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Didn't make 'Joker' to push buttons: Todd Phillips


Press Trust of India Los Angeles
"Joker" director Todd Phillips is not happy with the negativity surrounding his film as he believes the outrage is hampering what could have been a fruitful dialogue around violence.
Phillips, in an interview with The Wrap, rejected the criticism that the film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a loner who turns on society, promotes violence.
"We didn't make the movie to push buttons. I literally described to Joaquin at one point in those three months as like, Look at this as a way to sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film'. It wasn't, We want to glorify this behavior.' It was literally like 'Let's make a real movie with a real budget and we'll call it f***ing Joker'. That's what it was," Phillips said.
The film had received unanimous praise for Phoenix's acting as Joker, a villain in the Batman comic mythology but detractors believe his portrayal hits too close to home in a country where gun violence is real issue.
Families of victims who were killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during the screening Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises", had written a letter to Warner Bros, the studio behind Joker', calling for donations to gun-victim charities because the film "presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story".
Phillips, however, is surprised by the criticism.
"I'm surprised... Isn't it good to have these discussions? Isn't it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence? Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it?," he said.
"I think it's because outrage is a commodity, I think it's something that has been a commodity for a while. What's outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It's really been eye opening for me, he added.
Warner Bros had also defended the film, saying the aim of storytelling is to "provoke difficult conversations around complex issues."

"Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero," their statement read.
Phoenix, who had walked out of an interview with the UK's The Telegraph when questioned about the violence in the film, later told a publication that audience is capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong.

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First Published: Sep 27 2019 | 4:30 PM IST

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