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Joker Already Has Awards Buzz — and Controversy | The Big Picture


Whereas most superhero and-or comics-adjacent
blockbusters tend to avoid showing themselves to the entertainment press until just before
release in order to keep plot-spoiler-fever at a marketing friendly boiling point, Todd
Philips’ Joker has already been seen by dozens of the international film media’s most prominent
voices (and also just people with the right connections) a full month in advance at the
prestigious Venice Film Festival – and the reactions are already pouring in… not from
me, of course, I don’t get to fly to Italy to see movies early, though sometimes I do
get pizza which is… not remotely the same thing. Anyway! That’s not of course the only way that Joker
is meant to he “different” from other modern comic book movies: A pilot project for Warner
Bros “DC Black Label” brand of alternate-take adult-skewing spin offs disconnected from
any other DC movie continuities, it supposedly aims to reimagine the character of the titular
Batman nemesis in a stark real-world context without superheroes or plot-device scifi chemical
baths; with Joaquin Phoenix playing a Joker who starts out as a troubled but sympathetic
ordinary schlub who is transformed into a charismatic criminal psychopath by bad circumstance
and society. Which, of course, we live in. …or, if we’re judging strictly by the trailer,
“What if Robert DeNiro from Taxi Driver and Robert DeNiro from King of Comedy were the
same guy and also he turns out to be The Joker?” I’ve been looking forward to it with cautious
optimism, born of simultaneously thinking “That sounds interesting!” and also “That
could end up being incredibly f——- tiring.” Few turnarounds in modern film culture, after
all, turned out a unpleasantly as watching Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan’s brilliant,
landmark redefining of this character become twisted by popular-culture into just another
memetic Angry Sad Boy mascot beloved by people who missed the point of their own supposedly
favorite movies – but neither that nor the general tiresomeness of Joker fandom, “clownworld”
memes and oh-so-edgy comic reboots in general can take away from that having been an important
performance in a great film. On the other hand… “Are you sweat talking me?” [laughing] [Joker] “I love this guy.” “He’s so intents.” But we shall see! Either way, the film was a big hit at the
festival, receiving an “eight minute standing ovation” – uh, sidebar – guys, when you read
shit like that it generally means the audience liked the movie enough to not stop clapping
for the eight minutes it took for the cast and crew to come up on stage, bow, and begin saying thank you and sit down – and also receive one of two reactions from the assembled press: according to whom
Joker is either “A game-changing classic for the ages that restores the serious artistic
viability of the superhero genre for grownups, will cleanse the box-office of Disney/Marvel
corporate banality with the purifying holy fires of Scorsese references and self-regarding
method acting, should all but certainly net an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and maybe
even for Best Picture now that it’s okay to do that and shit – maybe this one could even
win since it’s more… ‘serious.'” or on the other hand: “Oh my God this is awful not another movie about an angry loner being sort-of justified going nuts that’s vaguely similar to what
every actual spree killer says about themselves and it looks like people I personally dislike
or whose politics I’m disgusted by are going to like this movie and interpret it to be
in some way supportive of them and how could you think to release this when there’s real-world
shooting going on and an election coming up and… [crying] “Won’t somebody please think of the children.” And, also like a smattering of the second one
but that also sneaks it “Oh, but yeah it’s also a well-made movie and they’re probably
gonna give Joaquin an Oscar.” Frankly, I’ve got no idea where I expect
to come down on it; though at this point I can offer that I don’t consider it a great sign that
both the effusive and repulsed reviews are equally describing more or less exactly the
movie I had hoped they weren’t making out of this… but we’ll see. I’ve been surprised before, and a studio that’s
managed to put out something as perfectly delightful as SHAZAM! and make… well, maybe
not a “silk purse” but at least a compellingly garish Spencer’s Gifts backpack out of the
sow’s ear that was the aborted Snyderverse buildup for Aquaman deserves some license
to experiment. I’m always wary of the wary of the “social
responsibilities of media” question when it comes to these things in that I tend to have
a nuanced view of them: Everyone has a right to free speech, no one has a right
to a platform for that speech, you don’t have a right to never hear something that offends
you but you also don’t have a right to force someone to hear something that offends them either… it’s not an easy thing and neither is the frustratingly and yet immortal question of whether or not its societally
responsible to keep making movies about how fascinating and misunderstood and actually sympathetic lonely white guys who go on philosophically self-aggrandizing murder sprees are when the
real life version is now such a terrible and regular part of the news cycle. What it tends to come down to for me on the
whole “glamorizing characters like The Joker” thing (which, again, maybe the movie does,
maybe not, don’t know yet, just talking about reactions and speculations here) is that – separate
from whether or not a socially-irresponsible movie can still be a good movie on the filmmaking side (I’d say yes it can be) in my view there’s a difference between “glamorizing” vice and honestly depicting
vice that a certain segment of the audience already glamorize for themselves. To borrow a metaphor from Chris Rock… “Drug dealers don’t sell drug. Drug sell themself.” “It’s crack. It’s not an encyclopedia. It’s not a f—— vacuum cleaner.” “You don’t really gotta to try to sell crack, okay.” “I’ve never hear a crack dealer going, ‘Man, how am I going to get rid of all this crack?'” [audience laughing] Notably, Joker openly flaunts its connections
to the films of Martin Scorsese, modern cinema’s master of movies about villain-protagonists
who we understand are bad guys… but we also get to one degree or another why their “badness”
was an appealing road to take even as the films never actually stop pointing out what’s
actually happening and why we’re not suppose to root for it. And part of why he’s good at that, Scorsese I mean, is that he has a genuine in-touch-with-my-own-dark-side understanding that he doesn’t need to “cheat” in order to
make the excesses of Henry Hill’s gangster life in Goodfellas or Jordan Belfort’s debauchery in The Wolf of Wall Street look fun: Being a big shot gangster, being rich as hell, hanging out with your friends all day, doing whatever you want and getting away with it, having a sick yacht, doing tons of coke, being married to Margot
Robbie, flying in planes full of strippers… those already sound fun already. You don’t have to sell that. That’s pre-sold. People already want those things…some people. That’s, that’s why they aspirer to become…that’s why these characters happened in the first place. [Narrator] “I still love the life. We were treated like movie stars with muscle, we had it all just for the asking.” “Our wives, mothers, kids, everybody rode along. I had paper bags filled with jewelry, stashed in the kitchen.” “I had a sugar bowl full of coke next to the bed.” “I’m not ashamed to admit it.” “When we arrive at the prison, I was absolutely terrified.” [Jailor] “Belfort, on your feet.” [Belfort] “But, I needn’t of been.” “See, for a brief fleeting moment…” “I’d forgotten I was rich.” And likewise, even though their respective
movies do in fact make it crystal clear that people like Tyler Durden, the Joker, Thanos, Gordon
Gekko etc are assholes whose philosophies are evil bullshit you shouldn’t follow…if the characters are rendered authentically and true to life you’re gonna have a few dense idiots who decide to “listen” to what they are saying because that’s who listens to cult leaders in real life. So, will Joker have an annoying fanbase? I mean… probably, yeah? But what doesn’t today? My Little Pony has its version of a psycho
fanbase in the 21st Century, we crossed this Rubicon a long time ago. And, it not really something you can hold against the property in 99% of cases. Now, as for the “awards season” stuff… uh, god do
I really have to already? Okay: Assuming it’s as good as the positive reviews have said, and I have no reason to doubt either way, it wouldn’t shock me to see Joker as an Oscar contender maybe even Best Picture – mostly because “make this a Best Picture contender” seems to have been the plan from its inception: “The bandaid’s
been ripped off comic movies as Best Picture nominees, what can we do to get the trophy
for being the first to win one, let’s try making other movies that have been contenders
before again but with super-person face paint and see if that can work.” Again, assuming it’s worth nominating, I’d
be pretty stoked to see it in there to shake things up, I mean anything better than Green Book – though I’d be curious to see if it caught similar flack to Black Panther i.e .will the same critics who said that nomination shouldn’t count as a “win” for the superhero genre because it was (in their view) nominated for its diversity rather than its superhero merits also claim that Joker should have an asterisk because
it’s whole conceit is to not be a comic book movie as much as possible? (For what it’s worth, I would concede that it’s does seem a bit unfair that films in this genre tend to only get taken seriously when they discard everything
unique and special about the genre – and I did feel that way about Logan as well. Through they didn’t end up nominating Logan. Anyway, I guess we’re going to find out together, because whatever Joker ultimately is we’re still a month out from the punchline. I’m Bob and that’s The Big Picture.

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Comments
  • 3:36 This, MovieBob, is why you and I (and others like me) can be pretty much on opposite ends of the political spectrum while still being able to respectfully take each other seriously. This is a good video, and you continually earn the subscribers you have.

  • hol' up a minute; the non-auto generated captions are written by a human right? you're telling me a real human is so dumb that they spelled "intense" @1:52 as "intents"?! and they may be getting payed for it?

  • I saw more people complain along the lines of, “won’t someone think of the battered women that this film seems to view as disposable, who are often the first victims of the spree killing men in their lives.” That’s not to say that there aren’t any Helen Lovejoy types around, there always are. I should clarify that I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read a lot of reviews written by non-white, non-male reviewers, and it’s a common refrain.

  • For some reason my Chromecast really struggles to play your videos. Not a criticism, just weird. They generally have lots of pauses and this one played to 10:32 of 8:02.

    It's upsetting because I generally really appreciate your perspective on movies. Blah blah blah, this was good too.

  • everyone always shits on Jared Leto's Joker. He was the gangster mob boss joker he was suppose to be like that. There's 3 different archetypes of Joker: Mob boss/Gangster, Agent of Chaos and Clown Prince. Leto was Gangster: his and Harley's dysfunctional relationship was the best part of Suicide Squad that they should have just made it its own). Ledger was Agent of Chaos: the most modern of the archetypes and the one in the Killing Joke and other famous comic books of the current era and this joker looks like Clown Prince of Crime ie classic Joker the one from the Animated TV show and comics of the silver age. I for one am excited in alittle over a decade we got all 3 archetypes of DC's most famous villain.

  • The victim is just the larval state of the abuser. I think that's the real reason you don't like this sort of movie Bob. You don't like the idea that trauma shapes people. Well too bad, trauma does shape people and the sooner we all stop pretending that bad people are born bad, the sooner we can get around to curing them all. Or at least 99% of them there'll always be a certain percentage of people that are too broken to save. But acknowledging that they ARE broken rather than wilfully misbehaving is the first step to a cure.

  • You know it's funny when I think of characters embracing nihilistic world views I think less of the Joker from Batman and more like Chidi from the good place "You put the peeps in the chili and you mix it all up, you put the peeps in the chili and you add the M&Ms"

  • This 'controversy' is the perfect example why the left gets trolled so badly by everyone else, clown world came up in a movie review about the Joker, as an ACTUAL TALKING POINT. Holy shit that's fucking hilarious man.

  • bob, black panther shouldnt have been nominated not because it was diverse, but because it was the most generic cookie-cutter movie in a year full of generic cookie-cutter superhero movies. hell 2018 was the year with two of the most original superhero movies we had in a long time, one of which had a diverse cast.

    joker looks like it's doing something different with the genre. superhero movies are oversaturated, and movies like logan dark knight and presumably the new joker movie take the genre and does something special with it. the dark knight was pretty much film noir but updated for the modern-day. dealing with post 9/11 paranoia, and what a person like batman, a vigilante with no checks or balances has in our society.

    logan dealt with getting older, trump era immigration, and how to find meaning in a world thats fucking hopeless.

    I love your videos man, and I tend to agree with a lot of your politcal points, but it seems to me that you think that any socially progressive movie is automatically great. you can be left leaning, but be fucking reasonable. I'm pretty far left too, but jesus man, you're just like a sheep

  • imma wait til this is on streaming. not gunna go to a theater for this. we all know what happened at the other batman movie premier.

  • Regardless of what I think of the movie when I see it, I’m genuinely terrified that going to see it opening weekend would be the equivalent of painting a target on my back. I’ll wait til Monday.

  • It's easy to escalate shock value concepts and presents pseudo psychology as deep and meaningful but unless they can write about mental illness with authority, what they should really be doing is plant the tongue in the cheek and say "hey, don't take this too seriously, it's Batman, it's just a bit of fun". I don't see them doing that with this movie, I see them hanging this up as a meaningful statement.

  • Okay I couldn’t watch two minutes of this. You seriously need to slow down. That fast talking gimmick only work with Zero Punctuation

  • I want this to be good. I want to believe! The more the woke-scold brigade hates it the more it makes me want to see it though so keep hating peeps. You are selling the tickets for them because we are tired of your bullshit PC wokeness.

  • Evil isn't evil unless it's seductive, so you literally cannot portray evil without making it attractive. Evil isn't being a jerk for no reason. Evil is being a jerk because it directly benefits you to be a jerk, while costing you little or nothing. Crime doesn't pay, but evil is a reliable and high-yield investment.

  • I don't get what it is with Hollywood folks that think it's genius when someone puts on clown makeup. Am I the only person on the planet who thought Heath Ledger's performance in Dark Knight was garbage?

  • It’s kinda disgusting to see a lot of magazines and entertainment publishers panning the movie on its politics and white male horror. But they all love hustlers

  • I hope Joker does well. We need to move away from the idea of "Nerd Culture" and part of that is just removing the term "comic book movie." No one uses the term "book movie" when discussing Lord of the Rings or "theme park ride movie" when Pirates of the Caribbean comes about. Let the art stand on its own merits without caring where it originally came from

  • Is there a way to play this back at half speed so I can actually follow what’s being said?

    I get the impression some of it is actually very interesting, but I’m still trying to digest the last lengthy sentence when the next one comes barrelling through.

    Why do so many YouTube channels do this? I know it’s likely to come in under 10 minutes and is all about the stats but it infuriates me.

  • I have to say this. I don't give two stale fucks what a room full of overly pretentious fart-sniffing jackoffs have to say about which movie is "best picture." We all know it's going to be the one that wanked them off the hardest. All the money spent by studios to get their precious little artsy fartsy films fluffed up exclusively to earn even more money by marketing the director, actors, producers, etc. "academy award winner…" proves these awards are, in regard to artistic integrity or popularity, wholly useless. If Joker wins an Oscar, I'll like it (or hate it) as much as if it doesn't win.

  • fair enough, but how many mass murderers are quoting my little pony?

    we've already had mass murderers quoting the joker.

    there's a thing called "tact" & when idiots are killing dozens of people in the name of your character, maybe it's time to exercise a little tact

  • Can't wait for "The Big Picture" about whether a movie can really sufficiently criticize its own baddies while at the same time making us believe that the characters are realistic and that people could really be motivated motivated to do the bad things and see themselves to be good. At least what would be the guidelines on what would be the bare minimum that the movie should do.

  • It literally looks like a "want to know why people just break down and loose it?" Movie but with a real world joker, and because people can't tell movies apart from reality they are screaming it's justification for the people I don't like to do bad things.

    The joker is easy to use because he hates humanity for the facade of civility, logic, and sanity in an insane world. That type of thing gets people to lean an ear to him because while people act civil and logical, they blame anything for what they don't like (like blaming the fanbase for not liking a character…) and act irrationally hostile.

    To use a real world example, the black man that talked 200+ klan members out of the klan got called a nazi because he spoke at an event that had people labeled no-no people and it was about free speech. How is that not insane?

  • Really surprised how much you said about a movie you didn't see yet. Had you talked at a normal speed this video would be easily 15 minutes.
    My only complaint: should we be morally obligated to make all sympathetic villains Asian from now on, because white nationalists and Muslim radicals regularly show up in the news? I don't think we should concern ourselves with what race a character in a movie is, because that leads to a rabbit hole with no end. Anything and everything can be wrong these days, when every murder story is squeezed for views and drama by all global media, and masses of people fish for reasons to be offended. You will never please everyone and you'll always fuel something.

  • Thank you for making this argument. The meta commentary on mass violence and mental illness is THE reason I want to see this so much!

  • As a Brit, is it weird that I get a bit uncomfortable when US critics say this like 'maybe you shouldn't be alluding to this stuff when similar engage in shootings etc.' about films? I absolutely get the sentiment, but the concept of gun massacres is far lesser to non existent in the rest of the world compared to the US, so I don't get why a chiefly US issue governs what's considered acceptable in globally-released films. Also, USA could, you know, ban all firearms like Europe has…

  • From the trailers it looks like it will be an interesting story and an amazing performance… but it also looks like it will be incredibly boring.

  • I think these kinda movies, Fight Club being a prime example, gives us an opportunity to empathize with people we don't want to empathize with, people who society refuses to sympathize with. And once we do, we realize that they're right, we realize that their views on the system and the culture are completely correct and we've had things totally backwards. But then we also witness how being correct can be dangerous, when you take a valid worldview and use it to justify violent actions. It really teaches us that "being right isn't all there is". It's a great moral in my opinion.

    But in my biased view, some people are still just hung up on an unwillingness to empathize with certain people and the idea that not everyone deserves compassion. The real lesson to learn is that everyone deserves to be understood, but understanding is not the same as tolerating. We can sympathize with a victim of circumstance without justifying the harm they caused. If anything, empathizing with them can help improve the system/culture and prevent people from ending up in their situation in the future.

  • I don't feel like a movie about a dude who goes insane and commits clown crimes is actually drifting all that far from comic books tho

  • I don't think there's any doubt about which side of the fence you're going to fall on, Bob. Everyone knows full well that the "both sides" take is simply code for "I'm making a halfhearted attempt at being balanced but we all know Right is right".

    I look forward to seeing the movie and I'm sure it will also inject a little life into the right wing "intellectual" (lol) discourse, because they're so dumb they seriously thought Black Panther was promoting extreme Nationalism.

  • Logan…Logan…where've I heard that befo-OH! You're talking about that gritty, dark, mature superhero movie that didn't have to make a massive show of how 'not a comic book movie' it was to generate buzz! Seems it's getting forgotten these days as the "first" gritty, dark, mature comic book movie makes its way to theaters. Like how X-Men was the "first" super successful superhero movie!

  • Their is like 5 dipshit critics who said that joker was a terrible movie. Stephanie Zacharek is definitely the worst of it though, she deserves to lose her credibility with a review as shit as hers.

  • Memetics is now in my vocab so I know what to say when my ADULT workplace communicates with memes like fucking 12 year olds and I am having an intellectual seizure in the corner after two memes passed off as genuine interaction

  • I wouldn't want to see movies in a world where they were "socially responsible". We've already had that with the Hays Code. And while having to work around the threat of censorship did sometimes encourage artistic creativity, more often it rendered the medium banal and ridiculous – leading to situations like the villainous child in "The Bad Seed" being struck by lightning because bad people could never be seen to thrive, which subverts the entire warning of the play and novel. It makes movies necessarily less of an art form than text or theater.

  • Oscar candidate? That’s a shame, I was really looking forward to this movie. Not that it means it will be bad, but the Oscars never pick the most entertaining movies, it’s always political shit.

  • Loved the jokes you put in. I would say that this is one of your best videos I've seen. Good content, good humor, good analysis.

  • Green Book was extremely well-made biography of a 60's class-based America riddled with satire and excellent characters. Your not understanding of the film doesn't make it bad. Very pretentious video overall tbvh.

  • Why can't we just wait and watch the movie… and THEN award it with stuf (if it deserves it)…?
    The fact that movie makers and their crownies give themselfs awards before seeing any results from the audiance is rather circlejerky…

  • Why THE FUCK does WB already have label for movies with this formula?!

    Why do they seem so unable to wrap their head around the idea of just putting out interesting movies with characters from the DC Universe.

    No universes, no labels, no corporate cinematographic identity.

    Where Marvel succeeds with its homogenized family friendly universe, DC should just put out completely unrelated, self contained movies or small movie series with vast stylistic and thematic differences.

    And by that I mean:
    Give me my Tim Burton's Batman Beyond already!!!

  • I mean of course he is already praised. This Joker is depicted as an artist. And who loves the tortured-artist genre more than hollywood?

  • I’d argue that LOGAN is far more a comic book movie than Joker.

    I mean you still got mutants and cyborgs facing off in a slightly sci-fi post mutant world.

    It’s a serious comic book movie sure but it’s VERY aim line with many comics Wolverine stories.

    Joker looks like it’s actively made not as a comic book movie

  • Even though I do want to see Joker I'm sure there are 50 other more deserving movies for Oscars than this obvious "please take me seriously" DC movie. Now Michelle Pfeiffer deserved a damn nomination as Catwoman and maybe Fassbender as Magneto because he's just so damn awesome.

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