Todd Phillips' Joker is a "cinematic achievement on a high level," says Cameron Bailey, co-head and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, where the Warner Bros. film will be the first comic book movie screened as a Gala presentation.
"First of all it's terrific. So it should play on our largest stage," Bailey told the Toronto Sun.
"But it's a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It's not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived."
Bailey added Joker, set outside the DC Extended Universe, "has an interesting tone and approach to it."
"It's set in the late '70s, early '80s and it feels like it was made then. It's gritty in its look," Bailey said. "It has references to Martin Scorsese's filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it's working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That's why it's a Gala."
The R-rated examination of the infamous Batman villain is "very cinematic," Bailey said.
Longtime Batman franchise producer Michael E. Uslan, executive producer on Joker, earlier promised the film is "unlike any comic book movie you've ever seen."
"I thought Guardians of the Galaxy was different and unique when it came out. I thought Deadpool was different and unique when it came out. This Joker movie is different and unique and it's unlike any comic book movie you've ever seen," Uslan said during Germany's CCXP Cologne convention.2comments
"It's maybe more like a Martin Scorsese, low-budget film noir crime drama, but I have all the faith in the world in Todd, the brilliantly talented Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro. It's an incredible, incredible group of people that's brought this to life."
Joker opens October 4.