“Many have asked, and with good reason: Do we need another Joker movie? Yet what we do need — badly — are comic-book films that have a verité gravitas, that unfold in the real world, so that there’s something more dramatic at stake than whether the film in question is going to rack up a billion-and-a-half dollars worldwide.

Joker manages the nimble feat of telling the Joker’s origin story as if it were unprecedented. We feel a tingle when Bruce Wayne comes into the picture; he’s there less as a force than an omen. And we feel a deeply deranged thrill when Arthur, having come out the other side of his rage, emerges wearing smeary make-up, green hair, an orange vest and a rust-colored suit.

“When he dances on the long concrete stairway near his home, like a demonic Michael Jackson, it’s a moment of transcendent insanity, because he’s not trying to be ‘the Joker.’ He’s just improvising, going with the flow of his madness.

“And when he gets his fluky big shot to go on TV, we think we know what’s going to happen (that he’s destined to be humiliated), but what we see, instead, is a monster reborn with a smile. And lo and behold, we’re on his side. Because the movie does something that flirts with danger == it gives evil a clown-mask makeover, turning it into the sickest possible form of cool.” — from Owen Gleiberman‘s 8.31.19 Variety review.