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Quentin Tarantino in absolute awe of Joaquin Phoenix’s 'Joker'

  • Published at 10:13 am February 5th, 2021
Quentin Tarantino, Joaquin Phoenix as 'Joker' COllected

In a new podcast, the director profusely praised Todd Phillips’ Joker, calling it ‘profound’ and a perfect example of effective subversion in cinema

In a new 3-hour podcast conversation with British filmmaker Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino discussed his love for iconic films like The Terminator, Aliens, Psycho, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of The Dead, and delved into the themes of his own films, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Django Unchained

The 'Pulp Fiction' director took the listeners by surprise when he started profusely praising Todd Phillips’ Joker, calling it ‘profound,’ and an apt example of effective subversion in cinema where audiences laugh at perverse events unfolding on the big screen.

“Subversion on a massive level, audience response, cause and effect on the screen, the feeling the atmosphere in the theater change; we’ve talked about all these things. [However], the talk show sequence in the ‘Joker’ encompasses all of these things on a profound level, a level that is over most viewers’ heads to tell you the truth.”

Tarantino particularly focused on the talk show sequence, where Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker kills Robert De Niro’s late night host.

“Then it gets to the talk show scene, and you feel the ENTIRE atmosphere in the theater change. It’s not suspense; they are beyond suspense. They are riveted. Everybody in the audience is completely plugged in.”

“The subversion on a massive level, the thing that’s profound is this:  It’s not just suspenseful, it’s not just riveting and exciting, the director subverts the audience because the Joker is a nut,” Tarantino added. 

“Robert De Niro’s talk show character is not a movie villain… He doesn’t deserve to die. Yet, while the audience is watching the Joker, they want him to kill Robert De Niro; they want him to take that gun, and stick it in his eye and blow his head off. And if the Joker didn’t kill him? You would be pissed off. That is subversion on a massive level! They got the audience to think like a lunatic and to want something [they would never normally want].”

The director also commented on contemporary cinema drawing from the past. “Is this where we live now? Take great movies from the ‘70s and redo them as pop-cultural artifacts? ‘Taxi Driver’ as the ‘Joker,’ ‘Apocalypse Now’ as ‘Ad Astra,’ is everything some weird pop culture artifact of a challenging movie from another time?”


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