Why do we like to overestimate the Joker so much? | Movie theater


Joker arrives on Netflix on December 6.

The climate for superhero movies has not been very calm lately. Not the fault of those who make them (they continue on their way without being discouraged), but of those who refuse to accept this genre as artistic expression. When we approach this subject, we think – obviously – a Martin scorsese, the most authoritative name that expressed the toughest position in this regard. However, many voices have joined the choir over time. And there is nothing wrong with that, indeed, every discussion is always the cornerstone of creativity. It is therefore a debate that has practically always existed. He was born outside of comic book stores and recently moved to multiplexes. But the substance is the same. Comics have always been accused of not being literature or a form subordinate to it (a hypothesis also recently put forward by Aldo Cazzullo). Just like today these films are not considered cinema by some.

Yet few titles manage to generate such significant income, and arouse such interest, that Hollywood can not do without. Even critics of cinematography know it, even if they deny it: the success of a blockbuster does not entail any damage to arthouse films. Failures yes. Because they bring fewer people into the cinema, because fewer young people can approach the big screen, because the studios can risk less by running out of surplus to reinvest in more experimental films.

Thus, in reaction, this new generation of independent authors or belonging to the world of “Great prices”, took the fear in hand. He understood that change must be managed. This fashion can be followed, while retaining its own identity. James Mangold tried it with Logan, and recently we saw Chloe Zaho with Eternals. It’s no coincidence that she has been criticized for bending her style around Marvel’s needs. And if these criticisms are true, we leave it to the judgment of the individual and this deepening to decide.

On the DC shore, this attempt to transport comic book characters into an arthouse film is quickly identified with Joker. Even though, on closer inspection, Todd Phillips’ authoring need isn’t that different from Zack Snyder’s, but with different results. In fact, there’s no denying that Snyder has put his all into his trilogy. Weaknesses are the expression of this perfect adherence to the director’s vision. Which remains raw, unprocessed, therefore imperfect, but authentic for better or for worse.

On the other hand, what is more refined and clever is the shape of Joker. Who doesn’t fully embrace comics like Snyder does, but rather is a bit ashamed of it. Takes both hands of Batman: the murderous joke by Alan Moore, but he does so with a distance and a little embarrassment. He distracts attention by citing references that, from what the directing communicates, are clearly more liked: Taxi driver, King for one night, Cap Fear, Modern times… In short, the big cinema. Even before the big comics.

And it’s good.

Joker is not a film of a fool, but of a director who made a precise stylistic choice. Except that it is not always as coherent and effective as we would like you to believe.

When you think of Scorsese’s accusations (that he should have produced the film unless he slips away for other engagements), Todd Phillips is never one of the directors singled out. Because with his work, he tries to go beyond the framework of the genre. He folds it to make another movie … apparently far from what we are used to knowing.

Arthur Fleck might not become Joker, but another character and the movie would consistently shoot the same from start to finish. Positioning himself so far from the cinema, he declares that he wants to compete in another category. That of the cinema “Social”, denunciation, with major messages to convey without leaving room for the most fun and popular element.

But there, in this championship, the déjà vu and the banal still lurk.

Joker has big problems in him that all revolve around a hinge: Arthur Fleck. Let’s dispel any doubts: Joaquin Phoenix isn’t playing the Joker to do the character a favor. She doesn’t like it in its paper version, but she does because it’s a blank sheet of paper in which to unleash her talents.

It is in fact excessive and manneristic; fails to hide the actor behind the mask. We never see Arthur, but we always see the actor as the poor boy. The pyrotechnic performance is admired, but it is much more difficult to see an authentic soul. What is it instead Jack nicholson this Health ledger they could do. They were going to a thousand giving the idea of ​​having the brake on. Phoenix goes a thousand, pretending to go two thousand.

Arthur embodies the image of the vanquished. A weakling placed on the margins of society, mocked and beaten. Useless waste, one of the many rats that infest the streets. However, Phillips is not interested in his relationship between personal emotions and the psyche. How one affects the other. When he tries to put us in his subjective, he never has the courage to be explicit. He wants to impress with ambiguity: how polite is he? How much does his thirst for blood come from madness and pain? But ultimately, what attracts him the most is Arthur Fleck as a product. An externally powered box, which constantly receives stimuli and reacts based on patterns given by others.

No action of the protagonist is voluntary, everything is induced by external factors (except one thing, to tell the truth, but we will see it in a few lines). The television is almost hypnotic, he observes it for a long time and becomes the bearer of the message of violence which is broadcast live. Fleck wants what brand and media posts tell him, that’s happiness. It is fame, success, approval. He lives by imitating models, takes advantage of the aspirations of others.

See Joker as a product of society is this, moreover, an acceptable transposition in relation to the character of the comic strip (where is rather the destructive outside, the chaos independent of everything)?

We admit that it does, as there are many interpretations on paper as well. And the important thing is that everything works and is consistent. This is not the case in the film. In fact, this vision would only have been effective if there had been at least one loosely defined company. A counterpoint where complexity resonates. Otherwise, all that’s left is teenage anger.

Instead, the film puts all of its energy into trying to make Arthur interesting, forgetting about the outline. There is no memorable secondary character! Sophie de Zazie Beetz is completely overwhelmed by the ambitions of Fight Club. With a relationship between the two in the balance between reality and much more turned to the imagination of the protagonist, the character loses all propulsive thrust from the middle. She who was the only counterpoint of light. Long live the construction of a gloomy world, where even Murray turns into a monster in contact with Arthur. But if the protagonist cannot be compared to a real person, how can he find his choice to reject the good interesting? Or rather: does he really have a choice if he has never seen an alternative?

Because in this universe there is no collective psychology. Nothing in the film manages to qualify the behavior of the masses. The rich are all very cruel to him. But why? Just to be rich? And the rest of the people, what do they think? How do they think? The movie goes after the bad guys in the beautiful homes, and never explains why they’ve become like this: cynical and selfish. He has a lot of fun describing his hero as the only victim without anyone around him extending a charitable hand. Still, there are plenty of Arthur Fleck, the movie says at the end, and they’re ready to take to the streets. We’ve just never seen them, except they suddenly appear. There is really no possibility of a silent, sneaky, effective solidarity before valence? What revolutions explode without even being prepared a little before?

The protagonist does not choose, except once, we said. This is where the biggest slip of Joker. The only act of will that he “Free of channels” it is to give in to madness. Accept him as a beautiful and winning part of himself. This results in the choice to stop the next treatment. Doctors, as an institution, are other oppressors. Mental illness is not, in fact, a disorder to be cured, but a liberating superpower. Needless to say, this is a mistake not so much in the philosophy of life (we don’t think Phillips really means it), but in the script itself. Wanting to make an elegy for the oppressed, he fell into the error of shooting in the crowd. To see institutions and containment mechanisms everywhere. By mythologizing too much something and condemning what should not be condemned.

The only way out cannot be madness, not in a triumphant and redemptive end. TO Joker lacks the final bitterness, the ambiguity that transforms the character of “99% heroes” has a “Murderer with good ideas, but bad means”. This is the real counterpoint to Batman.

Joker it is certainly a film with multiple merits, including first of all to have recruited so many talents and to have believed in it until the end. It is, however, a deeply imperfect work, the shifts of which are masked by an impeccable visual form. Less original than he claims, Joker rejects the cine-comic in its narrative form and tries to sell itself as a sought-after poem. Like the great postmodern masterpiece, it is not. It invites overestimating him and, frankly, it’s also very satisfying to do so because it pampers and pleases the idea of ​​having seen something more than what the movie actually is. But it is a deception.

Joker it would have been a good comedy movie if he had tried to adopt its precise, punctual and lucid language, one capable of speaking about reality while showing fantasy. And then, through this lens, go even further. Instead, it ended up being a mediocre arthouse film, in which the grotesque and over-the-top trait takes nuance away from the very reality it claims to show.

In conclusion, Joker he wanted at all costs to profit from the tensions between the two extremes of cinema. He wanted to stay in the middle by winking at the great directors and agreeing with them. He therefore intends to be an author, but not too much. Take inspiration from the DC world, but not too much. Succeed in both, but without really triumphing in one or the other. By dint of being in the middle it has become a film that unleashes the lowest emotions; the opposite of what he wanted to be. He does this by shouting slogans more simplistic than he proposed, without even realizing it. In short: he wanted to get out of it unscathed, on the contrary he became the first victim of a war between cinema “high” And “moo” that he created himself.

Find all the news on Joker in our film profile!

About Monty S. Maynard

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