Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Hildur Guðnadóttir

QuickView: Joker (2019)

Joker poster

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

Arthur Fleck

Joker abandons the formulaic comicbook movie to widen the canvas in another strong argument against the connected universe that DC has fumbled in its attempt to chase Marvel’s success; the result is unrelentingly bleak, uncomfortable viewing but utterly mesmerising. The film will be divisive less because of controversial content than because of expectations about how its titular subject will be explored. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is extraordinary, his emaciated contortion as unsettling as his wild laughter and introspective gaze. However, despite the extreme close-ups and unreliable perspective, the script does not really delve deeply into Joker’s psyche — instead it reflects society’s treatment of such an individual: the ostracisation and abandonment of the mentally ill. The character’s violent acts are brutal and shocking, never cathartic or glorified, with Fleck openly eschewing any political purpose ascribed by others, but the film invites us to understand how they occur. Todd Phillips channels Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, de Niro’s presence making no secret of these inspirations. Fleck’s talk show appearance reflects society’s willingness to mock and exploit the vulnerable (reality TV being particularly guilty), shying away when it becomes awkward rather than entertaining, as if the person has suddenly become an affront to our sensibilities. Joker is at its weakest when tying itself into the Batman universe, cursory scenes with a young Bruce Wayne serving no real purpose. I also wish the film had found a more a focused ending to demonstrate whether Phillips’ vision was driven by intent rather than accidental, but this is unsettling, haunting cinema in the very best way.


QuickView: A Hijacking (2012)

A Hijacking quad poster

“We can’t rush these people. Time is a Western thing. It means nothing to them.”

Connor Julian

Having already seen A War, I had a good idea of the raw realism to expect from Tobias Lindholm’s previous film, in which the small crew of a Danish cargo ship are captured by Somali pirates, but I still found myself unprepared for the relentless tension. A Hijacking unfolds at pace, and the sense of time becomes lost with frequent time jumps through a crisis that spans several months. We experience events largely from the perspectives of two people: the ship’s cook who unwillingly becomes the go-between with his captors; and the company CEO back home, struggling with the weight of negotiating a hostage release, yet unwilling to divest the responsibility. This allows us to understand the matter-of-fact strategic advice provided by the company’s expert advisor balanced against the crew’s increasing sense of abandonment. Of particular note is the strange camaraderie that grows between the crew and their captors as both groups are essentially stranded together at sea, hoping for the same resolution.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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