On the same day, in French cinemas were released Portrait of a lady on fire, A rainy day in New York and Ad Astra.
In one week, I had seen them all. Some thoughts: first, these are the three best cinematography I've seen this year. A rainy day in NY: a minor Woody Allen. Fanning shows wonderful abilities for comedy. She's hilarious throughout the movie. Chalamet is very good, but I disliked how is arc resolved. It didn't feel very realistic. I enjoyed the film but it was not as moving as Wonder wheel, as joyful as Magic in the moonlight. Liked it better than Cafe Society or Vicky Christina Barcelona though. Ad Astra: amazing, yes there may be some issues with the rythm in the first half, and there are some scenes that move the story forward which don't make much sense. But who cares? The opening action sequence is epic, Brad Pitt is great, his monologues on Mars made me cry, the end is great, Richter and Hoytema deliver... It's my second 10/10 of the year (after Parasite). Portrait of a lady in fire: I enjoyed a lot of it. I think some sequences are close to perfection.
(the last night together, the scene where the women around sing, the last scene...)
Some lines will stay with me. The camera work was very good too, especially in the first sequences with Haenel,when we slowly discover her. My issue with the film is that sometimes the scenes felt too much like theater. There are moments when I felt they overplayed the seriousness of the sequence. I know it was a decision from Sciamma but I can't help preferring old Hollywood classics like Wilder's where the comedy always comes to the rescue when the situation gets too serious. In the end, I wasn't as moved as I had hoped to be, but I think I will watch it again in probably one year/18 months...There are just some scenes I have to go back to.
In conclusion: all cinematographers, please get a nomination. And Pitt and Haenel too, please. (Merlant is great too, but if you don't think Haenel steals the movie,
Ok, I am surprised I liked this a lot. We all know that the Joker is a villain but I loved the way the film explores that idea that every villain is a hero in their own story. The only thing that really divorces a “hero” from a “villain” is circumstances and how one CHOOSES to respond to those circumstances. The Joker’s backstory and his psychopathy are all crafted in a way that he is indeed the “hero” of his story. But by the end it of all, you feel disgusted with Arther’s actions — he shifted his personal responsibility onto others and bathed in self-pity. I wouldn’t call Arthur transition to the Joker as necessarily a transformation but rather the Joker was his justification for his nihilism. I don’t quite agree with the backlash that the film is glamorizing violence; I actually felt like the movie was warning others of the peril of becoming like Arthur.
Also, I can’t say this enough but THIS IS Phoenix’s film. No disrespect to the supporting cast but there is so much emotional and physical heavy lifting demanded from Phoenix. I watched an interview with Phoenix (I think, it was with Peter Travers) and he was explaining the reason why he was so frail in the film. During his research for the role, he found out that the psych meds Arthur would have taken causes extreme weight loss and he wanted to immerse himself in that state of suffering. It was really remarkable to watch how Phoenix was able to use his body and his movement to really pull you into his characters’s inner life. All of it felt natural and not contrived. He did an excellent job as the Joker. His acting warrants an Oscar nomination.
With the exception of a few, I haven’t really cared for comicbook movies. I don’t think comicbook movie need to veer outside of their genre to be considered “real movies”. Comicbook movies can be deep, thoughtful, and engage us about our culture. Obviously, I think, Nolan’s Batman films are the benchmark but I would also include Black Panther, Logan, and Sam Rami’s Spiderman 2. I wouldn’t put the Joker remotely close to that level but this is probably my second favourite film of the year but I’ve only seen like 5 other films released this year, so it probably doesn’t mean much now, lol.