Essay, Pages 6 (1381 words)
If the first half of the year 2019 filled with articles about Marvel Studio with their big hit series “The Avengers: End game,” then the other half of this year is going to be the time of Warner Bros; with their newly released movie “Joker.” There was absolutely nothing strange when “Joker” received the eight minutes applause after its debut at Venice Film Festival. This movie is not just an ordinary superhero film. It is a masterpiece about the psychological development of a criminal throughout many details such as the plot, ingenious storytelling, acting, and the astute public relation (PR) strategy of Warner Bros.
“Joker” had blown a refreshing air to the film industry. It is also a piece of living evidence that a successful movie does not have to has a big budget with many special effects because the movie started with only $55 million.
“Joker” was a story about a middle-aged man named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) who lives in a troubled city Gotham with his ill mother (Frances Conroy) in 1981.
Arthur wears two masks, one he has to paint on his face for his day job as a clown. The other was a semblance created by himself to be a part of society. He was a forever alone man in a cruel world. Arthur also had a dream of being a stand-up comedian. However, he does not succeed. The isolation, bullying, neglectfulness had descent him into a mental health issue called Pseudobullar affect – a condition that causes the uncontrollable episodes of laughing or crying at an inappropriate time to the patient.
The harder did life get, the more severe his illness was until he completely molted to become a coldblooded criminal prince of Gotham city, letting it into more and more madness and chaos.
The movie labeled as DC (Detective Comics) Black, means it is a standalone story for the mature audience. Moreover, since there is no boundary, director Todd Phillips and his co-writer Scott Silver had every opportunity to be as creative as possible. The story does not have anything similar to the original DC stories about Joker. The two writers had used their perspective about the villain and exploited Joker’s own story based on what they felt. Therefore, the movie put on itself the color dark, depressing, and leaning toward being a psychological crime genre more than belonging to the superhero, scientific category, which is amazingly realistic. From the first 10 seconds of the movie, Joker had already made the viewer feel the dark and heartbreaking vibe about the life of the man who was treated harshly despite his mental disorder. When the audience had not even known who Arthur Fleck was, the director had already thrown him into an awful situation: Got beaten by a group of teenagers. Therefore, the beginning of the movie was reckless and unforgettable. “Joker” focused on developing the character mentality more than leading the plot. It does not have any breaking moment as the reason made Joker who he is. Through every action, every word of Arthur, the audience gradually peeled off the inner psychology of the character more clearly. At the same time, through the extraordinary events that Arthur experienced, his inner transformation also revealed and accumulated to wait for the opportunity to break out. Unfortunately, this makes the overall tempo of the film somewhat slow, creates a sense of lack of focus on a specific goal. For the audience who are familiar with storytelling, they may find that the movie circuit is sometimes discrete, lacking the climax needed to maintain drama in general. Furthermore, the protagonist himself has so many tragedies so extreme that it makes him become more like a symbol rather than earning sympathy from the viewer. However, if focusing on watching the psychology of the character, the audience will have the opportunity to discover an extremely complex emotional maze.
Phoenix’s acting was genuinely top-notch, as he immerses himself in the role to unleash the chaotic inner world of a psychopath. He was undoubtfully the soul of the story. Although “Joker” has performed by numerous brilliant actors such as Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and now Joaquin Phoenix, everyone has their way to express the problematic side of this psychopath. If Heath Ledger expressed the role of chilling, haunting, and probably the most scariest Joker, then Joaquin Phoenix chose to be a piteous, complicated psychological disordered human who did not have a chance to be acknowledged his existence in the society.
Phoenix told an utterly different story of Joker, let the audience experience a hidden aspect of this character as if he wants to tell the world a message “Every criminal is the product of the inhumanity act of the victim.” The mentality of Joker also shown subtly through smiles and impromptu dances. In the movie, he laughs out loud, very long, and hoarse many times. That was when Arthur felt full of suffering and despair. He had to “laugh” to cover his irony and helplessness. The dance is also a tool for him to express himself. When he could not speak, Arthur dances to ease his mood, to tell the audience who he was. The dances of Arthur in the film showed the liberation and marked the turning point inside his mind. Whether it is bizarre, austere, optimistic, na?ve, desperate, crazy, calm, or cruelly cold, Joaquin Phoenix still presents it convincingly, helping to create a character’s image, without the need for superior talent, beauty or sublime intelligence but still unique and multi-nuanced.
Moreover, Joker is a sage PR strategy of Warner Bros. Why? Because Joker had made the audience hyped-up a year before it even got released, thanks to the two cinematography trailers made by Lawrence Sher with a mysterious plot. Ever since “The Suicide Squad” in 2016 became a significant success, “Joker” also became the most mentioned name, although he was just a support character. Therefore, Warner Bros had cleverly transferred that publicity toward the development of their story about this figure.
Another unique feature of Joker is movie scenes. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher brings to the film much high aesthetic, colorful, but never gaudy frames. Close-up and mid-range camera angles are applied continuously to help to highlight the clutter inside Arthur Fleck’s mind.
Despite all the positive feedbacks “Joker” has ever since got released. The movie still encounters negative comments about the content. Various movie critics had watched it and expressed their concern that the film might promote misbehaviors for teenagers and young adults. Some writers pointed out that the story of Arthur Fleck ‘a man who was rejected by the whole society and descended into violent ways’ sounds a lot like daily news in America. For instance, in 2014, 27- year-old Jason Hart strangled his girlfriend Regan Jolley and attempted to destroy the corpse by using an acid-filled tub. This behavior is similar to the cleaning evidence method in the show “Breaking Bad.” The victim’s body was founded by the suspect’s roommate, who claimed that “Breaking Bad” is Hart’s favorite show. Therefore, a part of the public is now fear that “Joker” will follow the footstep of “Breaking Bad.” I, on the other hand, believe that art is not something to judge. The audience, with their way, should perceive it. Everyone is capable of deciding what is right or wrong. Therefore, when a person who committed crime uses a movie as the reason for the unacceptable action, it is just simply ridiculous. Moreover, “Joker” has already warned their viewers about its unpleasant content, choosing to watch it or not is the responsibility of a viewer.
Finally, I will wrap up my evaluation paper with a question: “Does Joker worth watching?”. To answer, I will quote roughly what the circus clown Arthur Fleck said in the movie: “Humor is not like right or wrong, it is in each person’s senses.” The Joker is quite picky when it comes to choosing viewers, but also a masterpiece for an in-depth and sensitive audience. Therefore, I consider Joker in another aspect. It is not the motivation for rebellion. It is more likely to support caring gestures, respect, politeness among society. “You will never know what a person is going through. Sometimes, the one with the biggest smile is struggling the most, so be kind.