This is going to be a great movie.
I’m definitely looking forward to going to see this now.
“The clown prince of crime is alive and mentally unwell in Gotham City in Todd Phillips’ grippingly atmospheric supervillain origin story, Joker. While a never-better Joaquin Phoenix paints on the famed maniacal smile with his own blood at one memorable climactic moment of messianic rebirth, what’s most noteworthy about this gritty entry in the DC canon and the lead actor’s sensational performance is the pathos he brings to a pathetically disenfranchised character — just like countless others in a metropolis in which the social chasm separating the haves from the have-nots has become a pit of incendiary rage. …
Arthur tunes in to the show religiously with his sickly mother Penny (Frances Conroy) in their dingy tenement apartment, drifting early on into a fantasy in which he’s plucked out of the studio audience to be embraced on-camera by Murray, stepping in for the father he has never known. Arthur even studies guests on the show and rehearses his entrance and couch banter at home, Rupert Pupkin-style, though it’s clear from the outset that his disillusionment with Murray will turn ugly. ….
An innocent part of him really does just want to follow his mother’s guidance and make people smile. But the city pulls funding for its welfare programs, forcing him to go off his meds; a video clip of him laughing uncontrollably while doing a spot at a standup club gets mocked by his idol Murray on national TV; even his doting mother is perceived to have failed him when he filches her medical records and finds what’s either a disturbing cover-up or fuel for paranoia.
The trajectory of innocence to evil is a tragic one. But watching Arthur exult as the crime wave crescendos is a chilling spectacle illustrating what all the ridicule, abuse and marginalization he’s been subjected to have wrought. …”
“It’s 1981, and Gotham is on the brink of chaos. The streets are covered in trash—owing to a citywide Garbage Strike; poverty is rampant; and mental-health facilities are shuttering due to a scarcity of funds. (Picture the noirish hellscape of Taxi Driver overrun by a particularly vicious strain of “super rats.”) Into that void saunters Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown by day and struggling stand-up comic by night. Arthur lives with his elderly mother (Frances Conroy) in a run-down Bronx apartment, and, in true Norman Bates fashion, worships the ground she walks on—bathing her, confiding in her, and spending every night with her tuning in to their favorite variety show, Live with Murray Franklin. In Murray (Robert De Niro), Arthur sees the solicitous father figure he never had.
Arthur is, more than anything, a child desperately searching for identity and a sense of belonging. “I just hope my death makes more cents [sic] than my life,” he’s scribbled in his journal, a collection of deranged musings on his everyday trials and humiliations.”
So, this is the Joker’s origin story.
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is someone who is suffering from a severe mental illness caused by extreme social disintegration. He comes from an atomized urban environment where he suffers from anomie, alienation and resentment. The abuse he suffers turns him into a nihilistic sociopathic killer who becomes a hero to all the other uprooted and alienated urbanites suffering from varying degrees of the same psychosis who want nothing more than to kill all the rich bastards lording it over their dystopia.
I can totally see this because this is precisely what living in such an unnatural environment with so few human attachments whether it is to race, nation, culture, ethnic group, clan, community, religious group or family – all the attachments that give life context and make it rich and meaningful – does to people who are deprived of being part of a larger whole and story. It drives them insane and turns them into degenerates and mass shooters. Liberal democracy unravels the social fabric and makes people miserable like Arthur Fleck who go on to violently lash out against society like Joker.
Note: The Aurora shooter James Holmes told the police he was The Joker.