Joker: Gotham City is a grim place to live in (it's been twinned with Cromer), refuse collectors on strike, social services being cut back, widespread violent crime, a sharp divide between the rich and the poor. The Joker works as a clown at an agency where the clowns have to punch in on a time clock. He gets the worst gigs, beaten up by kids when he's advertising a closing down sale. Loses his psychiatrist and medication due to the cutbacks. He has to look after his crazed invalid mother who writes to billionaire Thomas Wayne begging for help as she worked for him decades ago. Then he loses his job. All of this pushes him to breaking point.
We have a killer clown pursuing his prey along subway trains and platforms. Long corridors in hospitals, apartment buildings, steep sets of steps. A city on the brink of class war. When three of his employees are slain by the Joker Wayne decides to run for mayor, on a 1% platform, calling the poor clowns. He gets his answer as mobs riot while wearing clown masks. They see the Joker as a hero. Some scenes of savage violence as the Jokers break from reality continues and his new villain persona emerges. Great scenes of hordes of clowns travelling by subway trains to protests and riots. Very much an adult version of the Joker with an outstanding performance by Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. Robert De Niro plays Murray Franklin a talk show host originally adored by the Joker. We get to meet Alfred and the young Bruce Wayne but this is the Joker's story. Writer, director and producer Todd Phillips delivers a dark origin tale which likely puts himself and Phoenix in the running for Oscars. 9/10.
Margot's accent is a bit off, but they might just have found the anarchic tone of the cartoons. Promising. Plus Black Mask is a villain getting his live action day at last (one episode of Gotham was not enough).
I was reading in the paper that Glasgow is probably going to be used to stand in for Gotham City in filming the new Robert Pattinson Batman movie. How exciting, it will make a real change for the city to have criminal maniacs running rampant in it.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn): Another DC film, very much in the adult mode of Joker but not quite meeting those standards. Still a good, watchable film though. BoP opens with an animated backstory for Harley Quinn, detailing even how shre smashed nuns with a bat. Harley (Margot Robbie) brings us up to date on how life has been without the Joker, a split which leaves her with conflicted feelings. It has also complicated her life as now many crooks are out to take revenge on her as she is no longer under the Joker's protection. She realises that she must become a force in her own right and along the way she narrates a tale which cuts backwards and forwards in time, relating how Birds of Prey came together and the story of a diamond and a teenage pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco).
The origin story of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is intriguing, from her childhood days to her emergence as an assassin who will shoot or stab you but prefers to use a crossbow. Black Canary (Jumee Smollett) finds her voice after saving Harley from being kidnapped and working as a driver for Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) a crazed villain even by DC standards, he likes to have his enemies kinned alive by his evil henchman Zsasz (Chris Messina). At this point I should insert a warning that there are some extremely disturbing scenes in this film, certainly not one for the squeamish.
Some great individual fight scenes and mass brawls along the way to a finale at an amusement park which looks positively post-apocalyptic. Harley develops as an character in this film (I loved her pet hyena, Bruce) which (imho)l has been under-rated by some film critics who have little understanding of comic book narratives or how they are translated on to the big screen. Directed by Cathy Yan with the screenplay by Christina Hodson. 7/10.
I'm really enjoying it, it's a great evocation of 60's Britain although I should say a slightly alternative version of the 60's as there are bodies hanging in gibbets in central London. And the police and Tower of London guards carry machine guns. Not to mention the public executions broadcast live on TV. Cliff Richard gets a mention on the radio so it's not that alternative.
Not a lot to do with Batman as this is set even further in the past than Gotham, I think whoever was responsible for this has a great love for 60's TV, especially The Prisoner and The Avengers.
Aleister Crowley's in it as well. I've put you off by mentioning Crowley, haven't I? It's a very minor part. Felicity Kendal as a witch held in an asylum then? That's better.