Birdman Movie Review

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WARNING: Mild Spoilers

Birdman centers around Riggan. He’s a Hollywood actor who’s fallen out of the spotlight and is struggling to make a comeback. Along the way you discover his other problems and failures. It also covers the story of multiple actors and the madness that happens behind the scenes of a play. For every aspect that goes into this film its central theme is that they all struggle with a sense of lost fame or just flat out growing older. So it feels like a mid-life crises movie for the theater crowd. Then it lightly touches with others frustrations like unwavering movie critics or a daughter they don’t have time for. The madness truly sets in when their main actor gets hurt.

I love weird movies with social and political commentary, but this was a hit and miss to me. Either the jokes were middle school grade crass or very artistically done. The jump between the differences is smooth, but unpredictable. That’s fine, but the crass jokes hamper the artistic style and flow of the film. The other neat thing is that everyone had a joke, regardless of quality, in the film. I thought this was cool since usually in most films it’s only one guy, or small group, being the catalyst for the jokes. But no, everyone was funny at least a few times.

On top of that this is a completely beautifully shot film. It has nearly no cuts in it and looks like one continuous shot. This almost made me feel like I was one of the cast members, although it had a voyeuristic feel since none of them ever interacted with the camera. The extreme closeups of the characters did add to a sense of ‘being in the moment’ with the character. It emphasized that the audience should be paying attention to the characters rather then the background. This was a neat aspect, but the background was hideously distracting since there is a insane amount of detail in just about every scene. One example is when Riggan is talking to his now ex-girlfriend and talking about how they would be bad parents.

The only thing I couldn’t stand about the film, unfortunately, was half the stories political and social commentary. I’ve heard it all before, multiple times, so it came off as completely boring to me. One part of the movie Sam (Emma Stone) freaks out on her Dad, Riggan. She states that he doesn’t matter anymore and pretty much states what he does doesn’t matter. Its a glaring commentary of people innate need to be or feel wanted, when in a dark truth none of them matter to a certain extent. So if you have the slightest clue as to what nihilism is, then this is glaringly obvious to you. Other times it hates on the audience, which is completely hilarious, but it’s still the same boring argument. Either the audience is made of art snobs like the Tabitha character or they just want a shit ton of violence and explosions which is something you hear a few times in Riggans internal rants. Both have validity, both have a important statement to make, but seriously I’ve heard it a zillion times before.

This is probably one the best all around cast performances that I’ve seen all year, maybe even in a long time. Michael Keaton probably gave one of the best performances in his career in this one. He was manic and strange and did it at sporadic levels. It was really well done and convincing. Emma Stone did a grand job looking like a complete washout with some social conscience. This was refreshing since she always picks the goody two shoes roles and how it was written was great. Most druggie characters are either the comic relief or completely assholes to the point where I don’t think I’d care if they recover or not. With her acting and the way the character is written it really does drive home how she’s just struggling to deal with everyone and life itself. Even when she expresses her fear that she doesn’t matter was rather heart wrenching. Zach Galifianakis was fantastic in this semi-dramatic role. Usually he gets handed a role that makes me wonder about the characters emotional or mental stability. This role helped prove he has range. Naomi Watts, like her other performers, is here and there. However in this one she shinned as a struggling performer who’s trying to keep it all together with a weird boyfriend and still make a living. Edward Norton was great as usual, but he’s a like Guy Pearce, Helen Mirren, or John Goodman. They rarely suck in any of their performances. To see a substandard performance would be rare and unusual. Jeremy Shamos and Damian Young shared bit roles, and were funny. However it was a shame they didn’t have more screen time. Also last, but not least, is Andrea Riseborough. She was fantastically creepy as the super unstable girlfriend and as a performer who was too into acting.

The cast and crew should be thoroughly pleased with themselves. They’ve made a hell of a film that covers vast topics in a really cramped time frame. I am forced to give it a lower rating though because I’ve heard it all before. To me it’s like talking to a green peace guy who cries about the environment but then doesn’t go out and plant trees, or any other kind of foliage for that matter, to offset the CO2 caused by pollution hes just complained about. So it’s kinda like more pretentious crying, but I can’t say that as a absolute considering it presents a lot of the philosophical topics in a different light. Even if I didn’t care for it it was done very well with clever black comedy. Also the black comedy is so well done it even gave me a warm cynical smile sometimes without feeling shitty. This is noteworthy since black comedy usually more grotesque or even mean to the point of many people, with a soul, end up hating the punchline.

This is a great thinking film. If you want to find yourself asking questions about life, love, fame, and self importance long after the film, then watch this. This might even be a good piece to analyze later in some art class or a philosophy class. Regardless you should probably see this at least once for the balance character development and the great performance by everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE.

8.0/10

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Horrible Bosses 2 Movie Review

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Warning: MILD SPOILERS about stuff.

Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman, and Dale Arbus invent a new show gadget and try to market it on a TV show to find investors. Bert Hanson calls them up and invites them to talk about a contract. He tells them to invest in the product. They go out and buy up a shop, employees, and basically put themselves in debt. They go back to Hanson and announce that they’ve completed his order. Hanson informs them that he plans to not buy anything from them so they can go bankrupt and he can buy them out. Since they didn’t sign a contract he doesn’t owe them squat. So this is when they decide to hatch a plot for revenge.

This was only mildly funny to me. The jokes were hit and miss. I found myself only snickering half the time and rolling my eyes the other half. It was like a weird mesh between Always Sunny and Arrested Development. The weirder thing for me is that I even found characters I hated in a COMEDY of all places. Also due to how the script was written I think they underused some talent they had. Although this was a nice stretch for some into other roles in the future I’m not sure it will help them that much. To a certain extent it was like a transition role for some in this film.

Most of the jokes were a strange mixture of everything. I like it, but its a stark smash in the face when it goes from crass humor half the movie to something that’s damn near cute-ish. Also everyone did a decent job delivering said jokes. There was only about two I think were stale, but that’s because it’s a over used bit. In the very beginning they are displaying their new invention and one person is behind a see through shower pumping a water pump. Of course it makes it looks like some sort of homosexual act. Yes funny, but it’s been done a lot. There was another joke that involved Jennifer Aniston‘s character being particularly disgusting and there’s a fine line between doing a smutty character and then there’s the other half where it’s down right repulsive. It comes off either stalker-ish or insinuates rape. To say the least it was a poorly done joke about rape, but I find those kinds of jokes abhorrent anyway. The way it was done was disgustingly cringe worthy. This made me think that she was the worst character in the whole movie. For those who have PTSD problems and ‘trigger words’ consider this your warning. Its at the very tail end of the film if that helps and some at the beginning.

I didn’t mind the acting, but it wasn’t a stretch for many of them. Jason Bateman, whom I’ve never been able to fully watch anything of his, does the same role as many of his other movies/tv shows. He’s essentially the straight man amongst two or more idiots and gets sucked into their stupidity. This is bad because I think he can act, like so many others, and either doesn’t get the diverse roles or just like doing the same crap over and over. Jason Sudeikis, whom I thought always decent on SNL, played parallel to Charlie Day in being completely stupid characters. Sudeikis is strange, loud, and angry half the time and it fits well, but I’ve seen him do this done a few times. Day essentially plays the same role of as his Always Sunny character. They’re both funny, but essentially the same characters. Jennifer Aniston plays a great villain and its welcoming since she’s always been type cast as that damn Friends character for the longest time. That being said she was convincing enough that I hated her damn character. Kevin Spacey was spastic and strange. He brought the darker side of comedy to this movie and did it well. Jamie Foxx seems better as bad guys from the few things I’ve seen him in. His lines in this one seemed a little more genuine. Chris Pine was a decent as a bad guy in this one, but it needs a little work. Or maybe it was the script, who knows.

This movie is a decent comedy. I don’t think it will go down as anything big, but it’ll have enough to give a few a chuckle. It had a mixture of crude, silly, cute, situational, wry, and even slapstick humor. The acting was varied and for some it might be distracting now and then. The story is steady and has some different kind of twists, but might be predictable to some. It’s worth a watch at least once.

6.0/10

Django Unchained Movie Review

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A slave named Django is bought by Dr. King Schultz. Django reviles that he was sold separate from his wife. He’s then taken under Dr. Schultz wing and makes him into a bounty hunter. Many of the plantation owners, and slave owners, hire wanted men, unknowingly, for odd jobs around the plantation. In turn Django and Dr. Schultz go and hunt them down for the bounty and revenge.

For the most part I was disappointed with this film. If it wasn’t reminding the audience of the racist past, various untrue Southern stereotypes, then it was saying nigger a ton of times. There’s a difference between saying it creatively and making it part of the character or even a reflection of the time period. However it felt forced since it seemed like it was everyone’s favorite adjective, verb, and noun. That is just stupid to do. I don’t object to the use of the word in the historical context, but, well, if it seems like if Tarantino cast a baby for something it would be the first word out of its mouth.

Yes it’s suppose to be a creative take on history, but there were a lot of historical inaccuracies that I couldn’t let go. Like if you cursed in the South back then, or anytime prior to the 1920s or so, you’d be beaten by your fellow hillbilly because it was severely rude to curse in public, and in many times in private as well. Even men of questionable characteristics lived by this. So everyone in the movie, with some except to Christoph Waltz character, would have been socked in the mouth, multiple times. Also another thing you didn’t do was curse in front of women. That happened a lot in this film for some reason. There were many others, but in order to avoid a flame war I’m not posting them here.

The good part of this film is the style. It is 1 for 1 representative of the 70s movies made back in the day. The faulty sound and visuals add to the stress in more intense scenes. Other times it used some of the weird styles of 70s films. Like it began with a song about Django and it almost sounded like Tom Jones was singing it. It’s kinda terribly written. Also many of the scenes were well shot and very entertaining to watch. They consisted of quick cuts and would flow into continued running shots, which are difficult to due and do make some great visuals.

This, like all Quentin Tarantino films, has a slew of familiar faces. Some get under used, and some shamefully get NO LINES AT ALL. So it seems like they are either underused or intentionally pick these roles in order to film with Tarantino. Sorry I don’t get it. Like James Remar had NO LINES. Yet he’s always a great bit actor. Besides that Leonardo DiCaprio did a great job at being the bad guy. He was convincing enough to make me wonder if there will be more chances for him to be a complete dick. Jamie Foxx didn’t deliver all his lines well so it came off slightly generic or almost stale in some areas. Christoph Waltz, well, he deserved the Oscar. Its rare for someone to pulled off the smooth smart good guy and do it both well. Sophistication oozed from him while looking like a murderous bounty hunter and injecting twists along the way.

As stated I don’t care for this film. I don’t know why it got all the hype it did. It was very well shot, but the story killed it. Now I usually like revenge films, but the constant reminder of how ‘evil’ every other Southerner was back then was sickeningly cliché. On top of that it used just about every other trope to it’s fullest extent. From the damsel in distress to the underdog making a successful comeback. It even had cliché moments like the good guy watching his bad guys house blow up and look back at the camera and smile. It’s riddled with cliches, historical inaccuracies, is completely racist, and unoriginal in almost every extent. The constant reminder of racial ties is sickening and inaccurate of the time. Also the need for characters to spell things out for everyone on things that are COMPLETELY OBVIOUS is super irritating.

If you like revenge films see more noteworthy ones like Man on Fire, The Crow, Leon: The Professional, or even Lucky Number Slevin. Until then I’d skip this one.

5.0/10