Todd Phillips “Joker” opened Saturday at the Venice Film Festival to mostly rave reviews, many highlighting Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-worthy performance. It will be interesting if both Heath Ledger and Phoenix receive Oscars for portraying the Joker. Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are only two actors to ever win separate Oscars for playing same character. Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather and De Niro won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Godfather Part II, both in the role of Vito Corleone.
Here are some highlights of the reviews:
“Joker” manages the nimble feat of telling the Joker’s origin story as if it were unprecedented. We feel a tingle when Bruce Wayne comes into the picture; he’s there less as a force than an omen. And we feel a deeply deranged thrill when Arthur, having come out the other side of his rage, emerges wearing smeary make-up, green hair, an orange vest and a rust-colored suit.”
“It’s a sad, chaotic, slow-burn study of someone who isn’t visible; who doesn’t even exist to the world around them. But your empathy, sympathy even, isn’t guaranteed, and it begins to dissolve as Arthur somehow moves even further to the edges. This is, we mustn’t forget, the story of how a villain was made. But what writer/director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) have written into life is the Joker as a character. What they and the film is interested in is the mental, moral, emotional, physical make-up of the man who became the Joker.”
“Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is unquestionably the boldest reinvention of “superhero” cinema since “The Dark Knight”; a true original that’s sure to be remembered as one of the most transgressive studio blockbusters of the 21st Century. It’s also a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels, and a hyper-familiar origin story so indebted to “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” that Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit.”
“Joker is a period piece but it is undeniably about our own troubled, relentlessly violent time.”
“Phoenix absolutely transforms himself as Arthur Fleck. The physical moment of the character alone could convey what is going on with him, even if there had been no dialogue… He’s awkward and twisted (particularly his arms and the position of his head) when he’s trying to be “normal.” The little dances he does as he tries to act sexy or confident are the sort that make you embarrassed for someone at a party. As he becomes who he really is, the movements are powerful.”
“The movie is, for a good stretch, a troubling and arresting character study, one done with nervy conviction. …. The climax is a gnarly triumph for the man who has now turned into the Joker, a baptism of blood and fire which brings to mind the political protests that have swept the world this decade…”
“… Phillips has crafted an intimate, standalone character study that’s extremely influenced by another era of filmmaking. From the way the opening credits play, to the final frames of the movie, Phillips has taken the colorful comic book movie to the dirty, gritty streets of the late 1970s with fantastic results. Trust me, you have never seen a comic book movie like Joker and I’m not sure we will ever get one like this again.”
“The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom. ”
“Joker” opens October 4, 2019.