Who criticizes the critics?
The funniest part about specifically film and television critics that sit up there on their high-horses and punch down on other artists’ work is so counterintuitive because a lot of them (or most) tried and failed at doing exactly what they’re reviewing. You can probably imagine there is at least a little jealousy involved.
And Warner Bros. and DC’s “Joker” just premiered at the Venice Film Festival and the first reactions are already obnoxious.
“Joker” is one of the most anticipated films in the coming months and one of the biggest reasons why is that Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime.
It seems the Joker just might become one of the most coveted roles of all time, even surpassing his superhero counterparts and maybe equalizing iconic characters like James Bond.
Some of Hollywood’s greatest actors have taken over the role like Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill (voice), Jared Leto and now Joaquin Phoenix. The only one of them that hasn’t been at least nominated for an Academy Award is Hamill. Nicholson is a three-time winner, Ledger and Leto are one-timers (Ledger’s was for playing the Joker) and Joaquin Phoenix probably should have a long time ago.
But when the latest trailer for “Joker” was released in advance of the Venice Film Festival, it caused a polarizing discourse online that had many wondering what the actual theme of the movie was.
For instance, a huge response to the trailer was the movie somehow trying to create empathy for a mass shooter. In a sense, it’s glorifying those that commit heinous acts of violence.
On the other hand, some argued that the reason why he officially turns into the psychopathic Joker is because his mental health was neglected. At one point in the trailer, the psychotherapist informs him that she will no longer be seeing him anymore. To which he responds to her, “you haven’t been listening.” The latter seems to be more of an accurate depiction of the likely overall theme to the movie.
But the movie ended with a nine minute standing ovation in Venice over the long weekend and some of the early takes are eye-rolling, as you might expect, specifically about Phoenix’s performance. The takes are polar opposite ends of the spectrum too.
Stephanie Zacharek of TIME wrote a review saying in it, “The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom. Just before one of his more violent tirades, Arthur muses, ‘Everybody just screams at each other. Nobody’s civil anymore.’ Who doesn92t feel that way in our terrible modern times? But Arthur’s observation is one of those truisms that’s so true it just slides off the wall, a message that both the left and the right can get behind and use for their own aims. It means nothing.”
There’s a lot to unpack with that quote but there are millions of people who are completely civil. Sometimes what you read on social media or what you see on the news is sensationalized for the purpose of sensationalizing, as in it’s literally designed or reported on, to get a reaction from people.
On the other hand, you have film critic Owen Gleiberman writing, “The comic-book villain as Method psycho, a troublemaker so intense in his cuckoo hostility that even as you’re gawking at his violence, you still feel his pain.”
Basically what this is implying is that he’s bullied into becoming a psychopath and then what? Are we supposed to all be responsible for people turning out like this? It’s seems like that’s the intention by the filmmakers.
Others think it’s practically the greatest film ever, revolutionary in fact.
Terri White of Empire wrote, “Bold, devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history, but reimagined the comic book movie itself.”
Did “Logan” not “reimagine” the comic book movie just a few short years ago? That’s called recency bias or a short memory; take your pick.