I thought it was a great film. Not perfect and with some plot holes and inconsistency or but not something could be flippantly dismissed as Taxi Driver for millennials. Phoenix's performance was arguably Oscar worthy although if the Academy members will actually get over their hangups and frustration at the film is another story. What stands out most about Joker is its cutting critique of 21st Century neoliberal capitalism and the society downstream of it. Both Murray Franklin and this version of Thomas Wayne are the two best manifestations of post-2008 neoliberalism and popular culture that Joker targets. Wayne, the arrogant, patronising and out-of-touch liberal capitalist who believes he knows best and that the 'jokers' should stay out of the grown-ups job running the city. This while believing he is doing enough because he has a charitable foundation and virtue signals how much he cares about helping about the poor and vulnerable, despite his cold and uncaring treatment of those right under his nose like Fleck and his mother. There's a fascinating comparison of the Thomas Wayne of The Dark Knight and of Joker that reads with the former as how they see themselves and the latter how they actually behave. At the same time Franklin, a weird kind of mash-up of various liberal late night comedy show hosts and Jeremy Kyle and his audience represent a culture that consumes exploitative reality TV and other mediums that use the vulnerable for human bear-baiting and cheap entertainment yet jump to their moral high horse when outraged by the actions or words of these subjects. I can understand some of the backlash and reasons why this film has provoked such strong reactions and fears but it's hard for such a biting critique to hit the target without being as painfully close to reality as Joker is. Spoiler Perhaps at times it gets too close to reality with Joker's speech on Franklin's show reading like a cut-and-paste from any number of spree shooter/domestic terrorist manifestos. Also his 'you get what you deserve' line looking just a bit too attractive to potential future shooters or domestic terrorists to use themselves. Although I thought he should indiscriminately opened fire on the audience as well as killing Franklin, given they were just as much to blame. But unless we take a look at ourselves and our society and do something we are only going to see more real life Arthur Flecks so perhaps it's touch so close to reality is worth it. Spoiler There's a good warning here to the real life people like Wayne or Franklin that if they don't address social problems creating people like Fleck then the chance of them meeting a similar fate with one of them only rises. If this film makes people stop and think for a minute it does some good, but then it probably won't given the people it gives the harshest reality check to are the ones largely getting the most outraged about it.