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Joker so much more than a comic book or superhero movie


By Spalding Today Columnist


FILM REVIEW: JOKER (15), SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, ROBERT DE NIRO, ZAZIE BEETZ, SHEA WHIGHAM, BRETT CULLEN, DOUGLAS HODGE & FRANCES CONROY

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 2 MINS DIRECTOR: TODD PHILLIPS

Joker (18950271)
Joker (18950271)

Why so serious?

Not in a long time have I been this hyped about seeing a movie.

In the past I've been left disappointed by a film simply because I’d walked into my screening with expectations that were way too high.

Joker (18950275)
Joker (18950275)

Is that the case with Joker? I'll reveal all shortly.

First things first, forget huge acts of terrorism with big explosions and epic car chase... that is Christopher Nolan’s Batman. That is The Joker. This is simply Joker.

This character study sees Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown-for-hire by day.

And this guy can’t catch a break. The only person close to a friend is his own mother (Frances Conroy). Everyone else seems to either want to ridicule him or wish harm upon him. One night, Arthur is beaten up by three guys on the subway while dressed in clown make-up. That’s when he snaps. Let’s just say he get’s his revenge in quite an extreme way.

When the press covers this story the following day, are the city scared of this maniac clown? Far from it. They fully support his actions. Because they too have had enough with being pushed around by bullies.

And finally, I'm understanding the controversy surrounding this movie.

The media have claimed that this movie could lead to people being violent in the real world. Yes, in the movie these characters retaliate in a violent way. But let me emphasise that... characters in a movie.

My opinion is that if someone is ‘messed up enough’ to harm others, that’s what they’re going to do regardless as to whether they saw it in a film. If anything, maybe this film should make us take a hard look at ourselves as a society and what role we play in creating real life villains?

But anyway, back to the review.

Phoenix had some big Clown shoes to fill, following the likes of Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and of course, Heath Ledger. But I won’t bother comparing this version of Joker to any others. This is simply a different Joker. This is Joker as we've never seen before. He’s a bad guy, don't get me wrong, but one you’re kind of rooting for.

Phoenix most definitely deserves at least an Oscar nomination for this – and time will see if he garners the Oscar itself – as he’s simply phenomenal.

There are similarities to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver – it does actually co-star Robert De Niro alongside Deadpool 2 actress Zazie Beetz – in storyline and grittiness, which is surprising when you think it’s directed by Todd Phillips – the man that gave us comedies such as Old School and The Hangover.

When I first heard there was going to be a Joker origin story, it felt like a simple cash-in and I also wondered if it would suffer not having Batman.

It doesn’t. Not at all.

In fact, don’t look at this as a comic book or superhero movie – as this is so much more.

It gets you thinking way past the closing credits – and a film hasn’t affected me like that in quite a while.

Rating: 4.5/5

By Mikey Clarke


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