One of 2019’s most anticipated movies is Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. The movie opens widely in October, but it’s premiering at the Venice Film Festival this month and the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Cameron Bailey, the co-head and artistic director for the Toronto festival, has seen Joker and he was blown away.
Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Bailey said the movie is “terrific” and it is deserving of screening on the festival’s biggest stage. He said the story, which strays from the comic book source material, is “really original,” while the cinematography was spoken highly of as well.
“First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular,” Bailey said. “It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.”
“But it has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then,” he added. “It’s gritty in its look. It has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition.”
Phoenix , a three-time Oscar nominee, plays Arthur Fleck / The Joker in the upcoming film. The movie also stars Robert de Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy.
Director Todd Phillips, who previously directed The Hangover and Old School comedies, said in an interview that the new Joker movie doesn’t follow “anything” from the comic books.
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” Phillips, said. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”