By Kathryn Whitney Boole
Don’t read all the drama about the making of “Suicide Squad” yet. Just go see it, and after that read the reviews and the gossip. This movie is a spectacle.
“Suicide Squad” was a huge job to take on for writer/director David Ayer. The cast list reads like a novel with a whole chapter devoted to listing just the main characters … a “perfect task” for a new director with very little experience. He must have felt like a cattle wrangler at times. He was not afraid to take on this work, to write and direct a story about a multitude of misfits. And in the end, after bringing to reality a movie that would have been impossible for someone with less courage, he must be fighting inner rage about the studio’s re-edit of his finished movie. That’s all I’ll say about that subject. I would suggest that you Google the details after you see the film.
Now, everyone will experience this film differently, depending on your immersion (or not) in comics and/or video games as a kid. I was looking for more depth about each character as they were introduced, though I began to realize that it was impossible because of the number of main roles. I spoke with two self-professed DC Comics nerds after our screening — they agreed with that assessment. After the introductions, the first half of the film becomes one battle scene after another against typical CGI evil creatures. The narrative loses rhythm. However the second half caught my attention and never let go. The visual manifestations are creative and imaginative, as are the characters. More emotional complexity about the players surfaced and I could start to identify with the humanness of their bizarre personas.
Viola Davis chills as a blood-curdling cold as ice commander, in a role that’s usually the “old embittered white guy.” Joel Kinnaman is excellent as a conflicted soldier, model Cara Delevingne lights up the screen with her portrayal of a hauntingly beautiful, horrifyingly evil creature, Jared Leto delivers delicious smarm as “The Joker,” and Will Smith again plays against type as a hit man with a heart of gold. The two who stood out the most for me were Jay Hernandez as “Diablo” and Margot Robbie as “Harley Quinn.” Robbie provides a glorious spark to the production as the exuberant comic relief. She’s fearless and completely over the top in her portrayal, yet remains approachable. Hernandez is the moral compass of the whole film — his tragic Diablo comes off as larger than life.
The visual banquet you will see is incredible as is the music and sound track. The moral conflicts of our existence are played out in full color, and the actors do an extraordinary job creating memorable, imaginative and compelling characters. Hint to Warner Brothers — I’m looking forward to seeing the Director’s Cut of Suicide Squad.
Rated PG-13. 123 minutes.
Images tell the poignant story in “Little Men.” Director Ira Sachs knows how to reveal a wealth of information in a simple scene without using narrative exposition. This is an open-ended “slice of life” tale of two 13-year-old boys who are brought together when the grandfather of one dies and his family moves from Manhattan to the grandfather’s Brooklyn apartment building. Downstairs from their living quarters the building houses a humble little dress shop.
The son of the Manhattan family and the son of the dress shop owner form an unlikely bond that transcends the differences in their cultures. Sachs shows us the story through the eyes of the two boys. The film is a bit unpolished and rough around the edges — however that haphazardness mirrors life for these kids. Although a few scenes seem to go on too long, there are also some beautiful shots of the boys on a scooter and rollerblades cruising through their Brooklyn neighborhood. These visual transitions depict the carefree sense of life to which the boys cling as they grow into their teen years surrounded by the emotional turmoil that exists with between the two families — the clash of cultures, dreams and aspirations.
Veteran Avy Kaufman cast the movie beautifully. The two boys are extraordinary — this is the first feature film role for both Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri, and I’m excited to see future work from them. Greg Kinnear, with very little dialogue, succeeds in imparting his character’s deep-seated guilt, helplessness and frustration. Jennifer Ehle conveys with sensitivity her character’s tendency towards overabundant analytic thought. Paulina Garcia steals her scenes as the perseverant immigrant dress shop owner and mother of one of the boys.
This is a good movie for teens. They will recognize triumphs, joys and dilemmas from their own lives. In the end there is a realization of the unfortunate situation that class still matters in our educational system. The kids from wealthy families have the facilities to get jump started on their dreams, while a more difficult road lies ahead for the working class kids — not an impossible path, however, for those who have the drive to pursue their goals.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews, see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.