Joker is not your typical superhero film. It is a beautiful and dark cinematic comment on what Pankaj Mishra has termed “The Age of Anger (2017).” Easily, Joker, is the best film I have seen this year. It is too easy to say that something is a work of genius, but there is definitely something of genius pervading this movie. As someone interested in society and politics, in the events and movements that are shaping the world around us, I would put Joker on an essential viewing list. So, if you are at a loose end before Christmas, this film comes with my highest recommendation.
It didn’t take a genius to then suspect there was a political reason why such a film wouldn’t be appearing in this chain’s Scottish cinemas. And before you go thinking this is the stuff of conspiracy theory and tinfoil hats, this has happened before. Ahead of the launch of the Outlander series in the UK – just in time for the 2014 independence referendum, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, approached Sony, asking it to delay the series’ release until after the referendum. Cameron understood well the power of entertainment media to sway public opinion.
This “common man” was never in the original chronicles of the Scottish Wars of Independence. History was written by the elite for the benefit of the elite, it never had the common man and woman in mind – they were always unimportant. The medieval chroniclers went into lurid detail when describing the deaths of knights on the battlefield, they seldom mentioned the village women who were raped and murdered or the peasant farmers conscripted as archer fodder.
When The Guardian breaks from its usual sedate and hipster fare to inform us the government is considering calling in the Ministry of Defence to transport food and that the bosses of big business are predicting “civil unrest,” I think we should wake up. Suddenly the world of the ordinary and everyday is behaving like the worlds of familiar disaster fantasy, and – what’s more – we know where it all ends. We’ve read this book and watched this film a thousand times before. We know the rules.
Loach has rammed a wedge into the great divide of the cinema-going public; with the right writing the film off as an exaggeration, and the left gushing like loved-up teenagers.
This anxiety is something in which we are all made complicit; the products we buy, the food we eat, the modes of living we cannot readily escape are all delivered to us by a global system that robs others of dignity, rights, and even life.
Our innate religious imagination is one of the many psychological bi-products of our human intelligence which assists us as we try to make sense of our reality. In this respect it has much in common with language.