Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ divides critics, he’ll either win an Oscar or inspire incels

First, some nice stuff. Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara are still together, and she came to Venice to support him for his big promotional push for Joker. While they didn’t walk the Venice Film Festival carpet together, they happily posed together on the gondola on their way to the premiere, and then they posed separately on the carpet. Rooney wore a custom Givenchy gown which looked like a high-fashion take on a Papal frock. Her style is so… odd. But she and Joaquin are in love and it’s sweet to see, genuinely. Rooney was also there to see Joaquin (and the film) get an eight-minute standing ovation after the premiere.

As for the whole Joker promotion and reviews… ugh. The final trailer came out last week, and I said – as did many other people – that the trailer really doubled-down on the Joker’s backstory, and it seems to be “the origin of a white terrorist.” White dude feels alienated and like he’s losing power. So he decides to sow chaos and violence. It feels very irresponsible to put that kind of story out there right at this very moment. Venice was the first time critics got to see the completed film and the reactions were… divided, let’s say. People already know that Joaquin can act his ass off, so his performance is being widely lauded. But the film as a whole… well, critics are divided. Some assorted reactions:

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich: “Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is unquestionably the boldest reinvention of “superhero” cinema since “The Dark Knight”; a true original that’s sure to be remembered as one of the most transgressive studio blockbusters of the 21st Century. It’s also a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels, and a hyper-familiar origin story so indebted to “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” that Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit. It’s possessed by the kind of provocative spirit that’s seldom found in any sort of mainstream entertainment, but also directed by a glorified edgelord who lacks the discipline or nuance to responsibly handle such hazardous material, and who reliably takes the coward’s way out of the narrative’s most critical moments…“Joker” is a movie about a homicidal narcissist who feels entitled to the world’s attention — a man who’d rather kill for a good laugh than allow the world to treat him like its punchline.”

Time’s Stephanie Zacharek: “In Joker… Phoenix is acting so hard you can feel the desperation throbbing in his veins. He leaves you wanting to start him a GoFundMe, so he won’t have to pour so much sweat into his job again. But the aggressive terribleness of his performance isn’t completely his fault. (He has often been, and generally remains, a superb actor. Just not here.)…Director Todd Phillips… bears at least some of the blame, and the aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy of Joker overall is his alone to answer for. Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture, but really, he’s just offering a prime example of it.

And I’ll give you something nice – Rotten Tomatoes did a summary and editorial about how Joaquin should be considered for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Gizmodo also did a thorough and fair review of what works and what doesn’t.

76th Venice Film Festival - The Joker - Premiere

76th Venice Film Festival - The Joker - Premiere

76th Venice Film Festival - The Joker - Photocall

76th Venice Film Festival - The Joker - Premiere

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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51 Responses to “Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ divides critics, he’ll either win an Oscar or inspire incels”

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  1. astrid says:

    I like her dress!

  2. Lala11_7 says:

    I am a HUGE fan of DC animation…and I am STILL waiting on a DC movie that even APPROACHES the depths of let’s say….”The Justice League’s Gods & Monsters”….with that being said…I have HATED EACH AND EVERY MOVIE VERSION OF THE JOKER THAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED IN MY LIFETIME!!!

    Nicholson – Worked my LAST NERVE
    Ledger – Made me sick to my stomach (what happened on screen AND off)
    Leto – REALLY?!?!?
    Phoenix – Now…LAWD KNOWS I LOVES me some Joaquin…I TRULY DO…have seen EVERY movie…will not EVA see him give a bad performance…he’s not capable of it…but there is NO WAY IN VALHALLA I’m going to see THIS film in a theater…and with a Whyte Supremacist hijacking the POTUS…and with Whyte males picking up guns to slaughter folks for…WHATEVA REASON…I cannot comfortably watch this movie…perhaps in another time…like in 2021….when HOPEFULLY…a bit of humanity will be restored in D.C….and I’m not triggered by EVERY FRIGGIN’ LITTLE THING!

    • MrsBanjo says:

      This exactly! 💗💗👏🏽👏🏽

    • Jan90067 says:

      Wish I could give this a thousand upvotes. At a time when we have mass shootings (ALL by “disenfranchised” white males, all we need is JR giving them another “hero/role model”. HARD pass, I don’t care HOW “good” he is in it.

    • Millenial says:

      I think for a long time, I was a big Joaquin Stan, but I’ve given up. I realized I love my memory of Joaquin. From Quills and Inventing the Abbotts. Even The Village. But I’d love for him to stop playing the “emotionally tortured” parts every once and a while. I feel like I see him in the same roles over and over, but with small tweaks.

    • 80's baby says:

      To your DC animated movie comment. Totally agree!!! OMG! They have the scripts and the blueprints for some of the best movies right in front of them. Why they keep wanting to do these “artistic takes” or “directors vision” for the live action versions is baffling and frustrating

    • Anne Call says:

      Omg Hollywood has FINALLY made a movie about the tormented and tortuous life of a white male in modern times.

      Ugh. Make it stop.

    • Mickey Rooney Mara says:

      Cesar Romero is my favourite Joker. Can you imagine if they went against the current trend and released a film with another camp Joker? People would lose their shit. 😅

  3. Kristen820 says:

    I love the character of The Joker!

    I have ZERO interest in seeing this movie.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Off to follow Stephanie Zacharek on Twitter.

    That was just *chefs kiss*.

  5. HK9 says:

    “He has often been, and generally remains, a superb actor. Just not here.”…ouch!! (I’m still going to see it though)

  6. MrsBanjo says:

    Rooney’s dress reminds me of Meghan’s red maternity dress from her trip to Morocco. The top is similar, just a different colour.

  7. Jules says:

    Mara looks like a sad lost lil puppy

    • Ann says:

      She always looks like that.

    • Original T.C. says:

      It’s the bad posture and after her big weight loss for dragon tattoo, her dewy skin on the face became stretched and severe. I feel like every red carpet she’s wearing a costume that just wears her instead of the opposite.

    • Anne Call says:

      I saw her speak with a group of other actors at a group event at the Santa Barbara film festival years ago. It was painful. She was so shy and awkward and inarticulate. Shailene Woolley was also part of the group and probably about 18 years old at the time and was bubbly and funny and outgoing. I felt bad for Mara. She was with Charlie McDowell at the time and we saw them later having drinks in Montecito. She seemed happier.

      Also the dress is interesting but seems like a baby bump dress. Just saying.

  8. Sierra says:

    He will get an Oscar and also inspire incels….

  9. Pixelated says:

    This movie is a pass. I’m actually not sure who asked for this one? Couldn’t they have used his talents for a different project?

  10. OG Cleo says:

    I don’t know, I think people form firm opinions based on reviews and confirmation bias too easily without having actually seen the movie (not just this one, but anything with sensitive subject matter). I know a lot of people excited for this and I’m still going to give it a chance!

  11. Ariela says:

    That black and white picture of them is glorious!

  12. Ann says:

    “…Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit.” Burn! I wont be seeing this movie but these reviews are hilarious.

  13. Maria says:

    I guess I’m pumped for it but the more PR and press, the less I care.

  14. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    ‘”Joker” is a movie about a homicidal narcissist who feels entitled to the world’s attention — a man who’d rather kill for a good laugh than allow the world to treat him like its punchline.”’

    Yup. That’s the Joker. So…

    “directed by a glorified edgelord who lacks the discipline or nuance to responsibly handle such hazardous material, and who reliably takes the coward’s way out of the narrative’s most critical moments” is mostly moot in spite of the fact I’m not a huge Scorcese fan.

    The Joker is most certainly a homicidal narcissist. He does crave attention and he laughs at total destruction and the spiritual desecration of mankind. Sounds like the movie did its job lol. The fact that it’s causing a critical divide and igniting philosophical debate is telling considering source material…comic book villain. ;D

    • lali says:

      exactly. I read a phrase about it that sums it all about the character: “the joker only begun to live after he was dead inside.”
      He only begun to be happy after he started creating unhappiness to others, that’s the essence of the joker.

    • Kitten says:

      Yup! LOL
      Alternate headline: “Joker movie is *actually* about the Joker”.

    • Laurie says:

      Did people expect the Joker to be a good person and a role model? He has always been a disgusting, alienated, corrupt, narcissist. This is why he’s considered a villain.

  15. lali says:

    There’s no doubt he’s gonna get that oscar. From the trailer alone, you can’t deny his acting is outstanding.

    • Eliza says:

      The academy doesn’t give awards to super hero movies. They think they’re declasse. He’ll be nominated if lucky.

      • Cindy says:

        Well, we know those were very special circumstances, but the Academy already gave a comic book villain an Oscar. And for this same role…

  16. Abby says:

    The trailer evokes such strong emotion in me. Sadness, horror, dread. It’s good. I love him. I loved Heath’s Joker the best, but… this seems comparable.

    I’m not sure if I’m going to see it though. It feels really really dark.

  17. Cindy says:

    Wow, I had no idea Rooney Mara could smile.

  18. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    I saw it suggested that getting people talking about the “will inspire incels” angle is actually playing into (or us unwittingly becoming complicit in) the marketing of the movie. Not saying both can’t be true at the same time, but something to think about.

    • Original T.C. says:

      Yeah, violence sells. The more mainstream TV discussions about staying away from this film, the more people will go see it. I don’t know , I’ve never been a fan of the joker vs Batman storylines I’ve always thought of it as boring.

  19. Mandy says:

    You make a good point about the “origin of a white terrorist”. I never looked at it that way before.
    However, when I watched last week’s trailer for the first time, it gave me CHILLS and I still want to see it. I’ve never really been into comics, but I sure am a sucker for Joaquin!

  20. Nan says:

    But Oscar and inspiring that crowd go nicely hand-in-hand. :D

    Love that dress though.

  21. Case says:

    That Vanity Fair photo of them is so glamorous. I love it. I went to Venice last year and thought it was so beautiful.

    I don’t know if I’ll see this or not. He’s a good actor and I am interested in The Joker, but this take really does scream “white terrorist” versus “comic book villain.” I realize this character both simultaneously, but I just think framing The Joker in a more real-life context is…not great.

  22. Sean says:

    I hope this movie will be more than “The King of Comedy featuring The Joker” because that’s the impression I get from the trailers. Heck, Robert De Niro is even in this with Scorsese producing.

  23. Eve says:

    LOVE Joaquin Phoenix. His performances have NEVER disappointed me and he looks magnificent (as usual) in the trailers.

    This Marvel girl is, for the very first time, eager to watch a DC Comics’s based movie.

  24. Beech says:

    Rooney Mara smiled?

  25. Ally says:

    “The most intensely challenging, daunting role that any actor can play is that of the clown who fights Batman.“

    - h/t to this evergreen tweet

    Seriously, the modern studio movie culture is so pathetically limited, unimaginative and disconnected from humanity.

  26. Jess says:

    Yep – I’m a geek and I normally love Joaquin but I refuse to touch this movie. So gross. We don’t need anything else helping white men feel like the “real victims” who are justified to use violence against those who don’t realize their superiority. I’m so disgusted by this.

  27. Naddie says:

    I needed to come to this site to get the white terrorist perspective, and now I can’t unsee it. From what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t seem like they’ll show him as an entitled, petty and ultimately pathetic asshole he is, but the underrated victim who will “give us what we deserve” instead. I also think this character doesn’t need to be humanized, but I can’t promise myself I’ll control my curiosity when it gets released.