Gotham shitty

Dark but hopelessly convoluted, ‘Squad’ is half a good movie


The ‘Se7en’-like mania of Jared Leto as the Joker, matched with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, are reason enough to see ‘Suicide Squad.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor

As much as we (properly) complain that Hollywood has turned into a factory of pre-sold cartoon-based blockbusters without any original stories, you have to say: If that’s what you’re gonna do, then do it up right. And frankly, the summer of 2016 has been a disappointment. Last summer produced 10 films with grosses over $150 mil; 2014 managed 11. So far this year? Four, and two are about fish and domesticated animals. (Worse: Few have deserved their riches. Last year gave us Fury Road; this year we get Independence Day 2.) Wither the worthy blockbuster?

For about the first half of Suicide Squad, it looked as if the Hollywood Hit Machine had finally caught its second wind. DC might finally begin to catch up with Marvel in creating a cinematic universe meriting brand loyalty. We’re introduced to a rogues gallery of bad guys, recruited as a kind of superhuman SWAT team: Can’t-miss assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), mentally unstable coquette Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), human flame-thrower El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and a few more whose backstories we rush through.

There’s also a scientist possessed by an ancient witch known as the Enchantress, whose split personality comes out whenever bad-ass black ops queen Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) taunts her. When the Enchantress goes commando, and threatens the world with her magic, the Suicide Squad gets enlisted to tamp her down. And trust me: That is the most cogent description you’ll get of this plot.

It’s a shame, because the movie has a lot of energy and style until it goes off the reservation. I could spend an hour exploring the Enchantress and her eerie abilities alone, but writer-director David Ayer (who tends toward bombast when a few quiet moments of exposition might suffice) dives much too quickly into the action. There’s no time to absorb the arc of the plot because we’re constantly flashing back and forth, providing character history and motivation. And when it comes down to it, why, exactly, were these villains tapped for this task force? Frankly, El Diablo looks like he could handle the threats from meta-humans single-handedly. (“What exactly does Harley Quinn do?” I overheard someone say as we filed out.)

But despite spatial, plot and pacing problems, I wouldn’t discourage people from watching Suicide Squad. Robbie’s bat-shit crazy sex appeal meshes well with Jared Leto’s insane, Se7en-like mania as the Joker. If only we got more screen time with him. But that’s certainly what the inevitable sequels are for. That’s where we are in film these days: Always hoping that the next one will be better.

Now playing in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Brokeback’ team writing another gay themed movie

Ossana McMThe Brokeback Mountain screenwriting team of Diana Ossana and Texas legend Larry McMurtry are writing another gay-themed drama for True Detective Emmy-winning director Cary Fukunaga. The as-yet-untitled project revolves around the true story of Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old openly gay high school student who, in 2013, tragically committed suicide after enduring non-stop bullying by his classmates. If that weren’t heartbreaking enough, Jadin’s grieving father, Joe, began the arduous task of walking across the continental United States to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying, and as a tribute to the son he lost. But halfway through his journey, Joe was hit by truck and killed. Not the sort of uplifting story most gay audiences are looking for. But if anyone can turn this incredibly sad slice of real life into something visually and narratively compelling and watchable, it’s this team. But when it’s ready, bring your tissues. There’s no way you won’t need them.

A gay couple will be incinerated by aliens in Independence Day 2 … OK, maybe they won’t be incinerated. Maybe they won’t die at all. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be the Will-Smith-ish heroes of the whole film. Details are actually incredibly sketchy right now. But the word from gay director Roland Emmerich, the man who has launched enough cinematic disasters to rival Irwin Allen’s 1970s heyday (that’s the man behind The Poseidon Adventure — Google him, kids!), is that there’ll be a gay couple among the ensemble cast of ID2. Now, if you remember back to the first Independence Day, we were treated to the sight of Harvey Fierstein running around being funny in the midst of impending alien-doom. Then he was consumed by an enormous wall of fire. Worse, the poor thing was single. (Thankfully, though, the dog lived.) But thanks to the march of history and pending nationwide marriage equality, this time around we can look forward to two gays being consumed by an enormous wall of fire. That’s progress, folks. And right, like we said up front, they might not die at all. But they probably will.

— Romeo San Vicente

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Men in Dreck 3

Poor Barry Sonnenfeld. In another life, he was a respected cinematographer, who shot the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, in addition to Misery. He was versatile and quirky. Then he became a director, and that sense of humor became compromised by Hollywood middle-brow aesthetics. The two Addams Family movies had moments, and Get Shorty was actually good, but mostly he’s stuck adding a shiny inconsequentiality to bad action comedies. (His last film as a director, RV in 2006 was a serious flop; he has directed some good TV shows though, notably the short-lived Pushing Daisies.)

I’m sure he cries all the way to the bank, though, as he has directed all of the Men in Black films, including 3, which comes out Friday. These are hugely popular, although frankly, I’ve always been at a loss for why. They are action-comedies that have predictable action and aren’t very funny; special effects spectaculars that undercut their special effects with dumb humor. They have stretched them out over 15 years, so at least we only get bored once in a while, not on a semi-annual basis.

Men in Black 3 is clearly the best in the series, though that is akin to saying the third bout of cholera was the mildest. What started out as a vehicle for Tommy Lee Jones (he got top billing in the first one, remember?) has now marginalized him to the extent he disappears after 25 minutes, not to return again until the last scene. (It’s just as well: He’s begun to look like a saddle with eyebrows.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Queer Music News: Hip-hop artist Y-Love comes out, Jay-Z is pro-gay marriage, so is Will Smith

The buzz is out on the Twitter-verse and Interwebs about rapper Y-Love coming out officially. The black, Jewish rapper has added gay to the list in his interview with today. Burdened with a public identity in a hip-hop world, he decided enough was enough and him coming out would serve a bigger purpose. From

When asked if he decided it was time to come out publicly because of all the positive discourse in the press as of late, Jordan says his catalyst was actually the opposite. “It’s because of the negative backlash that’s coming. Because people like Michele Bachmann’s husband are still pedaling ex-gay therapy. Because there are kids that are jumping out of their school windows. I know what it feels like, and so I have to say something.”

Over the past few months, Jordan says he’s been coming out to close friends, but he’s urged them not to post anything on social media sites so he could still maintain his previous reputation. Now he’s ready to tell the world.

“I’ve dealt with racism; I’ve dealt with discrimination,” Jordan explains. “I want to be there at that gay pride festival, for that kid who has a baseball cap over his yarmulke. I know what it feels like to have to hide.”

—  Rich Lopez