Suicide Squad and Some Other Movies Opening August 6th
Suicide Squad is the latest D.C. Comics entry meant to unseat Marvel as top purveyor of cinema-bustin’ super heroes and villains. Good try but not quite enough. It looks hideously expensive and as though it was put together by committee, much to its detriment. I’m sure it will make its money back despite what I have to say.
There are memorable moments. Will Smith who is super cut for the role of Deadshot, gives the film much needed gravitas to balance its innate silliness. He manfully emotes as the father of an adorable daughter who knows he’s a paid assassin and tearfully begs him to stop. He doesn’t of course. Naturally something like this would upset a doting father – and he is one. Deadshot is the sole character to show us authentic emotion and Smith stands out in this poison cotton candy world.
Margot Robbie’s dazzling as The Joker’s girl child Harley Quinn, shrink-turned Baby Doll lunatic with a baseball bat and endless supply of bubble gum. Her performance is spirited, snappy, rousing and wildly bipolar. She’s fabulous – pure vaudeville on acid. Even so the filmmakers never miss a chance to show her half-clad rear end, but I guess considering the targeted demo, they think they know what they’re doing.
Jared Leto’s Joker is a weak willy compared to predecessors Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Frank Gorshon. The emaciated, green look, Leto’s wheezing vocal delivery and physical wispiness are in no way threatening as The Joker should be.
Shout out to Canada’s Adam Beach as the lesser known Slipknot whose stealth and abilities with magical ropes make him indispensable. His ropes are seen more than he is.
The Squad have weak spots, the people they love and miss. Jay Hernandez as Diablo is especially burdened as his way of throwing flame when he’s upset cost him everything he had. Viola Davis is impressive as the morally bankrupt government official that brought the Squad out of prison to fight alien invasion, she’s the alpha male and she knows how to use their pain.
Suicide Squad is meant to compete with Marvel films but it is basically a mirror reflection of the it’s superhero universe and story. Comic book films are pretty well clichéd by now and this has clichés in spades. There is nothing fresh about this one. the same tired effects, louder deeper bass notes and a weird vintage soundtrack, but nothing in terms of execution, ideas or creativity.
Kevin Spacey, the horrifying sociopath of House of Cards goes a different route in Nine Lives, really different. He’s a billionaire workaholic who’s become disconnected from his family, as he’s concentrating on building the tallest skyscraper in North America. He’s forgotten his daughter’s birthday gift so at the last moment goes to a weird pet store operated by Christopher Walken and buys Mr. Fuzzypants. Naturally Walken has super powers and puts Spacey inside Mr. Fuzzypants as punishment for ignoring his family and to give him a cat’s eye view of them without him. Watch out for ‘Lil Bub in the pet store.
Sadly, I can’t tell you more because the film was not press screened, usually a bad sign. However I like cats and folks simply have to see the mighty Spacey reduced to a disgruntled, if cute cat so moviegoers won’t be able to help themselves. They’ll go. Jennifer Garner, who is everywhere these days, is the suddenly single wife.
Little Men is my pick of the week. It’s an intimate and lovely film about two young boys who meet at the Brooklyn brownstone where one of the kid’s mother has worked as a seamstress for eighteen years and where the grandfather of the other lived until his recent death. The grieving son (Greg Kinnear) is plotting to evict the dressmaker because she pays low rent and because he’s being pushed by his sister who wants her share of the building. Kinnear informs the woman that she must pay triple her current rent as a penalty for “overstaying”. Meanwhile the sons feel the consequences of the adults’ “business problem” as they try to live kid lives biking around town and dreaming. They learn in no uncertain terms that their parents are not the idealised heroes they imagined they were. It’s tragic because naked greed is the motivating factor behind the pain overwhelming both families. Secrets emerge, pride is wounded and no one wants to rise above pettiness.
Lo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected World from gonzo filmmaker Werner Herzog is an alarmist’s guide to the internet and climate change. It’s a documentary in which scientists, behaviourists and computer genii are interviewed about the inevitability of the machines overtaking us and how we’re killing our world, and for scientists, they are a surprisingly dramatic bunch. At times it gets downright operatic as they outline our road to man-made hell on earth. Herzog throws around factoids, guesses and myriad nightmares clearly meant to scare us. Werner, we’re already scared. Where have you been?
Hitchcock/Truffaut Magnificent Obsessions the ongoing paired retrospectives at TIFF Bell Lightbox – The masterpieces of these two filmmakers are being shown until the end of summer. It’s a series I would love to see on the big screen, but no time. Can you imagine seeing North by Northwest the way it was made to be seen? and Truffaut’s wonderful films?
Also worth noting at TIFF is its Brian De Palma retrospective too. His work is generally considered good, if culty, darkly melodramatic and kind of lowbrow. But not so fast! They’re being widely reconsidered inspired in part by the 2016 Jake Paltrow documentary DePalma in which he reveals the truths behind his work and motivation. See Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Passion, Snake Eyes and many more on the big screen.
Agatha Raisin on www.Acorn.tv is a wonderful British series about a top London PR guru who tires of the rat race and moves to a small village where she spent childhood summers. She fails to lose her city attitude and leave her Ab Fab wardrobe behind and rubs the villagers the wrong way – and how. She discovers that her natural curiosity can be put to good use out in Nowheresville. When the local womaniser is murdered, she’s the first suspect but soon realises she has the gift of sleuthing. It goes beyond clearing herself or getting justice for the victim – she’s just really curious. Agatha’s soon joined by her two gay besties up from London who may stay for the murder. Shades of Ab Fab and Miss Marple.