Joker - This Movie Unnervingly Rocks
Dir: Todd Phillips
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy
Todd Phillips’ assault on what has come to be known as the DC cinematic universe owes more to Martin Scorsese than it does to Chris Nolan. There’s a lot of Taxi Driver on display here – and even more King Of Comedy (note the casting of De Niro, now elevated to the role of TV talk show host rather than the wannabe comic.) But it very smartly honours all of the above influences and encourages Phoenix’ finest – and most damaged – performance to become something quite remarkable.
Phoenix is Arthur Fleck, a very lost man – who works as a clown - in the “Gotham City” (looks a bit like New York) of the early 1980s, touching base with the Wayne family, but very isolated from the world around him. It touches on cannon within the Batman mythology (at one point in particular) but remains a unique and distinctly individual beast – as it plays with said history and twists and turns it in a very clever fashion.
Of course, such reinvention wouldn’t work without a remarkable central performance, and Phoenix more than rises to the occasion, channelling a mentally ill man who can’t help but become more and more the result of his own internal rage. It is at times very brutal – but it’s a testament to Phoenix that you understand where he is coming from. Moving from deeply unnerving to strangely operatic – but never celebrational – Joker is by far the best thing to come out of the DCU since Nolan walked away.
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