Joker - 2019 Film*

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by neo123, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. So I finally saw this tonight, at a VIP cinema that was 3/4 full - which is pretty impressive for a work night screening three weeks in. And man, this doesn’t come off like a movie closing in on a $1 billion gross, does it? Some of the Scorsese steals were way too blatant and some of the “social commentary” was too on the nose, particularly Joker’s rant on the Murray Franklin show, but overall a solid piece of dark character-focused mass-market moviemaking, which will linger in the imagination for a few days at least.

    There were some audience laughs at the screening I saw, when Gary was trying to leave Arthur's apartment, but they were of the uncomfortable kind rather than the “this is FUNNY!” sort.

    Also: did the ending make anyone else think of Fight Club, the novel?
     
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  2. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    I've seen the film multiple times (I'll spare saying exactly how many!), and the laughs/reactions have been different in every audience. The bit with Gary and reaching for the door is the most common "laugh" moment. I think most of what seem to be "inappropriate laughs" come from feeling uncomfortable. Also, at a number of movies, I've sensed that some people laugh or chuckle as a default reaction to liking something. That may sound weird, but it's kind of a tic of a variation of, I dunno, going "ooooh!" or "aaahhh!"

    Phoenix deserves the Oscar for that one scene alone, though, the one with the all white makeup. Shows true (and obviously very macabre) comedic timing, and also is supremely creepy and terrifying with every facial expression and body movement.
     
  3. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    On the one hand, I don't buy for a moment that Phoenix will sign on for a film that sticks him in there with Batman and Catwoman and Poison Ivy and all of that as some have suggested. I would tend to think the only way he'd do a sequel is to do something similarly singularly-focused.

    On the other hand, one rumor just recently floating around (supposedly from a "source" who had details on "Birds of Prey" right), they are already "working on" a Joker sequel that might include some other villains.

    Separately, I'm not sure WB/DC (or Disney/Marvel for that matter) can really take this Joker "formula" and apply it to other things. It's not impossible, of course. But there aren't a ton of characters that would really be served well (and would serve the film well) by going hard on this "Joker" formula.

    I think "Joker" is a pretty unique animal, and it rests a great deal on Phoenix, and specifically Phoenix doing *that* character.
     
  4. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    I’d also say, while it’s obviously impossible to deny the myriad of social/political issues this film touches on, and I’m usually not one to try to ignore such things, I still feel a good approach to this film is to really view it hard and focused as a “character” film. (I’ll even dispense with the overused term “character study”, but either way…). It’s a story about this guy and all the stuff that happens to him (and that he perpetrates on others).

    Everything else, from the obvious overarching issues (mental health, wealth/social imbalance, etc.) to some of the side issues that have been discussed, are all sort of “colors” or “flavors” underpinning the character story. I think Phillips and Phoenix are really laying the story, performance, and events down and not trying to make one thing out of them. Or rather, they are crafting something in the best “ambiguous” fashion possible.

    I’m loving the off the wall theories that make no sense. Arthur died in the fridge. Or “Joker” is a backdoor entry into the “DCEU.” Jared Leto’s Joker is his son. The detailed theories outlining why they think a really random like 57% of the film never happened. The theory that all the stuff with Sophie *did* happen and she’s essentially gaslighting him by pretending not to know him later.
     
  5. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Regarding DeNiro and the Murray Franklin show, I'd say everything but Franklin's demeanor is clearly meant to be specifically the Carson show. The rainbow curtain, the set design, the Ed McMahon clone sidekick, the network being "NCB", and so on.

    The only thing that doesn't match is that Franklin seems like more a talk show host, meaning a non-comedian talk show host. Closer to like Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas than Johnny Carson.

    Random aside: I love the scene with Arthur "rehearsing" for the Franklin show. Nice subtle touches like a homemade version of a "Live with Murray Franklin" mug where he's clearly just scrawled the words on a white mug with a sharpie.
     
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  6. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    I hope DC doesn't try to flog this film with a sequel. I'm sure they'll offer both Phillips and Phoenix each a mountain of money for another one.

    It makes me think of Sony Pictures' Venom. I didn't think it was a good movie, but Venom is one of the biggest villains in comics and he'd never had his own movie. I think that explains that movie's $800-some million haul.

    Now take the Joker, who is arguably an even bigger villain than Venom, probably the biggest in comics. With a much better film that is also kind of dark and deranged and definitely not a cheesy action crowd-pleasing movie like Venom. Much harder sell in a way as a film, also a pretty hard-R. But it makes even more than Venom. And people are talking Oscar nomination for Phoenix.

    DC took a chance on something and are reaping the rewards. I hope they don't cheapen it by trying to replicate it.
     
  7. As others have said, the sort of sequel that might fly would be an adaptation of The Killing Joke, or something in that vein, perhaps where it’s made clear (or heavily implied) that the Joker dies at the end. Which would put paid to any more sequels, at least any involving Phoenix.
     
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  8. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    Oh, please - who doesn't want a brutal, violent hard-"R" Mr. Mxyzptlk story???
     
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  9. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    If they tell him they'll give him $50 million dollars and make him a producer, I bet he'd do a Joker porno film shown on the USA Channel.
     
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  10. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    I wouldn’t take that bet. Phoenix doesn’t just do crap to do crap. He can get cast in other stuff.
     
  11. George P

    George P Everybody's Lost

    Location:
    NYC
    Agreed 100%
     
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  12. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I can think of fifty million reasons why he'd do a sequel. And if the same people came back, and Phoenix had some degree of creative control as a co-producer...
     
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  13. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    I mean, sure, anything’s possible. It’s not like he has to come back though.
     
  14. George P

    George P Everybody's Lost

    Location:
    NYC
    I wonder how many people who saw and enjoyed Joker saw You Were Never Here. That film was powerful.
     
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  15. GodShifter

    GodShifter Forum Hot Take Resident®

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Put me down as one that doesn’t think Phoenix does a sequel. The amount of money almost guarantees he doesn’t do it.

    I’m sure he was aware of the potential money that could encompass a sequel, but did the movie because he was drawn to it. That said, I could be wrong and he sells out completely, but I’d lay odds against it knowing his reputation.
     
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  16. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    If they had a good story for one more film, he might be lured back. I’m not sure I trust DC/Warners to come up with something worthwhile though.
     
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  17. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    I certainly think money could very well motivate a sequel. More pointedly, Phoenix and Phillips have both occasionally in recent weeks made vague allusions to not being 100% opposed to a sequel from a creative point of view.

    But if any actor would turn down the money, I could envision it would be Phoenix. His interviews are sometimes hilarious and fascinating. The guy clearly can barely be bothered to do the promo rounds for *this* movie. He tunes out during group Q&As at movie festivals and whatnot. He's weird and terse in interviews. While anything is possible, I could *absolutely* picture him balking at a ton of dough, especially if presented with a sequel that feels more like, say, the Matt Reeves universe than the "Joker" film.

    I'm guessing, considering the relatively low budget on "Joker", Phoenix probably didn't get a huge up front paycheck for the film (a few mil I would assume) and could very well be a larger than usual profit participant in the film. If I didn't think it was quite possible he's already going to be seeing a lot of bonus "points" for the current "Joker" film, then perhaps I'd buy he'd want to cash in harder on a sequel.

    I'm not quite sure, though, that Warner would pay Phoenix literally $50 mil to do a sequel. I'm not sure a sequel would do as well for a bunch of reasons (especially if they tried to neuter the Phillips/Phoenix concept of a sparse R character study and bloated the film out with a rogue's gallery of villains, a Batman, etc.), and paying him *that* much would dictate a more bloated budget on the sequel than the original.

    Whatever does or doesn't happen with a sequel, one theory I've seen that makes some sense is that Warner won't announce anything until after the Oscars, as some would view announcing a sequel as taking away from the cachet of the film as it stands now.

    Awards for this film will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. This film has a weird about of vitriol working against it (even some trades writing blatant negative articles on the film's awards chances, with seemingly a single unnamed "industry" person opining the film is too controversial to get noms), but I think especially with Phoenix's performance, it's going to be pretty hard for them to ignore it. I absolutely think "Joker" deserves nominations in all of the applicable categories, but I don't know how much it'll actually get.

    The easy/safe thing for the academy to do would be to avoid giving Phillips a director nomination, but give Phoenix a lead actor nom but then no win. Best Picture? I think it's good enough to get nominated and win (and if they care about TV ratings they'd probably want to see it), but I don't expect it. I think some other noms for things like score and cinematography and editing would be easy. I think the academy would in retrospect look kind of bad if they gave "Black Panther" a Best Picture nom and then ignored "Joker", but there are a million examples of snubs that one would think would cause the academy consternation, and it obviously doesn't.

    I could actually envision the film getting a lot of noms but being frozen out of any wins. I think any nomination and win in the applicable categories would be justified and deserved.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
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  18. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    If they did it like "Joker", they'd just be giving Todd Phillips and Phoenix $50-$75 million and let them do whatever they want. It would be down to what Phillips can write (and/or any writers he employs).

    I'm sure Phillips and Phoenix like money like most everyone, but if WB/DC approached Phillips but started telling him what they want (e.g. "Make it PG-13 and put the Riddler and the Penguin and Jim Gordon in it, and set it up for third movie with Batman"), I could still picture Phillips walking.

    And even for $50 million, I could picture Phoenix walking if WB/DC ditched Phillips.

    And one thing I do know is that none of any continuation of this can happen at all without Phoenix.
     
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  19. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Agreed. I saw "You Were Never Really Here" back when it came out (and liked it enough on streaming to even pony up for the Blu-ray for it even though it has no bonus features of any kind!), and when details about "Joker" started hitting, I was surprised more people weren't expressing concern that "Joker" would be a *lot* like "You Were Never Really Here." That didn't happen most likely because very few comparatively saw "You Were Never Really Here."
     
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  20. George P

    George P Everybody's Lost

    Location:
    NYC
    :agree:
     
  21. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Many reviews, sometimes effusively praising and sometimes dismissively, have pointed out that the current "Joker" film was already kind of "run" by Phoenix, meaning it hinged *so much* on his performance and his creative choices. Some have criticized Phillips as if he just flipped the camera on and let Phoenix do all the work. While that's surely an exaggeration, I think both this film and any future film would already hinge very much on letting Phoenix do his own thing. I'm not sure he could have a ton more creative control than he has already had, other than having another on-screen credit. He doesn't strike me as someone that actually wants to co-write a script, and he seems to want a director to guide him up to the point of saying "action", at which point he takes off and does his thing.

    If WB/DC wanted to lure Phoenix back, more than even money, I'd say they'd have to carefully ensure that they simply maintain the current level of "hands off" that they have allowed. They'd basically have to throw another $75 mil at Phillips and Phoenix, once Phillips could write something that Phoenix liked, and let them go do their thing again.
     
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  22. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    You Were Never Really Here didn't do anything for me. I found it slow and drab, though Phoenix was interesting in it.
     
  23. clashcityrocker

    clashcityrocker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Great White North
    Finally saw this and my take may be controversial but I am not alone; this is from the top of my head, it's not completely realized and may change as I reflect further so bear that in mind. Phillips has said the film can be interpreted many ways so here's mine:

    To get to the point quickly none of the film exists, the joke is on us. Why can't there be a sequel? because Arthur Fleck isn't the Joker. The last line of "you wouldn't get it" is applied to all of us. Comic books, pop culture etc. aren't real life: they are pipe dreams, fantasies to let us accept our drab and meaningless existence. We dream of success, the perfect partner but we just wake up and drudge through our lives and watch sports and go to movies etc. to help us live another day. Philips and Phoenix have worked together to pull the wool (or clown mask) over our eyes and they have succeeded beyond their beliefs to the tune of a nearly billion dollars. The link to Taxi Driver is explicit because that is a link to Arthur Bremer a man that shot George Wallace (who Schrader based the script on) and to John Hinckley (who used the film to prove his love to Jodie Foster by shooting Reagan). I see Joker as a comment on entertainment/film/pop culture that leads to false worship and real violence. We celebrate heroes and publicize killers as if life was some kind of comic book. Phillips and Phoenix have attempted to condemn that in the guise of a comic book movie. Beyond briliant. Phoenix attempted this type of mass public masquerade as the retiring actor/rap star and almost succeeded. He finally got his last laugh and maybe even an Academy Award. Now that's funny hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha


    Remember this is my take I may be way off base so I don't want want responses but just to stimulate your thoughts about this quite incredible film.
     
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  24. Rne

    Rne Sufferin' succotash!

    Location:
    Malaver
    The delusional nature of the main character's psychosis is a splendid twist and puts the whole story in the point of view of an unreliable narrator.
    All the Wayne-related elements were, in my opinion, unnecessary, but it's a really good dramatic film (that could have been even better). Phoenix's performance is brilliant.
     
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  25. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    Your take is interesting, especially the second part, but I can't stand stories where it's "maybe this did or didn't happen, the main character is crazy". Seems like such a cheap cop-out.

    I like the idea that Arthur Fleck is actually the man who inspired an eventual Joker for the next Batman movie franchise, possibly. That's a way to make it so they don't require Phoenix to come back for more.
     

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