The Joker and Harley

…or How I learned to stop caring and hate the film, Suicide Squad.

I will admit that after reading a few reviews from questionable sources, I decided to see Suicide Squad and form my own opinion about the movie. A little background, I might be a huge fan of Batman (I totally am), specifically of The Joker and Harley Quinn. As a kid, being introduced to Harley Quinn was life-changing. She was everything I thought I was and wanted to be. Some kids want to be the Hero. I wanted to be the Villain.

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Harley and her other love, Poison Ivy

In watching Suicide Squad, one of the few things I can agree with was Paul Dini’s (One of Harley’s creators) statement that Margot Robbie, nailed the character. She did. Robbie did a fantastic job recreating the mixture of Harley’s adolescent manner and psychopathic tendencies with little effort. Harley is a character in which you never know which direction she will go because she is, quite obviously, insane. Jared Leto wasn’t bad either. There have been better Jokers, but I would not say he was awful. I do miss Harley’s accent though….

So what went wrong? Well, let’s start with the fact that for whatever reason, David Ayer and his team decided to focus on the Post-2011 version of The Joker and Harley. The public is being introduced to a new character (essentially), Harley and the rest of the Suicide Squad, which some fans of the comic will say, “Well, Xtine, that’s correct ’cause Harley was in The New 52 version of Suicide Squad (released in 2011)”. My problem isn’t with Suicide Squad, my problem is with the movie.

If you want to do a comic no one has heard of, maybe you should have focused on another version of it, like say, the earlier version since the majority of the movie centered on Deadshot anyway. Then maybe you wouldn’t have had the issues that you encountered when reproducing a truly tortuous and abusive relationship that is the Joker and Harley Quinn. That’s the movie everyone wanted to see but instead we only saw a watered down version of how their home life really is sprinkled throughout a boring, drawn out, lazy plot.

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Reading the comics, you’ll see the Joker, the love of Harley’s life, shoot her, punch her, leave her for dead, let her get captured and a slew of other terrible things that I feel like Jared Leto’s Joker would not do. Yes, the film Joker lets her get captured by Batman, but then he tries to save her on multiple other occasions. In reality, the comic Joker doesn’t even like her, let alone love her, so why would he even bother to make such moves to get her back?

I used to romanticize the idea of a Harley and Joker relationship just like most girls and boys are doing now, but then I realized that relationships should be healthy. The biggest problem with this film is that it seeks to change people’s ideas (or influence ideas) of how the Joker treats people. He has no room to love anyone. I feel that the message they are sending here is that this relationship can be sweet, loving and mutual when they aren’t on a murderous rampage but this just simply is not real. They are not Bonnie and Clyde, they are not Romeo and Juliet. She is dependent and unstable and he is a bona fide psychopath.

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Crazy Train

I’m sad for the DC universe’s other properties when these are the films that DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is putting out. I will agree that the movie had some interesting and eye-catching effects but it was also executive produced by Zack Snyder so what else can we expect? Its a shame that DCEU is focusing their efforts on the mass public who have no idea of the background of these characters and yet still releases films that seem to start in the middle of a trilogy. Most people get confused, some people like it, and DC fans get mad and go on long rants about why you shouldn’t see it. Origin films have a purpose, don’t try so hard to set records while ignoring your public.

P.S. I truly wonder if the main reason everyone saw it was because they wanted to see why so many people hated it.

 

 

 

 

Feminism vs. Batman: The Killing Joke

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of seeing an animated feature length film of one of my favorite Batman graphic novels. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke was a turning point in my love for Batman. I started becoming a fan girl of the comic book hero back in the 80s when the Tim Burton film was released but after reading The Killing Joke, I found a different love for the character. The Killing Joke showed Batman in a light that I think many people don’t want to see their favorite hero in.

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“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”

He became more human, more damaged, more desperate in the story line and all of that is due to Alan Moore’s truly realistic and dark view of the comic book world. We’ve seen this type of sordid view of superheros from Moore in Watchmen or Captain Britain but here we see Batman essentially face himself through the Joker’s depraved acts and increasing insanity. Yes, his back has been broken before, yes his cohorts have died before; but here he is truly having to decide if he is as warped an individual as his all-time greatest nemesis.

I hope what I have just written will allow everyone to understand that I did not hate the animated film despite what is to follow.

The movie was somewhere around 30 minutes in when I sighed and decided that I was going to accept those first 30 minutes as not part of the film itself. My issues with it start with the addition of Paris Franz, an aspiring crime boss added to give Batgirl something to do. The character of Franz is so flat and brought nothing new to the story except flirt with Batgirl and treat her like a terribly toxic boyfriend who, instead of cheating, tries to kill her on several occasions. This character was also a placeholder for Batman to get jealous. Of course, the sexual tension increases, Batgirl and Batman engage in intercourse on a rooftop and, immediately after, Batgirl goes through the typical female crisis: “Why hasn’t he called? Where is this relationship going? What are we? Does he like me? What did I do wrong?” There is even a scene where she screams at him to say “It was just sex, I don’t care, you don’t care, no one cares,” or something to that nature.

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“Does this outfit make me look fat?”

I never really think of myself as a feminist but I was seconds from screaming at the screen in the half full theater. They turned a strong female superhero character like Batgirl, only a few scenes away from becoming a paraplegic, into a sappy, sobbing mess of a girl because she slept with her boss. I get it, she’s young and immature, but not every woman needs to cling to a strong male. I feel as if the screenwriters decided that women cannot be as strong as men, especially if that man is Batman. They decided that no woman can resist him, and even if they are partners, they must have intercourse.

I agree that the entire concocted opening to the film was there to give the audience an idea of how the events that unfold affect Batman in his core. He’s hard to read and allowing us to see him as a vulnerable human being gave us some insight into his personal feelings toward Batgirl. But what if this was Jason Todd? Would he have had to sleep with his Robin before he was murdered to give us some idea of how it affected him?

It is an unfortunate situation for Batgirl that she had to have that vagina. If she were only male, she would have just gotten over the whole Paris Franz thing, the whole “Batman doesn’t respect me as his equal” pouting, and she would probably still be Batgirl (not Oracle) with a fully functioning spinal column. I would’ve expected this treatment from an animated feature before but not in 2016 when a woman was just nominated a U.S. Presidential nominee for the first time in history.

Director Kevin Smith as a Writer’s Role Model

My recent infatuation with the career and life of director and writer Kevin Smith began after I saw the 2014 horror/thriller, Tusk. The film, starring Justin Long and Michael Parks, is more of what I would consider a genre blending comedy horror. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

I always wait past the end credits to see any special inclusions directors like to sneak in. The end credits of Tusk included a recording of a SModcast in which the idea for the film was introduced. This started me on a journey into the writing and personality of Kevin Smith.

Prior to my obsession, I had seen most of his movies and never really considered the writing. However, Tusk and SModcast came into my life when I had begun looking at writing as a real career and a real passion for me. Kevin Smith’s films haven’t won Oscars and his writing isn’t as appreciated as it really should be, and he knows it. In fact, he makes fun of himself often on his podcast, SModcast, and the thing I admire the most, is that he never apologizes for his movies or his opinions.

I find people who own their writing, and what they say with it, very impressive. Writing is very personal – I equate it to slicing your wrists open and putting it on paper – and screenwriting is extremely difficult to keep entertaining script after script. Somehow, Smith has been able to do this repeatedly, regardless of the box office returns. This is why I think of him as my writing role model, someone who has inspired me to pursue my dream despite feeling like its “too hard”.

Now, I know a good amount of people think he’s a cool dude, who smokes weed all day and doesn’t really care what you think, but I actually don’t believe that. In fact, I think he does care, a great amount. Anyone who puts that much effort into a script must care for their work and that is what a true writer must do.

Super Hero Hype

This past Sunday, David Ayer, director of the upcoming 2016 film Suicide Squad, tweeted a photo of the cast of misfits known as the Suicide Squad including Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Deadshot. The film has slightly over a year before it’s released and a trailer hasn’t even been made yet however, with the release of this photo and the prior photos of Jared Leto transforming into the iconic character, The Joker, for the same film, it is clear that we are being hyped.

I used to enjoy the hype, the marketing, the press. In fact, I have always maintained that guerilla marketing is the most entertaining marketing and can be even more exciting than the actual film. It’s not always the film’s fault, the marketing team that creates the campaign is just far too talented for their own good. So when a film like Blair Witch or Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters gets the advertising but doesn’t deliver in the box office, the hype machine can force people to question if they like the film or the advertising.

It is great when it works (See The Dark Knight or Gone Girl), but for the great mass of film lovers, its hard to tell if it is going to be beneficial at all to one’s psyche to see the marketing. It’s similar to a friend recommending a film: they tell you it’s the best movie they’ve EVER seen, you have to watch it, if you don’t, you’re missing out. Then, you see the movie and it was good, but not the best movie EVER. So the next film your friend recommends, you take it with a grain of salt. Sure, if you are a casual film goer, it’s not a deal breaker to be disappointed but if you’re a “filmie”, it can ruin the fun.

I will be in the theater for both Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad (BvS is set to release a few months ahead of its counterpart Suicide Squad) but I will hopefully be there with little to no knowledge of the plot. Just so that I can have that moment when a film is brand new and nothing has tainted my love for it.

The Oscars’ Special Guest Star: A Conversation About Suicide

Watching the Academy Awards this past Sunday, I noticed that the word “suicide” was a lot more prevalent than in any awards telecast before it. We had Dana Perry, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject for her film “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”, dedicate her award to her son, a suicide victim, and told us how we needed to talk about suicide out loud. Winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay award, Graham Moore, talked directly to those like him, who attempted suicide at age 16, and told them to “stay weird, stay different”. These people are the kinds of people affected by suicide. The saddest thing about the subject of suicide is the fact that it has always existed, it isn’t a new thing.

A little history about me, I attempted suicide at 22 and 23, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. Since surviving my attempt, I’ve tried to make the people around aware that it is something that exists. Most people don’t believe that murderers will invade their home in the middle of the night, or that the brakes on their car will go out and cause a horrible pile-up. They also don’t believe that someone in their lives could feel so lost and alone that they would want to take their lives.

And this is why we do need to talk about suicide out loud. A key icon of the struggle of suicide, in modern times, is the late Robin Williams (it feels strange to say that, late) and as a child of the 90’s, I saw him in every comedy and thought the same thing that everyone thought, he’s happy. But I also didn’t see his personal struggles, probably similar to things that I experienced in my darkest times. Saddness, loneliness, and just a complete lack of a strong ego that most people have to prevent those dark, self-loathing thoughts from creeping up. People like to claim that suicide is for the weak and that it is selfish. And unfortunately, these are the stereotypes that survivors of suicide endure from those who choose not to understand or listen. It really takes a great amount of strength to hurt yourself and some times all that could pull you away from it is one person to say “I understand and I’m here for you”. However, the stigma of it and society’s constant pressure to keep it silent from our every day converstations make it easy for someone like Robin Williams to hide and put on a smiling face just because it makes everyone else feel better.

We all need to take responsibility for every suicide that happens in the world. That is not to say that we can prevent each one (my experiences as a bipolar sufferer have told me that if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will do anything to find a way) but our fear of just speaking about it makes it harder for people to find help. This is why I, as a survivor of suicide, appreciated every mention of the word suicide on Sunday night. Not only did we have someone who was very directly affected by the suicide of another, but we also had a suicide survivor. I truly hope that even after the post-Oscar glow disappears at the end of the week, people will still talk about Graham Moore’s call to the weird and Dana Perry’s heartbreaking dedication. I hope they talk about people they know who have attempted or committed suicide. I hope people will talk about their attempts or thoughts. I hope people will talk, and I hope soon we can all sit down and, at least once, talk about suicide seriously.

A Korean Import turned American: Oldboy

For many who actually saw the original film, Oldboy, back in 2003 when it was released, the idea of a remake was simply upsetting. The movie’s twisted background and psychological connection with the audience is just “unredoable”, in my opinion, and putting the name Spike Lee on anything just makes it seem like its a ploy to get more buzz around the film. However, after seeing the movie myself today, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t that the movie was done exactly like the previous film, in fact, it was done differently in a lot of aspects of the plot line (which I won’t give away here). The fact that the movie was adapted into a version that was much more Americanized than the Korean version was refreshing. I didn’t feel like I did with The Eye or One Missed Call. Those films just tried too hard to be like the original because of the Asian version’s strong followings. Instead, Oldboy decides that it can never be like the original and does its best to try to make due.

This brings me to the idea of remaking movies, which I absolutely despise. There are millions of writers in the world yet we are still making movies over again. There’s no imagination left in Hollywood anymore and when we take Asian movies and remake them, we make ourselves look like idiots once again. I say this as a writer and a movie fan. I don’t want to see all of my favorite Asian horror films remade, I don’t want to see all of my favorite manga or anime made into feature length films starring American actors pretending to be Asian. I want something new, but the problem is, if screenwriters do make something unique, it flops. But instead of allowing themselves to flop, they decide to take other, more successful movies, and remake them to ensure they make money for the big studio heads. But what will happen in the future when we run out of movies to remake? Then we have the silly reboots like Superman, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, Batman….

I could go on, wage a war against Hollywood and their films, but I will always be willing to pay money to see a movie, even if I hate it. And that is why Hollywood will always win. There’s always someone somewhere who has never seen the original and probably won’t see it if there’s a new one on the horizon. And so we continue, but at least I can say to Spike Lee and other film makers that take a film and at least try to make it new, you’re kind of doing it right.

Jobs, Steve Jobs

I’m completely flabbergasted at the casting of Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in the upcoming film based on his life. I’m not at all saying he is a terrible actor (I think he’s a terrible actor) nor am I saying that Steve Jobs was not attractive (meh?) but I just don’t see anyone saying that those two look alike.

Bad casting, just so bad. I mean, I don’t have experience casting films but I think I could have done a much better job[s].

The thing is, their arguement about the casting of Ashton Kutcher would probably sound a little like this:

“Really? Ashton?”

“Yes, really.”

“Why?”

“Because, even though he doesn’t really look like him, he totally EMBODIES him. He like, completely took on his character.”

Ok, casting director. The only way I could buy that crock would be if the man, Steve Jobs, kidnapped Mr. Kutcher and kept him in his basement for months a la Hunter S. Thompson. There is no way that an actor, known for his attractive nature, could possibly understand the anti-social behavior of a computer programmer.

Oh but Ashton has a degree in whatever? So? The guy is completely free to make a fool of himself on That 70’s Show, he’s got enough famous friends to “punk” on Punk’d, and he always looks sharp in a suit or some other name branded crap. And that doesn’t not make you equal to the man who built the Apple empire. Sure he had friends but I’m almost positive he was a relatively private person and not as sociable as, say, an actor.

No I have not seen the movie, and most likely I will wait until it shows up on my OnDemand because I’m way too cheap and lazy to put effort into seeing this baloney. However, it seems to me that now-a-days, in the world of film making, the lack of any creativity or genuine effort to be different has come to the forefront in recent times. I will quickly note that this weekend I attempted to watch Wrath of the Titans, which probably aggravated my position about Ashton Kutcher. It’s a cop out. No wait, its just cheap work done on an expensive film. In the end, it won’t cost me a dime because I can see the lame train before it even arrives at the station but who it will cost is the producers who placed their time and money on the hands of Ashton Kutcher.