Every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosts the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes are used as a predictor for Oscar nominations. As always, there are only so many slots for each category. Not every actor, filmmaker, or movie can be nominated. But the Golden Globes typically proves to be pretty white and male dominated. This year, five male filmmakers were nominated for Best Director. Bong Joon-Ho, who directed “Parasite” (2019), is the only non-white person nominated. The other nominees, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino are all white dudes. And, in my frank and honest and personal opinion, it is comprised of mediocre white film bros. Sue me. (Actually, please don’t. I have lots of student loans.)
People like to say that original movies are in short supply these days, swallowed up by the onslaught of comic book films, remakes/reboots, and live-action adaptations of 80s cartoons based on toys. Whilst there is truth to this observation, its conclusions are flawed. Not only have some incredibly bold and unique recent films come from pre-existing IP like "The Lego Movie", "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse", but so-called “original” films are often just as guilty of recycling and retrofitting the concepts of the past. Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright have made their entire careers out of essentially crafting extended tributes to their childhood favourites, communicating their own perspectives and ideas through the lens of pulp genre cinema.
The theater in the 6 p.m., mostly sold out, showing of "Joker" was tense, the air in the room constricted from the possibility of... something. It did not seem like anyone knew quite what that something was, but I was shaking the whole time. I think that there was one possible reason for this: people have been entertaining the possibility of violence during a "Joker" showing. The theaters around me, at least, are taking preventive measures, staffing extra security guards and prohibiting makeup, costumes, masks, and weapons in the theater. The first time I watched "Joker", I attended a private screening, admittedly fearful of seeing it with the general public. But, the second time, I watched it in this packed theater. I must say that my first viewing greatly differed from my second.
Regardless of whether you're a fan or not of Todd Phillips' "Joker", I think we can all agree that Hildur Guðnadóttir's score is phenomenal. A classically trained cellist from Iceland, she has played and recorded with various bands such as Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Múm, and Stórsveit Nix Noltes. She experiments with sound and musical instruments, using cello, warped samples, and nuclear reactor metal as her tools to compose her music. And, the end result is stunning. Her music has a way of invading your mind, the score for "Joker" has a rawness to it, full of menace and a foreboding sense of dread. The score for "Joker" is so far from the epic orchestral scores we usually associate with comic book adaptations, and as she explained in an interview with Film Music Mag this was a deliberate decision, "we went as far in the other direction with this score as possible.
A piece of art’s problematic-ness is subjective to the viewer who consumes the art; there is no definite arbiter--or way of deciding--just what kinds of art are inherently, objectively problematic. Only the individual can deem something to be problematic. If certain individuals agree with others, a mass of individuals with like-minds (and nuanced values) come together, then we have a basic form of society. Some things register as problematic because it goes against culture--or the ideas of a particular social group. To suggest that something is problematic because society or culture deems it so would be like suggesting that something is okay just because certain cultures deem it to be so, but I digress.