Michael Mann Wrote Todd Phillips a Letter Praising ‘Joker’

     November 21, 2019

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Joker director Todd Phillips has a lot to celebrate about. His film, a hardboiled take on the popular DC Comics archvillain, recently became the first R-rated film to make over $1 billion. It received lots of praise from fans and industry members alike, especially for its central Joaquin Phoenix performance. And now, another celebrated filmmaker of dark narratives about broken men just publicly praised his work. As IndieWire reported, director Michael Mann (HeatThe Insider) wrote Phillips and his creative team an effusive letter complimenting the hell out of their work on Joker.

Phillips was screening Joker in Los Angeles for select guests, and was supposed to participate in a Q&A moderated by Mann afterwards. When Mann had to bail due to a scheduling conflict, filmmaker Scott Cooper (Hostiles, the upcoming Antlers) stepped in as moderator. But Mann still wanted to share his thoughts on Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver‘s Joker. So, he gave Cooper a letter to read aloud. And Cooper did just that:

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Image via Universal Pictures

I love this movie. I think it’s brilliant and not only Todd’s best film but it’s exciting because it’s on a frontier. And that’s usually where very good things happen. Todd and Scott’s screenplay has that relevance that occurs when work is authentic and not derivative. We find Arthur disturbing and poignant simultaneously. He’s both child victim and adult perpetrator. Both are true, as is the case with most schizophrenics. That both are true is uncomfortable. We find ourselves in a fugue state. It’s counterpoint. It’s why Arthur and the film’s impact sustains so strongly in memory. To build on all of this, and for Joaquin, Todd, and Scott, to impact upon on this powerfully is a difficult accomplishment. Congratulations, Todd!

Wow! It’s gotta feel good to hear a master director analyze your work by saying, simply, “I love this movie.” And Phillips took the compliment giddily, saying, “That’s amazing to hear a letter from Michael Mann. I’m such a huge Michael Mann fan. He knows that, we’ve spoken about it.” Warner Bros. has been pushing for Joker to be an awards contender for some time. If Mann’s comments are indicative of how the rest of Hollywood’s elite talent feel, that scary clown’s gonna get some golden friends soon.

For more on Joker, here are some films that it might be a touch derivative of, no matter how authentic Mann finds it. Plus, here’s Phillips’ clarifications on the Joker 2 rumors. And if you live in LA and wanna see an awards-friendly screening of the film, here’s every detail you need.

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