11 October 2019.
Arthur Fleck is a loser who lives with his mother and works part time as a clown. He becomes the Joker in this latest version of that character (played also by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger in previous Batman films) which was created by DC Comics in the early 1940s.
Watching this “Joker” is no joke. For though this film is brilliant it is also harrowing and probably very dangerous. Especially as Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur is incredibly strong. He makes all of his horrific, desperate reactions to the unfairness of the world seem somehow justified. We feel his loneliness, his yearning for acknowledgment, his need for some sort of love.
This prelude to the origins of the Batman saga is dark, tragic and violent. So impressive, that it won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival this past September. Take note, this is not a Batman movie.
From the first moments of this film by Todd Phillips (director of “Hangover”, “War Dogs” and “Due Date”), one is sucked into Arthur’s tormented mind. We’re in garbage and rat-infested Gotham City. There is unrest among the poor, and an almost accidental subway murder of three young, rich bullies creates a breach between the haves and have-nots. The rabble-rousing media calls it a revolution against the rich and powerful. Anarchy begins to take over the city.
The central figure of all this unrest is the sad Joker. Phoenix will probably end up with an Oscar for his unforgettable performance. It will stay with you long after you leave the theatre. He is both pitiful and fearsome in his depiction of a troubled, mentally deranged clown who wants to be a comedian. Joker/Arthur just might get his chance when he has a shot at a late night TV show hosted by Robert DeNiro. There are many twists to the story: his abused childhood, his delusional mother, his confrontations with the future Batman’s wealthy, influential father, who just might be his own…
What Phillips is trying to say here is not quite clear, though it looks like a metaphor for the turmoils of our present day. But it is riveting cinema with an evocative soundtrack which creates a mood of sad depravity and revenge. And it is that loneliness, revenge and violence that may excite and influence vulnerable young minds.
Yes, it is gripping, disturbing and dangerous.
LA FAMEUSE INVASION des OURS en SICILE *** (vo French)
Léance the king of the bears loses his son Tonio whilst teaching him the art of trout fishing in a stream. He looks for him without luck in the mountains that the bears inhabit and finally he has to decide to extend his search down to the plain below where the stream ends and where the unknown humans live.
That is what this old, famous and endearing Italian tale, done in animation is about. Whether Léance succeeds in his quest you don’t need to be told. This is a film pointed at children after all. But you should know that his quest is long and a little complicated, with many twists and turns and changes of scene to it.
It is a gentle film. Bears are gentle creatures aren’t they and who knew they have so many in Sicily ? And yet the film has its violent moments too, of war and of frightening, writhing sea creatures and more feeders of nightmares, so it is not for the very young. Eight is the limit. But this film is not just another well-animated fairy tale. It is a work of art. In his directorial debut, the renowned Italian comics illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti has worked to produce artistic perfection in every frame. It stands out. This tale is a visually beautiful, even magnificent film. It will impress adults for this, as the story will impress their children.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.