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Review: Todd Phillips - The Joker Movie
Mail passed around, New York on Oct 19, 2019

JOKER - Teaser Trailer

PLOT: In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregardedand mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: "The Joker". more

Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a strange and twisted tale with a pretty blatant and serious message that warrants public attention, especially given the rise in the number of brutal murders of the NYC homeless, and the overall increase in extreme violent crimes. The movie, which is surprisingly less fantastic and much closer to a reality based social message story, also delivers an important lesson.

“Joker” is based on a DC comic book character. Todd Phillips’ Joker character is not the typical cagey money entrepreneur and power-obsessed heroic fantasy character that a dark-side inspired individual would aspire to be like. There’s no sharp wit, nor heroic glint in his eye, no evil genius able to inspire a band of renegades to take over the world till death do us part. He lacks any smooth-talking charm or social smarts. Rather, this Joker is a complete incompetent. One’s first impression, right or wrong, is that he has body odor, his breath smells and his teeth are rotten.

The film is an insightful examination of how an individual can lose his soul and humanity over a period of time. A story of the how poverty, abandonment, isolation, being a bastard child growing up with confusion, violence and devoid of love, and how that experience can foment into the type of rage that can mold that person into a homicidal psychopath, with a lust for hurting and killing people. It’s a stunning visual example of how society creates its Charles Mansons

In 1981, this “Joker” lived with this mother in a small cramped apartment. He tried his best to fit in. To be loved. To have friends. To give something from himself to help sick children, to make peoples’ lives a little better through humor. One cannot feel sorry for who the Joker becomes, but we can perhaps begin to understand the price society may have to pay for abusing, bullying, and discarding a child, and then continuing to brutalize him as a grown adult (now with few social skills). Instead of a loving person we can end up with a person filled with rage, resentment, and a desire to kill.

School Of the Arts. The L.E.S. is a place many students live and is the playground for many NYU students. This film reveals a deep understanding and connection to the Lower East Side

Phillips first movie was “Hated,” a documentary about Rock and Roll Outlaw legend G. G. Allin, a punk rock singer/songwriter whose notorious stage performances were exhibits of that very rage that society can foster. G.G. Allin's last performance was at the 2 street & Ave B Gas Station performance space, and later he died that night on the L.E.S of an alcohol and heroin overdose. In the movie was a short video reference to that last performance. Elsa and I also videotaped and photographed that G.G’s Gas Station performance.

The overall environment reflecting the social decay of NYC. The L.E.S. protests and riots in the streets. The movie licensed some of the footage I made with my wife Elsa’s assistance, footage from the August 6th - 7th 1988 Tompkins Square Park Police riot video, which lead to the a few years of protestors clashing with the police and a few other riots. The “Joker” subway scene with a subway car and platform filled with potentially 1000’s of protestors wearing clown masks reminded me of producer Arthur Cantor’s Broadway hit a Thousand Clowns. Overlap this with the 1973 Stephen Sondheim song Send in the Clowns makes the scene very intense. One poster for Cantor’s Broadway show had the Joker card from the deck with the head torn off. Max Cantor, son of that producer, aspiring journalist and actor, follower of the Hunter Thompson Gonzo school of journalism, became totally infatuated with the Lower East Side Monika Beerle murder and the accused murderer Daniel Rakowitz, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Max with his Gonzo journalist desire to become a character in the story to write the story, tragically became a victim himself of the excesses of the period. The Beerle murder was vicious and brutal: decapitated, the flesh from the mutilated body was placed in black garbage bags and left on the street, the cleaned and washed bones carefully placed in a cat-litter filled compound bucket left in a Port Authority locker. The subway scene had detectives chasing after the “Joker” and ended up becoming victims of the protestors rage. One of Rakowitz’s quotes was “Kill The Pig And Feed The To The Hogs.” The final scene with the bloody footprints left behind as the Joke walked out of the scene looked like copies of George Bliss 1980’s painted purple footsteps which led to Adam Purple’s Garden Of Eden. “Joker” had spent years consuming prescribed psychiatric drugs. As a child Rakowitz prescribed drug was Ritalin

Not the L.E.S. but the1984 Subway Vigilant Bernie Goetz shooting and wounding 4 Black youths he assumed were going to rob him and this “Joker” shot 3 white men who attacked the “Joker” on the train.

Todd Phillips is a moralist. One lesson is to be kind to those who have less as one day they may come back looking for more. More can mean shooting up a theater.

Jerry Pagane: The Struggle Between Deaf & Hearing World.

Compare Tod Phillips The Joker to the Jerry Pagane history. Jerry’s story is a real life example how good can come out from a tragic beginning. Shows what a little love and respect can do to make a person good rather than bad.

Jerry Pagane born in 1948, in Pittsburg, White, unweight, no ears, and on Christmas Eve dumped on a church step. In the 40 ’s and 50’s people were afraid of the deaf. Jerry could not speak or hear. Image the mental isolation? The system had no way of dealing with a deaf orphan. He was placed in 2 orphanages: Pressley Rigeway for Disturbed Children and Home for Cripple Children, and seven foster homes. At age 5 went to Western Pennsylvania school for the Deaf and the Dumb in Pittsburgh. Between the age of 6 and 15 he had 27 ear operations. Nothing worked. Eventually he became a member of a loving foster home and he thrived. Became an Eagle Scout. In high school he was a flyweight wrestler. But it was art that satisfied his soul. He was the first deaf person to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University. First deaf person to teach at the Atlanta College of Art. In 1983 during the height of the drug wars Jerry, moved to his apartment on 7th Street between Avenue C and D and has lived there ever since. On the Lower East Side Avenue C and D were considered 2 of the most dangerous Avenues in the 9th Precinct. The 9th had one of the highest murder rates in NYC.

In 1984, we were in our first art group show together. To survive he painted signs and was an independent businessman. If one wanted to follow the path of gentrification a book on his signs would explain a lot. It is his dedication to his art that drove him forward and pulled us together. His earlier work describes L.E.S. fires, abandoned streets, and the pleasure part, people in restaurants. The last few years he has been working to build a bridge between the deaf and the non-deaf.

Jerry is a true Art Warrior. A kind and gentle soul. A hero of mine. Jerry Pagane is an inspiration for me. I love and admire Jerry, his art, and all he stands for. He is one of the toughest guys I know. A will and determination made of steel.

As a side bar I have known a few extremely dangerous gangsters who were little guys. Do not get confused by size.