Joker – a revelation at Cannes Film Festival and at box office 2019. The aesthetics choices of the movie and characters, change forever and represent the dramatic decline of American society.
Joker. The grotesque Batman’s enemy, one of the comic characters to have had the most numerous movie’s transpositions. From Cesar Romero to Jack Nicholson, to the very latest interpretation of Joaquin Phoenix for one of the most original, over the top, complex Villains in the DC Comics’ pantheon.
The aesthetic of the character has changed profoundly time over time, thanks obviously to the different choices of actors, screenwriters and directors.
Personally I loved that coated Jared Leto, in a movie a bit ‘messy and mediocre but funny after all as should be those inspired by comics: Jared Leto is around in blockbuster’s Suicide Squad, like a glittery pop fashion icon, with little parts of Johnny Rotten, David Bowie and T-Rex’s Marc Bolan, all seasoned together, and stands out in a sea of mediocre characters and without thickness, often ridiculous, excluding his girlfriend , not surprisingly recognized by public and critics as the best interpretation in the Movie.
But apart from personal tastes it is the last film of the long series to hit me. Presented at Cannes 2019 and praised as one of the best films of this edition, I think it forces us to reflect.
Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips, make Joker an art work certainly worthy of great consideration for screenplay, photography and direction. And for a masterful demonstration of acting that takes us by the hand throughout the film that sees the protagonist Arthur Fleck slowly slip from a condition of psychologically disturbed person, a little to the limits of society but ultimately still anchored to it, up to the schizoid and completely asocial madness of the criminal Joker.
The causes, a bit ‘rhetorical, shared or not, are the condition of his illness, society’ forgets the weakest, the role of the media in creating monsters and exploit them for their own use and who has more …
Well. I believe that Batman, the Joker and all the characters that revolve around the DC Comics universe are in fact characters of a successful Comics, but they must remain confined in that universe that has rules and boundaries.
Make it the mirror or worse the anticipation of a reality ‘needs if not a taking of responsibility’, at least of conscience.
The evolution of the characters hand in hand with the times, is natural for context, style and expressive modality, but to make them come out of their universe where they should remain confined, with the determination of this last film and completely distorting its spirit and their nature is in itself dangerous.
I’ll explain why.
Cinema, as the seventh art, has the power and responsibility to look carefully at the symbols it inspires, the myths it creates, the archetypes it evokes.
Joker was and should remain a caricature, just like his alter ego Batman – albeit poised between doubts and personal certainties – a cardboard hero, a champion of justice (of whom he is a defender, an emblem, even an inspiration in the League), and not a dark knight.
There are illustrious examples in the cinema in which the characters come out of their celluloid universe to enter the real one, in a play of wisely contrasted mirrors, but they do it with kindness, grace, for even intellectual amusement: Who framed Roger Rabbit, 1985 Woody Allen’s Cairo Purple Rose, for example.
Todd Phillips’ Jocker does it subtly.
Because it transforms a fiction into reality, in the representation of what is happening in America and in a large part of the Western world. Or, and here you will forgive me my somewhat conspiratorial vision, in that world in which they would like to project us.
There is a work that I love a lot, from my friend Max Papeschi, an internationally well-known artist.
Just Married, shows two icons of American and international popular culture (Minnie and Mickey Mouse) with a “nice” and typical expression of the two characters, who close their eyes, against a background of bright colors and reminiscent of the aesthetics of comics (blue, yellow, red accesses) and which change according to the artist’s and the Limited Edition’s choices.
Exposing these images to the vision of some friends, for example in the East, has always provoked positive reactions: “so cute” they tell me, “ideal for children’s rooms!”.
No one seems to notice that Max Papeschi, at the bottom of the work, added the turbulent image of a potentially devastating atomic mushroom.
A message in this case that is absolutely simple to decode, which leaves no room for misinterpretation.
“So cute” I keep repeating.
Let’s go on like this to produce, consume and digest messages, as if we were in an information fast food restaurant. And regardless of the meaning, their quality, the value they can produce in our lives. Without adding any personal judgment.
Christmas 2019 is almost here.
Gulp down once more.