A Study Of The Academy’s Bias Against Horror

When Louis B. Mayer founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, his goal was to create an unbiased, all-inclusive award show in the spirit of film. Unfortunately, the Academy Awards have not been inclusive and are political and biased. The Academy consistently votes for comedies, dramas and musicals, but the one genre they don’t recognize is horror. Year after year, countless dramas take home the big awards, but when a horror film wins, it is like a lunar eclipse. People have ignored horror because of its camp-filled roots and that precedent needs to expire because the horror genre has come a long way as an art form since the 1980s.

Horror has evolved, but the Academy has not

Many people think that horror is just an excuse for blood, but it’s actually a way to convey emotions, create allegory, and evoke the feeling of dread. A film like The Shining is truly a work of art and shows a deep understanding of important themes like privilege, domestic violence, and addiction. The Shining provides a different experience for everyone who watches it; it means something different to everyone because of how open it is for interpretation. However, the mainstream media tends to think of horror films as being uncomplicated stories of a killer murdering dumb teenagers for no reason until “the Final Girl” outsmarts the killer and ends up killing him. That preconception has its origins in cheesy 80s movies, but modern horror has evolved as a new way to tell stories in a metatextual fashion. In the last twenty years, filmmakers in this genre have proven their ability to shed light on issues that have been largely ignored by mainstream cinema. Issues like racism, sexism, and assault are depicted in these films in order to evoke terror in the audience by showing how twisted the real world is. Meanwhile, the Academy has shown no interest in even acknowledging these issues by instead honoring films like Green Book, in which a white man is portrayed as a hero and saves a black man. Horror has evolved, but the Academy has not. Moreover, when horror occasionally wins at the Oscars, there is always a catch. 

When Horror Movies Do Win

When horror movies do end up winning, it is almost always for awards like “Best Costume Design” or “Best Visual Effects.” According to storiesforghosts.com, 10 horror movies have won effects or costume-related awards. Every single year dramas win other more prestigious awards, which reveals bias. The only horror movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture was the 1991 classic The Silence of the Lambs. That was 29 years ago. We need to understand that this is a genre that has and will be used for telling masterful stories. In today’s society, a movie about a failing marriage (Marriage Story) gets nominated six times, but a movie about racial profiling told as a story of a family going to Santa Cruz (US) gets no nominations simply because it belongs to the horror genre.

What Was Snubbed 

At the most recent 2020 Academy Awards, The Lighthouse (a horror film) was nominated for achievement in cinematography but lost to 1917, an action film. In my opinion, The Lighthouse was cinematically brilliant and deserved this award, but the real problem was that the 2019 film US was totally snubbed at the Oscars. The film entails the story of a family going on a vacation to Santa Cruz California. Once they arrive, a dark secret about the mother (Lupita Nyong’o) is revealed when doppelgangers of her family emerge hellbent to kill them. On the surface level, this film is a scary bloodfest, but on a deeper level, it serves as a story of distrust, acceptance, and guilt, and suggests that we are our own worst enemy. It appears that when it comes to horror, the Academy does not pay attention to the nuances and small details. US was not nominated for any Academy awards, even though the writing exceeds levels of metatextuality last tapped into in the silver age of horror back in the ’90s. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance is masterful and very impressive; she plays two different people: the mother and her doppelganger. These two performances are vastly different, and Lupita Nyong’o portrays these characters in such a brilliant way that it is unfathomable she was not nominated for an Academy Award. This demonstrates that an amazing performance in a horror movie will be overlooked for an award because of institutional bias. But the neglect of horror by the Academy does have some logic to it. 

On the other hand

The Academy members are aging out, and this helps us understand their bias against horror. According to hollywoodreporter.com, the average member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is 62 years old. According to health.harvard.edu, the prime age of memory for a human being is your 20s. Why is this important? When the average member of the Academy was in their 20s, horror was sexually explicit, gore obsessed, and terribly written. With this in mind, it is easy to understand the Academy’s prejudice against the horror genre. Now horror movies have evolved, but the memory of films like The Slumber Party Massacre (which is objectively bad in terms of writing, direction, and acting) have understandably left a bad taste in the Academy’s mouth.  Horror definitely has a bad reputation, but it’s the Academy’s job to keep up with the times and give awards to movies that deserve recognition and represent the changing culture of film and the world. 

Conclusion 

Ultimately, the horror genre has been neglected for too long and deserves more recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the artform that it is. Using horror, filmmakers can tell inspiring and important stories that transcend the confines of traditional storytelling—movies that could not be made if it was not for the artistic brilliance of allegory. As an audience, we have to support independent projects because if the Academy won’t, then it falls on our shoulders to let storytelling be accessible to anyone who wants to say something important. In addition, the best way to get important ideas into the mainstream conscience is via the art of film. The horror genre does this in the most skilled way because audiences don’t realize they have received this message since it is so cleverly masked. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should give horror the attention it deserves, but in reality, it is not about the award, it’s all about the experience. In the immortalized words of Alfred Hitchcock, “Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

The Office Analyzed: Season 2

In Season 2, The Office finally finds its groove. You can think of Season 1 as a six-episode mini-series, and Season 2 as when The Office (U.S.) really begins. The writers responded to fair criticism of Michael Scott’s character and the bleakness of the work environment. British audiences could handle something that depressing, but American viewers demanded something more light-hearted. Thus the writers reimagined the character of Michael Scott with two rules: 1) make Michael 10% more likable and 2) make the other characters treat Michael 10% better. The result is a successful character makeover which is also apparent in the way Steve Carrel is styled. In season 1, Michael has a combed back stringy hairdo, a fake bald spot, and a tightened collar that creates an appearance of a double chin, but the rest of his clothing is oversized to make him appear overweight. But in Season 2, his hair looks great and his clothes fit him well. This makeover is also in the writing, his character takes on greater dimension. This is evident in certain episodes like “Office Olympics” (S2, E3) when Michael goes out to buy his condo, the rest of the office plays games while he is gone. Jim hosts a closing ceremony and awards Michael with a gold metal for closing the deal on his condo. The last shot of the episode is Michael crying because he thinks he is finally being recognized for all his hard work he has done for the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. And at this moment the ensemble cast recognizes Michael as their leader.

The ensemble cast is what holds this show together, they are witnessing Michael grow just like the audience. Just like Michael the ensemble develops as a whole and gels with each other to propel many storylines further later in the show. Even though I find Michael’s maturation to be the most interesting element of the series, Season 2 is mostly focused on the love story between Jim and Pam with the antics of boss Michael Scott gluing the story together. Michael has a strange experience with his superior Jan Levenson, which damages both careers. This is very recognizable in the standout episode “Casino Night”.        

 In the episode, “Casino Night” the whole story of season 2 crescendo into a laugh filled heartwarming season finale. This episode continues Michael and Jan’s relationship, Jim Confesses his love for Pam, and gambling related antics happen. This episode is the beginning of a drama filled love story that is continued in season 3, this episode reinforces the new Michael as a “Hero”. This episode is summed up by something Michael says, “Love triangle. Drama. All worked out in the end, though. The hero got the girl.”  

In my mind there are no bad episodes of Season 2, but here is my ranking:

22) The Carpet (S2 E14)

21) The Secret (S2 E13)

20) Michael’s Birthday (S2 E19)

19) Take Your Daughter To Work Day (S2 E18)

18) Performance Review (S2 E8)

17) Valentine’s Day (S2 E16)

16) Boys and Girls (S2 E15)

15) The Fight (S2 E6)

14)  Dwight’s Speech (S2 E17)

13) Christmas Party (S2 E10)

12) The Fire (S4 E4)

11) Sexual Harassment (S2 E2)

10) The Client (S2 E7)

 9) Office Olympics (S2 E3)

 8) Booze Cruise (S2 E11)

 7)  Drug Testing (S2 E20) 

 6) Conflict Resolution (S2 E21)

 5) Email Surveillance (S2 E9)

Michael realizes that he can read his employees emails and sees that he was not invited to Jim’s barbecue. Also Michael does improv with Ken Jeong.

4) Halloween (S2 E5)

Michael has to let someone go by the end of October, of course Michael waits until halloween. Michael fires someone in costume.

3) The Dundies (S2 E1)

Michael hosts an award show for his employees and he crosses the line. This is the first time Michael is humanized by having hecklers make fun of him and you actually feel for him.

2) Casino Night (S2 E22)

This episode is the standout but is not the best of the season, Michael hosts a charity casino in the warehouse and many big things happen between main characters (Mostly Jim and Pam) and it is basically a perfect storm of drama comedy and intrigue.

1)  The Injury (S2 E12)

Michael burns his foot on a grill and pretends to be handicaped. Michael’s overreactions make this episode the best of the season and one of the best of the show.       

The Office Analyzed: Season 1

I’ve grown up watching The Office, and its sense of humor has definitely rubbed off on my generation. It has resonated with audiences because of its depiction of humanity and wholesome themes surrounding a mid-range paper supply firm in Scranton, PA. It has deeply affected media, television, and film because of its Mockumentary format, which has been copied but never successfully duplicated. Even though the series finale aired in 2013, it is still like comfort food; the events transpiring today are unbelievable, and booting up an episode of The Office is an easy escape.        

Season 1 of The Office (U.S) is known as one of the most controversial seasons of comedy on television, mostly because of the way they duplicated Ricky Gervais’s classic 2001-3 comedy of the same name. The direction did not know what it was doing, and the characters, scenarios, and relationships were ripped off and hadn’t found their own voice. This is especially seen in the way Michael Scott (Steve Carrel) is portrayed. He is racist, misogynistic, and unapologetic for his actions. This is because Ricky Gervais’s portrayal of David Brent, and that character is unaware of how bad he actually is. Throughout the season Michael is consistently offensive to women and minorities, but most of these aggressions happen in the standout episode “Diversity Day” written by B.J Novak.     

Diversity Day is about a person from a fictional company who comes to Dunder Mifflin for sensitivity training in response to an offensive comedy routine by Michael Scott. Michael then feels like he is being portrayed as the villain in this situation so he starts his own company and chaos breaks in the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. Michael thinks it’s a good idea to tape index cards to the employee’s heads with races, ethnicities, sexuality, and gender. What ends up happening is that Michael overstays his welcome and loses any respect he once had from his subordinates.            

In Season 1, Michael’s stupidity is the butt of the joke, and his character is one-dimensional; he’s just the man in charge who everyone hates for good reason. In subsequent seasons, the focus shifts to his immaturity, lack of awareness, and the childlike wonder of his character. 

One of the best things about Season 1 is that it’s not that long. Most of it is a slow burn with some moments of chaos. Season 1 is vastly different from any other season of The Office. The other seasons are goofy; Season 1 is an anomaly and is not in tune with the rest of the series.

All Office Season 1 episodes ranked from best to worst: 

6) “Pilot” 

The Pilot introduces Michael, Pam, Jim, and Dwight and the rest of the cast in a remake of the Ricky Gervais (U.K.) Office’s first episode. It has the same jokes and character introductions, and it is only here to tell people who the characters are. 

5) “Hot Girl”

An attractive saleswoman comes to Dunder Mifflin, and many of the male staff members try to catch her attention. It is very cringy as Michael and Dwight try to impress her. The titular “hot girl” is played by Amy Adams in this awkward season finale.

4) “Health Care” 

Michael places the responsibility of choosing the office’s health care plan in Dwight’s hands. He starts pressuring his co-workers to tell them their diseases and medical history. Jim and Pam realize this is a great opportunity to mess with Dwight. This episode has some amazing jokes.

3) “Basketball” 

Michael challenges the warehouse to a basketball game to prove that the upstairs people are cool. There is a bet involved: the winning floor gets to stay home on Saturday. This episode is a fan favorite, but I am not the biggest fan of sports, so it’s not my favorite of the season. Still, it has a lot of great lines and jokes that are unique to the episode.  

2) “The Alliance”

Dwight invites Jim into an alliance to protect them from downsizing. Jokingly, Jim agrees just to mess with him. This episode is the goofiest of the first season and is pretty fun to watch. This is an episode that I watch frequently because of its feel-good nature.

1) “Diversity Day”  

After an unsuccessful comedy routine by Michael, Dunder Mifflin sends a sensitivity trainer and Michael hijacks the session and starts his own company. This results in one of the most famous sequences in comedy history. Go watch it. 

2019: A Year in Review

2019 was a troubling year. Not many good things happened in the world, and not many good things happened in the movies. It was a predictable and lazy year in Hollywood, and in some ways it would be easier to make a list of the worst movies of 2019 rather than the best. In fact, I can’t even come up with 10 great movies from 2019, so instead, here are my Top 9 films of 2019     

9)   Doctor Sleep is the best possible way to make a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. It is nostalgic but tasteful and isn’t just a sequel to The Shining; it turns itself into its own thing by including new villains and characters. It is also intriguing  to see the Overlook Hotel aged and decrepit in the modern era.     

8)   Endgame was not a film; it was a pop-cultural event. Everyone and their mother has seen it by now and references have permeated social media and the hallways at school. I believe that Endgame was the pop culture event of 2019. And we will see if it stands the test of time.

7)  Midsommar is confusing and convoluted in its imagery and story, but it ends up being as well-realized as it is disturbing. It is hard to explain what this movie achieves, but director Ari Aster manages to flip horror on its head. This folk film is shot in broad daylight. If you are a fan of very weird cult movies about cults then watch Midsommar.

6)   Uncut Gems is chaotic and loud, which would usually indicate low quality production, but in this case these elements telling the story of a chaotic and loud man in possession of a million dollar gem. He then loses it and bets all his money in this nail-biting thriller. This man is sad, pathetic, and stupid but you care for him because he is played by Adam Sandler, who transforms into an uncut gem on screen. This movie is anxiety producing, and it is literally the only movie that I was on the edge of my seat in the theater.

5) Parasite gives off very Hitchcockian vibe. It is a tale about class and poverty in South Korea with enough allegory and bone-chilling thrills to make you unsettled the whole way through and for days after. It shows both sides of the same story: the higher class and the lower class perspectives. There is one shot that I still think about and will think about forever. Also the whole movie is in Korean which for me adds to the slow-burn effect. The first kill isn’t until the last 20 minutes where all the terror crescendos into a 3-minute bloodbath.

4)   Joker is a film about a man torn by society and mental disability. There is something about this film that resonates with the audience. I think this has to do with the setting: a crumbling New York City, filled with garbage and economic injustice. The setting plays as an allegory for our economic and environmental despair that characterizes the postmodern society we live in.  

3)  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  is Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film and one of his best. It is a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood and is about the relationship between a TV actor and his stunt double. It also features a side plot about Charles Manson that puts a devilish  twist the famous Tate murders.

 2)    The Lighthouse is about madness and isolation. Usually I’m not a fan of films about people going insane because I think it’s an excuse for filmmakers to show weird and disturbing things to the camera, but the lighthouse is different. It is shot in black and white with a cubed aspect ratio. The film takes advantage of this focuses on long one-take streams of dialogue that brings to light the harsh reality of two men going crazy. 

 1)   US is the second film written and directed by Jordan Peele and it is scary as hell. All the elements–down to the smallest detail like what movie is on the shelf and what commercials are playing on the screen–are successful and intentional. The result is an amazing blockbuster film that conveys the message that we are own worst enemies, a message that resonates no more than ever. 

My Top 10 Christmas Horror Films

I’ve always found Christmas creepy because it is predicated on one big lie: Santa Claus. That is why I have created this list of my top 10 films that have a dark take on the most wonderful time of the year.

10) Santa Claus (1959): this film is nightmare fuel, made on a shoestring budget. It is very weird and the best part about it is that it was meant for children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVO4ZRpTiaw&t=3547s   

9) Jack Frost (1997) and Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000): These movies are based on a Freddy Krueger concept. #2 is a campy and embraces it, but #1 tries too hard and has an indefensible rape scene. 

8) Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984): No list would be complete without this iconic experience of murder by a deranged killer, whose parents were killed by someone in a Santa suit when he was a kid.

7) Krampus (2015): This movie is fun, but director Michael Dougherty holds back in comparison to his 2007 classic Trick r’ Treat. I wish he had done more with this concept and budget. Still, it pioneered a new subgenre of Krampus films – Anti Santa – yet is not my favorite from said genre. 

6) Santa’s Slay (2005): Once you hear the title you know the movie: Santa goes on a naughty killing spree. It knows what it is: a camp fest.

5) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010): This film would be ruined for you if I try to explain it. Just know that it is a weird Finnish film about the discovery of a feral old Santa.

4) Better Watch Out (2017): This is a very weird and experimental HOME ALONe styled film, but the boy is not Kevin McCallister; he is a psychopath with the goal of committing the perfect crime.   

3) Black Christmas (1974): This film inspired John Carpenter’s iconic game-changing slasher flick Halloween (1978), and it is very much styled in the same way: POV opening, holiday setting, unknown killer (not a whodunit), strong final girl (which was not very common at that time), and a chilling soundtrack. It has also inspired Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) because the concept of a killer using a phone to taunt their victims is originates here. 

2)  Gremlins (1984): For Christmas, Billy Peltzer receives a cute furry creature that becomes a havoc-wreaking monster if you disobey these three rules: 1) keep them out of the sunlight, 2) don’t get them wet, and 3) and never ever feed them after midnight. When little kids went to the theater to see this movie thinking it was a fun animal Christmas adventure, they came out mortified by what they had witnessed, and this is one of the reasons why the MPAA added PG-13 to the rating system. 

1)  Christmas Horror Story (2015): This is the Trick r’ treat (2007) of Christmas movies and confirms your worst fears of Santa with its warm imagery and its nihilistic twist.

THE SHINING REVIEW “𝓬𝓸𝓶𝓮 𝓹𝓵𝓪𝔂 𝔀𝓲𝓽𝓱 𝓾𝓼,”

Stanley Kubrik’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel starring Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall, originally blasted by critics, has come to be regarded as a masterpiece because of its overarching themes of abuse and domestic violence. The Shining is one of the most haunting films of all time because of how isolated it makes you feel. The film draws you in so that you as the audience believe that you are in Swindler, Colorado with the tormented Torrance family.     

THE OPENING

The opening sequence in The Shining is haunting, visionary and masterful. When I think of the opening scene, I immediately think of the soundtrack, written by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. This theme is composed of long haunting notes in different keys. The music is adapted from  “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath” from Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. The draining non-melody drags on and is paired with a shot of a yellow car slowly moving along a vacant highway. The highway runs through raw wilderness and there’s a sense of isolation. The helicopter shot is a precursor to the drone shots of our time. The theme and the shot really lure you into the movie. This mirrors the action on screen, as Jack Torrance willfully drives into the deathtrap of the Overlook Hotel, where he and his family will spend the winter alone. The whole sequence suggests that the Torrance family is the next in line to be tormented by the spirits that haunt the hotel. This is reflected when in Doctor Sleep (2019),when Danny returns to the Overlook. The movie recreates this iconic opening scene shot-for-shot, and the iconic theme song will haunt the movie and filmgoers even after the final credits roll.

JACK NICHOLSON’S PERFORMANCE 

Jack Nicholson has done everything. He’s been the president. He’s been the Joker. He’s been cooped up in an insane asylum. He’s been a private detective. And in his best role, he is possessed and tries to kill his family. In The Shining, Nicholson is terrifying as Jack Torrance. 

His performance in The Shining is one of the scariest performances ever. Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic with a history of domestic abuse. He’s also a writer with a short temper, who has been hired to act as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Swindler, Colorado. Jack Nicholson plays the role masterfully that it makes me wonder what the actor was going through during the filming of this movie.

Look at this video of Jack Nicholson warming up for this role. What do you see? I see an actor who has taken method acting as far as it can go. Jack is jumping around with a real ax, shaking and muttering furiously about how he is going to kill anyone he comes across. It’s hard to understand his “words,” but it sounds like he might be saying “ax murder kill them” or “ax murder killer.” What’s shocking is that he is the same person in the movie and on the set. Jack Nicholson is Jack Torrance. When he says “come on Jack”, he seems to have channeled and given over to the spirits in the movie.

It is disturbing to see a human being go that far. Whenever you see him on screen, it makes you feel uncomfortable. There’s something about the look in his eyes. It always seems like he’s staring past your eyes and into the darkness in your soul. The expression on his face is truly evil, and it shows pleasure in wreaking havoc on his family. It’s almost as he’s looking into the darkness inside all of us. 

KUBRICK’S LABYRINTH  

The Overlook Hotel is iconic and Gothic. It is one of the most horrifying things in film history. I believe it was constructed to remind the viewer of the inescapable quality of pure evil. The Overlook feels like a never-ending maze. In the scene where Danny is scooting in the halls of the Overlook, he rides in a “circle” but he doesn’t end where he began. It’s as if the Overlook has abducted Danny. When he turns the final corner, he sees the ghosts of the Grady twins begging him, “Hello Danny. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever.” But Danny has a very powerful version of the titular gift—“the shining”—which means that he has psychic abilities ranging from getting a good grade on a test he did not study for to clairvoyance and telepathy. Because of this, he is able to see and resist the spirits that haunt the Overlook Hotel. His father Jack Torrance is not that lucky. 

The hotel has the power to control people like it manipulates the ghost of Charles Grady (and will come to manipulate the ghost of Jack Torrance in Dr. Sleep, 2019). I believe this detail of the hotel trying to abduct Danny is Kubrick telling the audience what will happen to Jack. The depiction of the Overlook is a reflection of Kubrick’s pure and simple genius. Everything in the movie—from the wardrobe to the props and paintings—is purposeful. All of these calculated decisions tangle together and make an inescapable labyrinth of thought. This is shown both figuratively and literally. Outside the Overlook Hotel, there is an enormous hedge maze that has been infinitely referenced in pop culture. Kubrick chose to replace the topiary animals of Stephen King’s original book because the CGI technology of that time was not great and it would look like a total joke. In one of horror’s most defining conclusions, Danny lures Jack into the hedge maze, loses him in the bushes, and uses his shining to navigate out of the torment. In the end, Jack gets trapped in a horrifying situation of his own contriving. He is literally frozen in time.  

 The interior set of the Overlook and the hedge maze makes the audience feel that they too are lost in the horrifying snowy grounds.        

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

Kubrick was notorious for his direction style and the way he treated his actors on set. He would use any means to get the performance he wanted. The most famous example of this was the way he “tormented” Shelly Duval in order to extract the feeling of pure fear and horror. In the book The Complete Kubrick, Duval says “Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before.” The famous scene in which Wendy is trying to fend off Jack with a baseball bat on stairs reportedly required 127 takes, which left Duval exhausted and mentally unstable. But by tormenting Duval, Kubrick managed to capture one of the most emotionally distraught scenes in cinema history. 

Perhaps the most unsettling image in the whole film occurs towards the end as Wendy is navigating the labyrinth. She runs up the stairs, looks into a room, and sees something indescribable: a creature in a bear suit and mask, performing a sexual act with a man in a tuxedo. Wendy and the creature make eye contact, the shot zooms in on the beast’s face, and the audience cannot imagine who or what could be behind his impenetrable mask. Because Kubrick offers no explanation, the audience is left to fill in the blank. It is like a terrifying Mad Libs. It gives you the feeling that you are imagining the whole thing.

Things that are omitted are unsettling, and Kubrick built his whole career on not explaining things to the audience. He keeps secrets from the viewer. I think that we will never solve the puzzles in his films, most especially in The Shining. The day we do figure out what Kubrick meant in this film is the day we attain his unattainable mastery. And this will never happen because Kubrick’s genius was decades ahead of his time. When you compare The Shining to other films from the 1980’s it pushes the limitations and transcends the status quo of the era. The Shining is so good that it sets the tone for decades to come

VERDICT

Overall The Shining is my favorite horror movie and is horrifying on all the right levels. It is suspenseful, psychological, intense, and intelligent. Even if the ghosts in The Shining are not real, Wendy and Danny are still haunted by Jack Torrance’s alcoholism and violent tendencies. This relates to Wendy and Danny’s feelings of dread, isolation, and intimate contact with their tormentor. The film captures the feeling of unease, the feeling of not knowing if you’ll ever escape. And all of this is closed with a shot of a  photograph of Jack in the gold room with the caption Overlook Hotel July 4th Ball dated 1921, this reflects that after Jack’s death in the hedge maze he is immortalized as another spirit of the Overlook Hotel. Jack’s open arms in this image is as if he is welcoming you into the horrors that have taken place that cursed winter. This image will be burned into the heads of viewers forever. It has been dissected and analysed hundreds of times, but my view of this shot is that it is Kubrick showing the audience that the answer to why Jack is exploited by the ghosts of the overlook was right under our noses the whole time. The last piece of the puzzle Kubrick created hidden in plain sight.


I WILL GIVE THE SHINING 10/10! “a masterpiece of modern horror.”    

Joker Review “Iᔕ IT ᒍᑌᔕT ᗰE, Oᖇ Iᔕ IT GETTIᑎG ᑕᖇᗩᘔIEᖇ OᑌT TᕼEᖇE?”

Joker is the most realistic take on a comic book character I have ever seen. 

This is the first time that the audience has ever seen a normal, human name and face for the Joker. 

This Review will be split into four categories

  1. The film making 
  2. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance
  3. The Plot 
  4. The Verdict

The Film Making

First off, Joker is shot as if the pictures are flying off a page. Some shots are framed like comic book panels and it is truly amazing. For instance, there is a shot of Joker opening a pair of curtains to the fictional Live with Murray Franklin. Comics tell a story with a single image. This shot shows the Joker’s dream come true. He is backstage about to finally be in the spotlight, we see the production crew, the lights queuing him to the stage and his body language which shows his sense of victory. All this in one frame,   

and the only way I can describe it is “truly epic.” 

The direction is also very good. This is Todd Phillips’s best work since the first Hangover movie. The visuals are amazing and immersive. You see rats crawling through the subway, and it really captures how gross and grimy Gotham (New York) is and how difficult it is for the main character to live there. This is the first time in a Batman movie that Gotham looks like a real and terrible living environment. 

I will give the filmmaking a 10/10

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance

I mentioned in the introduction briefly that this is the most realistic take on a comic book character ever and it is all because of the performance by Joaquin Phoenix. He has an emotional, special and encapsulating performance. You truly feel bad for Arthur Fleck before his transformation into the seminal joker, you believe that Joaquin is Arthur. Arthur is a lower class man in Gotham City (New York City), who starts a revolution against rich people. Arthur is a depressed and pathetic, middle aged, self-aware loner. Phoenix embodies the character. Phoenix took method to the next level when he lost almost fifty pounds in order to get a single shot and to seem more pathetic. 

He seems to be really miserable and like he is going to hurt himself but then the audience is surprised when he pulls out a gun and shoots Murray. This whole time it has seemed like he is depressed, suicidal and dangerous to himself. As soon as he suits up and transforms into the joker he becomes a menace to society. When Arthur Fleck transforms into Joker he changes into this havok wrecking psychopath, that is happy and energized while he is taking on these acts of pure terror. 

I will give Joaquin Phoenix’s performance a 10/10.

The Plot

Joker is a tale of misery in a declining economy and it is almost perfect, but there is one huge flaw. 

The main flaw is the inclusion of Bruce Wayne/Batman as a child, it is confusing and overall messy. The movie would have been stronger if Joker was just about a regular guy with a mental disability. In the beginning you feel like you have struck cinematic gold. The movie is a slow burn character study on Athur Fleck. The audience goes so deep inside the character that you get disappointed when it turns into a Batman origin story.

Ultimately because of the Batman sub-plot the character gets lost and becomes a campy comic book villain. The film draws unnecessary connections to Batman and the franchise. The film would have been stronger if it only focused on the main character and not another character that will only be important in a future movie. 

I will give the plot a 9/10.

Verdict

Still there is something about this film that resonates with the audience. This is clear by the way the now iconic “joker” stairs have become an instagram destination photo op and how people are remixing and remaking the joker trailer. I think this has to do with the setting: a crumbling New York City, filled with garbage and economic injustice. The setting plays as an allegory for our economic and environmental despair.

I will give Joker a 9.5/10, one of the best this year!