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Smile and put on a happy face with the Joker

Joaquin Phoenix could very well be that next great Joker. We can only hope the new Todd Phillips film will stay true to the first trailer.

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DC Films, what a strange and tangled picture you weave. After the poor critical reception of blockbuster efforts like Justice League (awful) and Aquaman (even more awful than Justice League), DC is riding a critical renaissance with the freshly opening Shazam!. The film is a blast and once that seems to have the DC ship pointing to more critically prosperous waters.

Then comes the Joker. A character with a rich cinematic history, portrayed by some illustrious names (and Jared Leto) to varying degrees of success. We can only hope future Jokers can crawl their way up to the Nicholsons and the Ledgers- but it starts with the setting, the tone, and the gravitas in which the actor brings to the table.

Joaquin Phoenix could very well be that next great Joker. The tone and setting helps too- Joker, the new film by Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School, The Hangover), is set in 1980s Gotham. With that comes the analog feel of 80s New York– the styles, the colours, the structures – and all that paints a dour looking restless city, one that looks and resonates with authenticism.

Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand-up comedian, bullied by life’s hardships, he turns into a life of crime as everyone’s favorite broken clown.

Joker looks darker than previous DC outings, and not in the Zack Snyder kind of way. It looks like there’s substance behind the burden and the pain, one that feels missing from previous DC Films. The film is already spurning the usual hot takes, but for me, the aesthetic and the ambiguity of trying to figure out just what the hell this film will be about spikes my interest.

Will Phoenix’s Joker be better than what Nicholson and Ledger brought to the character? We won’t find out for a few months, but from the trailer, it already feels more significant than the cartoonish caricature of Leto’s most recent turn.

Joker co-stars Robert DeNiro, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, and Marc Maron. It opens in cinemas October 4th in the United States. Watch the trailer above.

Why so serious?

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Miles Davis and The Birth of the Cool

Can one distill cool into one documentary?

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If there is one thing that has been indisputable about the legacy of Miles Davis is that he was the personification of ‘cool’. And it seems like there was no decade where he was making music that he wasn’t ever cool. We once said about Miles Davis and his cool that “no matter how scrupulous your selection – one cannot distill cool into thirteen tracks, no matter how good“. Now the unenviable task of distilling that cool into a succinct document falls into the hands of Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a new documentary detailing the life, music, and legacy of Miles Davis.

Directed by Stanley Nelson Jr. (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before hitting the festival circuit through the year. The film chronicles the rebellious nature of Miles Davis, detailing his desire to constantly break from the norm, with director Stanley Nelson saying;

“He was an extraordinary artist celebrated for his restless artistic aesthetic and his ceaseless innovation.  He changed the course of music five or six times.  By unpacking his upbringing, his methodology, his relationships, and his demons, we begin to understand the man who redefined the original American musical genre, jazz, and continues to influence generations of rock, funk, and hip-hop artists.”

Abramorama will screen the film today, August 23rd in New York with director Stanley Nelson taking part in a Q+A. Tickets for this screening, along with future screenings, can be found here.

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Bruce Springsteen gets cinematic with Western Stars

“Life’s mysteries remain and deepen, its answers unresolved”

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“We all have our broken pieces … nobody gets away unhurt. We’re always trying to find somebody whose broken pieces fit with our broken pieces and something whole emerges”

On the heels of the release of Bruce Springsteen’s nineteenth studio album Western Stars, Warner Bros Pictures has announced the release of the cinematic experience accompanying the album. The new film features Springsteen performing all 13 tracks from the new album, accompanied by a full orchestra in his 100-year-old barn. The film will also showcase old home footage as well as Springsteen’s life-earned ruminations we’ve seen through his career- brought to life recently with his stint on Broadway and on his Netflix special.

Warner Bros. exec Toby Emmerich has said about Western Stars and Springsteen;

“Bruce lives in the super rarified air of artists who have blazed new and important trails deep into their careers. With ‘Western Stars,’ Bruce is pivoting yet again, taking us with him on an emotional and introspective cinematic journey, looking back and looking ahead.”

Western Stars will premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, kicking off September 5th. The film was produced by Jon Landau, Barbara Carr, and George Travis with Springsteen executive producing it. Western Stars was co-directed by Springsteen and longtime collaborator Thom Zimny.

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