Sunday, February 9, 2020

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

By sati (harlequinade) Sunday, February 9, 2020 , , , , , , ,


I love Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel and I think they are both wonderful movies about terrific heroines. However, I cannot fully connect with them because, while they kick ass, they are so very noble and kind. Diana grew up on a paradise island, surrounded only by loving and supportive women, and Carol doesn’t fully remember her past, which explains why they aren't pissed off. Because if they knew what we know and experience what we do, they'd be very, very angry.

We can't even peacefully enjoy entertainment that is made for us. You cannot tweet about Birds of Prey without some guy with Joker (the shitty one, not Heath's) avatar replying and being overjoyed this film won't do huge box office numbers.We have to sit there and watch as a movie about a straight, white man being treated "unfairly" is getting major marketing push from the studio, 11 nominations and billion dollar box office as its stans go out of their way to find us and gloat about that.

WB and other studios ought to be ashamed for how few movies with female leads they make and how terrible the marketing for them is. They are treating us like dogs and throwing us scraps. WB has officially lost my confidence in any of their upcoming projects. I'm sure they will be good films, but it's heartbreaking to see good movies fail because of their awful, ridiculously late marketing. This film is probably going to barely break even and they, as well as male fanboys, are going to say "women don't go see those movies, let's stop making movies for them". Their failure to raise awareness that this movie is about to be released and their failure to run a decent marketing campaign will be turned and used against us. At this point these fuckers are gaslighting us.

And it is so important that these movies get made. It's important for little girls to watch Diana and Carol, enjoying the same privilege the boys had for decades with male led CBM. And it is cathartic for grown up women to see Furiosa and others fight for freedom, Amy Dunne scolding men for "Cool Girl" image they imposed on us and Harley blowing up ACE Chemicals, symbolically cutting ties with Joker and what he made her into. It's important to see this anger expressed on screen because we are not allowed to release it in real life.

Women turn that anger inward because every time we express it we are "hysterical" and should "calm down". But outward is the only way. Every time you get hit with some sexist nonsense, don't take any of that shit. And never be polite about it. Bring a gun to a knife fight. Things will never change if we are meek about wanting to be treated equally. When a stranger told Carol to smile (this happens all the time in real life, never to men, because what woman would intrude on a person in such an asinine way?) she said nothing. I just tell them to piss off right away and watch them scurry away. In public. Because somewhere secluded? I'll probably get murdered. Call them out when you can. Whether it's about what is happening in real life or whether it's this bullshit that the studios are doing. Every step of the way, call them out.

This film captures "I am done with this shit" attitude so perfectly. These women kick ass, and they are doing what they have to, not merely to lead their lives the way they want, but to survive. Neither of them is perfect, just as neither of us is perfect. And the sisterhood between them is so wonderful to see. I loved all the moments where the characters do the right thing by other women, treating them like they would want to be treated - Dinah helps drunk Harley, they all want to help the kid, Dinah and Helena are both mortified by Roman's actions at the club and Helena calms down Cass.

The whole mood of the film is angry but it's also filled with humor and plenty of badass charm from the wonderful actors. There's also so much whimsy and silliness here and overall it's just such an entertaining piece of girl power delight AND a truly fun film for everyone to enjoy. It's not "all men are bad" propaganda. There are positive male characters in here. Just like in every single female led CBM that was made to date.

This one is Fury Road meets Deadpool meets John Wick. The action is fantastic and the influences from those films are clearly seen here, the music is energetic and the humor lands every time. Margot Robbie is the perfect Harley Quinn and does the character justice. I already really loved her portrayal in Suicide Squad, but here she was even better. Also it's just wonderful how the film is edited and scripted mirroring the way Harley's hectic mind works. I find all those "takes" - disgusting when coming from men, deeply shameful when coming from women - that Harley is not the "right" kind of a character to serve as feminist heroine to be revolting. So the only right choice for that is a woman who is pure and noble like Diana and Carol, huh? God forbid a woman has a violent past, expresses anger, swears, does drugs and drinks, right? These troglodytes can go fuck themselves with that take.

Ewan McGregor is clearly having a blast as the main villain, the pettiest bitch in Gotham. Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are all great but it's Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, who steals the show. She is definitely the most interesting new character here and I'd love to see a movie just about her. Also - that voice! And listen up Barry nation, Ronny is in this!

And can we talk about the soundtrack? I didn't know most of these artists before and what a great idea it was to have the entire album made by female artists. It's one of the best soundtracks I listened to in a very long time. The costumes, while not accurate to the source material which is really not important at all, are beautiful and so colorful. In fact, this entire movie is bursting with color (the ingenious introduction moments with all the scribbles on them!) and life and Gotham City actually feels like a separate character, with all the drama happening inside of it. Everything feels so lived in and whole, for the first time in DCEU you really get a sense of the world the characters are living in, the world we, the audience, are abruptly thrown into. Unlike with Aquaman and Wonder Woman, we watch these people in a place where they have always been, so it's all already there and we don't get tons of exposition thrown at us and introducing us and the protagonists to this world.

Instead of sitting here and being overjoyed that I got such a fun Harley Quinn movie, I'm saddened because I'm being bombarded with tweets about how this movie is "failing" and how the studios shouldn't make movies for women. With WB's utter and compete failure to market this, not only did we not move forward here, back backwards. And this isn't even the only Harley Quinn-related thing they are failing, there's a wonderful animated TV series that people are mostly unaware of (and if you liked this movie, check out the series, it's very similar tone and it's even funnier!). Gotham City Sirens is probably not going to get made now. Wonder Woman 1984 will probably only do decent numbers, if that. And every single time we somehow, miraculously, get a female led CBM? The "men" will taunt and gloat about how these films "fail".

All we can do is support those films and find a way to enjoy them, paying no attention to those branding them as "failures". Call out the sexist trolls and call out the studios that are disrespecting us. And never ever shut up, especially when we are told to do so.
93/100 (2020, USA, 109 mins)
Plot: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.
Director: Cathy Yan
Writer: Christina Hodson
Stars: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

16 comments:

  1. AMAZING review!! I honestly was about to pass this one by until a friend told me I'd absolutely love it. Love what you said about WW and Capt Marvel being less relatable...so true.

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  2. Great review! WB should be ashamed of themselves with this marketing. I'm realizing now they probably should've titled this film Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey or something like that. When I told our sitter what we were going to she asked me to explain the movie, then when I mentioned Harley Quinn only then was she like "Oh yeah, I saw a preview for that."

    I thought this was a blast and it's a shame there is a sea of incels taunting everyone who genuinely liked this movie when it's not doing well. That's WB's doing, not the quality of the film. I think the reviews speak for themselves.

    I hope this film has great legs and Gotham City Sirens still gets made.

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    1. Honestly WB is fucking up every release lately. Joker was only rescued by white men's rage but it still had better marketing than this

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  3. As much as I was looking forward to this one until I read it here (I think) a couple weeks ago I was sure this movie came out next weekend. I didn't even know why until I was in the mall this week and walking by a Hot Topic that had a huge poster in the window that said something about Galentine's Day the date at the bottom even said 2-13 and it was a legit movie poster. So yeah the marketing was terrible.

    It will be interesting to see if this one has legs though. You'd think with word of mouth and good reviews it will. But we'll see! Glad you enjoyed the film though!

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    1. I really hope it does well this week, who the fuck would wanna see Sonic instead of this?

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  4. It's so irritating to read the Twitter noise about this movie. I go to the cinema at least once a week and always get there in time for the trailers. I've seen the trailer for Birds of Prey twice. Twice - compared to the 50+ times I've seen the new 007 trailer. WB's marketing team should be ashamed on themselves!
    LOVE your review, by the way <3

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    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the movie when you get to see it!

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  5. Great review! This was a really fun movie, and people aren't going to see that if they're detracted by the "hot takes" about why this was going to fail. I really hope the film succeeds, or WB does a better job marketing their female driven films.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I hope so too! i'm so pissed off about the arguments against R rating, this is such bullshit, Joker had it and made over a billion but what, we women always have to play nice and PG-13? Ugh

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  6. I agree with all your points! Yes to this. I'm just so upset about the marketing. As the mom to a little girl, these films are important. It's important to see women onscreen as MORE than love interests.

    "And never shut up, even when we're told to!" I love that.

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    1. I imagine I'd love those films even more had I been a mother but fortunately for everyone I'm not :P

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  7. Fantastic review! I agree with every single thing you said here, especially Harley being more relatable than Carol and Diana. And the soundtrack is terrific.

    It's not fair WB are treating this film like shit.

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    1. YES! Honestly fuck their Batman movie for this, I ain't taking my ass to the cinema

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  8. Holy shit this review is brilliant! I basically just wrote the same thing...except waaaaay shittier. *high five*

    Seriously, I actually enjoy this movie more now that I've read your perspective on it. I just thought it was a badass good time, but there really is a lot more to it than that, and without reading this, I'm not sure I would have considered it.

    "Call out the sexist trolls and call out the studios that are disrespecting us. And never ever shut up, especially when we are told to do so." F--k yes.

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    1. I'm so glad you watched it and even more that you WENT to see it! I am looking at those box office numbers and they make no sense, seems like everyone in our blogosphere saw it, most of people I follow on LB saw it, so what the hell, it's like my social media circle are the only not shitty people on Earth which is a good thing but in cases like this you just see how small of a circle that is :/

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