We're living in different times than the 1970s, which is the decade the movie feels like it's from. Movies from that decade like Dog Day Afternoon, and Taxi Driver were character studies of people who rebel against the rules and morals of society.
Joaquin Phoenix is the best version of Batman's Joker that will ever exist. He is brilliant and deserved his best actor Academy Award. But, like Travis Bixler and other 70s anti-heroes, he is beaten down both literally and figuratively by everyone around him. Joker is a man with a physical condition and a mental illness that causes others to bully and berate him. Viewers are taken along by his struggles and begin to side with him, even as his acts become more and more heinous.
Some have argued that Joker is irresponsible in that it could inspire crime by gun-toting outcasts and skinheads who feel victimized. While I suppose that could happen, it seems more likely that this is a statement of how bad the problems - of income inequality , bullying, and and throwing our mentally-ill population onto the streets without any medical care - have gotten.
Joker: 5 out of 5 stars
Other Joker facts of note:
- His campaign of terror has been going on as long as his nemis Batman has existed. He appeared in Batman comic #1 in 1940.
- Joker is the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, making more than $1 billion.
- No wonder I liked the movie so much. Other than Phoenix's master class in acting, Phillips directed personal faves The Hangover and Old School .
- In the comics, the Joker was, in 1988, appointed UN ambassador to Iraq by Ayatollah Khomeini.
- In 2011, he had his own face cut off,.
- Perhaps another thing that makes the Joker so interesting is that he has numerous origin stories. He's an enigma, un-categorizable. He tells different stories about himself at every turn. In this movie, he was abused and tortured as a child, or at least that's the story that eventually surfaces inside his own mind.