Creating Unstable New York States of Mind for Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ and Edward Norton’s ‘Motherless Brooklyn’

  • Indiewire
New York serves as central characters in both Todd Phillips’ “Joker” (a gritty version of Gotham City in 1981 channeling Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy”) and Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn”. In fact, Gotham and Brooklyn embody their two mentally unstable protagonists: Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), the terminally depressed, bullied clown-turned DC supervillain, and Lionel Essrog (Norton), the orphaned sleuth with Tourette syndrome trying to solve a murder and uncover the “Chinatown”-like real estate development scam that’s displacing Brooklyn’s poor and minority residents and demolishing their neighborhoods.

And world building New York as metaphorical period backdrops became personal journeys for both “Joker” production designer Mark Friedberg (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and “Motherless Brooklyn” production designer Beth Mickle (“The Deuce”). “The City is a character in the story,” said Friedberg, who grew up in New York City in the ’60s and ’70s and
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