Movies | September 2, 2019 9:15 am

Director Todd Phillips’s “Joker” Gets 8-Minute Standing Ovation at Venice Film Festival

The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, opens in theaters in October

Joaquin Phoenix stars as the title character in "Joker," which was well-received at its Venice Film Festival premiere.
Warner Bros.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting a certain R-rated film about a certain clown-themed villain, here’s some good news: Todd Phillips’s forthcoming film Joker was hailed with an 8-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Phillips’s film serves as an origin story of sorts for the title character, also played on screen by both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. It’s also received some comparisons — sometimes positively, sometimes not — to both Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Martin Scorsese, the director of both, was one of this film’s executive producers; Robert De Niro, star of the latter, has a supporting role here. 

Deadline reported on a festival press conference in which Phillips, Phoenix and co-star Zazie Beetz discussed the film. It also provided a good thumbnail of this film’s blend of elementsdrawn from the comics and elsewhere.

Joker‘s Venice presence indicates an eye on awards season, it’s already generated early Oscar buzz before arriving here. The original reinvention of the familiar mythology is a unique standalone story that introduces Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.

“I was influenced by the movies I grew up on, character studies of the 70s,” said Phillips, “so I thought why can’t you do genre film like that in the comic book world — a deep dive on a character like Joker. I thought with a great actor we could really do something special.”

It’s probably worth mentioning that film festival standing ovations tend to go on for a while. Pan’s Labyrinth received a 22-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, for instance.

One side effect of the festival screening: people are now heatedly debating Joker on Twitter long before it has a wide theaterical release. The surreal aspects of this have not gone unnoticed by the internet’s more satirical corners.

Viewers will be able to develop their own informed take on the film in a little over a month: Joker opens in theaters on October 4.

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