Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins is an adaptation of real events that took place in 1944 in New York City.

Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) is a patron and supporter of the arts, and in particular, music. She arranges performances at various social clubs for others. Her husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) has acted as emcee to such events, often providing oratory between acts, and she appears in some of the dramatizations, in non-speaking roles. St. Clair is also her manager, who makes things happen

This isn’t enough for her. She decides she wants to return to performing, which she did when she was becoming an adult. She wants to sing, and hires a pianist to practice with her. She hires Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), a mild mannered musician who is grateful for the work. Little does he know how horrible her singing is, and there is no question  about her voice. Her singing coach is evasive about her ability, and she butchers pretty much every song you hear her sing. However she believes differently, so where does she want to do next?

Those of you who know the history already know what happens next, but I won’t say. This film seemed improbable, but it did happen. The writer and director of the film could have approached this in more of a campy manner, portraying her as a bit of a buffoon, but they do a good job of respecting the subject matter.  She was a real person, after all, not some caricature of a high society woman.

Aside from some complaints about the quality of the CGI they used to transform the exterior scenes to a 1940s look, I really didn’t have much to dislike about the film. If a costume drama is the sort of movie you like, you will definitely like this one.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad is the movie adaptation of a DC Comic Book of the same name. The basis of the film is similar to the basis of a late-1960s film The Dirty Dozen, but with a comic-book basis.

It is a time after the events of Batman Vs Superman. There is a growing fear that someone as strong as Superman (aka a ‘metahuman’)  could seize control of the United States without anyone to stop them. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) steps up, and recommends to the government that she be allowed to create a special group, called Task Force X, to combat that threat. She suggests that it consist of captured super-villains in federal custody, as they could have plausible deniability if they fail in their efforts.

She starts describing the candidates. They include Deadshot (Will Smith), an uncannily accurate sniper/assassin, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), The Joker’s (Jared Leto’s) girlfriend, and blatant psychopath, and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a supernatural spirit who possesses the body of the archaeologist that unearthed her. It’s a way to summarize their backstories without spending too much time on them. Others are discussed, as well.

Of course, there’s a crisis, and the team is compelled to stop it. Things go pear-shaped, and they are still required to continue. Over time, the true nature of the situation emerges, and it’s up to them to prevent it from becoming far worse.

It’s a fairly linear story, if you exclude the flashback introductions. It plays out well, though it can be a bit predictable. However, what makes this movie work is the interactions between the various villains. They all have their motivations, most of which are revealed, and they’re all unique characters. Their dialogue works, mostly becoming a showcase for Harley and just how warped her head is. It’s mostly played for comedic effect, and it’s good for that.

There’s a lot of action in the film, and the amount of violence for a film of this type is pretty typical. Nothing is too graphic. It’s easily followed, and even though it was available in 3D, I did not see it that way. While there were obvious elements created for the 3D world, it’s not necessary.

I did like the movie, and recommend it to people who like Superhero films. It’s better than many similar films of the past year. Early reviews were panning the film, and it’s not as bad as you’d think, given the early negativity. I’ll admit that I haven’t read any (to keep from reading any spoilers),  and also that I am not terribly familiar with most of the villains they used, so I might understand if there were complaints about their behavior. The movie was left it open for a sequel, but unless it comes with a superior story, it’s not necessary.

The first half of the credits probably have a big 3D appearance, but were lost on me. There is a mid-credits sequence that many views did not stay to say, and there is no post-credits scene.