Joker, Joaquin Phoenix, August clown

“Joker” isn’t exactly a superhero story or a blockbuster movie. This is much better. We owe the film to Todd Phillips, a cunning business owner (“Top Bad Journey” saga) turned skilled recycler here. He exploits modern mythology (the origins of Batman’s enemy) to revive American cinema that is no longer (the protest films of the 1970s). His audacity is to take the view of a sociopath, like Scorsese’s “taxi driver.”

Hysterion is a psychopath

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Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) lives with his mother, sick and high on talk shows, and clown sandwiches on the streets of Gotham, a version of lousy New York in 1981, a record year in terms of violence. A victim of a nervous insufficiency that makes him jolly when he feels bad, captivated by a sordid daily life and his mother’s commands to be happy, Arthur dreams of appearing in the show of his idol, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro, in a role that echoes that of Waltz for Dolls). His aggression in the street by young thugs marks the beginning of the descent into hell from which the boy will free himself by turning the hysterical into a psychopath, a leader despite a popular uprising of revolutionary clowns.

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From yellow laughs to “yellow jackets,” and from individual malaise to social chaos, the character’s trajectory crystallizes America’s current evils: contempt for the strong for the weak, impunity for the rich, social assistance at the mast, killer-carrying of guns, mockery of the TV show. Don’t look in the movie for the ambiguity or sophistication of self-proclaimed paradigms (let’s add “net” and “city guard”). Todd Phillips favors the pop-iconic power and emphasis inherited from Christopher Nolan (the music underpins every dramatic influence), which wanes as Arthur becomes the Joker and Joaquin Phoenix takes over the show. The stunning actor navigates various frenzys with the kamikaze elegance that sets him apart from his illustrious predecessors, from Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger.

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Saturday 12th September at 8:50 pm in the channel and cinema. American drama written by Todd Phillips (2019). With Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro. 2:02. (Multicast and on-demand).

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