I wanted to be really edgy with this review of Keaton’s Best Picture-winning Birdman and use “circle-jerk” in the opening sentence. Then something told me that I might not be the first wannabe movie critic to use this adolescently pejorative gimmick to describe this film. Googling “birdman circle-jerk”, I confirmed my suspicions. Oh well. As another similarly themed saying goes, if you wait, you masturbate.
My new co-workers are one of the least movie-watching crowds I’ve ever labored alongside. There are moments, you can imagine, when this circumstance causes me to question my love of movies. I’ll ask myself, “Have I been wasting my time?” and “Is there more to life?” However, as time goes on, the moments shorten and the doubts disappear.
After watching Birdman, though, ironically my questioning clamored to deafening levels.
Forget that a movie about a movie star won best picture. The only question that ran through my head for the duration was whether or not an expertly made film depicting the ups and downs experienced by the people behind the stage and screen has any inherent metaphorical value for me. Put another way, “Are celebrity’s problems really the same as my problems, only amplified by fame and fortune?” Or yet another, “Does every human being live on a ledge from which they jump, sometimes falling, sometimes flying?” To all these questions I answer, “No.” I say, just like with the quickly-fading-from-view 50 Shades phenomenon, the difficulty with this movie is remembering that I don’t have to let these people frame the discussion. Despite every effort on all our parts to turn celebrities into gods, they are not gods. But remembering this is admittedly challenging because they are rich. And that means they must know something I don’t, right?
Prelude to this review’s conclusion: Today I can’t recall what BDSM stands for. And while right now I feel like I may be able to identify with the major motif of Birdman, even admiring all of its on-point updates to the reigning annal of contemporary social history Forrest Gump, I know that tomorrow I will look forward to the new Mad Max.
Conclusion: As always Hollywood, less talk, more work.
1. Rocky Balboa (Rocky 6)
2. Rambo (Rambo 4)
3. The Expendables
4. The Expendables 2
5. The Expendables 3 (This time he’s pulled together Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford. And those are in addition to Arnold, Statham, Li, and Ivan Drago. Oh, and Kelsey Grammar, too.)
For any of you who haven’t seen “The Expendables” movies, you’re missing out. Missing out like I thought I was missing out in the late 80s and 90s. I hated that I couldn’t go see rated R movies. It seemed like every good movie was rated R and starred Stallone or Schwarzenegger. When I finally checked those movies out, man was I disappointed. Then Sly shocks the world with “Rocky Balboa” and “Rambo”, only to top them a few years later with “The Expendables”. The movies are over the top in every way imaginable. It’s a formula that can’t lose. Lose the ego, bring the heart, and have a little fun while you’re at it.
Tom–don’t worry. You’re still tops in my book. The easiest way to ensure you never lose the spot is follow Stallone’s lead and give us what we want. You know what I’m talking about TC. That’s right. It’s time for the sequel. (Cue the Anthem.)
The previews looked like someone had re-tooled Hopkins and Baldwin’s 1997 thiller The Edge. Two elderly-ish men trying to survive, and possibly kill each other in the woods. But what we have here is something new. It is at once a simple action flick–kinda B-movie action at that–and a portrayal of one of the most challenging commandments Jesus of Nazareth issued.
The film begins with scenes of the not-so-familiar Bosnian war. We are shown images of genocide which would be striking if they weren’t nauseatingly familiar. Like Shutter Island before it, we are then shown that even the good guys sometimes commit atrocities. While in Bosnia we think we see Travolta killed. Moments later we are introduced to DeNiro’s character and discover he has taken to hunting in the woods…with a camera instead of a gun. Nothing surprising here.
The fact is nothing too surprising happens for the next hour or so of the film. There is a game of cat and mouse that seems to drag on and on with no point. But then something magical happens–the point appears.
Movies which improve with their run-time are few and far between. I grew up on the idea that most movies can be recognized for what they are in the first minute. This one is a rare exception to that rule.
Now Ma–before you think that you’re ready for this film, allow me to offer a word of caution. There are two surprisingly gruesome scenes that even caught me off-guard. So, just ask me about the movie next time you call and I’ll tell you what is so neat about it.
The rest of you, proceed at your own risk. It’s no Saw, but it still isn’t for the faint of heart. Too bad really, because it’s message is so full of heart.