Joker
2019
****
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy,Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Leigh Gill, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham

In the early 80s, Arthur Fleck, a mentally unstable clown-for-hire who lives with his mother and dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, finds himself invisible to the world around him. When Arthur’s personal frustrations finally reach a boiling point, the tension that has been brewing in Gotham City explodes into riots. Joker has featured as a villain in several DC comic book movies, but this is the first attempt to tell a credible origin story of the man under the painted face. The film portrays Arthur as a pitiful loser, but often conveniently ignores that he is ultimately an out-of-control homicidal maniac. Todd Phillips, so far best known for his crude and immature Hangover trilogy, takes a massive professional leap by directing and co-writing a gripping and terrific looking grown-up drama. The script was heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, and it has nothing comic-booky about it. In the recent times, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto have played Joker on screen. Now Joaquin Phoenix joins this list, and his Academy Award winning performance is hypnotic. Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score also won an Oscar.