Friday, April 20, 2012

Fan Film Theatre - Short Reels: "Joker Does Shakespeare" (Antonio Llapur, 2005)


Directed by Antonio Llapur
Written by Antonio Llapur and Matthew Sjafiroeddin
Based on the DC Comic Characters Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Adapted from “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Produced by Antonio Llapur and Matthew Sjafiroeddin
Cinematography by Aaron Goodwin
Visual Effects by Amahl Dunbar
Costume Design by Matthew Sjafiroeddin
Make Up Design by Rich ‘Rico’ Sundell
Editing by Antonio Llapur, Matthew Sjafiroeddin and Aaron Goodwin
Original Motion Picture Score Composed by Marcus Sjafiroeddin

Matthew Sjafiroeddin ... The Joker
Charlie Wilson ... Happy Cokehead
Antonio Llapur ... Batman

The Clown Prince of Crime delves into his theatrical side by performing William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ for a dead man.


He’s everything from a comical clown to a psychopathic murderer and he’s been interpreted in a varying number of ways.

But perhaps one of the universal appeals of the Joker is that at his blackened core resides a true showman.

The character goes to great lengths, whether in orchestrating a trap for Batman or plotting a mad scheme against Gotham City, to make it the most theatrical experience for all involved. With pain-staking effort, he composes the elements of his plans, paying specific attention to every conceivable detail in order to render the most engaging, immersive incarnation of a murder spree or a widespread poisoning you’ve ever witnessed.

The Joker doesn’t just want to kill you; he wants you to spend your dying breath watching him take a bow for it, living in that final moment of agony in awe of what he’s created.

With all he does to make it perfect, he deserves no less.

In 2005’s “Joker Does Shakespeare,” we catch the clown at a moment of catharsis. Having just committed a murder, he decides to give it the finishing touch by reciting excerpts from the William Shakespeare classic “Hamlet.”

The short is a clever one, only taking a moment out of a larger conflict to reflect on Joker’s morbid theatricality. Even when his only audience is a corpse, the Joker sees no reason not to give the performance his all.

The atmosphere of the film is rightfully creepy, which comes from a combination of the Joker’s voice, the minimalist music and the moments of long, drawn out silence sprinkled throughout. There’s even his mannerisms in interacting with the dead body; stroking its hair as he speaks.

There’s a wonderful juxtaposition going on by having the Joker recite one of the greatest written works in history in one of the crudest, foulest scenarios one could ever fear to be suspect to. But as with “Patient J” (obviously less so since it’s far shorter) we’re given a depiction of the Joker that’s both a matter of seeing him in his element while also catching him at a moment of vulnerability before Batman interrupts and forces him to put up his guard again.

The visual style of the film is admittedly jarring; a lot of the green screen work and color correction fights to take you out of the piece with how obvious it is.

And it is a bit much to see the Joker decked out in a white fur coat and matching hat like an absurdly stereotypical pimp.

But what should hopefully keep you grounded is the Joker himself; how he’s delivering the material, how the choice of “Hamlet” speaks to him and how he moves both in his performance of it and around the room, the material physically moving him in the process.

“Joker Does Shakespeare” is a simple little bit piece that’s intriguing in its own unique way.


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