My nearest cinema and a review of “Joker”

As all my friends know, I am a massive cinema fan. I see a fair number of films and review all of them online.

Now, when I moved to London’s South Bank seven month ago, I was excited that I would be living so near so many cinemas. Indeed the British Film Institute – which I immediately joined – is barely 10 minutes walk away.

But then I discovered that amazingly the Sea Containers Hotel, which is literally on the other side of the road from my block of flats, has a Curzon cinema in its basement. It’s only one small theatre of 56 seats and it only shows a film on weekends – but wow. And this weekend, for the first time, I strolled across the road to see “Joker”.

How did Arthur Fleck become the arch-villian of Gotham City the Joker? What were the events that led to the child Bruce Wayne – later to become Batman – witnessing the murder of his parents? This movie – brilliantly directed, co-written and co-produced by Todd Phillips – provides answers to these questions in what is perhaps the best cinematic work of the DC Universe. 

At the pulsating heart of the film is Joaquin Phoenix in the eponymous role. Now we’ve seen some superlative portrayals of the Joker on the big screen – Jack Nicholson in “Batman” (1989) and Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”(2008) – but here Phoenix is simply mesmerising in a role which he totally inhabits and for which he lost an incredible amount of weight. Every movement and every line is compelling and distinctive. As he managed to do in “Gladiator”, Phoenix somehow contrives to make the viewer understand and even sympathise with a complex character denied love.

The supporting actors – most obviously Robert de Niro – are uniformly convincing, the rendition of Gotham City is captivating, and the sound and music gripping in a film that scores on every front. This is a work that will not attract a wide audience, given the dark material and its occasional but brutal violence, but deservedly it will win many award nominations and could well garner Phoenix an Oscar.


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