Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

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Foam
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#251 Post by Foam » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:20 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:47 pm
How does one know they were an incel and not their mortal enemy, some dumb frat dude?
He was in my row. He was a grown man with a neckbeard wearing a tie dye Pikachu t shirt. After the film he stood up and said aloud to no one: "That was an awesome movie." So yeah, I'm calling it: incel.

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Brian C
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#252 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:24 pm

The neckbeard isn't disqualifying in either direction, but I agree the Pikachu tie-dye sounds suspicious.

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pianocrash
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#253 Post by pianocrash » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:39 pm

There was this moment featuring the two investigating detectives (Bill Camp and Shea Wingham) of the subway murders wherein they both look confused, possibly in the wrong movie, and possibly on the wrong planet, that reminded me of another instance I had seen before, but only once:
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In the final scene of Starsky & Hutch, featuring the original television actors playing themselves alongside Owen Wilson & Ben Stiller portraying their characters, all of whom were as confused as everyone watching them.
When I first experienced this, somehow it was all very funny to me, but now, fifteen years later, it felt almost painful to arrive at the conclusion that, yeah, I was the sucker all along.

The laundry list of Todd's weaknesses only outnumber the few effective moments here (most are, sadly, cribbed from other, more worthwhile movies), though I do wonder how this whole scheme could have played out with only Joaquin Secret Honor-style, but I suppose we'll have to wait until someone (Todd?) finally sees Secret Honor (or, barring that, a future world that births Leos Carax's Holy Jokers).

And to anyone that felt the NY depicted in this film was grimy, why aren't you watching The Deuce?

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Foam
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#254 Post by Foam » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:40 pm

Speaking of audience reactions and frat bros...
Brian C wrote: To start with, I frankly don't have the foggiest idea of what you mean by them "not allowed an opportunity for alignment". How could a film possibly not allow an audience to react in any number of ways? Audiences are not a monolithic force and even the most obvious and/or skillful attempts by filmmakers to steer audience reactions are going to be met subjectively. Simply put, filmmakers can't "allow" or "not allow" anything. The same goes for your earlier assertions that the filmmakers didn't "leave an opening" for audiences to react a certain way, and that the filmmakers did such-and-such to "ensure" a certain reaction, as if audiences need the filmmakers' permission to see the film in their own way, or as if audiences' reactions are somehow invalid if the filmmakers intended something different. All you're really doing, though, is projecting your own preferences and subjective reactions and prior assumptions onto others (and conveniently, doing so in a way that puts yourself in a position of conspicuous moral superiority).
...after my own theater experience I am inclined to agree with your point here. But part of me wants to say a film can make a point that the audience absolutely misses. It can rhetorically move towards or attempt to disallow or disencourage a certain type of reaction, and some members of the audience can only have their contrary reactions if they are absolutely insensitive to those maneuvers. For example, I really like The Wolf of Wall Street. To me it's a film that's clearly condemning the bad behavior onscreen, while also delighting in its performance. A friend of mine detests the film, and cites the fact that when he saw it in the theater, numerous frat bros were cheering in the scene where that one unfortunate lady's head was shaved. Keep in mind this is the very moment in the film when Thelma Schoonmaker says "If you don't get what we were trying to say at that point, I can't help you." Maybe Joker is trying to limit reactions in the way therewillbeblus is saying, but in a way that's destined to be missed by much of the audience? Maybe the pre-loaded libidinal investment in the Joker as an incel icon is destined to overwhelm anything Phillips and Phoenix may be trying to do? After all, even Taxi Driver famously ended up inspiring a stalker and would-be assassin. Is a film obliged to absolutely spell out when it does and not disapprove of particular actions?
Last edited by Foam on Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#255 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:41 pm

pianocrash wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:39 pm
And to anyone that felt the NY depicted in this film was grimy, why aren't you watching The Deuce?
Too busy trying to find out who "Todd" is

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Murdoch
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#256 Post by Murdoch » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:56 pm

re: The ending, since I've been thinking about it.
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I think the ending of the film isn't meant to be taken at face value. Yes, the riots do happen since they result in the murder of the Waynes, and everyone knows what happens after that incident. But the crowd cheering him on after the car crash played out much like his other fantasies - his imagined interview with Murray and Zazie Beetz as his lover. To me, Joker, while a catalyst for the riots, isn't someone the rioters care about, he's just a symbol for them of the oppressed taking power from the oppressors. The class stratification is an overt theme throughout the film, and an earlier scene shows protesters clashing with police without involvement of Joker other than his being present as a silent, anonymous bystander, so it's not like they were waiting on him to strike.

It may be that a rioter struck Joker's vehicle merely because it was a police vehicle, which seems much more plausible. Or perhaps the crash too is a fantasy. But the point made by the film seems to me to be that these rioters were looking for anyone to kickstart things, and don't look to Joker as their leader, but rather a symbol upon whom they can cast whatever ideals they see fit. I think that's the film biggest strength, despite my general dislike of it overall - that Joker is never explicitly portrayed as anything other than a murderous unhinged man and by the end his delusions convince him he's of greater importance than he actually is.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#257 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:16 pm

Brian C wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:39 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:04 pm
No because I'm speaking specifically to the Joker constructed by Phillips and Phoenix in this film. Not the Joker as a character from other media, which as I said is appealing to incels due to a confidence in nihilism that affords self-fulfilling prophecy, notably absent here in my reading of this film. My entire point is that Joker is deliberately robbed of these traits in this specific presentation of the character. I've also agreed that this Joker will inevitably be weaponized by incels due to the human's ability to morph most anything to fit a desired perspective, but that Phillips and Phoenix choose to weaponize the film against the audience instead, incels included, in a variety of ways that I've outlined already that assault the senses and stunt this process of identification with the incel symbol to the best of their abilities. Phillips and Phoenix can't undo the assignment of Joker as incel symbol, but they can attempt to obstruct it in their own vision.
But you're also talking about how real-world audiences can be expected to react to the film. And along these lines, you said that audiences are distanced from the Joker because the rioters in the film who emulate him are "not given faces or allowed an opportunity for alignment".

To start with, I frankly don't have the foggiest idea of what you mean by them "not allowed an opportunity for alignment". How could a film possibly not allow an audience to react in any number of ways? Audiences are not a monolithic force and even the most obvious and/or skillful attempts by filmmakers to steer audience reactions are going to be met subjectively. Simply put, filmmakers can't "allow" or "not allow" anything. The same goes for your earlier assertions that the filmmakers didn't "leave an opening" for audiences to react a certain way, and that the filmmakers did such-and-such to "ensure" a certain reaction, as if audiences need the filmmakers' permission to see the film in their own way, or as if audiences' reactions are somehow invalid if the filmmakers intended something different. All you're really doing, though, is projecting your own preferences and subjective reactions and prior assumptions onto others (and conveniently, doing so in a way that puts yourself in a position of conspicuous moral superiority).
You’re right I shouldn’t have made declarative or absolutist statements in my earlier posts, and left myself open to fair criticism as a result. My last post, however, that you quoted and responded to, makes it pretty clear that “my reading” (and thus my perspective) of this film makes “attempts” to disrupt identification. You’re right that they can’t forbid, disallow, or ensure a reading. I did not intend to indicate a sense of moral superiority... I tried to point out ways that Phillips and Phoenix locate opportunities for subjective identification and then attempt to obstruct the alignment between audience and Joker and his followers in my initial post, and I apologize that this doesn’t fit with your view or that you perceived my statements as condescending.
Brian C wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:39 pm
But my previous point is that your assertion that making the rioters faceless will alienate audiences from them is pure nonsense, and to this end, Joker's existing pop-culture status is absolutely relevant. The filmmakers have free license, of course, to do what they want with this character, and I agree with you that they should not necessarily be beholden to previous incarnations. But nonetheless, we know that, contrary to your assertion, being masked and anonymized does not serve as an alienating device - and we know this precisely because the Joker is already widely emulated by disgruntled and disaffected precisely because he is a nameless and faceless agent of chaos. But use other examples if you wish - Guy Fawkes, Rorschach, Michael Myers, Ghostface ... basically any masked villain or antihero ever. Even Tyler Durden works as an example, because while technically not faceless, he does manifest as a disassociation from an identity that is seen as weak and powerless.

I think you're making a fundamental error in seeing them as "faceless". The opposite is true - they're wearing Joker masks. That is an identity onto itself, a symbol of the disaffected and forgotten. That is extremely powerful imagery that works, for a lot of people, in exactly the opposite way you are claiming.

And besides, where do you get the idea that individualism is a key aspirational feature of fascist movements anyway? The key to fascist movements is finding a leader to follow, and that's precisely the story that this movie tells. It's not incidental that "this Joker will inevitably be weaponized by incels" - the film is ready-made to those interpretations: it tells the story of an overlooked man who's been cast aside from a corrupt society that's rigged against him, who rises up against his oppressors and inspires the vast mobs to throw off their shackles and do the same. How in the world do you think a handful of easily overlooked "distancing" effects used by the filmmakers can possibly override a narrative like that? Are you sure it's the incels who are demonstrating "the human's ability to morph most anything to fit a desired perspective"?
I should have made clear what I meant by “faceless,” as it has nothing to do with masks or the anonymity you speak of, though I can see now that this is how it reads at face value, or literally. I’m well aware of the role of diffusion of the self in these movements and the function of the masks in groupthink and mob mentality. I’m not saying that masks or anonymity make people of the movement “faceless” or that they initiate a divide between the toxic audiences and the faceless people in the movement. I simply mean that these people and their positions are not entertained beyond a two-dimensional depiction of rioters. They are “faceless” because they are underdeveloped, or rather not developed at all. The film would feed more into that culture if it chose to sympathize with the movement, or give more cinematic space to outline their suffering or perspectives, but it doesn’t. There is no romantic notion to their anonymity, in my reading, and I interpreted Phillips’ directorial choices as seemingly intentionally abrasive in keeping these people out of the narrative beyond background noise attached by a loose thread to vague sociopolitical concerns and a misinterpreted action of the Joker. There is a lack of narrative space or attention given to the movement that, I feel, is necessary- but I should say ‘common’ in achieving sympathy or relation with an audience. What I meant by “I can’t imagine how viewers could align with these individuals who are robbed of their individuality” was specifically intended to describe how a common source of audience alignment to the subject onscreen is drawn from relatable characteristics, subjective attachment, sympathy, empathy, admiration of qualities, or some details that draw the audience into investing with the character or movement, reflecting their own circumstances, which I think this film goes to lengths to avoid. While those faceless figures you mention from other films can be alluring in their anonymity, I believe that they’re given some outlet for the viewer to latch onto that this film doesn’t, and this hinders said process of alignment. The figures of this movement simply exist in the peripheries, and I believe that the audience is alienated not because their surrogates wear masks and are stripped of identity, but because they are not actually given screentime or any strong bearings to latch onto within the film itself. I recognize that perhaps this depiction could be representative of how these people feel invisible and kept down by systemic oppression, but I still feel like the film does its best to ignore the opportunities for identification with the movement by limiting most tools films use to forge that connection (though yes, not forcing any reading, as my language previously, unintentionally, seems to have indicated).

You make good points but reading over my last response that you quoted I feel like I fell back on some of those absolutist claims and made my points clear from my perspective. I agree with you that incels/toxic audiences will not be barred from their readings by attempts from the filmmakers to stop these readings, but I think it’s important to note where they tried. Your statement: “the film is ready-made to those interpretations: it tells the story of an overlooked man who's been cast aside from a corrupt society that's rigged against him, who rises up against his oppressors and inspires the vast mobs to throw off their shackles and do the same. How in the world do you think a handful of easily overlooked "distancing" effects used by the filmmakers can possibly override a narrative like that?” tells it all: no movie could stop this reading. It’s “ready-made” to be used as such. Fair enough. I’m glad this one tried to create that distance.
Foam wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:40 pm
Maybe Joker is trying to limit reactions in the way therewillbeblus is saying, but in a way that's destined to be missed by much of the audience? Maybe the pre-loaded libidinal investment in the Joker as an incel icon is destined to overwhelm anything Phillips and Phoenix may be trying to do? After all, even Taxi Driver famously ended up inspiring a stalker and would-be assassin. Is a film obliged to absolutely spell out when it does and not disapprove of particular actions?
These are great questions. I don’t think a film is obligated to spell out anything, and I do believe that some of these messages will be, and have been, missed. I appreciated that this Joker film upended my own expectations for it to unintentionally celebrate incel culture, by doing the opposite in my view, and trying to be self-aware around the dangers and rational disconnect of this idolization, but perhaps resistance is futile.

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R0lf
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#258 Post by R0lf » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:39 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:47 pm
How does one know they were an incel and not their mortal enemy, some dumb frat dude?
For an incel his hymen is still intact.

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swo17
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#259 Post by swo17 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:21 pm


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Big Ben
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#260 Post by Big Ben » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:47 pm

The question I have for Indiewire is whether or not they'll be addressing their own manipulative headlines that are intended to get outrage clicks. The audacity of the site to publish this article while doing similarly dumb stuff is oof.

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furbicide
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#261 Post by furbicide » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:02 am

Thought this was a fun discussion of the film that taps into a lot of the stuff being argued about above:

https://soundcloud.com/chapo-trap-house ... oker-10819

ford
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#262 Post by ford » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:45 am

furbicide wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:02 am
Thought this was a fun discussion of the film that taps into a lot of the stuff being argued about above:

https://soundcloud.com/chapo-trap-house ... oker-10819
Easily the best review of the film I’ve yet encountered.

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#263 Post by nitin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:10 am

Well wow a lot has been written about what is such a mediocre and uninteresting film. Phoenix was the main reason I saw this and unfortunately he puts in one of his blandest and one note performances, in a role where I thought he might go for broke and be really unpredictable. But the whole thing suffers from the same delusions of grandeur as it’s main character and sticks to the same grating tone throughout its bloated 2 hr runtime.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#264 Post by ianthemovie » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:31 am

I liked this more than I expected to, and actually found it to be more akin to such willfully nasty exploitation movies as Ms.45, Death Wish, and especially Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer than to Scorsese and Lumet. It borrows heavily from the Scorsese films right down to re-staging certain scenes almost verbatim but its blunt force and nihilistic tone reminded me more of those other titles. You could say that they are artless films but they still pack a visceral punch which is what I got out of Joker. I found it pretty shallow ideas-wise but it unsettled me and several days later I'm still haunted by it. So that's something.

Phoenix is excellent, in spite or maybe even because he kind of half-asses certain scenes. I didn't see it as a performance where he's trying too hard, as some others have; on the contrary it felt like he was giving less of a fuck than he normally would, which made the performance all the more scary and unpredictable. He's like a loose cannon. Maybe not his subtlest performance but I found him absolutely chilling.
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I can't stop thinking about the second- or third-to-last shot of the movie, the close-up of his twisted face as he mouths/sings the words to "That's Life," his eyes boring into the camera.

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domino harvey
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#265 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:36 pm

Turns out Phoenix already had a secret comic book past! Here he is committing a murder as Superboy

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Murdoch
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#266 Post by Murdoch » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:42 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:36 pm
Turns out Phoenix already had a secret comic book past! Here he is committing a murder as Superboy
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Or at least dreaming of murdering as Superboy!


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