Friday, December 6, 2019


JOKER - This material has been fashioned into comic books, merchandise tie-ins, live action flicks, animated movies, TV series, books and video games. The Joker was created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson, in Batman’s debut issue, published in 1940 by DC Comics. Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, the setting of Joker (2019) is razor sharp:  Manhattan in the early 80s. Imbued with sleazy porn theaters, sidewalk assassinations, garbage strikes and police corruption. Many character defects contribute to his craziness: jokes that don’t land, his childhood abandonment, weird dance moves, bizarre sense of style, and uncontrollable laughter at inappropriate times. Joaquin Phoenix takes exceedingly challenging material for an actor, and transforms himself. He’s pitiful at first, but becomes the embodiment of the Joker, in a swirling descent into madness. The film has many critics, complaining it condones violence. I will offer an alternate opinion: it can’t be gratuitous if it’s essential to the plot. Joker is a triumph of originality in movie making, in an era of cookie cutter comic book remakes. Yes, you heard that right. An original remake. An antihero becomes heroic, and accomplishes this solo, for all the wrong reasons. Somehow 80 year old source material has been formed into something fresh and new. In this nihilistic world, society steps over the most unfortunate, or does worse. You might think the audience would dislike Arthur Fleck. But you’d be wrong. Who is to blame for the Joker’s atrocities? Perhaps it’s a little bit on all of us. 

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