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Joaquin Phoenix

Joker (2019)

DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz, Brett Cullen, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham

REVIEW:

With the simply-titled Joker, an independent stand-alone existing on its own unconnected to any other film in any Batman franchise, director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have gone even further afield of the stereotypical tropes and restrictions of a “comic book movie” than the likes of The Dark Knight, Deadpool, or Logan (rarely for a comic book movie, it shares with the last two examples a well-deserved R rating; this is an adult movie which is thoroughly intended for adults and inappropriate for younger viewers). This is a “comic book movie” in a loose definition of the word, owing more to Scorsese—Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy in particular—than the pages of the Batman comics. Taken on its own merits, Joker is a slow burn but darkly engrossing ride following in gritty, down-to-earth fashion one man’s descent into madness. It’s the kind of movie it’s arguable to say is conventionally “entertaining”, but it’s powerful and disturbing, and not easily shaken off afterwards.

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Signs (2002)

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

CAST: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones

REVIEW:

For his latest venture, The Sixth Sense helmer and thinly-veiled Hitchcokian wannabe M. Night Shyamalan has crafted a sparse, low-key thriller using an alien/home invasion scenario as a vehicle for a thinly-veiled parable about faith and predestination.

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Gladiator (2000)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Tomas Arana, Tommy Flanagan, Ralf Moeller, David Schofield, Spencer Treat Clark, Sven-Ole Thorsen

REVIEW:

Gladiator is the first sword-and-sandals epic in four decades, and harkens back to epic spectacle on a scale seldom mounted while updating the Roman epic with modern effects (and modern violence). Gladiator is a ferocious epic of sand and blood that might attract both fans of Spartacus and those who appreciated Rob Roy, The Last of the Mohicans, or Braveheart, but in some ways is on a more epic scale than all of them, and combines spectacle, red-blooded action, and narrative prowess into a rousing and dynamic film.

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