2021 Movie Reviews: The Suicide Squad and Val

Two good ones.

The Suicide Squad

I’m generally pretty lukewarm on super hero movies. Marvel ones that is, DC ones I tend to avoid like the plague, especially ones with Zach Snyder‘s dumb name printed on them. I had never seen the original Suicide Squad because the trailers made it look like a candy-colored fart, the reviews were terrible and also, fuck! Jared Leto and his sexual assault masquerading as method acting. So imagine my surprise when this big, loud, foul-mouthed, wiener-obsessed James Gunn sequel was actually pretty good. The Suicide Squad is far more cynical than most of these embarrassingly idealogical “I understand the world like a twelve-year-old, free of nuances and complicated morality” celluloid amusement park rides, and it’s actually quite funnier. Albeit, the humor is mostly scatalogical and cockalogical, it’s not nearly as grating as the “Hey, look at me! I just learned the f-word.” antics of Deadpool. The smartest move here was to position Idris Elba as the lead, an undeniable upgrade from Will Smith. He’s funny, likable, appropriately intense and is able to create a character that feels at least somewhat authentic. Margot Robbie is back and as great as always as Harley Quinn, and Gunn wisely doesn’t overuse her. John Cena and Joel Kinneman provide able support and the always underrated character actor David Dastmalchian, finally gets a role that allows him to steal the show. Viola Davis also never overplays her government lackey villain even though the script certainly tempts her at ever turn. The Suicide Squad runs a very fast two hours and twelve minutes and while it certainly doesn’t break ground in the genre, it never makes us wish we were watching anything else, and that has to count for something. Grade: B (In Theaters & HBOMax)

Val

Before we talk about the documentary, which is great by the way, let’s talk about Val Kilmer in general? Have you seen or heard about him lately? For a while most of us have known something is up. I thought it was just a late career binge into alcohol and substances. He’s appeared bloated, confused, apathetic and unhealthy looking in most of his films post-Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Then I see that he had throat cancer and on top of that has had a tracheotomy, which pretty much hammers the nail of finality to his acting career. What a tragedy, one of the best actors of his generation, forever silenced. Val is a heartbreaking and fascinating documentary about Val Kilmer coming to terms with his old life and new life. Using video camera footage Kilmer took during acting school, stage performances (including one with a teenage Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon) and the major films he made between the 80s and 90s (except Batman Forever which probably did not allow him to take video during filming.) Over the course of the movie you learn about his life, what shaped him and most fascinatingly, his philosophy on acting and how good acting technique doesn’t always jive with big budget filmmaking, especially ones with unrealistic shooting schedules. Sure, this is probably the most subjective documentary I’ve ever seen, it’s pretty obvious Kilmer is twisting the narrative a bit at some places especially with the number of reports of abusive behavior towards crew members on his sets (example – allegedly setting a camera operator’s ear hair on fire during the filming of Island of Dr. Moreau) But there’s a truck load of honesty and self-reflection here as well, and more than objectively the truth, this is a serious self-examination of how a guy, who pretty much had his gift stolen from him, comes to terms with himself. It’s a heavy, emotional ride but one worth taking. Grade: B+ (Amazon Prime)

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