’t think of a movie I’ve been more excited about for quite some time.
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Didn't catch this in theaters but am excited to pick it up on UHD. Sounds like they hit this one out of the park.
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post #12 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 09:44 AM
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@Ralph Potts

“ 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.”

Can you confirm the BR (as opposed to UHD) also contains Atmos?

I still have 1080P projector, and my Oppo 203 converts all Dolby Vision UHD title frame rates to 60Hz still - so it would be ideal to be able to watch the BR with Atmos.

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post #13 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wl1 View Post
@Ralph Potts

“ 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.”

Can you confirm the BR (as opposed to UHD) also contains Atmos?

I still have 1080P projector, and my Oppo 203 converts all Dolby Vision UHD title frame rates to 60Hz still - so it would be ideal to be able to watch the BR with Atmos.

Thanks,

Greetings,

Yes, it contains the Atmos Mix.


Regards,
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post #14 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 04:35 PM
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Picking my preorder up tomorrow afternoon. Blind buy. Too many good comments (and reviews) seen.


Thanks Ralph!
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His acceptance speech at the Golden Globes seemed out of sorts.
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post #16 of 74 Old 01-06-2020, 08:24 PM
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Got my steelbook copy early from Best Buy. Can't wait to sit down and watch this. Sounds like this a reference disc all around.
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post #17 of 74 Old 01-07-2020, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by GalvatronType_R View Post
One of the best movies I saw last year. Joker is deeply disturbing, thought provoking, confusing, but ultimately successful in achieving its goal. You could tell that Todd Phillips encountered no Fincher/Alien 3 style studio interference in making this movie as controversial as it is and kudos to Warners for not meddling.

Arthur Fleck is an interesting character. He reminds me of misanthropes on the internet who flock to an AV site to pedantically bicker about life altering topics such as copper or diamond coated interconnects or whether $1000 2 ft. HDMI cables improve picture quality or if Sandy Gross is a man or a woman (she's a woman BTW; I met her at AXPONA).
That is probably the most shocking thing about the film. It is deeply disturbing and society failing people with mental health issues is a very real thing. I enjoyed the film, but talk about a movie that sticks with you afterwards.
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post #18 of 74 Old 01-07-2020, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by buckeye1966 View Post
Got my steelbook copy early from Best Buy. Can't wait to sit down and watch this. Sounds like this a reference disc all around.
When I preordered the other day it told me the steelbook copy wasn't available within 250 miles so I settled for the regular copy.

Then this morning I check and it tells me they are available local so I cancelled and ordered the steelbook. I don't often order steelbooks but when I do it's the cool looking ones like this one.


Apparently they are selling like hotcakes on eBay already so I went ahead and grabbed 2 copies.



Edit:

One of my favorite YouTube reviewers and he pretty much sums up why I always buy physical discs.


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post #19 of 74 Old 01-07-2020, 03:56 PM
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His acceptance speech at the Golden Globes seemed out of sorts.
Not too surprised by best actor (Phoenix) and best actress (Zellweger) odd acceptance speeches. Though, first time I can remember these categories being played off with music when rambling exceeded.

"2020 Golden Globes: Here's what Joaquin Phoenix said in his bleeped acceptance speech for 'Joker'"

Quote:
He seemed to fade in and out of a brutal honesty spell, abruptly transitioning as he went on to say he was inspired by his fellow nominees. “I know people say this but I really do feel honored to be mentioned with you. Some of you I reached out to personally. Some I’m still a little too intimidated by, even though we share the same agent. Hi, Christian (Bale),” said Phoenix, dryly.Then he realized. “Uh, you’re not here.”
https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment...s-14952022.php
"Joaquin Phoenix Snaps Back at Reporters After Being 'Tricked' Into Golden Globes Press Room"

Quote:
"Isn't this old news?" Phoenix snapped back. "I think I've talked about this for six months. I mean, right? I feel like I answered these questions. You want to hear a different version of it? I can try to change it slightly, or what should I do?"
https://www.etonline.com/joaquin-pho...ss-room-138897

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post #20 of 74 Old 01-07-2020, 04:33 PM
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Just finished watching it and I really loved it. lately a good movie has been extremely hard to come by because there has been a lot of junk out there. The Joker was really well directed and Joaquin Phoenix did an amazing job. I have to honest I was skeptical of him at first but immediately I was able to tell he was the definitely casted correctly for this movie. Ralph your review was spot on and definitely was a key reason for the first day blind buy.

Thanks

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post #21 of 74 Old 01-07-2020, 06:01 PM
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This is my number one movie of 2019. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a close second. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is simply unforgetable. It stood with me for days. Do not with the kids.

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post #22 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by gossamer88 View Post
This is my number one movie of 2019. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a close second. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is simply unforgetable. It stood with me for days. Do not with the kids.
I completely agree. Joker #1 and OUATIH gets #2
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post #23 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 06:51 AM
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Nice review, Ralph. I saw this last night, and while I did not like the "particular visual aesthetic" chosen for the film to be shot, I did enjoy the cinematography and camera shots used in the film. In addition, I enjoyed the sound. Those subway scenes had a sound making me think I was on the subway. The movie is somewhat sad, and I can tell there will be a sequel. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I will give it a second viewing.
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post #24 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 10:21 AM
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I have to say I REALLY enjoyed the movie when I watched it last night. I know leading up to and after its release there was a lot of talk, or loud talking by a few, deriding it for the violence but really it wasn't all that violent at all. I mean what like 5 or 6 people die in the entire movie. And of those you could argue they all "deserved" it in one way or another. Honestly it really was more about the mental health facilities failing Arthur over and over again. I won't go into details for those who haven't seen it about how it fails him. But it did a good job making him a kind of tragic character, I mean yes he was mentally ill but he was failed by the system that lead him down the path he went. I loved the period piece feel to the whole thing and I know there is a sequel coming at some point. If I am honest what I would like to see is a sequel is a relatively large time skip, enough so that Batman can become well Batman. But give it the look and feel of something like The Crow, I think with the aesthetics of the way the Joker was created in this movie would pair well with a "Crow" like Batman.
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post #25 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by gbaby View Post
Nice review, Ralph. I saw this last night, and while I did not like the "particular visual aesthetic" chosen for the film to be shot, I did enjoy the cinematography and camera shots used in the film. In addition, I enjoyed the sound. Those subway scenes had a sound making me think I was on the subway. The movie is somewhat sad, and I can tell there will be a sequel. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I will give it a second viewing.
Thanks for the review Ralph! As always, my first checkpoint is the VIDEO ASPECT, and to my rapturous surprise, a 1.85:1! Sweeet! My favorite, especially for UHD content!

So I am not necessarily a fan of the "particular visual aesthetic" opted for here, either, but within the constraint of a wickedly depleted, denatured, even depressing palette, the image is beautiful in its own way. And that track! Glorious! Love close-up recording technique, where violins are ten feet long and are present and transparent in a way that dominates you with brutally forced intimacy.

What a grand means of intensifying your engagement in this very close-up portrait, brought to horrifyingly painful poignancy by Phoenix's bravura flourish. Every choice he made was rock-solid convincing. Wasn't sure the maniacal impulsive laughing was going to work, but look into his eyes and at his face -- he is persuasively that man on the brink.

You know Heath Ledger, in his posthumously award-winning turn as this character, was said to have been demonized by the chambers of his heart he exposed for his portrayal, and there is some sense of Phoenix's derailed psyche as he navigates this award season, but seems still to be able to objectify his vision for the character at some remove. One might think he would be orders of magnitude more unstable than Ledger ever appeared to be, but maybe chalk that up to far-boundaries genius.

I couldn't help but think De Niro came full circle here, this time on the opposite end of a twin conceit with Scorsese's KING OF COMEDY, but man, if you thought that film was dark, you hadn't seen anything yet! Also, in a case of art imitating life, Phoenix once appeared on Letterman to include that appearance in an odd disaster of a "documentary" film where Phoenix pushes the boundaries of propriety in various situations. On Dave's show Phoenix was taciturn and unengaged, to Dave's unamused toleration. In a later appearance on Letterman, Phoenix tried to explain why he had acted that way, and Dave countered that he wanted to be paid a million for his likeness and image being exploited in Phoenix's vanity project without his consent.

For the most part this was just about as real as it gets, and will leave a lingering aftereffect. I was happily affirmed in my suspicion that Arthur's first encounter with his talk-show idol played out the way it did, otherwise it would have strained credulity however:

Spoiler!


One last thing. I think:
"Arthur’s story is borne out..."
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post #26 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 05:38 PM
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Man, just watched those Letterman interviews of Phoenix. Dave was on fire! I had been operating strictly on memory of first airing when I posted the above. Dave is quite funny, and I'm sure this played heavily into the Murray Franklin interview of Arthur. Check it out:


And the followup with the Phoenix apology and Dave's demand for a million:


Also, forgot these odd items:

Spoiler!
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post #27 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 06:00 PM
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His acceptance speech at the Golden Globes seemed out of sorts.
Or was he just in character ?..Remember what was said about Nicholson's Joker..Where does Jack end and The Joker begin or vice-versa.

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post #28 of 74 Old 01-08-2020, 10:34 PM
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Or was he just in character ?..Remember what was said about Nicholson's Joker..Where does Jack end and The Joker begin or vice-versa.
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post #29 of 74 Old 01-09-2020, 02:30 PM
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Thanks for the great review Ralph. I did not see this movie in the theaters when it came out and plan to rent the UHD before I decide whether to buy it or not. The replay value needs to be 4 stars or higher for me before I buy the movie!

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post #30 of 74 Old 01-09-2020, 04:14 PM
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The wife and I watched this, going in with high expectations after all of the reviews, and our daughter said it was excellent.

Both of us came away with a "meh". It wasn't bad, I just think we raised the bar too high for ourselves. And we were comparing it to Heath Ledger's portrayal of the character, which honestly isn't fair.

It did look good though.
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