Since the announcement a while back that Martin Scorsese was involved in some kind of Joker film in the capacity of a Executive Producer (this was not to be), to the news that Todd Phillips, best known for the Hangover films, was set to direct this film and that it would star Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, people have been curious, to say the least, as to what kind of film this would be.
We got photographs of Phoenix dressed in a gawdy, almost Batman-TV show-esq Joker costume, so it appeared they weren’t going for the prosthetic look of Jack Nicholson. But neither did it appear they were going for the grungy Heath Ledger version…
Intriguing stuff, certainly, and then we got trailers…
I wasn’t sure what to think of this new Joker film. On the one hand, Joaquin Phoenix is without a doubt a very high level actor, one who has received plenty of praise for his abilities. On the other hand, Todd Phillips, though he scored big with the first Hangover film, which my wife absolutely loves, also was responsible for Hangover II and III, films which were sooooo damn bad (as much as my wife likes the first film, she hates the other two. Alas, I’ve only seen the last two, which I agree are horrid).
Welp, the film had its world-premiere on August 31st at the Venice Film Festival and the reactions have, for the most part, been quite positive. Christopher Campbell on rottentomatoes.com offers the following article which encapsulates critical reaction to the film, which is still a month away from being given a general release. The article’s headline is quite positive:
As intrigued by the film as I am, I’m not certain if I’ll be able to catch it upon its initial release. As I’ve noted too often, I don’t have the free time to go to films as much as I’d like to lately, and the fact that this sounds like something of a downer of a film (which is perfectly fine!) means I’ll likely have to go see it alone. My wife faces enough of that in her job so its highly unlikely she’ll care to go see this film.
One of the more intriguing things I’ve read and which are noted in the above article is that the film seems to pay tribute to two Martin Scorsese films in particular, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Some have speculated that the film was originally an attempt to remake/update one or both of those films and the concept was married to the character of the Joker.
It’s still an intriguing concept, I feel.
Let’s see what others think of it when it is formally released.