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Movie Nights in October with JOKER, THE CURRENT WAR and GEMINI MAN

Author's Note: I'm generally not a big fan of rating things, but for the purpose of the article I came up with a scale of my own. Here it goes:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ - Loved it and I'm happy to defend it!
★ ★ ★ ★ - Great, I'd be glad to rewatch soon.
★ ★ ★ - Good movie with something extra that caught my attention.
★ ★ - OK, I enjoyed it.
★ - I'm sure someone must have enjoyed it.

JOKER
Author's Score: ★ ★ ★
IMDb Score: 8,8/10
Tomatometer: 69%

There's been a lot of anticipation surrounding this movie. Personally I wasn't entirely convinced by the first trailer but the concept grew on my over time. By the time the final trailer was released I was certainly determined to see the film. A lot of promotional materials can sometimes be misleading but luckily that wasn't the case with this movie. If you've seen the promos you had a pretty good idea about the story and what to expect. Somehow I had an impression that the movie ended up being both what I expected it to be and not at the same time. It felt uncomfortable, disturbing, depressing. One of the kind. Not necessarily a movie I'd rewatch but definitely one to remember. Also, it does leave you feeling like people really are the worst. JOKER is a story of descent into chaos, fitting for the character of Joker, a world around him is carefully constructed with nothing but the darkness and negative thoughts being able to capture his attention for too long. Arthur Fleck is a failed comedian, alone in the middle of the crowd, isolated and bullied whenever he tries to find his place in the world. He starts rewriting his own story to the point where the viewer is not entirely sure what is real and what is not. The part when it's revealed that his relationship with his neighbour never happened took me by surprise but made all the sense in the world. The uncertainty of his reality was actually one of the most interesting parts of the movie for me. Something that I would be paying more attention to if I decided to rewatch the movie in the future. I also expected his breakdown, or rather his turning point to happen a bit later in the movie, but the murders proved to be a big part of the story overall, so the placement worked for me in the end. I can't say the same for the introduction of Wayne family. Of course it's poetic to see that the night when Joker rises is the same one when Batman begins. But I felt like the plot around Thomas Wayne didn't necessarily need this famous name for the movie to work. What's definitely the strongest thing about the movie is Joaquin Phoenix's performance. Not that it's a surprise since the actor has no shortage of memorable portrayals in his filmography. This one is yet another great example of his talent. He is JOKER. The character and the movie and it would be a very different story without him.

THE CURRENT WAR
Author's Score: ★ ★ ★
IMDb Score: 6,4/10
Tomatometer: 61%

There are two things that I liked the most about the film: the actors and the fact that I never felt that there were any true good guys or bad guys at the center of the story. Instead there were people, each of them different in their own way, the best at something. And despite knowing the general history behind the story I found myself just rooting for the characters to find a way to work together. Because together it seems that they could have done anything. I really appreciated the strong focus on loyalty between a number of characters. The support of the wives, old friends, faithful companions. Nikola Tesla has the best ideas for the future, a more distant perhaps than he would have hoped. He seems like a person out of his time, a genius born too soon to truly implement some of his most extraordinary ideas. As a character in the movie he feels the least memorable of the main trio. George Westinghouse is a business man, an entrepreneur, not exactly an inventor of the same format as the other two men at the center of the movie, but definitely the one who knows most about leading a successful company. He cares about his people, has full support of his wife, generally stays away from crossing any lines but is willing to do that if necessary. However, the most fascinating character of the movie for me has to be Thomas Edison. Discovering many different layers of his character was one of the things that worked the most from my perspective. Despite being both a business man and an inventor, same as Westinghouse, his mind is far more focused on the inventions and the long list of ideas he wishes to build and share with the world. Edison in the movie seems restless, he can't turn off his mind for anything. It's clear he loves his wife, there's a number of scenes in the film that focus on his lost love and the pain of this loss, but when she's still alive he seems disconnected from her. She feels his absence and their relationship seems very different from the one between George Westinghouse and his wife (Katherine Waterston is quite a scene stealer, by the way). Mary Edison's death is tragic and changes Thomas' perspective on some things. His work and his private life with the kids can feel like we're seeing two different men, but ultimately they both learn from each other's mistakes and allow Edison to grow. The entire plot regarding the execution by electric chair was my least favorite part of the story. But I especially enjoyed Edison's interactions with his friend Samuel Insull, the little moments with his kids and the way he tried to keep his wife alive, or at least a part of her through the recordings and images. Mary being his inspiration for some of his most famous inventions was a beautiful and unexpected addition to the story. Finally, I really loved the ending of the movie, the meeting between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, their honest conversation and Edison's final conclusions. Of course watching the movie in the cinema made that next invention feel especially important and left me with generally positive thoughts about the film and the story overall. I didn't have high expections for this one to be honest, I decided to watch it mainly because of the cast, but I'm happy to have seen it in the end.

GEMINI MAN
Author's Score: ★ ★
IMDb Score: 5,7/10
Tomatometer: 25%

This felt like a pretty standard action movie for me. It was enjoyable, generally well made and acted, with a few noteworthy sequences and fights. I liked it but didn't necessarily find it to be very memorable. I've seen a lot of action movies in my life so it seemed like more of the same. That's not to say it was a bad movie, it certainly had its moments. I thought that Will Smith did a really good job with all his portrayals throughout the movie. I also really enjoyed his interactions with Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I wasn't aware that she was a part of this film, so her appearance made me immediately think of Die Hard. I do miss those movies, well, at least the first few. Coming back to Gemini Man, I thought that most of the plot was rather predictable. It wasn't hard to see another clone coming, especially with the armor covering his face. It was a joy to see Benedict Wong though (Wong!) and a real shame to see how his story was abruptly interrupted. It seemed rather strange that everyone else was able to get out of the car before the explosion, and how quickly they seemed to move past his brutal death. But the parts that I probably enjoyed the most in the movie were the bike chase and the confrontation in the crypts. Both very entertaining sequences with a few longer shots and good choreography. Finally, I have to mention the digital de-aging effect. I think it was mostly really well done. There were a few moments when I couldn't not think about Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air getting into some unexpected troubles. However, there was also at least one scene near the end of the movie where the effect can only be described as strange and took me out of the moment for a while. It was an OK movie, I'm glad I've seen it. I suppose it's only a shame that I found myself looking at my clock a few too many times. Still, good effort. Perhaps I'll enjoy next similar production more.
Movie Nights in October with JOKER, THE CURRENT WAR and GEMINI MAN Reviewed by Justyna on November 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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