Quick Fire Review: BiRDMAN

Birdman poster

Birdman poster

Here’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

Micheal “BatBirdman” Keaton, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Lindsay Duncan

What is it about?

An actor, known primarily for his role as a vigilante comic book film franchise tries to relaunch his career by directing and starring in a Broadway production, he encounters various demons along the way in his struggle to redefine his career.

Why did I want to watch it?

I actually didn’t know much about it except that the trailer is intriguing and Micheal Keaton as Beetlejuice is one of my favourite film characters so I reckoned it would be worth a punt.  I really loved Amores Perros, but found 21 Grams a bit hard going at the time, but knew that everything Alejandro González Iñárritu does is dramatic and interesting so thought it would be worth a look.

Did I like it?

I really did, it kept me intrigued with some pretty fabulous acting and unpredictable flights of fancy mixed with a very solid script which explored the nature of celebrity and acting, as well as the complicated relationships with families – real and constructed.  The entire cast was great,Michael Keaton was thoroughly dynamic  and Edward Norton brought something I’d never seen in him before and showed immense versatility veering between happy go lucky and morose, Naomi Watts was in equal turns sweet, vulnerable and alluring, Emma Stone personified angst, disdain and insecurity (also do any references to Spiderman in a film she’s in count as an ironic shoutout?)

Should you watch it?

As much as I enjoyed it, it isn’t for everyone.  It’s topics include substance abuse & depression, the narcissistic values of the acting profession and has a pretty abhorrent scene at one point, that might leave a bitter taste in your mouth. That said it’s very interesting and pretty unpredictable and in a sea of movies that don’t make you think, this one does.

If you want a more in depth opinion (it’s quite spoilery), this is an alternative review which presents a different take (referenced through the Bechdel test entry). http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2014/10/24/review-birdman-tries-too-hard-to-say-too-little/

Does it pass the Bechdel Test? http://bechdeltest.com/

This is an interesting debate.  There is a major conversation between 2 actresses borne out of the frustration with their respective partners, which contains a discussion of their careers and ambitions. I would say on balance no in the defense of it’s treatment of women, but there is a pleasing number and age range of actresses, of varying temepraments.

Other films it reminds me of:

Bullets Over Broadway.  Admittedly I rewatched it recently so it’s in my head, but the themes of a troubled theatrical production, the struggles and anxiety of reception and what it is to be “an artist”and what to do when you miscast someone, recur here.

Watch this before/as well/after:

I you’ve never seen Andrea Riseborough in The Devil’s Whore, you should and then you will ask the inevitable question, why isn’t Andrea Riseborough more famous.

Edward Norton as Mike in Birdman (I paraphrase): “Writing, directing and starring in your own play, that’s a bold move” Folks I present you with – Keeping The Faith, a comedy directed by and starring Edward Norton.  Talk about playing against type.

Do you really need me to tell you to rewatch Beetlejuice?

Amores Perros – Love is a bitch don’t you know!

ELC

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Quick Fire Review: Magic In The Moonlight

magic_a

Here’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

Colin “I really am rather posh” Firth, Emma “I really am rather quirky” Stone, Dame Eileen “Can anyone look at her without remembering that she turned down Colin Farrell for a jump” Atkins, Simon “Hey it’s That Guy” McBurney  and a highly competent supporting cast including Oscar nominees Marcia Gay Harden and Jackie Weaver as a stunning, blonde widow.

What is it about?

A reknowned magician and debunker of fraudulent mediums struggles to unmask a charming mystic in the South of France

Why did I want to watch it?

The inevitable Oscar nomination (screenwriting) and my friend is a huge fan of Woody Allen.  Otherwise I might have been happy to wait for the dvd.

Did I like it?

It was whimsically charming, and a very nice way to spend a Sunday.

Should you watch it?

This lifted my spirits in a way I hadn’t expected. I giggled a lot during the film and after Blue Jasmine this was a welcome relief.  The comedy is in the deft performance by Colin Firth’s austere and arrogant Stanley and his interplay with Emma Stone’s engaging Sophie.  Also some truly terrible ukulele playing is played for laughs in the most delightful way.  It won’t go down as anything extraordinary but it’s certainly not terrible.

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?  http://bechdeltest.com/

It does, several times, my favourite probably being all the exchanges between Sophie’s highly calculating mother and the contrastingly trusting  Mrs Cattlidge.

Other films it reminds me of:

Easy Virtue & The Importance of Being Earnest. Well they both star Colin Firth and are set in the 20s.  Woody Allen is clearly trying to evoke Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward and is quite successful to a degree.  I thought it would remind me of Midnight in Paris but that was a more raucous affair, this was very restrained.

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

An Ideal Husband.  By far and away my favourite 20’s set farce has to be the 1999 film led by an inimitable Rupert Everett.

ELC