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Peter T Chattaway

Joker (2019)

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Link to our thread on the standalone Joker movie starring Jared Leto.

Links to our threads on the DC Cinematic Universe films Man of Steel (2013), Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam! (2019), Wonder Woman 1984 (2019) and Birds of Prey (in development), as well as the in-development Flashpoint, Black Adam, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Nightwing, Batgirl, Gotham City Sirens and Justice League Dark movies and the not-yet-dated Superman, Batman and Justice League sequels.  

Links to our threads on the Batman 2.0 films Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). 

Links to our threads on The Lego Movie (2014), The Lego Batman Movie (2017) and The Lego Movie 2 (2018), at least one of which has the Joker.

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The Joker Origin Story On Deck: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver, Martin Scorsese Aboard WB/DC Film
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros and DC are in the early stages of another Batman Universe spinoff movie, this one telling the origin story of the signature villain The Joker. The studio has set The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips to co-write a script with 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver. Phillips will direct the movie, and Martin Scorsese will produce it with Phillips. This will be the first film under a new banner that has yet to be named in which WB can expand the canon of DC properties and create unique storylines with different actors playing the iconic characters.
I’m told that the intention is to make an origin story that isn’t part of any other iteration. The Joker has memorably been part of two Batman movies in the form of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, and was most recently played by Jared Leto in the first Suicide Squad film. He will reprise in the Suicide Squad sequel and the Harley Quinn spinoff, but this new film will launch the character with a different actor, possibly younger. . . .
Deadline.com, August 22

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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To see people melting down over this on Twitter, you'd think Scorsese is directing the dang movie instead of producing it.

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Joaquin Phoenix's Joker Origin Movie a Go at Warner Bros.
Joaquin Phoenix recently finalized his deal to star as the arch-nemesis of Batman and shooting is set to begin in September in New York.
Todd Phillips is directing the film and co-wrote the script, which the studio describes as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.” Scott Silver co-wrote the script.
Warners has yet to stake out a release date for the film, which goes against the grain of most comic book movies that have flags planted years in advance. But the Joker stand-alone pic is meant to be different from other comic book superhero movies. 
The project's budget is in the $55 million range, significantly lower than the tentpoles that dominate the form. And the stand-alone is meant to be darker and more experimental in tone and content (at least as experimental as a studio can be with established brands such as DC), which is described as being akin to a crime drama.
Hollywood Reporter, July 10

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Come to think of it, wasn't The Golden Lion another Batman villain in the 60s? 

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So, honestly, I expected this to be bad based on some of the buzz I heard from friends, but...

Well, I expected it to be bad in a lazy, Venom, phone-it-in sort of way, or...

bad in a stupid, I don't care for the tone, Shazam sort of way, or 

bad in an I-see-what-you-are-going-after-but-I-don't-like-it-Prometheus sort of way.

I wasn't really expecting it to be bad in a meandering, we-can't-decide-what-we-want-this-to-be-Suicide Squad sort of way, or...

a we-don't-really-understand the material we are building on in a Dark Knight Rises or Star Wars Prequels sort of way.

And I certainly didn't expect the the Terminator-franchise level of incoherence (both thematically and continuity wise). 

 

I think it was Matt Brunson who dubbed this the origin story that literally nobody wanted, and it's hard for me to be more succinct and spot on than that. I gather the idea is to try to make comic book movies prestigious by referencing the prestige of other genres or simply by being violent, as though there are still half a dozen movie goers living somewhere in a cave under the sea who still equate being violent (or "dark") with being morally or artistically serious. 

At least I was prepared enough by Andrew's review to not have expectations and not be mad. (I did go to the dine-in theater and order a mojito just to ensure that there was something pleasurable about my experience.) Maybe Batman is like Star Wars or Avengers (MCU) or James Bond in that we can't really do anything drastically different but we also have too many threads of too many different ideas to have unity. Personally, if we must have comic book movies, I'd rather just treat them like Shakespeare plays and say, sure, you've seen this story a dozen times, but this is about how we deliver the same story rather than about changing it while trying to leave it the same. 

There's a longer piece (maybe) about prequels, how they differ from origin stories and why they seem to be the easiest things to get greenlit and produced but the hardest things to actually make worthwhile.

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I think I appreciated Joker more than Andrew and Ken, but it's still derivative and depraved. Here's my review, fwiw:

Quote

Earlier this week, filmmaker Martin Scorsese gave his comments on the rise of superhero films, comparing them to theme parks and stating that such works aren’t “the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” The publication of said comments in Empire coincides with the critical frenzy surrounding Todd Phillips’ villain origin story, Joker, a film which relies heavily on (read: impersonates) Scorsese’s masterpieces, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. But if Joker is a theme park, it’s mostly akin to a grim abandoned sideshow, creepy clowns and all. 

[...]

If Joker has anything interesting to say about our present culture at large, with its protests of angry anarchists and above-it-all billionaires running for political office, it’s as simplistic as “look at how crazy it is out there.” Indeed, Joker is faux-profound, albeit mostly well-crafted in its pseudo-profundity. It provides no answers nor catharsis, no good explanations nor visions of possibility for a broken world. Arthur and Phillips are simply along for the wild ride, laughing uncontrollably as they go. So it’s an appropriate film for its eponymous antagonist, one of the most popular comic book villains of all time: repellent in its wanton depravity, it’s still maddeningly captivating, and sure to spark strong reactions. Whether those reactions bring out the best in us remains to be seen (I’m not holding my breath) but I imagine we’re all meant to be the punchline.

 

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Two things:

One, the Scorsese stuff is obvious, but I don't see enough discussion out there about the Fight Club parallels. If anything, this movie reminds me of the book version of Fight Club more than the movie version, particularly in its final moments. (The endings are very different between the book and movie versions of Fight Club.) In the Joker movie and the Fight Club book, there is a strong sense that a loser has started a movement that has kinda gotten ahead of him and isn't really under his control any more, even though it still looks up to him.

And two, I was dismayed -- intrigued, but dismayed -- by the way the film turns Bruce Wayne's father into a Trump-like bad guy of sorts (he's not merely murdered, he's assassinated -- and he kind of deserves it!). Previous Batman films always held up the Waynes (and their butler Alfred) as people who were trying to make a positive difference in a negative city, but *this* movie can't imagine anyone or anything being truly positive. So that was sad, even if I understand the reasons for taking the character in that direction.

Oh, and three: Yet another example of what our very own SDG has called "Shrinking World Syndrome". The 1989 Batman movie already engaged in this by making the Joker and the man who killed Bruce Wayne's parents one and the same person -- but now *this* movie arguably shrinks the world of Gotham City even more (depending on whether or not you believe a certain character's denials, and depending on how much weight you give to a note scrawled on the back of a certain photo).

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11 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

And two, I was dismayed -- intrigued, but dismayed -- by the way the film turns Bruce Wayne's father into a Trump-like bad guy of sorts (he's not merely murdered, he's assassinated -- and he kind of deserves it!). Previous Batman films always held up the Waynes (and their butler Alfred) as people who were trying to make a positive difference in a negative city, but *this* movie can't imagine anyone or anything being truly positive. So that was sad, even if I understand the reasons for taking the character in that direction.

I'm glad that you said that. 

I've tried to be honest and maybe even self-examining about how my investment in parts of the Batman mythology has affected my responses to iterations that mess with parts of it. (https://1morefilmblog.com/2012/07/19/the-dark-knight-rises-nolan-2012/). What is strange about this particular representation of Thomas Wayne is that it ops for cutesy coincidence (the Shrinking World Syndrome) over development. 

I'm an admirer of Frank Miller's THE DARK NIGHT graphic novels, even if I recognize that they ushered in some problematic trends. But one way in which it has been influential in a less than negative way was in foregrounding the spiritual and moral dilemma of Batman and his struggles with whether or not he could or should simply kill the Joker. (That informs  works such as The Killing Joke where Joker rapes Commisioner Gordon and shoots and paralyzes Barbara as well as A Death in The Family where he kills Jason Todd.) In a film that cared more about the its relationship to an overall mythology (whether or not it felt beholden to it), the Joker's origin story might actually have some meaning in the way it contributes to these questions whether Batman knew about the origin or not. (I could see room for instance, in an origin story that casts Joker as a victim as perhaps providing Batman with a Gandalf-like compassion for the object committed to his destruction.) 

But here, alas, is one of many places where it seems to me that Joker doesn't really know what it wants to say or do beyond just being dark and disturbing or different. It floats a bunch of different ideas but doesn't really interrogate any much less attempt to situate those ideas within a larger dialogue that provides the context for iconic but eternally transforming characters.

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If you'll all forgive a brief note on the film's box-office performance, it turns out the movie dropped only 41.9% in its second weekend, which is very good for a comic-book/superhero movie. So it seems word-of-mouth and repeat viewing are keeping this film afloat beyond the pre-release controversy. These are two tweets from a longer thread on the subject, when the people that estimate these things were estimating that Joker would drop 42.8%.

N.B.: The second tweet has the qualifier "this century" because some of the Superman and Batman movies released in the 20th century -- particularly in the '70s and '80s -- had smaller second-weekend drops, but distribution patterns and moviegoing habits were very different back then. Blockbusters tended to have longer "legs" than they do now, etc., etc.

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On 10/4/2019 at 7:08 AM, Andrew said:

As we say in Tennessee, it's been a minute since I shared one of my reviews here.  But this is a film I loathe like few others: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/10/joker-is-socially-reprehensible-garbage/

Hey, Andrew and others, thinking of films that perpetuate stereotypes and stigma around mental illness...

What would you say are some of the best films (or TV) you've seen in how they portraying mental illness (of any kind), whether simply for accuracy or for helping audiences sympathize?

I think this has come up before, and probably deserves its own thread, but...thoughts?

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20 hours ago, Rob Z said:

What would you say are some of the best films (or TV) you've seen in how they portraying mental illness (of any kind), whether simply for accuracy or for helping audiences sympathize?

This question probably does deserve its own thread, but my initial reaction is a Dardenne brothers film (as is my wont): Two Days, One Night. Bright Wall/Dark Room did an entire issue on "Mental Health" films, which is well worth reading. And this list at Mubi is pretty comprehensive.

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