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Tag: Birdman

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Review (2014)

Birdman is a rare outstanding feat! 


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s riveting drama isn’t just about a lost actor who is trying to find himself through a Broadway play but is also about a broken man trying to justify his relevance to the world. Birdman is an extremely well written dramatic account of Riggan’s life, his tattered relationships, his dream to make it big once again and the alter-ego that literally rules over him. 


Inarittu’s direction is a beauty as he merges several frames subtly to project a continuous shot. The whole movie seems like it has been shot in a single take, and that illusion is worth an ovation. The director also gorgeously masters every frame’s timing quotient. Every act starts with a proper follow through of a character only getting intercepted when it’s someone else’s queue. The flow and rhythm of the movie is simply splendid. 

There is something beautiful about Birdman’s story. The ploy is brilliantly narrated through the messed up head of Riggan with glimpses from his past debacles, screenplay that makes you brood that often cross over for emphasis, an ever ending take that goes on till the climax, and a conclusion that loosely dangles for intense interpretation. Everything has been wrapped up beautifully by an audacious and dark voice in his head, the one big thing he ever was – Birdman, one big success from the past that keeps haunting him, telling him he isn’t dead and that he flies above the meaningless. 


With an imaginary backdrop working along with the protagonist, you already know that you are in for a fantasy-world. What is crucial is that you pay attention. There are minute subtle hints that will blow your mind away while trying to connect the dots. 

If we overlook the mind boggling ending for a while, still we are left with some exceptional drama pieces like when Sam speaks up to her father and shatters him with cold, when Riggan takes on a famous NYT critic in a bar and excellent conversations between Mike and Sam and Lesley’s remorse. Things become intense owing to bits of psychotic drama as Riggan inches towards insanity. The climax of the movie leaves you spell bound and is deliberately left open for interpretation. 


If you have not seen the movie, please stop reading at once. But if you have, the ending is sure to raise a dozen doubts in your head. 


The flick ends in a surreal epilogue with Riggan jumping out of the window, and Sam reacting happily to her Father’s ‘flying’ act. The one theory that I would like to believe but not stick to is Riggan’s death after he shot himself during the theater act. Reasons that reassure me of this:

  • The plot was one continuous single take but the continuity breaks for the first time right after Riggan shoots himself.
  • In the hospital when Jake switches on the TV it showed people lighting candles for him. You don’t do that for a person who is alive. Du-uh dead! 
  • The hospital scene was probably the next day right after the incident. Sam bringing flowers for him could be at his funeral. This justified by his inability to smell them. His funeral again supported by the fact that her wife was wearing a black dress. 

Riggan jumping out of the window could be a symbolism of his soul transcending, as he finally rejects Birdman to be his only way to stardom. Sam’s smile in the end could be her acceptance of her father’s feat as a true hero.


What contrasts the above ‘dead’ theory greatly is the fact that there were several past failed suicidal endeavors by Riggan which have been subtly inserted into the screenplay. Lesley responding to Ralph once: “He shot himself in the mouth. But he screwed that up, too.” The Jellyfish story goes on to show how Riggan was unsuccessful in killing himself in the past. So shooting the nose seems plausible. Then it takes us again to the hospital part. Taking this theory ahead on the vanguard, we can say that the imagination of Riggan once again begins right from the part he decides to take off the bandages and the rest that follows is once again the imagination bit. In the end he flew fantastically and figuratively with an acknowledgment sign from her daughter. This seals the deal too.

Whatever the case might have been Birdman is truly a rare feat that must be celebrated. Go ahead and watch this movie if you wish to visit some avant-garde style of film-making.

The Unpredictable Academy: Snubs and Wins (2015)

Every year the Academy slips in a frowned spurn at a movie that is on everybody’s mind. This time ‘Boyhood’ became the bait. The coming-of-age tale that spread brilliantly over the span of 12 years, was a sure shot per se. But alas! the Oscars have a reputation in doing the unthinkable. ‘Birdman’ beat Linklater’s panache not only in Best Picture and Original Screenplay categories but also in Best Direction. The latter managed to hold its ground thanks to Patricia Arquette’s Supporting Actress win.

Not long ago when the Academy had pressed its Oscar sheet, the snubbing of great movies like ‘Foxcatcher’, ‘Big Eyes’, ‘The Lego Movie’ and great actors like Amy Adams, Jennifer Aniston, David Oyelowo, Helen Mirren, Bill Murray, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes and Christoph Waltz, had caught a lot of moss. Putting out Selma flame was a big rebuff this year since people claimed it to be a distinction on Academy’s part, not to mention the fact that a majority of voting members in the Oscar team are white.

Apart from the biggest surprise of the night, some more were strewn all along the event. Academy chose to ignore the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ franchise once again giving precedence to ‘Big Hero 6’ in the animation department. Best Editing went to ‘Whiplash’ which again was a pie in the face for ‘Boyhood’. ‘American Sniper’ losing to ‘Whiplash’ in Sound Editing was another one. ‘Interstellar’ managed only one out of its five nominations. Surprise was Zimmer’s stunning score bowing down to Desplatic rhythm. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes overlooked in the Visual Effects department came as a big blow. However, it was a close call since Interstellar’s visuals were quite brilliant as well. It was great to see Glory glorified and Feast winning the Best Short Film Animated category. Winston just had to win 😉

Here is a short summary of what happened:

  • The Imitation Game (had 8 nominations, bagged 1)
  • Boyhood (had 6, bagged 1)
  • American Sniper (had 6, managed 1)
  • Birdman (had 9, got 4)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (had 9, got 4)
  • Whiplash (had 5, got 3)
  • Interstellar (had 5, got 1)
  • Foxcatcher (had 5, received none)

‘Foxcatcher’ was overlooked big time. Given the amount of work Bennett Miller had put in to create the beauty, he needed a little Academy respect and attention. Steve Carell’s transformational looks as John du Pont at least deserved a Makeup and Hairstyling accolade.

Rumours have continuously surrounded the Academy owing to its big decisions which seem pretty biased sometimes. The one that exemplifies the obvious perfectly – Incessant snubbing of Leonardo DiCaprio despite outstanding performances throughout his life. Academy even failed to recognize exceptional knacks of Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater last night. Both are yet to bag an Oscar, and that is just sad.

I picture Academy as one old crude witch, who just loves to see the world burn. If you have a favorite the Academy would snub it and shout “In your face!” in your face. Mainstream movies never even make it to the list.

Whatever the hammer says hardly bothers us though. We know for sure, nothing is really lost. The shattered are still celebrated. We still have incredible movies to watch thanks to sensational efforts put in by excellent directors, actors and the remaining crew.

If you didn’t make it, we don’t really care. Academy is just a bunch of people with their scathing point of view. If you consider all of us – people who watch you from every corner of the world, who care about every single thought you conceived to carve something beautiful, who praise your extraordinary efforts to create what we can only imagine, those who really love your work, who really encourage you do the exceptional, the real movie buffs, for us, you are still our winners! You will never lose! Let us raise one to that!