Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) makes his living as a party clown. He lives with his mother, has serious mental health issues and dreams of being a Comedian. But a set of circumstances will set him down a different path – one that involves becoming Gotham City’s greatest villain, The Joker.
With Joker, Co-Writer/Director Todd Phillips (of The Hangover and Old School) set-out to create a dark, gritty, intense and disturbing take on the legendary character. And for the most part, he succeeds. Phillips draws on Martin Scorsese classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy to visualize Gotham City and its inhabitants, building an urban dystopia so vivid you can smell the grime and filth. And instead of making just another Comic Book movie, he turns the genre and formula on its head and gives us a passionate, unapologetic and viciously violent character study. He leans too hard into Batman lore and relies a bit too much on slow motion, but this is easily his most ambitious project to date.
And at the centre of it all is a blisteringly brilliant performance from Phoenix. His physical and mental transformation into The Joker is eye-opening, and the little nuances he brings to the character are simply terrific. He is featured in practically every scene, and the way he commands that camera is a masterclass all in its own. Some have already started calling this take sympathetic, but make no mistake: this Joker is just as much of a depraved, homicidal maniac as you remember and any sympathy you may gleam at the beginning will be completely gone by the end. He is still The Joker after all.
JOKER screens during TIFF at the following times:
Monday September 9, 9:00pm @ Roy Thomson Hall
Tuesday September 10, 2:30pm @ Princess of Wales
Friday September 13, 9:45pm @ Scotiabank Theatre
By Amanda Gilmore, David Baldwin and Mr. Will Wong
Running Thursday, September 5 through Sunday, September 15, 2019, the Toronto International Film Festival soon is before us. The first wave of announcements were made today out of Festival Headquarters, TIFF Bell Lightbox, for its Special Presentations and Gala Programmes and we can expect once again very star-studded precursor to what and who will be the key players this Awards Season.
333 Films will screen at the Festival, 245 of which are Features, 82 which are Shorts and six which are Series. Of these, 133 are World Premieres, 25 are International Premieres and 71 are North American Premieres. 35% of Titles are directed, co-directed or created by women and 21 are LGBTQ+ stories! 280,000 visitors are expected to visit Festival Street!
Previously announced, Daniel Roher‘s Documentary ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND follows the Canadian Music icon Robertson’s earlier days on a reserve and in Toronto to the rise of his Roots-Rock group, The Band. Martin Scorcese, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer produce the Film.
Highlighting TIFF ’19’s lineup are highly-buzzed Films like JUDY, FORD V FERRARI, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, JOKER, CLEMENCY, THE LIGHTHOUSE, THE REPORT, PAIN AND GLORY, THE GOLDFINCH, BAD EDUCATION, KNIVES OUT, JOJO RABBIT, HUSTLERS, ABONIMABLE, AMERICAN WOMAN and more.
We can expect to see big stars like Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in town, the latter two whom each have two Films at the Festival!
The Galas at this years Toronto International Film Festival are shooting for the stars. To start we are getting A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD starring the one and only Tom Hanks. The Film follows Fred Rodgers, played by Hanks, and the importance he had on generations. Hopefully, Hanks travels North and we can all catch a glimpse of “Hollywood’s Nicest Star”.
On the roll with the star-power is FORD V FERRARI starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. It depicts the 1966 “24 Hours of Le Mans” endurance race between the American automotive engineers and Ferrari. Both are regulars at TIFF and we expect to see them once again this year.
We are also getting HUSTLERS starring Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Constance Wu and Julia Stiles. The film follows the four women who are former strippers and come together to turn the tables on Wall Street. This is going to be one carpet everyone will be having their eyes on.
If the star-power isn’t enough for TIFF they are also bringing some Films who are looking like early awards contenders since the drop of their trailers. THE GOLDFINCH starring Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort, tells the story of a boys life is changed forever after a terrorist attack at an art museum. There is HARRIET, starring Cynthia Erivo, who plays Harriet Tubman. The Trailer was released earlier today and it’s safe to say that all eyes should be on Erivo this TIFF. CLEMENCY was also announced today as a Gala Film which won the top prize at Sundance earlier this year. It follows a death-row prison warden (Alfre Woodard) who is coming to terms with the psychological effects of her job. As someone who has seen it, I can confirm that it should be at the top of everyone’s Must-See list for the Festival.
There were two Films announced today that stuck out because they aren’t genres typically picked for the Gala Programme. The one that stands out the most is JOKER starring Joaquin Phoenix. I could not be happier to hear that a comic book film is getting its premiere at TIFF, one of the biggest platforms for Film in North America. The other pick in the Programme is ABONIMABLE. Usually, an animated Film would be chosen in the Kids Programme, but not this year. Since these two films have made it into one of the more prestigious Programmes at the Festival, we need to keep our eyes on them.
Some Trailers from the Gala Porgramme:
Abominable (dir. Jill Culton, Todd Wilderman)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (dir. Marielle Heller)
Harriet (dir. Kasi Lemmons)
The Goldfinch (dir. John Crowley)
Hustlers (dir. Lorene Scafaria)
Joker (dir. Todd Phillips)
If those first Gala films were not exciting enough, than the list of Special Presentations are practically swoon-worthy!
The Special Presenations Programme will kick off with the World Premiere of Unjoo Moon’s I AM WOMAN, a Biopic about Australian singer Helen Reddy. Among other World Premieres, we’re excited for the fact-based Dramedy BAD EDUCATION starring Hugh Jackman, Ray Romano and Oscar-winner Allison Janney; Rudy Ray Moore Biopic Dolemite Is My Name starring Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Craig Robinson and Keegan-Michael Key; Drake Doremus’ love-triangle romance ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS with Shailene Woodley, Sebastian Stan and Jamie Dornan; Taika Waititi’s Nazi satire JOJO RABBIT starring Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson and Rebel Wilson; the coming-of-age HOW TO BUILD A GIRL starring Beanie Feldstein, Chris O’Dowd and Emma Thompson; Armando Iannucci’s THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD starring Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, High Laurie and Ben Whishaw; as well as Rian Johnson’s absolutely star-studded whodunit caper KNIVES OUT featuring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon.
And among the North American and International Premieres, we have Renee Zellweger’s turn as Judy Garland in JUDY; the Safdie Brothers’ highly anticipated UNCUT GEMS starring Adam Sandler in a rare dramatic role; Steven Soderbergh’s latest THE LAUNDROMAT starring Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman;Scott Z. Burns’ searing political thriller THE REPORT starring Adam Driver; the semi-autobiographical HONEY BOY starring Shia LaBeouf; Noah Baumbach’s divorce Drama MARRIAGE STORY starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson;Edward Norton’s long-gestating thriller MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN; as well as critically acclaimed Festival hits like Pedro Almodóvar’s PAIN AND GLORY starring Antonio Banderas; Robert Eggers’ THE LIGHTHOUSE starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson and Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or-winning PARASITE.
Some Trailers from the Special Presenations Programme:
Lucy in the Sky (dir. Noah Hawley)
The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers)
Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi)
Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
Judy (dir. Rupert Goold)
Knives Out (dir. Rian Johnson)
UPDATE – 7/31/19 CANADIAN FILMS ADDED
Today TIFF released the Films joining the festival line-up made by Canadian Filmmakers. This year they don’t fall short in representing their homegrown talent with placing 26 Canadian Features in various Programmes.
Previously announced Canadian Features The Song of Names, American Woman and Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band were placed in the Gala Programme, Guest of Honour in Special Presentations Directed by Atom Egoyan and David Foster: Off the Record was announced yesterday as a Special Event. But after today’s announcement, there is a prominent Canadian presence in nearly all programmes.
The opening Midnight Madness Programme film is the Canadian Blood Quantum directed by Jeff Barnaby about zombies who have taken over the world but an isolated Mi’gmaq community is immune to the plague. In Special Presentations there is Clifton Hill which stars iconic Filmmaker David Cronenberg and Hannah Gross about a girl who returns to Niagara Falls and remembers a kidnapping from her childhood. In Contemporary World Cinema there is Castle in the Ground starring Alex Wolff, Imogen Poots, Neve Campbell and Tom Cullen about opioid addiction. In the TIFF Docs Programme, there are three Canadian Features: Coppers directed by Alan Zweig, This Is Not A Movie directed by Yung Change and There’s Something in the Water directed by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel.
Not only were the movies announced but also the four TIFF Canadian Rising Stars.Kacey Rohl will star in White Lies in the CWC Programme about a girl who becomes a celebrity after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Mikhail Ahooja will be in the Midnight Madness selection The Twentieth Century which is a gonzo history film about William Lyon Mackenzie King’s abject humiliations. Nahéma Ricci will be in Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone which is a reigning of the Greek tragedy. And Shamier Anderson who will be in the Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan starring Endings, Beginnings.
UPDATE: 8/7/19 – PLATFORM PROGRAMME
A new week brings a new round of TIFF ’19 announcements! Today, we found out what the Platform Programme will bring us this September. Now in its fifth year at the Festival, the competitive Programme will bring together World Premiere films from across the world – each one competing for a $20,000 Canadian prize. This year’s jury includes Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian, Film Critic Jessica Kiang, and Filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari. 40% of this year’s slate is directed by women.
The Programme will open with ROCKS, directed by acclaimed British Filmmaker Sarah Gavron and revolves around a teenage girl struggling to care for herself and her younger brother. Other films included in the Programme are Julie Delpy’s suspenseful drama MY ZOE starring Delpy, Daniel Brühl, Gemma Arterton and Richard Armitage; Darius Marder’s debut SOUND OF METAL starring Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke; the Astronaut Drama PROXIMA starring Eva Green and Matt Dillon; Anthony Chen’s highly-anticipated second feature WET SEASON regarding the special bond between a teacher and a student at the Singapore high school; the Spanish Thriller THE MONEYCHANGER set in the world of currency buying and selling; Family Drama THE SLEEPWALKERS from Argentina/Uruguay; Mexico’s class-conscious Drama WORKFORCE and the Canadian made ANNE AT 13,000 FEET about the everyday challenges faced by a young woman. The Programme will conclude with Pietro Marcello’s MARTIN EDEN concerning a sailor trying to remake himself as a Writer.
UPDATE 8/8/19 – DOCUMENTARIES
There were big announcements for the TIFF ’19 today, including the Docs Programme. There were 25 Documentaries announced including 18 World Premieres with representation from 18 countries.Pr The Films in this year’s programme have themes of artistic achievement, the power of journalism, immigration, global politics, and resistance against corrupt leaders.
The opening Doc will be THE CAVE from Oscar-nominated Director Feras Fayyad. It follows a female doctor in war-torn Syria and the underground hospital she leads. For fans of the brilliant True Crime Author Truman Capote, you can catch THE CAPOTE TAPES created by first-time Director Ebs Burnough who previously worked under the Obama Administration. And for political fans, prominent Documentarian Alex Gibney is coming to TIFF with CITIZEN K profiling Mikail Khodorkovsky, who turned against Vladimir Putin.
If you are looking to catch some stars during TIFF this year, look no further than the TIFF Docs Programme. Leonardo DiCaprio is a Producer on AND WE GO GREEN, about racers in the Formula E competition for electric cars. Bryce Dallas Howard will be making her first Documentary with DADS, which explores fatherhood with leading comedians and her own father, Ron Howard. And Rap Superstars Drake and Future are Executive Producers on READY FOR WAR, which tells the important and heartbreaking story of immigrants who served in the US military only to be deported.
UPDATE 8/8/18 – MIDNIGHT MADNESS PROGRAMME
The midnight hour is close at hand TIFFgoers! After giving us a taste of things to come at last week’s Canadian film announcement, TIFF has released their full Midnight Madness lineup – and it looks like we are in for ten days of wild insanity.
Among those announced today are Richard Stanley’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE starring Midnight Madness royalty and spirit animal to many, Nicolas Cage. The Film is an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft Horror Short about what happens to a New England family after a meteor lands on their property. Maestro Takashi Miike also returns with FIRST LOVE, about a boxer and a drug addict caught in the middle of two gangs at war. Also among today’s announcements are dystopian nightmare THE PLATFORM about prisoners in a high-tech prison, Psychological Thriller SAINT MAUD about a nurse obsessed with saving her dying patient, Indonesian superhero epic GUNDALA; spooky overnight watch Thriller THE VIGIL and the Sci-Fi Thriller THE VAST OF NIGHT, which won the Best Narrative Feature prize at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. The Programme will conclude with the Ugandan action thriller CRAZY WORLD about child-snatching mobsters who kidnap pint-sized Kung Fu masters. Every single film sounds absolutely bonkers, and we cannot wait to see them all!
Previously announced films include THE TWENTIETH CENTURY and Programme opener BLOOD QUANTUM.
UPDATE 8/13/19 ADDITIONAL GALAS AND SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS:
We are still a week out from the final schedule, but TIFF has added a handful of exciting titles to their already incredible slate of films coming this September.
Two films were added to the Gala Programme: the North American Premiere of THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY about a greedy art dealer and his crumbling plan around stealing a rare painting, starring Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland and Mick Jagger; and the Canadian Premiere of the hot air balloon epic THE AERONAUTS, reuniting The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to see it in its native IMAX format!
And some of the highlights of the 16 films added to the Special Presentations Programme include the World Premieres of Astronaut Thriller LUCY IN THE SKY, starring Natalie Portman, Dan Stevens and Jon Hamm; the film adaptation of AMERICAN SON, starring Kerry Washington in the role she originated on Broadway; Sci-Fi Video Game Thriller GUNS AKIMBO starring Daniel Radcliffe; Australian Romance DIRT MUSIC starring Kelly MacDonald and Garrett Hedlund; Family Drama HUMAN CAPITAL, starring Liev Schreiber, Marisa Tomei, Peter Sarsgaard and Stranger Things breakout Maya Hawke; as well as Boxing Drama JUNGLELAND, starring Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell; and Benson and Moorhead’s genre-bending SYNCHRONIC, starring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan. Other highlights include Jean Seberg Biopic SEBERG starring Kristen Stewart; Young Athlete Drama WAVES, starring Sterling K. Brown and Lucas Hedges; acclaimed Director Olivier Assayas’ latest WASP NETWORK starring Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz and Gael Garcia Bernal; and Cult Director Quentin Dupieux’s DEERSKIN, starring Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin, about a man’s strange relationship with a deerskin jacket.
UPDATE 8/20/19 SCHEDULE RELEASED AND IN-CONVERSATIONS ANNOUNCED:
Great news, the official TIFF ’19 schedule has been release. Visit here to start planning your Festival: https://tiff.net/films.
Also confirmed are some great In-Conversations with Michael B. Jordan & Jamie Foxx, Antonio Banderas, Allison Janney and Kerry Washington.
Public single tickets go on sale Monday, September 2, 2019, while several packages are on-sale now here.
Joaquin Phoenix is riveting in this new Teaser Trailer for JOKER, available now!
Synopsis: Arthur is a troubled man. Despite his mother urging him to live his life with a happy face and laughter and bring joy to others, he is subject to constant harassment and beatings. However, as he sees the world around him growing crazier and crazier, he begins to descend into madness upon the realization that his life is not a tragedy, but instead a comedy – paving the way for his transformation into Gotham’s greatest criminal, The Joker.
See the Trailer:
Warner Bros. Canada release JOKERFriday, October 4, 2019.