Halftime Leisure

Trailer Takes: Birds of Prey, Dark Waters, and Uncut Gems

October 13, 2019

Birds of Prey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjpsGw7YlU8

Sarema: I’m going to be honest, after seeing Suicide Squad (2016) being trashed at the box office I never actually ended up seeing it. So I’m going into this ‘fresh’ if that’s even possible in this superhero era of media. Seconds into the trailer and I can’t help but notice the Riverdale-esque use of cold neon colours, a recent trend that can be so effective in creating a gritty yet fantastical atmosphere. If done well, like in the HBO show Euphoria, this lighting can capture both the childlike exuberance and brutal violence of the character Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Above all the explosions, action sequences, and witty one-liners we’ve come to expect from our superhero movies (showing that they don’t ever take themselves too seriously), Margot Robbie shines through. On screen she is captivatingly animated and, most of all, looks like she’s having a blast. After the success of Wonder Woman (2017)  it seems that DC is willing to again take the risk on this new trend of cinema. This film seems to weave feminist theory into its action-packed narratives to tell a tale of female suboordination and perhaps liberation. I’m glad that big studios are starting to meet the public need for more diverse representation and I really hope that Birds of Prey is much better than its predecessor, not only to do the character justice but also to send a message to Hollywood that female narratives are here to stay.

Brynn: I don’t need to have seen Suicide Squad (2016) to know this movie is worth a girls’ night. It might not get me out of the house the way that Hustlers (2019) did, but any film about evil, complicated, and badass women is worth a wine night and a rental. I never had the chance to hop on the Harley Quinn train, but honestly this trailer helped me get the hype a little more. I felt it in my soul when she says, “It’s me they should be scared of, not you, not Mr. J, because I’m Harley freakin’ Quinn.” Just another woman being overshadowed by the villainous men of this world. But evil women are much scarier than evil men, and Quinn (Margot Robbie) shows that she’s more than just evil—she’s intelligent, funny, and strong as hell. Not to mention she is surrounded by a group of killer queens to support her. Plus, Ali Wong is in it. There is no possible way for this movie to be bad withAli Wong in the cast . Overall, with all the hype about Joker (2019) in the media right now, I’m psyched to see the tides turn back to evil women when this comes out in February. 

Matthew: I first saw this trailer when it was #2 Trending on YouTube and I was so excited to see Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn. Her portrayal of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad (2016) and again in this trailer creates a psychotic yet clever and humorous character who has historically been a DC Comics villan. It is hard to know if Birds of Prey is a stand alone film or if viewers need to have seen Suicide Squad to understand the Joker-Harley Quinn relationship however, it is clear that there will be some team-up with other DC characters as Harley Quinn can be heard saying, “They’re after us now and the only way we are getting out is if we work together.” It seems ironic that the second part of the film’s name is “And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” when the trailer hints at her working in a team in order to achieve something. Regardless, I am rooting for Harley Quin in this film.  

Dark Waters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvAOuhyunhY

Sarema: Mark Ruffalo, fresh off the Marvel train, is playing the role of a corporate defense attorney, who turns against the larger system he worked his whole life in. He fights to right the wrongs of those in power in order to defend the environmental injustice facing a farmer in his hometown, which then unravels into a much larger, more nefarious conspiracy. This trailer crafts this insidious tale of corruption, contrasting the sallow tones of greedy men in their gilded cages with frosty shots of local residents, all colour and life drained from them. Accompanied by a cute country song which transforms into a dark pulsating track, this trailer reels you in to a false sense of security before descending into a horror-like state, hinting at the terror to come; hidden enemies in the dark and the following brutal series of events show a larger economic system which encouraged corporations to thrive off the suffering of others. This movie seems to reflect current anxiety, strife, and anger towards the lack of environmental justice and conservation efforts. And, if executed well, this film could become a personification of the horror younger generations face in the upcoming years as we approach the point of no return.

Brynn: Okay, my initial thought is if we are going to tell a story about a water crisis in the United States, why would we not talk about Flint, Michigan? That said, I love an investigative film that fits itself into the category of “Things You Missed in History Class.” This story is completely insane and makes me think I should give more heedance to the conspirators claiming that the government is putting chemicals in our food. Obviously, they are. Going to school in D.C., it’s easy to block out the noise of lobbyists, activists, and politicians that scour the streets we walk every day. It’s films like this that can break through to people and remind us why we can’t just willingly ignore the chaos. I’m so curious to learn more about this story, and despite the inevitable backlash, especially for being another crime movie set in a white man’s world, this movie will get, I am so excited to see it. 

Matthew: So instead of Professor Hulk we now see Mark Ruffalo as a lawyer fighting a chemical company he once defended. Dark Waters is literally about a chemical company knowingly poisoning the water, and therefore also poisoning the entire surrounding community and ecosystem. The trailer focused on the perils of Ruffalo’s character taking on a big chemical company similar to that of advocates battling tobacco companies years ago. It is not clear if this film will focus solely on Ruffalo’s personal conflicts or if it will focus on the corruptness of companies that focus on profit over their effects on the community. I am always a fan of a good movie about lawyers, but given the lack of action regarding climate change, I hope this film calls out companies that are not doing their part in protecting the environment.

Uncut Gems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTfJp2Ts9X8

Sarema: “Please. Give me another shot,” is the overarching message of this trailer. Adam Sandler, made famous from SNL and many romantic comedies, is starring in an indie crime thriller as a sleazy gambler who gets way out of his depth. As this movie travels the film festival circuit, it’s already getting rave reviews and Oscar buzz, which is no surprise as A24 has developed a knack for finding these undercover hits. I’m always going to root for original independent cinema, and this trailer proves promising. Although initial critical acclaim does not protect a film from major public backlash (a recent example being Joker (2019)) this trailer looks really promising, with snippets of gorgeous and dynamic camera work as well as honest performances from a cast of both actors and non-actors. I’m hoping the Safdie Brothers can match the heights of their previous hit Good Time (2017). which also successfully went directly against typecasting.

Brynn: Ugh okay, as much as I trust the A24 powerhouse to produce incredible films, I just cannot get behind this one. Movies like this always have trailers that emphasize money, power, and partying. It’s just all about one man and his quirky quest to fill his bank account. And if it’s about more than that, I completely missed it in the trailer. I think there were a total of four women in that trailer, two of whom play love interests: Idina Menzel as his wife and Julia Fox as his girlfriend. I mean, come on. As if. Maybe I am being too harsh on the movie, but I’ll probably never know because I doubt I’ll ever watch it. 

Matthew: Adam Sandler plays Howard, a man making money off of people gambling on sports. In daytime hours Howard looks to be running a pawn or gold shop and clients give him money to make bets on sports. Howard claims to have “the knowledge” about the bets, when in reality he seems to be swindling his clients on their earnings. This is far from Sandler’s up-beat and comedic roles that he has played which is a welcome change! Nonetheless, the trailer promotes the film as an individual who gets too deep into a scheme and by the time he realizes he is trapped it all comes crashing down. There have been plenty of movies like that before and I hope that Uncut Gems has a fresh take on this repetitive plot. 

Brynn Furey
Brynn is a Contributing Editor for the Voice. She's a huge proponent of pop punk, capybaras, and world peace.

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