The story that Todd Phillips tells in “Joker” and the issues that this cinematic masterpiece raises are so profound, so necessary, that if you look away from the genius of this work of art, you will miss the gift of the mirror it is offering us. Yes, there’s a disturbed clown in that mirror, but he’s not alone — we’re standing right there beside him.
“Joker” is no superhero nor supervillain nor comic book movie. The film is set somewhere in the late ’70s in Gotham City, and Phillips makes no attempt to disguise it for anything other than what it is: New York City, the headquarters of most real-life villainy: the rich who rule us, the banks and corporations for whom we toil, the media which feeds us a daily diet “news” they think we should absorb.
This movie is not about Trump. It’s about the America that gave us Trump — the America which feels no need to help the outcast, the destitute. The America where the filthy rich just get richer and filthier. Except in this story a discomfiting question is posed: What if one day the dispossessed decide to fight back?
I loved this film’s multiple homages to “Taxi Driver,” “Network,” “The French Connection,” “Dog Day Afternoon.” How long has it been since we’ve seen a movie aspire to the level of Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” or Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy”? Thank you, Todd Phillips, and all who made this important movie for this important time.
Michael Moore won the documentary Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine.” His other films include “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Roger & Me” and “Sicko.”