'Joker' available through rental outlets this week

Warner Bros. Pictures

Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker.”

Joaquin Phoenix takes on the tough role of a mentally disturbed man portraying a popular comic book villain in the blockbuster hit “Joker,” which released to home theater rental outlets this week.

The film centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen.

Director Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.

A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night, but finds the joke always seems to be on him.

Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.

IMDb trivia states that the Joker’s make-up is very similar to John Wayne Gacy’s, a serial killer who would often entertain children while dressed as Pogo the Clown. This make-up style was shunned by working clowns at the time, as they strictly prohibit “sharp” ends in their make-up, as it scares children.

Also, Phoenix lost a lot of weight for his role as the Joker. It was so serious that filming could only be done once, with no opportunity for reshoots.

Other stars in the film include: Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull” and “Cape Fear”) as Murray Franklin, Zazie Beetz (“Geostorm” and “Deadpool 2”) as Sophie Dumond, Brett Cullen (“Ghost Rider” and “The Dark Knight Rises”) as Thomas Wayne, Bill Camp (“Jason Bourne” and “12 Years a Slave”) as Detective Garrity and Frances Conroy (“The Aviator” and “Catwoman”) as Penny Fleck.

On the Rotten Tomatoes website the Tomatometer, based on critics, is at 69 percent and the audience score is at 88 percent.

“Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema,” said the Critic’s Consensus on the website.

The film is rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.

Another films released to home theaters this week include:

n “The Lighthouse,” directed by Robert Eggers and starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. From Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind modern horror masterpiece ‘The Witch,’ comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

The film is rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language.

n “Girl on the Third Floor,” directed by Travis Stevens and starring C.M. Punk, Elissa Dowling, Karen Woditsch and Sarah Brooks. Don Koch is failing as a husband and he views fixing up an old house as a chance to make up for past mistakes. Meanwhile, his wife is concerned about the renovation timeline as they have a baby on the way. With all this pressure it’s no wonder Don responds to the flirtations of an attractive stranger. As Don tears the house apart, it begins to tear him apart as well, revealing the rot behind the drywall.

This film has no rating.

The synopsis for each film is from the Rotten Tomatoes website.

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