The first time I saw the trailer for Joker, I couldn’t wait to sit in a sweaty cinema chair and revel in the ridiculous talent of Joaquin Phoenix.

As I was driving the first time to see it, I felt a feeling I’d never felt before: I had murmurs of fear about being shot in a movie theatre.

Shot… I was not. Except through the heart by his performance. Ohhhh.

I love his capacity for intensity. I love that they tackled important issues around mental illness fearlessly. I love his dancing.

And after watching the movie twice, as well as a lot of fan videos, interviews, and reviews, I officially have no idea what the point of this article is.

The movie’s become too washed out in my brain; it covers so many issues that it’s hard to pinpoint one to focus on.

  • Some people are saying that the movie - as far as movies go - isn’t really that great. And that it’s derivative.

I don’t really care about the movie. I’m compelled by Phoenix’s captivating performance. It inspires me to want to achieve mastery at my craft the way he has, and to raise my standards in certain areas of my life where I feel they’ve fallen since I became really sick three years ago.

  • Some people are saying that the movie is dangerous, and this is kind of thrilling to me because I think art should be dangerous. Or at least provocative and uncomfortable at times. A movie cannot inspire violence in a mind that isn’t prone to violence, so if someone performs an act of violence after watching a movie, it’s not a function of the movie so much as it is the state of mind of the movie-goer. And those tendencies… that’s a way bigger societal discussion than this.

  • Some people are saying that the way Phoenix is talking about his weight loss on the talk show circuit is problematic. I agree; I cringed for sure. When I heard him start saying how empowering it was for him to lose all that weight and how his body moves differently when he’s that light, I knew people would attack him for it. But if that’s his experience, is it his responsibility to censor what he shares just because he’s famous? Some say yes. And when I first posed the question on social this morning, I thought no. But then there’s harm to consider. I’m finding myself settling into a zone just outside of a conclusion.

  • But the threat of inciting violence by incels was so strong, Warner Brothers banned press at the red carpet release! Welp, fear drives sales. Fear drives a lot of things. It was probably safe to ban press; the movie certainly hasn’t suffered for it. And there have been no known acts of violence related to Joker as of the writing of this article. So I guess the joke’s on them?

The movie is outstanding. It’s different. It’s not boring. Kind of formulaic I suppose (especially if you read critic reviews), but the acting is so superior you don’t really notice.

If people are going to see it in spite of the fear that they may get shot, it must be good.

I highly recommend it.

But I gotta go now. Time to watch The Master.

Jen Boyle