Joker ★★★½

Brazenly offensive and overly stylized but also unflinchingky ambiguous and shockingly beautiful. There were times when I was nearly overtaken by the thrill that comes with genuinely not knowing what comes next. It made me realize that that sensation is exceptionally rare for comic book movies. “Joker” truly tests the boundaries of the genre, even if it often shows how confining those are. The tie-ins to the larger Batman mythos are perfunctory and completely inessential; it’s at those times when the arthouse adventurousness of the film comes to a screeching halt. Still, the overall ambition of the film, its willingness to go further and deeper than any other film of its type, is remarkable. It also shows how very low the Marvel Cinematic Universe sets its sights.