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Collateral Beauty Review (2016) | It Sounds Good But It Isn’t

Okay we get it. The theme of Collateral Beauty was purely based on grief, and so it had all the good actors attracted to it naturally. They had a beautiful imaginative script, and if you read something like that on a paper, it does sound good. Unfortunately when you try to play it, it becomes plain stupid. That’s what happened with the gloomy David Frankel project.

Plot and Direction of Collateral Beauty (Spoilers)

All fingers don’t just point towards Allan Loeb‘s sad script, one of the middle one points towards the movie’s direction too. David Frankel still has a lot to learn about subtlety. It’s absence shows in his work at so many occasions that it makes you want to shake your head. You end up getting a cramp because it is lodged throughout the flick.

To begin with let’s take the character of Will Smith into account. Howard is a man that snaps out right at the prologue. He doesn’t hand us over even a second to relate to him. Then you think maybe, just maybe, the reason for his anguish might be inbound for a thorough melodramatic coverage in the later half, and that it would help us come to his frequency. But unfortunately you never crack his psychotic level at all. Very unconvincing!

The description of his grief starts when his co-workers Claire, Whit and Simon, played by Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Michael Pena respectively, gossip behind his back talking about the why, the what and the how of “aftermath daughter death”. It flings us into the primal plot almost immediately. So, we actually know the paramount reason right in the beginning of the movie itself.

image of Will Smith as Howard in Collateral Beauty

Then starts dispensable charades. Tons of them actually, where you see Howard nodding his head in agreement as if listening to what people are saying to him, and then deliberately ignoring them. Then we see Claire leaving things for him that stay untouched. Whit trying to come up with ideas that puts questions against his friendship with Howard. Oh! oh! and Simon, Michael Pena’s character begins to cough suddenly out of nowhere just for the sake of creating sub-plots.

Laughable sub-plots

The sub-plots. Don’t even get me started on them! Horrible! Why were they even there in the first place? Oh right unless the writer wanted to come back to it at a later point? Heights of the platitude!

Movie tries to personify love, time and death. And it does so with characters of Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Jacob Latimore. Then you see these characters suddenly focus their spotlight towards people who had hired them instead. Stories you don’t want to worry about suddenly becomes their prime concern. And these issues are so irrelevant to the main tale, that you know for sure something’s up. And then lo! You can see through it all. All of it! You see the predictable climax appear from far away.

The only thing you don’t see coming is Madeleine‘s bizarre angle portrayed by Naomie Harris, which shows us Howard visiting her as a stranger. And the only reason you don’t see that coming is because they both act like absolute strangers. But even when that gets uploaded on the big screen, you can’t help but giggle.

The Goodies

Focusing on the good stuff, as I generally do, Will Smith goes in full acting mode when he tries to overcome figments of his head. When he shouts at them trying to justify his case, he leaves them in a vexed mode. That’s where you get to see his wound slash open. So if you are a Will Smith diehard fan you are going to enjoy that incessant frown on his head.

Also, you see Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Edward Norton toil really hard to deliver their bits. Even though it appears like a resounding debacle, never for a second they let you feel anything amiss. There is real pain in Kate’s

“I am really sorry, Howard!”

and there’s genuine concern in them Norton eyes for his daughter. Real blush lurks on the semblance of Keira and there’s real distress in Smith’s eyes.

You can pre-order Collateral Beauty from here:

Screenplay

Screenplay is so cliched that it hurts your ears when you try to listen to them. Okay I am exaggerating there. What is worse is that it gets delivered by theater actors (at least that was intended in the first place) who think a cliched definition is all a grieving person needs to listen to.  Some of them are actually pretty good too, but the smart stuff is intentionally kept for the hero to deliver.

The Final Verdict

It’s almost as if I tell you the story of Collateral Beauty you might actually like it, and not think of it as something cheesy. But when you actually see it get dramatized and performed by actors you begin to realize how idiotic it truly looks, and that it was better off as a script unplayed.

Despite Collateral Beauty has stellar actors in the vanguard, it falls owing to its unrealistic and super contrived look and feel. Some scenes are simply out of the blue and context for that to matter.

It could have been so much better if David Frankel had decided not to helm it. Even better handed it over to Spike Jonze instead and taken some time off to concentrate on comedies instead.

You can check out the trailer of Collateral Beauty movie here:

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

Exhilarating! Extraordinary performances! Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an outstanding flick that tries to capture the life of a washed up actor, his continuous battle to prove his mettle in the acting world once again. Michael Keaton, the protagonist plays a character that is miffed by his psychotic split persona, in his endeavour to revive and in the process, get a hold of himself.

Plot of Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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. 

still of michael keaton in birdman movie

Direction

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. 

Breaking Birdman Down

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.

Final Epilogue Explained (Spoilers)

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.

Contradicting the Above Theory

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.

Check out the trailer of Birdman movie here:

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review (2014)

“It was an enchanting old ruin.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel is drenched in literary awesomeness, Wes Anderson’s beautiful adventurous tale is about the life of a concierge named Gustave, who develops a friendship with a loyal Lobby Boy Zero Moustafa, a young immigrant from the East, on account of a misfortune that fires an avalanche of events. Set in a span between the World Wars, the story is basically a narration from a writer, who had met a hollow version of Zero in The Grand Budapest Hotel, who in turn narrates every account of his and Gustave’s adventure to him. (Talk about Inception eh!)

Screenplay is just marvellous. It touches bits of humour quite subtly. The direction is top notch just the way Wes likes to depict his cinema. If you have seen his previous works you would know how brilliantly he projects his frames and takes you to a different world altogether. You couldn’t help but marvel at the way he rotates his camera and runs into inanimate things for focus. He leaves most of the action part to our vivid imagination. Built backdrops and landscapes in the flick are quite artistic and perfectly manifested with a unique animation.

Wes carves his writing gorgeously, as occasionally he slips into splendid poetic verses beautifully enunciated by Ralph Fiennes. The story runs great along with some exceptional editing. A gripping adventure that breathes on outstanding performances by Fiennes, Norton, Dafoe, Brody, Goldblum and Revolori. Even though it had a stellar cast, actors like Bill Murray, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman basically had cameos.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is simply a glimpse into the creative head of Wes Anderson. It is a remarkable feat in comedy and direction and a must watch for people who love quality cinema.