Daniel Isn’t Real features an area of horror that hasn’t really been covered in the genre that well – imaginary friends that end up turning against you. It’s trippy and intensely psychological, which can sometimes be entertaining to watch and other times it’s just silly and tedious. Some movies that try to pull off the whole “psychological thriller” vibe but fail – there’s a bunch of them, and as I write this, I’m wondering if I’ll be adding this one to that list. Also worth noting that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick plays the imaginary friend. Funny that Arnie never did horror movies, so his son is kinda branching out where his famous dad didn’t. I’m not holding my breath that this is going to be any good, but if I see it, I’ll share the rest of my insights then!
Thankfully, the second trailer I saw was a lot better.
Truth Be Told stars Aaron Paul, hot off the movie trail with Netflix’s El Camino released last week, Paul plays a man who may have been wrongfully accused of murder. Octavia Spencer plays the woman who helped to put him away for 18 years. What comes out of the prison cell is a furious and aggressive man, and rightfully so. But if he didn’t commit the crime, who did? Lizzy Caplan is also in this playing twins who look awfully guilty of something. This TV series does look like the type of crime-thriller I could actually enjoy. I’m also not overlooking the fact that this tv series will be featured on Apple TV + so not too sure how many people will actually get to see this if they don’t subscribe.
There are a heap of people who do this already, so it’s not a new thing, but I’ve always wanted to write something short and sweet about my thoughts on a particular movie by only watching the trailer. That way, it can be entertaining when you finally see the movie and compare your trailer notes – how far off was I or how close? You know? That might be fun, right?
If you haven’t been able to tell already, movies are a very BIG part of my life. To give you an indication of just how big, here are some stats – they’re not that impressive because I did have a considerable hiatus away from writing on Letterboxd and writing film reviews in general. But I’m back with a bang and really excited for the future!
Jules’s year to date
Jan – Dec 2019
- 43 Films watched
- 4.3 Average per month
- 1 Average per week
So I think looking very briefly at trailers that are getting released might be really interesting. I’ll start this tomorrow (I usually watch between 1 and 4 trailers any given day).
MILD SPOILERS – PLEASE BEWARE
I never thought I would say these words, but I think I have finally seen a Joker origin film good enough to stand alongside Heath Ledger’s Academy award-winning performance from The Dark Knight. And I do not say these words lightly. While everyone else on planet Earth is getting hung up on this movie “glorifying mental illness”, I’m sitting here wondering why Joaquin Phoenix still hasn’t won an Oscar already. I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Maybe this performance is the one. I’d like to see that happen to him.
But let’s address the ‘other’ elephant in the room for a second. For anyone that has experienced mental illness, I think this movie definitely would have struck a chord. But isn’t that what good entertainment is supposed to do, even if that wasn’t the plan? I read about this film supposedly being a real movie with a cartoon character at its heart. Does it really matter that Joker is just a cartoon character? I enjoyed this film regardless of whether or not that was actually supposed to be a thing. If you can’t see the realism that both Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips masterfully weaved into Arthur Fleck and his grim existence, you’re missing the point entirely.
As people, we really don’t like it when we’re reminded of our own personal demons and shortcomings. Arthur Fleck is a man with a lot of these, the smallest of which is his mental illness. What I mean by this is if you strip away a person’s disability, what do you see? Even without his delusions, there was something really wrong with Arthur Fleck. There was something dark and ugly seething under the surface of his very thin skin, clawing its way out. Becoming the Joker was his way of escaping his own limitations and the limitations that he felt the world had placed on him. Arthur is a man disenfranchised by society, standing on the edge of a cliff where most people end up jumping because that’s the better option. This horrible shit pile of an existence was his reality, and Arthur was sick and tired of playing nice and jumping off that cliff. The only difference between Arthur and the status quo is that he was already one foot over that line that your average normal, functioning adult wouldn’t dare to cross.
Arthur was a victim of society in every way. His environment was at least partially to blame for his gradual derailment into madness. Gotham was quite possibly the worst city to be living in for everyone else, let alone someone like Arthur. A society that is burdened by a “dog-eat-dog” mentality where even the people who are supposed to be symbols of hope in a city that has lost its soul are lying to everyone to keep up appearances. Even the good guys are bad – let’s be honest, Bruce’s dad was a dick. There was nowhere for Arthur to go and becoming the Joker offered Arthur a way out of having to excuse people for their cruelty and lack of sympathy.
I don’t know if I buy the whole “it was all just a delusion” story plot some critics have mentioned in their reviews. Yes, we already knew Arthur was delusional, but for the whole film to be a delusion? I don’t agree. At some point, we know that at least a few of the events in the film really happened. It wouldn’t have made sense for an audience to watch Arthur slowly losing his grip on reality only to be ripped off at the end because he made it all up. He wasn’t faking his mental illness – his therapy visits were smothered in realism. How many times does a person with mental illness, that they can barely understand themselves, need to explain it to an unsympathetic ear? I know people who have been and are in therapy and more often than not it’s just easier for the therapist to throw a prescription at the problem than it is to actually try and help someone in dire need of saving.
Joaquin Phoenix is superb as Joker. There’s really nothing much else to say about that. As Arthur Fleck, he is calm, soft-spoken and unassuming. As the Joker, he wears a smile that hides a grimace underneath. Under the guise of a clown, he is everyone’s worst nightmare; he is a man who has nothing left to lose.
It would be a damn shame if all of that were just a delusion.
Being confused about life for me is not usually a thing. I don’t get confused very often. So when it happens, it really bugs me because it’s like this niggly little annoying feeling in the back of my mind that won’t go away. I might forget about it for a day or two, but it always returns, and when it does, I spend hours contemplating what I am doing with my life right now or more importantly, what I’m not doing.
Part of me wants to scream so loud at myself for being where I am right now. By design, I am not a moper or a defeatist. But there is a part of my psyche that can never accept what I have as good enough. To be clear, this only relates to my professional life and maybe to my efforts in various sporting arenas when I was younger. It’s quite funny because when it comes to my personal life, I am the exact opposite. I feel blessed to be able to spend my life with someone who loves me unconditionally. I feel deserving of this, but it took me a while to get to that point, believe me.
I don’t like to think negatively about anything, but everyone has negative thoughts every now and then, right? And my thoughts aren’t so much as negative as they are chaotic. One day I will sit down and be like “right, writing is my life, this is what I must pursue”. And that will be my only focus. But this week, I stumbled upon something that could really work for me, especially since I have a good foundation and skill set to be able to do learn how to do it. And it does not have anything at all to do with writing, but it does connect with the creative person in me almost as much as writing does.
Some time ago, I said on my blog that I wanted to study graphic design. As time went on, this evolved into wanting to learn a specific part of digital art, a much more niche area if you will. I am still working on this almost every other day, and I try to learn new things in Adobe, so I can eventually be ready to start creating work of my own to eventually sell online. That was never in my original plan, but I think I could actually be skilled enough to get to that stage.
So there it is. Writing is very important to me but maybe stumbling upon this article wasn’t just an accident. Perhaps I need to look a little further afield rather than being tunnel-visioned about pursuing only one path or for thinking that I only have one option to pursue.
See what I mean? The chaos ensues…
This weekend I made a significant decision about the direction my life is heading in. I’ve decided that if I want to get back to where I was in my writing career, I have to start looking at writing jobs now and to concentrate on getting where I want to be.
I’ve read a lot of articles about people who have decided that the job they are doing and the career path they are on are not making them happy, but it’s a little different when you’re that person. It might seem as easy as updating your CV and looking for jobs you want to do, but it really isn’t. It’s a lot more complicated than that, especially if you are looking for a job in a completely different field.
I had a recruiter contact me yesterday about my updated CV, and they were trying to recruit me for a job that is in the same field I am already in which is not what I want to be doing, not any more. I had to reply to their email advising that I won’t be continuing with the process. I know exactly what I want to be doing and I’m going to strive for that.
While it’s nice to have recruiters calling you about job openings, it will be nicer still to have one contact me about the job I actually want.
Onward and upward friends, onward and upward!
Image credits: IMDb and ImpAwards
My partner actually asked if we could rewatch Paterson, which surprised me. Surprised because Paterson is a film that requires a fair bit of attention. It’s not one of those films where you can miss 10 minutes and still know what’s going on. I don’t know if that is how it was intended to be, but watching Paterson for the second time, I actually found myself noticing little things that just carried so much weight in the film without even realising it before. I’ll give examples of these things later on but suffice to say that if Paterson were a book, you’d discover a lot more about the film by reading between the lines.
I cannot hide my fondness for both Jim Jarmusch as a director and Adam Driver as an actor. To me, this pairing is quite literally, a gift to film, much like De Niro and Scorcese. You just know that there’s something special there and it’s raw, and it’s beautiful, and we’re lucky to witness it on screen.
Jim Jarmusch’s previous film Only Lovers Left Alive is also a movie I have high regard for, and it was this film that introduced me to Jarmusch’s genius. Adam Driver’s character is named Paterson, which also happens to be the name of the town where the film is set. In its own way, the city of Paterson is as much a part of this story as the main actors. Paterson, in this sense, is a reflection of the man Paterson – like twins are a genetic reflection of each other. There’s no other way to describe it.
One of the recurring themes in the film is twins. They are seen almost everywhere in the movie as Paterson walks to work, drives his bus or walks home again. It becomes a lot more noticeable after a particular scene in the film, but I never noticed any of this the first time I saw Paterson. This is why rewatches are so useful to do – you really can pick up so much you miss the first time around. I tend to find this is the case when I see a movie I have been looking forward to. I just can’t take everything in during the first viewing. I like to see movies like that a second time when I am calmer and more aware of what is really happening in the film. I actually think a “review” is much easier to write when you’ve seen the film more than once.
What’s so endearing about the character Paterson is how effortlessly he goes about his day-to-day, almost entirely void of stress and hindrances that seem to bring most other people down. One important thing to recognise about Paterson is the way he avoids technology – almost to the point of being crippled by it.
His wife is a creative, free-spirited woman who actually seems to polarise Paterson’s existence. She appears to be disorderly and quite chaotic in the way she goes about living her life. She doesn’t have a job and spends most of her time coming up with a different life-goal to pursue every other day. At times I think this manages to breach Paterson’s wall of order and routine, but he never shows it. They do love each other a great deal despite their differing personalities and quirks. They are the epitome of compromise in a relationship.
But the best thing about this film aside from the performances is, of course, the poetry. If you are a creative person, you’ll fall in love with the way that Jarmusch brings each and every poem to life with the imagery and perfect pacing of the film. Adam Driver’s narration doesn’t hurt either.
Paterson is a film that will pleasantly take you by surprise. Let the words wash over you like rain, let the images seep into your skin. You’ll understand what I mean when it’s all over.