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Joker [2019] (2 discs)

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Director:Todd Phillips
Writer:Scott Silver
Todd Phillips
Composer:Hildur Guðnadóttir
Length:122 minutes
(2 hours 2 minutes)
MPAA Rating:R
Sorting Category:Graphic Novel
IMDB Rating:8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:68%
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
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Classifications:
  • Drama
  • Suspense / Horror
  • Dark Comedy
  • Action
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Synopsis: In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.


Reaction: They do a good job illustrating the origins of a villain. This may or may not be considered an official origin, but either way it's well told. Though I don't believe it needed to be made R-rated.


Personal Rating: 8/10

Select Cast and Crew
Todd Phillips => Director / Writer
Scott Silver => Writer
Hildur Guðnadóttir => Composer
April Grace => Arkham Psychiatrist
Bill Camp => Detective Garrity
Brett Cullen => Thomas Wayne
Brian Tyree Henry => Carl (Arkham Clerk)
Carrie Louise Putrello => Martha Wayne
Dante Pereira-Olson => Bruce Wayne
Douglas Hodge => Alfred Pennyworth
Frances Conroy => Penny Fleck
Glenn Fleshler => Randall
Hannah Gross => Young Penny
Jeff McCarthy => NCB Anchor
Josh Pais => Hoyt Vaughn
Justin Theroux => Ethan Chase (uncredited)
Leigh Gill => Gary
Marc Maron => Gene Ufland
Rich Campbell => Murray Franklin Band
Rocco Luna => GiGi Dumond
Sharon Washington => Social Worker
Shea Whigham => Detective Burke
Stephen Stanton => Gotham Health Commissioner (uncredited)
Zazie Beetz => Sophie Dumond

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • Joaquin Phoenix called perfecting the Joker's laugh the toughest part of playing the character.
  • Joaquin Phoenix based his laugh on "videos of people suffering from pathological laughter." He also sought to portray a character with which audiences could not identify.
  • In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Joaquin Phoenix acknowledged that while the violence in "Joker" is "a little more visceral and raw" than films such as the Avengers series, he "didn't have any hesitation about it." "You always want it to feel real, and you want the little violence that we have to have an impact," he said. "What happens in a lot of movies is that you get numb to it, you're killing 40,000 people, you don't feel it. While being a fictional story in a fictional world, you always want it to feel real. Everything that happens in this movie as far as violence goes, you feel it."
  • Arthur fires the gun and writes left-handed, but Joaquin Phoenix is right-handed. Actually, Arthur Fleck writes right-handed for his general journal entries, but his mental breaks switch him to writing left-handed temporarily.
  • Speaking about the villain's iconic laugh, Joaquin Phoenix called it "Something that's almost painful. I think for Joker it's a part of him that wants to emerge. I think we all kind of assume what a Joker laugh is and it felt like a new, fresh way of looking at it. I didn't think that I could do it", he added. "I kind of practiced alone but I asked Todd to come over to audition my laugh. I felt like I had to be able to do it on the spot and in front of somebody else. It was really uncomfortable. It took me a long time".
  • The first R rated movie in history to make $1 billion dollars.
  • Joaquin Phoenix was good friends with the late Heath Ledger who won an Oscar for his portrayal as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
  • The filmmakers cite Alan Moore's comic "The Killing Joke", which tells the Joker's origin and descent into insanity, and the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1982) as an influence on the film.
  • Zazie Beetz was asked by Variety at TIFF about whether or not the movie sympathizes with Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand-up comedian and clown for hire whose psychological unraveling leads him to become the notorious Batman villain. Beetz doesn't deny that "Joker" has a sympathetic viewpoint, but she argued that it's less towards Arthur/Joker and more towards Arthur's predicament on a broader scale. "It's kind of an empathy toward isolation," Beetz said, "and an empathy towards what is our duty as a society to address people who slip through the cracks in a way. There is a lot of culture of that right now. So is it empathy for that or just an observation on personalities who struggle?"
  • Originally Warner Brothers wanted Martin Scorsese to make this film with Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur and Robert De Niro to play Murray Franklin. However in the end this proved to be logistically impossible as DiCaprio had already signed on to do Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019) for [?] Quentin Tarantino which was due to start filming at the same time. Scorsese had also committed himself to another project, The Irishman (2019), which also starred De Niro. However De Niro himself had just finished filming his scenes for that film by the time Joker went into production so was able to commit himself to doing this film too.
  • Joaquin Phoenix revealed that Ray Bolger heavily influenced the Joker's quirky dance moves in the movie. "There was a particular song called 'The Old Soft Shoe' that he performed and I saw a video of it and there's this odd arrogance almost to his movements and, really, I completely just stole it from him," the star explains. "He does this thing of turning his chin up. This choreographer, [?] Michael Arnold, showed me that and tons of videos and I zeroed in on that one. 'That was Joker, right?' There's an arrogance to him, really. That was probably the greatest influence. But also disco."
  • In terms of prep, the first part for Joaquin Phoenix was physical: "You really start to go mad when you start to lose that much weight in that amount of time." He also read about political assassins and would-be assassins, but was careful not to overly define Arthur. "I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn't identifiable. I didn't want a psychologist to be able to identify the kind of person he was," he explained. A key element of finding the character came during rehearsal when Todd Phillips gave Phoenix a journal which acts as a prop in the film. Said Phoenix, "That was really helpful but I wasn't sure how to start. It became a really important part of discovery for me at that time."
  • The filmmakers used the working title 'Romero' while filming to keep the film's production a secret. The name could be homage to Cesar Romero, who also played the character.
  • Arthur takes a moment to enjoy a Charles Chaplin film. The Joker, in most continuities, is a fan of classic comedians, with Chaplin being one of his favorites.
  • Joaquin Phoenix said he took the role of the Joker "because I wasn't sure how I felt about him. When I have all the answers, I get bored. This one really kept me guessing."
  • While being honored for his acting career and for this film at a film ceremony, Joaquin Phoenix stated in his speech that he owes his career to his late brother and fellow actor, River Phoenix. He stated that his brother came home one day from work with a copy of the film, Raging Bull (1980), which starred Robert De Niro, who will eventually become his future co-star in this film. Joaquin goes on to state that he was in his teens at the time and he had quit acting. River had him watch the film that evening and the next day. He stated that River encouraged him to not give up on acting.
  • Taking a page from Sergio Leone, writer-director Todd Phillips asked composer Hildur Guðnadóttir to write the score before filming, something unusual. This was in order to use the music to set the mood on set while shooting the scenes.
  • Three of the previous actors who have played the Joker (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto) are Oscar winners, with Ledger winning for playing The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix has been nominated for an Oscar three times, and in 2020 he won a best performance Oscar for his take on the Joker character.
  • At one point in the film, Joker looks out of a cop car and the camera focuses on his face while there is a bokeh present in the background. This is an homage to a similar shot in The Dark Knight (2008).
  • According to a report from Hollywood Reporter, Jared Leto, who played the Joker in Suicide Squad (2016) to mixed reception, was allegedly very alienated and upset by Joaquin Phoenix being the Joker and not him.
  • Alec Baldwin was in talks to play Thomas Wayne, but dropped out a day after being announced in the role, due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Skarsgård were rumored to play the Joker.
  • Brett Cullen also appears as Congressman Gilley in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • A page in Arthur's journal, shows a drawing of a cat/woman hybrid using a ball of yarn as a whip a reference to Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.
  • Joker veteran Mark Hamill expressed his utmost praise for the film on Instagram. He writes, "The awesome Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver brilliantly reimagine the character as never seen before! 2 thumbs up from that old-school, comic book version... me."
  • Batman voice actor [?] Kevin Conroy expressed hope that Joker voice actor Mark Hamill could reprise the role in the film while DC Extended Universe Joker actor Jared Leto wanted to reprise the role as well.
  • Although past actors went to dark places in real life to play the role of the Joker, Joaquin Phoenix says he didn't have that experience. He states, "I didn't struggle, it was enjoyable, it was fulfilling."
  • Frances McDormand turned down the Penny role.
  • This is the third film that has made over $1 billion worldwide without being released in China. The first two films are Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and The Dark Knight (2008), respectively.
  • Although this is Robert De Niro's first comic book movie, he was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995).
  • Director Guillermo del Toro states that he's a huge fan of the film.
  • The film surpassed Venom (2018) ($854 million box office on a $90 million budget), Deadpool (2016) ($783 million box office on a $58 million budget), Batman (1989) ($411 million box office on a $35 million budget), The Mask (1994) ($351 million box office on a $23 million budget) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) ($200 million box office on a $13.5 million budget) as being the most profitable comic book film ever.
  • Brett Cullen strongly believes that Arthur is indeed Thomas's son, and played the role with this fact in mind.
  • Director Todd Phillips said that he intentionally left it ambiguous as to whether Arthur becomes the actual Joker as seen in traditional Batman stories or inspires a separate character.