Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn **1/2
Warner Bros. Pictures
Birds of Prey
t’s possible for a movie to have a lot of interesting ideas, and still be a sloppy, haphazard delivery system for those ideas. This sort-of-sequel/sort-of-spinoff of 2016’s Suicide Squad
finds Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) broken up with Joker and now with a target on her back. Threatened with death by crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), Harley is forced to find a teen pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco) who’s in possession of a valuable diamond, and crosses paths with several dangerous women—Det. Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), the assassin Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Roman’s driver Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell)—in the process. Christina Hodson’s script explores the notion of women who are taken seriously only when linked to powerful men, and the strength of women pulling together rather than pitted against one another, while also providing a villain who’s a short-fused, insecure scion of privilege (sound familiar?). But as much fun as Robbie has with the live-wire Harley, Cathy Yan’s direction mostly gives us multiple variations on slow-motion fight sequences. Maybe you can make a zany, violent comic-book movie that’s also rich with subtext, but this one ain’t it. Opens Feb. 7 at theaters valleywide.
Invisible Life ***1/2
Billed as a “tropical melodrama,” this period-piece tearjerker (and Brazil’s official entry for this year’s Best International Film Oscar) is certainly a sun-bleached version of the kind of kitchen-sinkers Douglas Sirk used to do in his sleep back in the day. This movie follows two sisters, a budding piano prodigy (Carol Duarte) and her free-spirited big sis (Julia Stockler), in 1950s Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, they spend most of their lives kept away from one another after their father (Antônio Fonseca) disowns the older sister for running off and getting pregnant. Any person who’s had to deal with their own fare of deceitful, family bullshit will no doubt connect with this story, based on a Martha Batalha novel. Writer-director Karim Ainouz does give audiences a moving portrait of two women trying to hold on to each other as their dreams and aspirations fade away, thanks mostly to a patriarchal society filled with oppressive men who think they know better. Think of this film as a less-palefaced companion to Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Opens Feb. 7 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
(NR)—Craig D. Lindsey
Oscar Shorts - Documentary
[not yet reviewed]
Showcase of the Academy Award nominees for Documentary Short Subject. Opens Feb. at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (NR)