The Friday 8/20/2021

David Dastmalchian: The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros/DC Comics)

My piece for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

The Suicide Squad. “It can’t stop nudging the audience about how ridiculous all of this is; the opening reel is essentially a series of eye-rolls about the film’s own preposterousness, with the audience flattered at being in on the joke.”

I have a new episode of “The Music and the Movies” this week, this one devoted to the great Miklos Rozsa: We go Double Indemnity, we go Spellbound, we absolutely go Ben-Hur.

The previous episode is still online; put a nickel in and listen to the Jim Jarmusch Jukebox. And if you’re reading this at a time when those links have moved on, check the M&M page to see what’s live.

Three vintage reviews posted this week at my other website, What a Feeling!: Bill Fishman’s Tapeheads, a black comedy with John Cusack and Tim Robbins; Alain Cavalier’s Therese, a wonderfully unorthodox study of a saint-in-the-making; and Joseph Ruben’s True Believer, a legal story with James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr., two actors whose lives have taken interesting turns since then.

Oscar Birds (This Week’s Movies)


Margot Robbie: Birds of Prey (DC Entertainment)

Links to my reviews published in the Herald, and etc.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. “Robbie’s outlandish performance still dominates; she’s like Lucille Ball plopped into a Spandex nightmare, mugging and wise-cracking her way through the chaos. Even when the movie loses focus, she stays razor-sharp.”

Honeyland. “Amazing in the way it brings to life a human dilemma: between people who have developed a way of getting along with the world that makes life sustainable, and people who will cash in for short-term profit and exterminate the source of their own income — at which point they move along to the next thing to destroy.”

My annual Oscar predictions.

At What a Feeling! this week, we look at my vintage reviews of 1980s movies: Nicolas Roeg’s Insignificance, Sidney Lumet’s Garbo Talks, James Foley’s Reckless, and George Stevens, Jr.’s great film documentary, George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey.

And join us Saturday at 2 p.m. at Scarecrow Video for the first session in a new Scarecrow Academy venture: “The Art in Horror,” a ten-week series looking at horror movies and the director. Check the line-up here, and remember the series is free.

Skywalker Bombshell Cats (This Week’s Movies)


Judi Dench: Cats (Universal)

Links to my reviews published in the Herald, and etc.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. “I don’t go into a Star Wars movie with the fear that my childhood will be ruined if the moviemakers give Boba Fett the wrong color headpiece, so for me The Rise of Skywalker (dumb title, by the way) played just fine as a sci-fi spectacle.”

Cats. “Cats is not good. But the blame goes to the clumsy style of director Tom Hooper, not people wearing digital fur.”

Bombshell. “The movie sets up a weird dynamic: While we absolutely root for the Fox women in their legal action, we can’t quite forget that they’ve made a fortune by serving up Ailes’ incendiary views for years. ”

More 80s reviews at What a Feeling! this week, including vintage takes on Euzan Palcy’s A Dry White Season, Nicholas Meyer’s The Deceivers, Emile Ardolino’s Chances Are, Taylor Hackford’s Against All Odds, and Zane Buzby’s Last Resort.

With Terrence Malick’s new film A Hidden Life opening, I take the chance to look back at my mixed feelings about Malick’s The New World, via a Seasoned Ticket post for the Scarecrow Video blog.

Once Upon A Love Trust (This Week’s Movies)


Leonardo DiCaprio: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Sony Pictures)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald, and etc.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. “DiCaprio and Pitt own the picture. Their different styles — DiCaprio coiled, Pitt hanging loose — go directly to how they create these two bros who need each other. Neither actor has ever been better.”

Sword of Trust. “Mel is sardonic, pragmatic and just barely tolerating all this. The role fits like a glove for the comedian (and celebrated podcast host) Marc Maron, who brings a splendidly rumpled humanity to his role.”

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love. “There’s something powerful here about certain kinds of 1960s dreams and realities, and how emotional bonds can survive the decades.”

For the Scarecrow Video blog, I contribute a Seasoned Ticket post recalling a previous Leonard Cohen documentary, 2005’s fine Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, which I begin with a rash speculation about the greatest song ever written. Read that here.

Mortal Queen-Verse (This Week’s Movies)


Saoirse Ronan: Mary Queen of Scots (Liam Daniel/Focus Features)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

Mary Queen of Scots. “As anything other than an actors’ showcase, this Mary has a tendency to plod along.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. “If somehow those jokes could have been squeezed into a 90-minute package instead of a 117-minute feature, maybe Spider-Verse would have more zip.”

Mortal Engines. “There’s a lot to look at here, but not much to think about. The story beats are so broad and the characters so bland that this movie wears you out well before the big finish, despite the quirky touches.”

For Scarecrow Video’s blog, I contribute a Seasoned Ticket entry that includes something on Clint Eastwood (alas, I haven’t seen The Mule yet, not screened locally for critics) and Sondra Locke. Read it here.