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THE REEL: The eerily realistic tale of the ‘Joker’

Wednesday October 30 2019

Joker is a story that is easy to tell, and easy to love, and also, easy to convolute. PHOTO| COURTESY YOUTUBE SCREEN GRAB

Joker is a story that is easy to tell, and easy to love, and also, easy to convolute. PHOTO| COURTESY YOUTUBE SCREEN GRAB 

ABIGAIL ARUNGA
By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro

Run time: 2h 2m

Distinguishing features: Already the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time, beating Deadpool 1 and 2 to the top spot, the Joker movie has been in cinemas for an impressively short period of time to generate such a large mass of commentary – particularly for Joaquin Phoenix, in the starring role, being touted for an Oscar.

No one can ever argue the fact that Joaquin Phoenix can, indeed, act. It’s indisputable, as are his roles, the ones he plays eerily, convincingly, consummately, from Her, where he is a love starved loner, to The Village, where he is a love starved (well, love driven) villager…to Joker, where he is a love starved madman. I’m a big fan, of Joaquin. I just don’t know how I feel about the movie Joker.

Once again, because humanity is unable to leave old stories alone, someone again decided to make yet another movie about one of the best villains – debatably, the best one on screen in at least the last two decades – ever to grace a superhero movie fan’s imagination – and with good cause.

Joker is a story that is easy to tell, and easy to love, and also, easy to convolute. Or perhaps, maybe perhaps, that is the story of derangement for the segment of the population that gives us the most serial killers and colonisers – the middle-aged Caucasian white man (who may be an incel, and lives with his mother).

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Just to be clear, I am not saying that Joker is a bad movie, or that Joaquin doesn’t deserve all the accolades he is getting – even going as far as a comparison to the incomparable Heath Ledger.

We start off with his job as a professional clown, gradually getting darker and darker into the life of a man who is terrorised by society who shuns him, coddled and misunderstood by a maddened mother, and rejected at what he thought could be a home.

He starts on a spree when his comedy career does not take off the way he thought it would, and there is no turning back – only turning into what we knew he was going to become, when we first started watching the movie.

I am saying, that Joker is a frightening movie, in every sense of the word. For me, the scariest things to watch on a screen are the ones that have a strong potential to become reality.

The script, to me, would read like a treatise on please don’t piss off the white guy.

It sounds simplistic, but this is sometimes – often – how what we call the dregs of society are created – with that very same bullying, and shunning, and ignoring, those among us who need the most help they can get.

Forget people going onto talent shows and thinking they’re talented – here’s looking at you, TPF – what happens when someone who needs drugs, or care, or rent, can’t get it?

This theme I’m talking about has always been a strong one in the DC universe – that of what brings one into the darkness, out of the light, and I’m glad that they maintained, at least that, in a movie inspired by DC.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, it left me chilled to the bone from beginning to the end, which I guess is what you want a true villain movie to do – but like I said, more because it can easily come true.

And that’s scarier, deeply, viscerally, to me, than any damage stage makeup or a fake gun can portray.

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