I have never found myself a huge fan of the work of Alejandro González Iñárritu (I am not sure why, but he's a director that has already left me rather cold) but I have been looking forward to Birdman for a while. In many, many ways I was not disappointed. A full review shall be forthcoming when the film is released in Europe in January. But here are some initial thoughts.
Birdman (or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, USA , 2014)
*The whole 'done in one take' thing in the film works and doesn't come across as a gimmick (though it certainly draws attention to itself).
*I wouldn't join all the 'Keaton proves himself a brilliant actor' accolades. Because he's a always been a brilliant actor and turns in a great performance here.
*Of course the while Keaton played Batman thing looms large. But Norton has form - with The Hulk - as does Emma Stone (Spider-Man). I don't see the film as an indictment of the Hollywood system. More of an indictment of those who think they are above it,.
*Lots of 'speeches'. Stone's one to her Dad about relevance and Riggan's one to the critic are among the highlights
*Galifianakis plays it straight which I think adds to the whole 'playing against type' nature of the film
*It is a satire but not a biting one. More of a world weary sigh
*I am still not sure of the reason for the lesbian kiss
*Norton's story seems to stop pretty suddenly
*It's a film of theatre and theatricailty. It's a unique experience
*Some much better than me pointed out that each character enters by one door in their dressing room and leaves by another. Is this a 'thing' in the theatre or an extension of the theatrical nature?
*Loved the music with the idea of 'walking to your own theme tune'
*It's dark and dour yet there's a spark behind it as well
This is a new retitled column where, after seeing a film, I jot down a few of my initial thoughts and ideas about a film I have recently seen. Think of it like an online notebook for myself and a way in which to get some thoughts down without reviewing the film proper. These are going to be random and not attempting any form of coherence.
Foxcatcher (Dir. Bennett Miller, USA, 2014)
*For me it's a film about masculinity and physicality. The way in which some men can only express their emotions through the physical. And how this can lead to anger and resentment.
*You can see how the brother's relationship is tied into their physicality. Even thier hugs look like a wrestling collar and elbow tie-up. Only Dave is the one who can verbalise any form of emotion.
*It's remarkably free of swearing. May seem like a small point but in a sport/world where you'd expect people to be swearing up a storm it seems even this verbalisation is verboten. All leads back to the physical.
*So many little subtle touches throughout. Such as Rufallo - playing wrestler Dave Schultz - walking with a stiff and awkward gait showing his years in the sport. Or the cauliflower ears on Tatum.
*The three leads are good. Steve Carrel is getting the bulk of attention. If you set aside all the hyperbole about 'Comic actor turned serious' and the prosthetics he wears, then it is a very good performance of stillness and economy. The same goes for Tatum, who's awkwardness and hulking presence are the key to another spare performance. Ruffalo is perhaps the stand-out here though. But all three create a lot by actually doing very little.
*There's more sparseness in the cinematography of Greig Fraser. (Zero Dark Thirty). Lots of shallow focus that marks out the isolation of the characters. The same that goes for the locations and dour colour schemes - all serve to mark out loneliness with closeness and intimacy reserved only for the wrestling scenes.
*There is a undeniable hint of the homoerotic displayed between DuPont and Mark Schultz, but couched in a subtle way.
*Using 'based on true story' means it fudges some aspects of the real situation. For example, it almost totally glosses over DuPont's paranoid-schizophrenia.