Well if you haven’t seen this movie yet, what are you waiting for?
Last night, my husband and I who love to go to the movies regularly watched this one and I was in awe. My husband is a huge Batman fan and keen collector of comic books, graphic novels and the movies. There isn’t anything about Batman that he doesn’t know about however, I can take it or leave it movie adaptations of graphic novels. To me, there seems to be an onslaught of comic book hero and arch enemy type movies at the cinema that are huge block busters and sometimes, I much prefer to watch movies that are little bit more close to real life.
Well this one was it.
Aside from the themes in the movie around mental health, the deterioration of society and how we treat our fellow human beings, watching the movie in the dark cinema and having life reflected back at me with a slow dawning realisation that we are all responsible for the world around us and if we lose our humanity, we descend into chaos and anarchy.
Now the character of the Joker is a psychotic, sociopathic, manipulative, brutal and horrific. Nothing about him should be a lesson unlike my click bait title. He is not a character to look up to, he is meant to portray a villain with absolutely no redemptive features. The idea of him being a clown with a penetrating and spookily eery laugh at the wrong times is meant to make us feel uncomfortable and full of dread – you just cannot anticipate how he will act, what he will do, what he will say that will touch your inner core and make something inside you shrivel up and die. You’re facing a monster.
And yet, I felt sorry for this monster. I felt that society had made him into this. As I sat there in the cinema in awe of Joachin Phoenix’s acting that made me FEEL for this monster. Various quotes scattered through the movie like this one, “the worst part about having a mental illness is that people expect you to behave as if you don’t” held up a mirror to our own actions to others who we don’t understand.
I can write more about Joker and the themes but that’s not what I set out to do in this blog post.
Instead, I wanted to focus on the excellent acting by Phoenix who could carry off making a villain like this come alive for us. I sat in the cinema seat holding my breath throughout, it was compelling to watch how he moved, how much weight he had lost, the way he ran down streets and corridors, the curve of his hunchback. The scenes themselves also felt that they had put some Instagram filter like Sierra or Valencia over them so it felt surreal. The moments where Joker looked “normal” when he was with his girlfriend (I’m not saying the twist there). I loved how the movie was shot too – lots of ‘middle’ shots and low down so we’re slightly looking up at him, or close ups of his eyes, skin, his bitten down nails, and oh, those long cigarette ashes – we saw close ups of the cigarette right at its end, the ash dangerously tilted and at the risk of dropping – stuff like this just makes the movie that more compelling.
Watching Art on Screen
I don’t know about you but I’m in awe of people who can totally immerse themselves into their art. It consumes them and they become it. To them, everything they do is about the art and the process itself. Their dedication to it is demonstrated through their medium and where others like myself, get MOVED by it and where we start to question ourselves and our thinking, I keep thinking – this is what it’s about. These people make us THINK and REFLECT about our own lives, actions, mindsets and behaviours.
When you’re thinking about their performance – or their art – long after your experience with it, you know that it has moved you.
It makes me wonder – and slightly jealous I must add – that these people can totally immerse themselves into the one thing always exploring, practising, testing and breaking boundaries by breaking themselves first. It’s also slightly scary too because their immersion means giving away or putting aside their own selves too for a little while. It must become incredibly confusing for them when they cannot discern themselves from their art?
It makes me think about the process of learning. Learning to me is uncomfortable – and it’s never ending.
If you want to learn something that creates mindset and behaviour change, you need to devote the time to immerse yourself into different experiences and get uncomfortable.
Deep down you know this and yet, we all take the easy option out. We want ‘quick wins’, ‘hacks’, frameworks, best practices, top 10 tips and so forth which is why I find what is online nowadays around monetising everything abhorrent. (Strong word I know).
To me, I love the idea of observing, learning and trying out things for yourself but using the “artists” – the ones who are actually DOING the work (not attempting to sell you their services or business) – as the role models.
There’s a lot to be said about people who can be role models – who have the talent and knack of putting a mirror up to others (although they don’t set out to do this specifically but they do it through their work) where we see ourselves reflected, making us think about our behaviours and then committing to change them.
This is where we need to be focussing if we want true mindset and behaviour change help people with critical thinking, reflection and sense making skills that get them into their discomfort zone first and questioning what it is they do, why they do it this way and then be supported, encouraged and inspired to try something different. Also helping them find role models and people whom they respect and who are experts themselves in their area who they can observe, learn from or be mentored by.