The victory for Todd Phillipss revisionist comic book blockbuster is a credit to a festival in touch with crazed politics, contemporary paranoia and superb cinema
Todd Phillips Joker spins the tale of a pathetic loser who ends up a winner, the low-class upstart who upsets the applecart and explodes the establishment. Nobody least of all Joaquin Phoenixs snivelling party entertainer believed he stood a snowballs chance in hell. But his message hit home and the voters clamoured change and we live in interesting times where the old rules dont apply.
As with the man, so with the film. Since its grand unveiling at the Venice film festival last weekend, Phillipss revisionist comic-book blockbuster – charting the formative years of Batmans nemesis – has had the critics worrying at it like a ham-bone tugged between a pack of dogs. Its been hailed as a fiery socialist call-to-arms and damned as a cynical instruction manual for incel vigilantes. Its been seen as left-wing; its been seen as right-wing. Its politics are so turbulent, so unrefined – and yes, arguably garbled – that they sprawl and crawl beyond traditional party boundaries. Much, it might be said, as real-world politics has a tendency to do these days.
Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there? asks Phoenixs antihero near the start of the film. And this was a question that – with variations – was being posed again and again on social media as Lucrecia Martels Venice jury decided to hand the Golden Lion to Joker ahead of the numerous other, more favoured candidates. Most onlookers were fine with Martin Edens brooding Luca Marinelli winning the best actor prize and Gloria Mundis Ariane Ascaride being named best actress. And you could almost hear the collective sigh of satisfaction when the directing award went to Swedens Roy Andersson for his inimical About Endlessness. In any other year, the decision to lavish the Silver Lion effectively the events second prize on the disgraced Roman Polanski for his historical thriller An Officer and a Spy would have provided the nights biggest controversy. Except that the jury had a final twist in store.
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