De Good, De Bad, and De Niro

How on earth Arsenal didn’t win the North London Derby is beyond me. We dominated spurs (although you wouldn’t think so from the Match of the Day highlights) but a mixture or Hugo Lloris heroics and poor decisions in the final third ruined my plans to enter the office this morning wearing Arsenal’s beautiful bruised banana kit. 

In order to get over this frustration, I decided to settle down and watch Taxi Driver. A film about a man slowly going insane, which is a rather perfect reflection of what being a football fan is like.  The film itself is one of many classic films that I haven’t watched previously, so I was also just excited to watch what is considered by many to be a very good film.

I have to say it’s one of the first movies from the 70’s that I have been able to sit through without being put off by the visuals. Movies from that time are obviously not quite the same as the 4k beautiful shots we are used to now, and for some reason that just feels a little off to me if the film doesn’t grab me. Once Taxi Driver gets going though, I understood why this film is so revered. The performance of Robert De Niro is incredible, and he becomes the character of Travis Bickle. Nowadays, De Niro is a hugely respected actor whose most well-known roll is the dad in the Meet the Parents films, so it was awesome to watch the film where he earned all that respect.

I know he is also in The Godfather Part II, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch that since I watched the original Godfather film. That first film contains so many amazing elements, but I think the style of film making at the time and the way the industry has evolved make it a very tough film to get through. It’s just two minutes shy of three hours long, but when you’re used to the speed of today’s films, it feels so slow.

The film lingers on a shot for 10-15 seconds, to immerse you in the scene, which is an understandable tact to take, but to me it just feels like the editing is poor. This is not true of course; at the time this is how films were made. When you’re used to the quite cuts and fast progression between scenes we have now, The Godfather feels like a slow trudge through the story which could be shortened but maybe 40 minutes by a skilled modern editor without losing too much. Maybe this is blasphemous to some movie aficionados out there, but I would watch a modern edit of the Godfather in a heartbeat over the original, if it contained the same story and showcased the performance of Marlon Brando.

Given my discomfort watching older films, you may wonder what drove me to watch Taxi Driver last night. Well perhaps predictably it was the Joker. The first reviews for the new Joaquin Phoenix led film dropped to my, and a lot of other peoples, surprise over the weekend. For context, this film is still, even today, a full month away from release. Letting people put up their reviews this early is a show of brazen confidence very rarely seen in the movie industry and suggests Warner Bros know exactly what they have with this movie.

By all accounts, what they have is an absolute masterpiece. Reviews from the people I follow have been praising this film’s style and story, but all the main comments are about how brilliant Joaquin Phoenix is in the role of the Joker. I mentioned last week how excited I was to see this flick, but now I want to go into a coma and wake up on release date as there is just nothing else, I would rather do with my time then see this film.

Phoenix is one of the most talented actors around, so I knew there was a chance of something special when you have someone that talented commit to this character. The film is apparently 99% Joaquin Phoenix, as in he is in every shot. That is exactly what you want from a movie about a character so complex. Watching Taxi Driver last night, I started to understand why this type of film was an inspiration. It’s focused completely on De Niro’s Travis Bickle, just as Joker is front and centre of his film. The way it follows his decent into insanity is expertly done in Taxi Driver, so to know this kind of attention to detail is there in the Joker film really puts this top of my most anticipated list.

Another reason for Joker now topping my anticipated list, even over The Rise of Skywalker, is the comparison’s it’s getting to my favourite movie of all time, The Dark Knight. Any Joker performance from now until the end of time will be compared to Heath Ledger’s amazing work in The Dark Knight, so this one is no different. Where this might differ from the rest of Joker actors though, is that Phoenix is being touted as delivering an even better performance.

Time will tell if I agree with that assessment, but I do need to spend the next month trying to forget about the film. I want to go in with no heavy expectations on the film so I can enjoy it as much as possible.

If Arsenal would have lost yesterday, I think I may well have begun my own Travis Bickle like descent into madness. Mkhitaryan needs to get to fuck. Comes on and runs around like a headless chicken with the touch of Romelu Lukaku. Not to mention Superman lookalike Granit-for-brains Xhaka. Spent 90 minutes on the pitch, launching himself at the Spurs players arse first and then acting surprised it didn’t work. Thank fuck for Aubameyang, Lacazette and Guendouzi.

I promise I will have cooled off on the Arsenal stuff by tomorrow.

‘Til Then!

ChAzJS

 

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