This week on Fandor: Harley Quinn’s Bikini-Clad Contemporary, the Death of “Method” and More…
Say what you will about (apparently) controversial blockbuster Suicide Squad, but it definitely has generated a lot of interesting commentary that extends far beyond the franchise’s immediate audience. What do we mean? Stuff like this article, wherein The Atlantic‘s Angelica Jade Bastién calls out the acting-as-endurance-sport of Leo and now Leto (and others), for their macho emphasis on external and material cues rather than a dredging of the emotional waters within. In the parlance of our time: Shots. Fired. Here’s a highlight:
If history is any indication, the techniques of men like DiCaprio, Bale, and Gosling aren’t necessarily destined to be the future of critically acclaimed film performances. The prevalence of the Brando-inspired approach obscures the fact that Hollywood’s best method actor is arguably a woman: Gena Rowlands. Perhaps best known for her work in the ’70s and ’80s, Rowlands didn’t abandon her responsibilities as a mother, friend, and wife in order to create great art. She didn’t starve herself, nearly get hypothermia, or send increasingly disconcerting paraphernalia to her co-stars. But she did create some of the most blistering, and honest performances in films like Opening Night and A Woman Under the Influence. Maybe the reason she isn’t exalted like Brando is because of how closely her career is tied to her husband and collaborator John Cassavetes.
Of course, we’d be remiss in our Squad talk if we didn’t mention Margot Robbie’s (much-discussed) Harley Quinn, the foil to Leto’s much-discussed Joker. Did you know she cut her teeth in gritty, low-budget schlock long before she was immortalized as a bombshell on this side of the ocean and then transformed into a cute-but-terrifying DC Comics villain? Did you know she has made a career out of using her classic good looks as a “gateway drug”, as video essayist Kevin B. Lee puts it over on Keyframe, to her sharp wit and considerable toughness? Get a career retrospective of this star on the rise, all in less than five minutes:
Robbie’s winning combination of beauty, self-awareness and commitment to the bit reminds us that there is so much more to a siren than a just a tiny costume. Take Debra Paget, for example: a gorgeous ingenue-on-the rise who never quite cracked the code of her own superstardom, and permanently retired from the screen at just twenty-nine, after a decade under contract with 20th-Century Fox. Does none of that sentence make sense to you? It’s okay, just let Mark Rappaport explain it to you in Debra Paget, For Example. It will suck you in.
Harley Quinn, of course, is just one version of the scantily-clad, highly deadly female fighter that can be found in all sorts of cheeky “exploitation” genre flicks. Video game and comic book worlds share many touch-points in common, this kind of character being one of the biggest. If that’s what you’re here for, then you won’t want to miss Fandor cult favorites Onechanbara and Onechanbara: Vortex. Yes, they’re based on the video game of the same name starring a bikini-clad, sword-wielding zombie-killer. Yes, there’s two of them. Yes, they’re both chock-full of bloody, schlocky, over-the-top fun. No, they’re not available in Canada at the moment — our sincere apologies! Get your fix from Japanese pro-wrestler Cutie Suzuki as the butt-kicking Battle Girl instead.
With that, we’ll get a little bit softer, now, and wrap our our roundup with something a little more cerebral, though no less fun to watch: a video essay by David Verdeure that shows the many meanings that absent, subverted, and droned-out dialogue can take on. This is what it sounds like when words fail:
Until next week, when we’ll have more great movie news, picks of the week, and other treasures to share, happy watching!