On The Suicide Squad, The Green Knight, and Old

Late summer is not, normally speaking, a time to expect exceptional cinema; by the onset of August, blockbuster season is winding down and awards season hasn’t yet begun, leaving audiences stranded in a purgatorial middle zone, heavy on Hollywood’s less promising releases. But against all odds, in these abnormal times, the dog days of summer are bringing some big movies to the big screen that are very much worth seeing. On this week’s episode of Film Club, critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife talk about a trio of new releases giving the summer movie calendar a good name: M. Night Shyamalan’s nightmarish aging thriller Old, which came out last week; David Lowery’s hypnotic Arthurian fantasy epic The Green Knight, which opens today; and James Gunn’s gory, funny new addition to the DC superhero universe, The Suicide Squad, which will hit theaters and HBO Max next Friday.

Here’s what Katie Rife had to say about The Suicide Squad in her written review:

James Gunn could have blown up a whole island, if he felt like it. Accurate numbers for upcoming movies are difficult to come by, but with the original Suicide Squad budgeted at around $175 million, it seems safe to assume that the writer and director of its sequel had some pennies to play with when constructing his take on DC’s bankable squad of incarcerated villains-turned-reluctant-antiheroes. So what did he choose to do with that money? Did he create a breathtaking sci-fi cityscape, or pull off mind-boggling stunts that would make Tom Cruise jealous? No. He gave us John Cena in his skivvies and multiple characters whose prolonged, painful deaths are played for laughs. In many ways, the gleefully profane, anything-goes mayhem of The Suicide Squad feels like a mega-budget version of the Troma Studios productions that gave Gunn his start. And thank goodness for that.

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