Sunday, 11 January 2015


2014:  The year of horrible movies.

At least that's how its felt to me.  Certainly the vast majority of the mainstream movies released this year have been lackluster at best.  However, i'd be remiss to dismiss 2014 outright just as the year has come to a close.

For you see its Oscar award season and the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 is where all the top movies are stacked together so I can't fully count 2014 out just yet.  There have in fact been a slew of recent films that I haven't had a chance to watch that are generating much Oscar buzz.

So i'll attempt to be your one stop shop to previewing what will likely be the films nominated for best film category of the February Academy Awards.

My most recent viewing of course being Birdman.

The plot of this film is actually incredibly simple, and yet the movie is anything but.
But first the plot;

Birdman is about a former super star actor who played the comic book hero Birdman, who gave up his former glory in pursuit of what he believed to be higher art.  The movie takes place decades later where this now washed up actor is trying to give it one more shot with theater.

That really is all there is to the plot.  In fact the plot is so simple that you really should know the ending before it happens but this really isn't attempting to be a movie where you are supposed to be thinking about what happens next.  This plot is exactly what it seems to be, even with the few gimmicks that may get you off its path here and there.

No this movie is way more then its plot.  I find it actually had so much meaning behind it that it had an Inception kind of vibe to it in that it had layer upon layer of meaning as you went deeper.

For example:
Lvl 1: Is the basic plot outlined above; namely a washed up actor who is trying to find meaning with theater.
Lvl 2:  The film is actually a satire of Hollywood in general and its endless pumping out cheap thrill type movies like the four taken films or the endless comic book movies.
Lvl 3: I haven't mentioned yet that the actor playing the titular role of Birdman is Michael Keaton.  Who of course played Batman and has been considered by some to be a washed up actor who is currently trying to make a come back with this pretty artsy film.
Lvl 4: Movie is not only a satire of Hollywood but also of moviegoers in general who actually want the cheap thrill movies.  They want big action films like Birdman and "don't want any of this talking stuff" as stated by one of the main characters in this film.

Queue me about an hour into the movie and i'm actually getting quite tired of the talking myself.  Then the movie decides to throw an impromptu action sequence to wake me back up.  Consider myself reprimanded.

Now I haven't much gotten into Michael Keaton's characters powers.  Throughout the film he is using telekinetic powers that only he himself allows to be aware of.  This little gimmick actually has the potential for many meanings (for example maybe he doesn't allow others to know of his power because he wants to be seen for his talent as an actor that he put alot of work into rather then some innate ability).  However, I believe one of the main reasons for this plot device is simply to keep both regular movie goers and movie snobs alike interested in the film.

Personally I've missed Michael Keaton and also thought he was great.  It's taken him a while to get away from his goofy (yet extremely lovable) characters seen in Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice and the aforementioned Batman to finally star in a dramatic role like this.

And he nails it.

There was actually one point in the film where I  was turned off by his acting.  It felt as though he was some student actor who had a role in a play replete with tons of inner monologues.  Then I realized THAT'S EXACTLY THE ROLE HE IS TRYING TO PLAY.  Hes playing a no talent actor who is attempting higher theater.  

Keatons acting is backed up by:
 -Emma Stone as his daughter who just got out of rehab,
 -Zack Galifianakis who perfectly plays his struggling  agent frantically trying to bring his client back to his former glory
 -And Edward Norton whose character can only find meaning and  truth through performing

What do they all have in common?  They are all trying to find meaning in life...and are pretty well failing miserably.

Know who isn't failing miserably at life?  Alejandro González Iñárritu.  Yep I know you were thinking the same thing.

Alejandro is the director in the film.  He directed a couple other successful films like 21 Grams and Babel that were both shot beautifully. 

However, and I don't think i'm overstating this at all, I believe he has created or at least perfected a new form of shooting films known as a long take.

A long take is simply filming a scene using one continuous take where there are no cuts or edits done to the shot.

A good example of a long take can be seen in one of the episodes in True Detective where a 6 minute scene was shot following the characters continuously without breaking during an incredibly anxiety provoking scene.

That scene was only about 6 minutes and made the show go from good to great.  This entire movie is basically one long take (at least it attempts to make it look that way with some ridiculous editing).  It's filmed this way, or so I believe, because it's attempting to make this movie feel like you are watching a theater show (another one of the inception levels within the film) where there are no cuts and it is one continuous take.  The director manages to pull this off in creative ways such as when scenes are going from day to night it appears as though the camera is just left on as the time naturally changes.

So overall the movies plot was really nothing special.  But it wasn't supposed to be.  Actually i'm not really sure what the point of this movie was supposed to be but I think that might be, in actuality, the point.

It meant to keep us thinking about what you just saw.  And i'm still thinking.  In fact i'll probably be watching this a few more times just to figure out what other layers I've missed.

That being said, the score is around 90% and I think it is well deserved.  However a 90% does not necessarily translate into the vast majority of people enjoying this film.  In fact i'd be surprised if half of traditional moviegoers would like this film.  The critics will love it because its different and gets them thinking.  But for those of us who just want a fun action movie to get us out of reality (remember i'm no better, I got bored at one point halfway through) and not worry about self worth and purpose of life I don't think they'll like it.

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