Media medley – The Joker, Thom Yorke and Pumping Iron

Hey, shiny happy people.

In this little update, I’d thought I’d share some of my recent media consumption, with thoughts, opinion and reviews to boot.

As always, if you have any recommendations for interesting bits and bobs to watch/read/listen etc, feel free to get in touch.

Enjoy.

The Joker

joker

I went to the cinema recently and what a treat.

It’s been a while since saw a film in the flesh and it’s good to remember there’s an interactive world out there, beyond the sweaty neon Netflix chamber of doom.

I’ve always loved the immersion of the cinema with sugar-laden snacks (peanut M&M’s? Yes please), assortment of teaser trailers, and excited hush of the main event.

In this instance, that spectacle was the much anticipated Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

I hadn’t read any reviews pre-screening, meaning my opinions thankfully weren’t swayed by extraneous inputs.

And the overall verdict is that I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

In an era where superhero films have largely descended into CGI fests with green screen explosions conveniently camouflaging a fragile script and watered down narrative, the Joker went deep, telling an altogether human and unnervingly relatable tale.

It was a tension-filled two hours, building steadily over the duration, somewhat reminiscent of The Revenant.

I was informed post-watch that people had actually left the screening in disgust, perhaps expecting another piece of cotton candy Hollywood fluff.

Despite the concern about the graphic nature of the film, the violence wasn’t overdone.

Rather, it was the constant threat throughout the story that proved most menacing, making the movie more akin to a horror flick than DC comic.

And let’s face it, by going dark, there was a lot to live up to.

Its predecessor, The Dark Night, is one of my top ten favourite films, its gritty scenes accentuated by a career-defining Heath Ledger performance.

That’s why Joaquin’s performance must be applauded.

As my friend said during the credits, “I think he was just playing himself”.

Phoenix is certainly believable as a psychotic clown, in the best way possible.

But rather than attempting to re-create a half-baked, Tom Waits revision of Ledger, he brought his own wholly unique paranoid delusion to the role.

The film largely documents how the Joker came to be, an accurate and at times worrying portrayal of society’s ostracism of down and outs and the disturbing consequences that can result.

Without wanting to give too much away, I’d recommend giving it a watch.

Desert Island Discs with Thom Yorke

This was a lovely intimate interview with the Godfather himself.

Having been a Radiohead fan for many years, I always love sneaking a peek at the inner mechanics of its creative tour de force, Thom Yorke.

Painfully shy in his earlier days, Yorke is now a ripe old 50 and has grown quite affable in later life.

And although he’s always been a private person, this chat cut through the usual fluff in an intimate and heartfelt way, in no small part due to Lauren Laverne, who handled the interview with aplomb.

The talk ranges from his childhood eye surgeries, parental relationship and wife’s tragic death, with Yorke opening up in a way I haven’t heard before.

In addition, we get to hear an eclectic mix of Thom’s desert island music, the selections providing a unique insight into the wide influences on Radiohead, including their ability to strike out in bold new directions.

This was the ultimate soothing listen on a dark, stormy night. Highly recommended. 

Spotlight

After reading many an excellent review of this film, I finally bit the bullet.

Unless you don’t know, Spotlight documents systematic child abuse by the Catholic Church in 70’s Boston.

The cover-up by the Church shouldn’t be surprising but is still genuinely shocking.

And the stat that was recounted in the story that such practices were so common as to be considered psychopathology within the priesthood, “affecting” an estimated 6% of the clergy, is mind-boggling.

Overall I feel the film did the subject matter justice and has certainly succeeded in shining a spotlight on this reprehensible behaviour.

Pumping Iron

I’ve been meaning to watch Pumping Iron for many years and could ignore Arnie’s call no longer.

What a watch!

Seeing these guys working out was simply hilarious, at times parody-like.

One part 1960’s porno, another part portrayal of one of our generation’s most influential men, this was a little gem.

You can see the truth behind the mythology that ‘they don’t make gyms like that anymore’.

Sweaty hotboxes full of basic weights, big muscles and bro culture, which today, would seem more lacklustre than a simple home setup.

But boy, these guys are committed to their craft. The time and dedication spent sculpting their bodies shows true dedication, bordering on the obsessive.

To many, such a pursuit might seem strange, but as Arnie says, some people like racing cars, while others like building bodies. Amen.  

What really surprised me watching this was how different Arnie appears in his younger years.

Brash, confident and in many ways ego-driven, it’s hard to reconcile him with the almost venerable man he’s now become.

But what a legend.

Appearing in the US with nothing but a big dream, his charisma in these early days is undeniable.

Sharp, quick-witted and funny, he dismantles his opponents psychologically before they’ve even had a chance to compete with him for the podium.

Just watch this teaser and beware of wrong advices:

And Lou with his Dad. Man, you just wanted to give these guys a hug.

After some true detective work on the old Googles, I realised that Lou played The Incredible Hulk for many years post-Pumping Iron.

If he looks familiar (minus the green body paint), that’s likely why.