dead pigs release

Dead Pigs is the kind of directorial debut that declares a new voice is on the scene. “Pure” is a word that comes up in our conversation with filmmaker Cathy Yan, whose first feature-length film is just that. It called to mind a Danny Boyle quote, that first movies often represent your best work because you never know if you’ll get another shot, so why not try everything you’ve dreamed of seeing in a movie?

Dead Pigs plays exactly like that – an unfiltered dream. It has a strange magic to it. There are the dead pigs; skyscraper’s bright lights contrasted with the streets and country life; a heroine (played by Vivian Wu) in a lone house dedicated to respecting the past and fighting the future; and both a singalong and a wonderful reference to the 2006 film Step Up. Yan’s debut is inspiringly brazen and bursting with life and personality. That personal style made Yan’s sophomore effort, Birds of Prey, one of the hipper comic book movies in recent years.

Yan’s debut caught the eye of Margot Robbie, who was impressed by the scope of the characters and world Yan captured. “You can’t pull off a film in China for as little money as she had, and make it look so incredible, and still care about the characters more than anything,” Robbie said. “She just — in my mind — nailed it.”

After years of limbo, Dead Pigs is finally available to stream on Mubi today. We spoke to Yan about revisiting her debut film years after she shot it and the joy of having a movie that shows who she is finally out in the world.

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dead pigs trailer

Several years after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Cathy Yan‘s feature directorial debut Dead Pigs is finally getting a release in the United States. Yan’s movie first screened stateside in 2019, but it’s been absent from the U.S. until now, as the film is finally set to head to streaming service Mubi this Friday. Inspired by true events, Dead Pigs is billed as a “social satire about the trials and tribulations connecting a disparate group of characters as thousands of dead pigs mysteriously float down river towards a rapidly modernizing Shanghai, China.”

A trailer has arrived ahead of the film’s streaming debut, and you can watch it below.

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Birds of Prey VOD Rental

Usually when movies become available for VOD rental, it’s day-and-date with the release of the movie on Blu-ray and DVD, typically between 75 and 90 days after a movie has been released in theaters. But in the time of coronavirus, the traditional window for these kind of releases has been drastically shaken up.

Birds of Prey was one of the movies that arrived rather early on VOD after movie theaters were shut down in March, taking a bite out of the box office haul it wold have taken in (even if it may not have been that high after being in theaters over a month). However, unlike Universal’s VOD releases of The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, Warner Bros. only made Birds of Prey available for digital purchase at $19.99, and no rental option was available. But that changes today, and it won’t cost as much. Read More »

birds of prey sequel

Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan already has ideas for a sequel. Although a direct Birds of Prey follow-up has not yet officially been confirmed, Yan has already started plotting out where she would take Harley Quinn on her next adventures — and with whom. And that character will be very familiar to longtime fans of Harley Quinn in both her animated and comic book forms.

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinnis a movie bursting with personality. It’s poppy and gritty, slapstick-y and visceral, and most striking of all, it doesn’t confine itself to as many boxes or rules as most comic book movies do. It’s a rare comic book movie with an actual sense of freedom and spontaneity. Behind the boisterous vision is filmmaker Cathy Yan.

Before Yan was writing and directing films, she was already sharpening her skills as a storyteller. A graduate from Princetown University and the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Yan was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, based in Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York. She was one of the youngest writers in Wall Street Journal history. After her time as a journalist, she went on to direct more shorts and her feature directorial debut, Dead Pigs, which impressed Birds of Prey‘s star and producer, Margot Robbie.

Recently, we spoke to Yan about the set pieces in the movie, paying homage to Jackie Chan and Orson Welles, and more.

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DC has been a good home to screenwriter Christina Hodson. After writing Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), DC and Warner Bros. hired Hodson to adapt two other comic book properties, including Batgirl. Based on the glowing reception to Birds of Prey, the studio now has another strong voice behind their comic book movies. They haven’t always this much sense of authorship and crystal clear vision.

Birds of Prey is a comic book movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome and has more personality than explosions, although the grounded action is a visceral delight. It’s a tight, character-driven comic book movie that Hodson – a former executive at Focus Features – recently told us about writing. Plus, she discussed her favorite Harley Quinn stories, the Trainspotting influences, and her days as an executive.

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Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has style to spare. The new film features a quirky and colorful Gotham, a memorable cast of characters, and some pretty impressive hand-to-hand combat. All of it is tied together by Margot Robbie, who commits to this version of Harley Quinn with a zaniness and intensity that is irresistible. Even in moments when the movie doesn’t quite work, you can still feel the love and care that was put into bringing these characters to life.

I had the chance to chat with Melissa Tamminga from Seattle Screen Scene about the movie. We filmed ourselves talking about how Birds of Prey is a metaphor for getting out of a toxic relationship, sharing our favorite action scenes, and what we think of this new vision of Gotham. Check out our detailed video review after the jump. If you’re looking for more content on Birds of Prey, be sure to check out our interview with Margot Robbie and read Hoai-Tran Bui’s review as well.

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birds of prey fight scenes

One of the prevailing issues with recent superhero movies are the clear division between the drama and the action sequences. The comic book movie industry has become a well-oiled machine, and as a result, you get CGI-packed action sequences designed by a VFX team while the indie auteur who was plucked out of obscurity to helm a major blockbuster gets to focus on the narrative and character scenes. But Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan didn’t want that to happen with her comic book film.

“It was never like, here’s the movie and then here are the action sequences,” Yan said in an interview with /Film at the Birds of Prey junket in London. Yan’s production teamed up with 87Eleven, the action design company founded by John Wick director Chad Stahelski, who came on board to help beef up the action sequences as a second unit director during reshoots. Indeed, there are already comparisons being made between Birds of Prey‘s thrilling fight scenes and the bone-crunching action of John Wick — a similarity that Yan said was intentional.

“We’ve been working with at 87Eleven from the beginning. And the reason that I chose them was because I wanted that style,” Yan said.

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Birds of Prey Movie Pitch

Birds of Prey was pitched as an “R-rated girl gang film” led by Harley Quinn, which is still an accurate description of the upcoming comic book movie. In Birds of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina HodsonMargot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn teams up with several other crime-fighting women to take down Black Mask, a crime lord who controls Gotham City.

But there’s more to Birds of Prey than simply empowered girl gangs. With women in front of the screen and behind the screen, Birds of Prey takes on a deeper approach to female-led stories, including the most prominent issue today: the Me Too movement. In an interview with /Film’s Peter Sciretta during a visit to the set of Birds of Prey, Cathy Yan reveals how her pitch evolved to become a Me Too superhero movie.

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Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad Differences

Suicide Squad was by no means a box office failure, but it’s safe to assume no one considers it much of a success. Reviews were scathing, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s the worst of DC’s recent movies. Now here comes Birds of Prey, a film that brings back Suicide Squad‘s Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie, but seems to be standing on its own two feet.

During /Film’s visit to the Birds of Prey set, director Cathy Yan spoke about the Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad differences, and how the upcoming movie forges its own path while not completely discounting the events of Suicide Squad.

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