Wednesday, October 9, 2019
This, and that, and nothing inbetween: Joker and Ad Astra
It was genuinely surprising to realise how much I wasn't interested in seeing the new Joker film. Partly it's because I just can't get to the cinema at the moment, so why worry about it, and partly because I just don't need to see a skinny white dude who is mistreated by the world lash out in a homicidal rage, and the director's inability to sell his movie without falling into predictable old man bullshit didn't help.
But mainly it was because every time it gets compared - even favourably - to The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, it seriously dulled the enthusiasm. Yeah, I've seen those movies too, dude, and yeah, they ruled. What else have you got?
I've also seen many, many different versions of the Joker, and this might the first to really make him a sympathetic character, but there's a good reason for that. (Hint: HE FUCKING KILLS PEOPLE.)
There was a similar disniterest in seeing Ad Astra, where it went for the structure and thematic meat of Apocalypse Now and 2001, but replaced the transcendence of humanity pushed beyond the limits of existence for more fucking daddy issues. (We get it, screenwriting dudes. Your dad was a cunt.)
This didn't stop the director of Ad Astra from moaning that that audiences were more interested in superhero nonsense than something original, which is a depressing simplistic view of the way we all consume media these days, and not conceding that maybe we've seen all this before, and that a director with a large backlog of deeply mediocre films is unlikely to have much more to show us.
The 'it's a popular film meets another popular film' tagline is an easy way to sell a movie, but if that story has already been told by better, smarter filmmakers, decades ago, maybe it's not worth repeating.