Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Aug. 4, 2020

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New On DVD: Weird fun with ‘Birds of Prey’

The Columbian
Published:

Lovable psychopaths lead the way in new DVD releases for May 12.

• “Birds of Prey”: Tribune News Service film critic Katie Walsh says the best thing to come out of 2016’s much-derided DC antihero team-up “Suicide Squad” was Margot Robbie’s inspired take on Harley Quinn, the self-proclaimed “Joker’s girl” and quirky chaos clown. Robbie’s Quinn, with her colorful pigtails and baseball bat, instantly became an icon, a perennial Halloween costume, eclipsing even her lesser half, Jared Leto’s heavily tattooed Joker.

Now, writes Walsh, she’s better than ever with her own girl gang in the brilliant, breakneck “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.”

Director Cathy Yan soars with her stylish sophomore feature, which is colorful, campy and cheerfully brutal, a perfect reflection of Harley herself. Robbie, as usual, tears into the role with a wide-eyed gusto that is equally childlike and unhinged.

“Birds of Prey” is also the cinematic introduction to the other birds in the flock, the beloved comic characters Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), styled as a butt-kicking blaxploitation queen, and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a mysterious yet neurotic assassin out for vengeance. Along with renegade cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and precocious pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), this is Harley’s new girl gang, who band together against the sinister Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

“Birds of Prey” is a circus for the senses, but the performances give the film its heart and humor, Walsh says.

• “Fantasy Island”: The 1970s-’80s prime-time staple is reimagined as a horror movie. But Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips says it’s mostly horrible, with four intertwining fantasies and four stories’ worth of lame ideas poorly executed.

“Shameless: Season 10”: More dysfunctional fun with the Gallagher clan on Chicago’s South Side. William H. Macy is Frank, the alcoholic patriarch of the group.

Also new on DVD

• “The Photograph”: Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield take a good long look at love.

• “Lost Transmissions”: Mental illness drama set in the Los Angeles music world. Stars Simon Pegg and Juno Temple.

• “Lucifer: The Complete Fourth Season”: Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the Devil, moves from Hell to Los Angeles where he owns a nightclub. Based on the DC Comics character.

• “The Traitor”: The life of mob boss Tommaso Buscetta, who was one of the first to become a police informant.

• Vivarium”: A terrifying portrait of a young couple slowly unraveling under the crushing weight of social isolation.

Digital HD

• “The Invisible Man”: This thriller starring Elizabeth Moss explores the psychological horror of domestic abuse.

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