Film Review: A painted face hides a bitter truth in the ‘Joker’

Todd Phillips’ dark work ‘Joker’ clinched the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 10 September 2019
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Film Review: A painted face hides a bitter truth in the ‘Joker’

VENICE: Todd Phillips’ dark work “Joker” proved to be the darling of the jury and clinched the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Not that the movie was undeserving, but turning a clown into a killer could be seen as going against the very grain of what all of us have come to love. We have always adored a joker, and have laughed with him, have we not?

But Phillips’ Joker, played with admirable excellence by Joaquin Phoenix (who won the 2017 Cannes best actor award for “You Were Never Really Here”), is more a villain than a comedian. Joker, aka Arthur Fleck, is given a twist by writers Phillips and Scott Silver. They were heavily inspired by Martin Scorsese’s characters (especially Robert De Niro’s in “Taxi Driver”) and DC Comics’ “Batman: The Killing Joke.” 

Fleck is mentally ill, a perpetual loser, so even in his most hideously violent moments, we cannot help but feel a sense of remorse for a man battered by an unfeeling society. Early on, he is seen standing outside a store with a placard that reads: “Everything Must Go.” Some boisterous teenagers snatch the placard from him, and when he protests, they beat him mercilessly.

Fleck tries to turn the saddest, most painful moments into a joke with a funny crackle of laughter (which Phoenix had to practice really hard to get), hoping to get into a normal state. But the laughter often sounds like a sob, a cry for help. Then there is his mother, and we are reminded of Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterly “Psycho.” 

Impressively mounted, “Joker” has been written and edited to evoke a feeling of compassion for one reduced to such a pitiable state by the community, including his own mother. And Phoenix, who lost weight for the role, with cheeks sunken and eyes dropping in distress, literally hypnotizes us with his weird expressions and strange mannerisms, bringing to the fore his unimaginable sorrow. It is a pity that he did not bag the best actor award at Venice.


Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

The singer was spotted wearing a shirt dress by Rami Kadi. (Getty Images)
Updated 18 September 2019

Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

DUBAI: Earlier this week, celebrities descended on YouTube & LOVE magazine’s London Fashion Week party, including the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Rita Ora — who chose to sport a Lebanese minidress on the occasion. 

Models and pop stars partied the night away at London’s The Standard Hotel on Monday night and Ora dazzled in a Pied-de-Coq patterned outfit from Lebanese designer Rami Kadi’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection, dubbed “Ometeo.”

The semi-sheer shirt dress featured pale yellow and ice blue patternwork and Ora paired the outfit with a wide brimmed hat and knee-high black boots. 

The outfit was styled by Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn. 

Rita Ora is no stranger to the Middle East and has performed in the Gulf a few times. (Getty Images)

Young Lebanese designer Kadi has become known for his cutting-edge style and often uses unexpected materials in his work — his latest collection features plexi glass in neon shades. The talent is becoming more and more popular with international celebrities and has already dressed the likes of pop legend Jennifer Lopez and Portuguese model Sara Sampaio, with Ora becoming the latest in a long list of leading ladies to turn to Kadi for sartorial advice. 

Besides her fashion choices, Ora has shown love for the Middle East in other ways — including filming her latest music video in Dubai. 

The singer unveiled the video for her single “New Look” in July and Dubai residents were quick to spot their stomping grounds in the clip. 

One of the neighborhoods to feature in the music video was Meydan — home to Dubai’s premiere racecourse, as well as a clutch of popular party spots.

Ora also performed at The Assembly - the Global Teacher Prize Concert in Dubai in March and at Base, the open-air club in the artsy Dubai Design District, last year.

In 2018, the award-winning singer found time for a quick Instagram-friendly workout in the gym of her Bahrain hotel before going on to wow crowds at the island’s annual Spring of Culture Festival.

The 27-year-old rose to fame in 2012 when she featured on DJ Fresh’s UK Number One “Hot Right Now.” Her self-titled debut album, released in August that year, also went to Number One and featured hits including “How We Do (Party),” “R.I.P.” and “Shine Ya Light.”