Tag Archives: Joaquin Phoenix

Film Review: Elmer Gantry (1960)

A mounteback named Elmer Gantry is a traveling salesman who has a magnetic personality and looks for an opportunity to make money by sweet talks, and by permeating the words of the Bible in his passionate speeches. One day, he finds a purpose in life when he spectates an evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer and joins her organization.

Elmer Gantry is an American film produced in 1960 and was adapted from Sinclair Lewis‘s famous novel with the same title. By the time, the novel was published and released, the book received uproar and was widely criticized for writing out some bold details about the religious business and revivalism that happened in the United States a century ago. It was a satirical novel that gave the readers some idea of manipulating the staunch loyalist members of the evangelistic church and raising the money for the business.

The same case is with the film that sparks a lot of attention in the eyebrow-raising dialogues; especially when Elmer and Sister meet the other church leaders. The film takes quite a liberty to expose the concept of Revivalism. The way the organization is depicted functioning and the church leaders are portrayed concerning the religious affairs to cash their personal gains ridicules the traditional beliefs and practices of organized Christianity. Director Richard Brooks dared to touch the subject but the productional aesthetics are so sharp that the portrayal of selling religion in America is on the razor edge for the audience. Gantry and Sister Sharon are the messiahs of this cult for the White Americans. Observe a short church scene at the start where the African-Americans sang a hymn, their method distinguishes and Elmer, despite all the religious dedication to singing along with them, chooses to move on and look for a better market.

Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry is a blessing to the eyes of the audience. A role of a lifetime, a performance that occurs rarely in a generation. I felt that Burt and Elmer were to admire each other’s work and someone had a mission to unite them on a platform. From the beginning until the end, Burt mesmerized me and surely most of the viewers with his incredible performance. His pitch, his sermon, his body language, everything was just incredible. A lively and charming characterization of Gantry was made possible by Burt and I hardly believe anyone from that era would have nailed this role. I think of Gregory Peck but he would have looked too rich for Gantry. I think Anthony Quinn or Kirk Douglas would have pulled a performance if Burt was not given this role. Burt’s performance meets variations with time. When Gantry meets criticism after being caught in the scandal, he is shamed in the hall by limited angry spectators. They throw eggs and vegetables on him and he is mute and lost allowing them to throw their rage on him. What a magnificent shot that was when the trumpeter plays on his face and back, as he walks away in shame and people keep throwing the mess on him.

Elmer Gantry was not only enviable due to Burt’s phenomenal performance but also due to the superb assistance of the supporting performances of Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon and Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains.

If this film is remade, I would want Paul Thomas Anderson to direct with any of Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac being considered to play Elmer Gantry, Rooney Mara as Sister Sharon (plus she resembles Jean Simmons a lot), and Anya Taylor-Joy as Lulu.

The film is the winner of three Academy Awards that includes a deserving Oscar for Burt as the Best Actor. I think Elmer Gantry is one of the earliest pinnacles of portraying the deception of being some false messiah or a prophet. The quality of depicting hypocrisy, the corrupted hearts of showrunners, people being foolish, and some being gold-diggers is very well dramatized. Elmer Gantry is quite a cinematic example of compromising faith by applying materialism in the obscure art of selling religion.

Ratings: 8.4/10

Film Review: Joker (2019)


“You don’t listen, do you? I don’t think you ever really hear me. You just ask the same questions every week. How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts. But you don’t listen. I said, for my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.”


You know it is extremely difficult to write a review of Joker and sum up the presentation of Joker’s character. It cannot be explained in a few sentences or paras. It depends on how you judge the film and how better you can translate your opinion into words. I will try.

See, Joker, the archnemesis of Batman is reimagined out of the comic books and all those 80 years of the remarkable writings. You don’t have to follow or compare it with the comic pages. The understanding is that how one director understands human psychology and observes Joker as a human. Full marks to Warner Bros. for picking a very interesting name who I never imagined to direct about Joker – Todd Phillips. Amongst all the directors, alive or dead, if I am asked about the most fitting director who can do justice with Joker, it has to be Stanley Kubrick.

Many Gothamites will realize that most of Batman’s villains are mental and they all have their issues which we don’t follow because who wants to know about the villains. They are bad people, right? We only care about h.e.r.o.e.s. because they are good people and they are always right, they are angels, they are Godly people to serve humans. Bad people are evil, right?

But the provoking part is why villains choose this path? Why villains feel glad to make people suffer? Why Joker is so evil? He is one villain who has put Batman to the most difficult tests to the most extreme lengths than anyone in Gotham.


“I think I felt better when I was locked up in the hospital.″


Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian, a bullied, a society-reject, majorly ignored, mocked and an isolated Gothamite who suffers PBA and is bound to take care of the only person who is cordially associated with him – his ailing old mother.

Like I described before, this film is completely out of comic book pages about Gotham and the related characters. For me, Fleck is an assumption about his becoming Joker. Todd Phillips focuses on how the human loses his/her sanity in difficult circumstances and unfortunately makes him/her evil to society? How does he or she become a menace or a reckoning? Anyone of us can become Arthur Fleck in the given circumstances but only a few of them, unfortunately, turn to the wrong side of humanity and become a ‘problem’ for the society who were ‘victim’ in the past.


“I Hope My Death Makes More Cents Than My Life.”


Joaquin Phoenix‘s entire body language in the film needs to enter the case studies and lectures in the medical and educational institutions. How is someone so talented to describe the emotional fluctuations and reflex/nerve behaviors. Look at him when he tries to avoid those episodes of laughs on the bus, at the office, and in the stand-up comedy show. Observe his almost nervous breakdown when the boss warns him, or when he paces his feet to shoot the last culprit outside the station.

And then the iconic moment of Joker’s stair dance at West 167th Street at The Bronx was, I believe, much-needed breathing in Fleck’s terrible life. It aired freedom from all the sufferings. That is why that scene was so important. That scene has made that site a regular visiting spot.


“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.”


So who played a better Joker? Ledger or Phoenix? I think it is a tie and on a different note, the roles cannot be compared. Both versions of Joker were interestingly not comic-based. One was created from Nolan’s imagination, the other from Todd’s. Fleck’s one is Joker’s sorry past reaching to the initial phase of his crime career as Joker, Ledger’s is the existing Joker at his crime peak. So both roles are excellent in different BATverses.

I still believe there was room for improvement in the plot writing especially in the final 30 minutes. But I think the story has met its ultimate ending and there is no need to bring the sequel.

Joker is an outstanding standalone film. I will count Joker amongst the best films which were fully centralized on the major character like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, Tom Hanks in Cast AwayAdrien Brody in The Pianist, and a few more.

Not aware of the outstanding male performances of this year but if Phoenix again misses the Oscar,

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

Ratings: 8.8/10