Director: Todd Phillips
Year Released: 2019
Rating: 3.0

Unstable Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) works as a clown, takes care of his sick mother, admires late night talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) and has aspirations to be a stand-up comedian, except he isn't funny at all ... which leads him down the path to becoming a harbinger of chaos.  It's odd for Phillips - traditionally a comedy director - to take the DC character of the Joker and make a serious character study (I've always said the DC films were 'better' than the Marvel ones because they're more willing to go darker), but here we are: two hours of Phoenix being studied and gawked at the way children (and adults) stare at animals in the zoo.  Unlike previous incarnations of the cackling villain - Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, even Heath Ledger - the anti-hero begins as an introvert and, by getting in touch with his own darkness, 'comes out of his shell' and feels 'relieved' by taking people out.  It's a little drawn out and its apparent celebration of mass lunacy is a more than a bit troubling - some have linked it to the 'incel' movement (young men who are 'involuntarily celibate' and resort to violence) - but I think it's a Blockbuster of Its Time, reflecting on global anxiety and discontent (while picking from Scorsese's movies for details): we do live in a rapidly changing world with a lot of nefariousness going on behind the scenes.  Maybe all that's left is what Augé and De Rosnay suggest: do the D.A.N.C.E. and stick to the B.E.A.T.