Joker: not to laugh with.

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Is Joker a masterpiece or has the Golden Lion in Venice condoned carnage? Neither.

Both a chilling Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips (the brains behind the Hangover franchise) have left the superhero universe to its own devices and gone in search of the nerve that Scorsese struck with Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Phoenix plays the unstable sad sack Arthur Fleck, a failed clown on heavy medication. After a murder, he becomes the symbol of a rebellion of the poor against the rich. Joker fascinates as a portrait of a loner who sinks ever further into the abyss, but do you need Batman for that? Good, but not a masterpiece.

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