A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley BIRDS OF PREY” (Rated R)Just for the record and for whatever it is worth, the full film title of the DC Comics twisted tale of an anti-heroine’s antics is “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).”The emancipation arrives in the form of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn letting everyone know during an animated opening credit sequence that no longer being the main squeeze for The Joker places her on the open market.

Independence comes with a stiff price since Harley is now missing the protection of Mr. J, as she calls her ex, has to fend for herself in a Gotham City that is an incredibly dangerous place, much more so than Detroit on a bad weekend.Robbie’s Harley was first seen a few years ago in the borderline execrable “Suicide Squad,” but fortunately “Birds of Prey” is neither a sequel nor a spin off of the first failed attempt to establish this flamboyant character as a tough cookie.


Having to operate on her own terms, Harley has a target on her back from an assortment of bad guys, the worst being the narcissistic Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a mob boss backed up by his bleach-blonde henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina).

Seemingly ambiguous about being on either side of the law, Harley takes the sticky-fingered pickpocket street urchin Cass (Ella Jay Basco) under her wing for lifting an extremely valuable diamond belonging to Sionis, the sadistic crime lord known as Black Mask.The problem for Harley is that she initially sought favor with Sionis for his protection by seeking to earn the bounty on Cass’ head until switching gears to save the annoying kid from an ugly fate despite the risk to her own survival.

Harley teams up with Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), an outcast detective ready for some vigilante justice; the revenge-minded Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Black Canary (Jumee Smollett-Bell), a singer with the supernatural power of a devastating scream. On the heels of the subversive energy and madcap behavior of Harley, the next most interesting character is arguably the crossbow-wielding Huntress whose backstory about witnessing as a child the murder of her entire family explains her focused goal of rage-fueled retribution.

A suspension of disbelief is required to accept that the “Birds,” as Harley’s gang would be known, engage in implausible action scenes of girl power pummeling the stuffing out of the many, and stronger, male antagonists that outnumber them.That “Birds of Prey” takes flight on its dazzling acrobatic fast-paced action sequences may not be enough to overcome the feeling that an exciting female action hero will be much better realized by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the coming film “Wonder Woman 1984.”


During the winter TV press tour, the subscription service YouTube Originals announced the debut of the documentary “This is Paris,” set to premiere in May, that is billed as an authentic look at the woman behind the global icon known as Paris Hilton. A ballroom full of critics were treated to a trick demonstration by magician David Blaine whereby he sows his mouth shut with needle and thread while a squeamish Paris Hilton stands by to witness a playing card pulled from his mouth.

Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s head of Original Content, let it be known the death-defying illusionist would partner with the subscription service for an unprecedented live event that would presumably offer a lighter and brighter side of David Blaine.With previous launches of music livestream events featuring artists like Coldplay and Taylor Swift, YouTube is a natural platform for the its documentary “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” premiering March 31st, for behind-the-scenes stories of the famed music festival.


The AMC Networks, which includes IFC and BBC America programs, has demonstrated it has the magic touch in developing popular series like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Killing Eve,” to name only a few.The AMC series that elicits the most inquiries from friends about its inevitable return is “Better Call Saul.” Well, the wait is nearly over for a two-night premiere event of the fifth season scheduled for February 23rd and 24th.

As reported during the press tour, Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill decides to practice law in Albuquerque as “Saul Goodman,” creating unexpected and profound waves of change in New Mexico’s legal and illegal circles.Series co-creator Peter Gould announced they are about to start work on a sixth season, which sad to say he said would be the last, while noting that his team doesn’t “have much of an idea” of how it will end, only that they are aiming to wind up with a total of 63 episodes.

AMC’s “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” premiering on March 1st, is an anthology series created by and starring Jason Segel that is described as a modern take on a “Wizard of Oz” story in a series that is a weird journey of four diverse strangers on a quest for connection and meaning.

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