Birdman, released in 2015, tells the story of an actor, who was known highly for being a superhero. Michael Keaton stars in this comedic satire as a washed up actor as he tries to put together a Broadway play he has written. Throughout the course of the movie he battles with himself, his friends, his actors, and his family leading up to opening night. Alejandro González Iñárritu directs this original, dark, comedic satire, with cast appearances from Edward Norton and Emma Stone.
Michael Keaton, who just happened to play Tim Burton’s Batman in the ’80s and ’90s, plays Riggan Thompson. Thompson is a Hollywood actor who is best known for his role as Birdman, the star of a superhero movie. Thompson now decides to receive credit for not only directing, but producing and starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Whenever the movie first starts, the play is just days from opening, and so many things have to happen for this to be his perfect comeback as Riggan Thompson; not Birdman, as he is so famously known. Everyone in Times Square is more ecstatic to have the “Birdman” in their midst, almost expecting something from Thompson the “Birdman”, not Riggan Thompson the theater enthusiast.
What is portrayed is a backstage drama that is full of stress and mayhem. On stage everything is looked at as controlled and well composed. Between shows and sometimes acts however there is chaos, both emotional and physical. Riggan just happens to be on the edge of a financial downfall, he’s divorced, his daughter (Emma Stone who gives a great performance) is fresh out of drug rehab and she also happens to be his personal assistant with his acting career. To top it off, he has also impregnated one of the cast members. What a nightmare to have! There is also Riggan’s “Birdman” ego, which talks to him in a deep freaky baritone. Riggan also thinks he possesses the actual powers of Birdman, which include flight and telekinesis.
Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis are part of the cast, but serve as background characters in association with Riggan Thompson. Edward Norton plays a huge role as the award winning actor, Mike Shiner. Personally this is a loved movie. It was a very different style of movie for me. Action movies with flashbacks and different scene cuts are usually my cup of tea. My favorite thing about this movie is the never ending camera. What I mean by this is that the camera never really cut scene, and if it did it was very well hidden. It’s like the camera was rolling the entire movie, the ending of one scene was the beginning of another; which I found that very interesting. A scene that comes to mind is where Emma Stone was above the stage with Edward Norton, and then the camera moves away from them and the next scene has already begun, Edward Norton is already back on stage rehearsing. I think what grabbed my attention the most about the whole “never ending camera” idea is that it was done so well. Another thing I loved about this movie is the story line. Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Birdman, did extremely well with this picture, along with the entire cast. The flow of the movie kept me wondering what was going to happen next. Keaton practically carried this film on his shoulders. Another big aspect of this movie was the music. Most of the time it was a drum solo. Jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez keys the mood with his exciting drum beats and fast paced playing. To me, whenever the drum solo was going on, it always seemed like Keaton was in a rush, or something exciting was happening. A scene that comes to mind is where Michael Keaton just happens to walk around outside in his underwear at a fast pace. The drumming speeds up as he walks faster; it plays in well. I think the selection of the jazz style drumming was terrific and well placed for this movie. The whole movie was one big roller-coaster of events that seemed to take place back to back, tying in with the never ending camera again.
The intensity of this movie never dies down, there are plenty of emotional ties throughout the screening that leaves the viewer on edge, just as I was. I would call it a backstage story; a story about the making of a Broadway play and all the chaos that unfolds leading up to opening night. There are many theatrical shots at actors, and even their egos. This piece is filmed in the Times Square/Theatre District. To make this movie look even more realistic it is filmed with a shaky handheld camera, obviously showing that it is an original piece. There is a joke towards the end though: the joke is that the similarities between Keaton’s career as Batman and his onscreen career as Birdman strike me as more than a coincidence. Overall, though, Birdman struck as a witty, but dark sense of humor tied into one big screening. Michael Keaton did a terrific job with this one and should be commended for his spectacular performance. So, if there happens to be a hungering for good movies, this one can be added to the list.
By: Dylan Neely
Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth and others. It takes place in California in the ‘90s.
There are three main stories in this movie that all tie together in the end; “foot massages don’t mean shit.”
The cinematography in this movie is breathtaking. Every shot is crystal clear and beautifully done. The lighting during the dancing scene was beautiful, also in the scene where Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is over dosing on heroin. The entire scene in the dealer’s house is perfectly executed.
The acting of each character is also well executed. Travolta’s character acts like he knows what he’s doing and he’s done it before. Jackson’s character is calm and collected, ready for anything. Their performances as two gangsters is charming and riveting at the same time.
I’ve seen this movie over and over and I never get tired of it. Perfectly done, a classic. This movie is definitely a must see in our society.
By: Laura O’Neill
The Shawshank Redemption stars Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Gunton. It is a drama that takes place in Maine.
This film follows the story of a banker named Andy Dufresne, who is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. The first man he speaks to in prison is Red. Red is the man who can get just about anything for anyone. For many years Andy gets beaten and sexually abused by a prison gang known as “the Sisters.” He eventually puts this to an end when he helps a prison guard evade his taxes in exchange for beer and beating up the leader of the gang. This causes other prison guards to come to Andy for financial advice, including the prison warden. The warden puts prisoners to work on public projects to force contractors to bribe him so they can continue to profit. The warden uses Andy’s banking skills to launder said money. A new prisoner, Tommy, befriends Andy to help him get a high school diploma. They become close enough to the point where Andy tells him how he was sent to prison. Tommy tells him about someone exactly like Andy which he met at his old prison. Andy tells the warden that this could be the information they need to prove his innocence. The problem is that the warden needs him to handle his banking so he sends him to solitary confinement and murders Tommy.
The costume design in this movie stood out to me because the film itself was set in the 1940s. This means that the costume designers would have to do their research on what prisoners looked like during this time, considering it was what the majority of the people were wearing for the majority of the movie; something I think they pulled off very well.
The set design also helped in the production of this movie. The bulk of the film was in prison, so it is only fitting that they shot this in an actual prison. Though it almost seems like an easy out, it definitely helps with the immersion.
It is one of my all-time favorite movies, so my opinion will only be good things. Not only is it based on a Stephen King book, it has Morgan Freeman as one of the stars so it does not get much better than that. The quality is perfection. It is very immersing, from the clothing to the setting. This is a movie that can be recommended to almost everyone. Even if you are not one to watch too many drama movies, like myself, you can still find this movie quite entertaining.
Tim Burton’s: A Corpse Bride stars Johnny Depp, Helen Bonham Carter, and Emily Watson. The film’s was setting is back in a Victorian village during the late 1800s. It is an animation (stop motion), fantasy, and musical.
Shadow of the Vampire (Universal, 2000) is a fictional film about the making of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu set in the 1920’s Art Deco era of Germany. Murnau, played by John Malkovich, is a director with a singular and obsessive goal: to make a film portraying the fate of a real-life vampire, Max Schrek, played by Willem Dafoe. Murnau had originally wanted to make a film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but was denied the rights of Stoker’s novel by his surviving estate. So instead of Count Dracula, the vampire villain is changed to Count Orlock and the title of the film is changed to Nosferatu. Shadow of the Vampire, while made to seem like an historical account of the making of Nosferatu, remains a thriller/horror feature in which the true nature of a supernatural creature is revealed with deadly consequences to the human filmmakers.
The Imitation Game staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley is a biographical drama released in 2014. The movie is set in London, England during the tragic World War II.
The Imitation Game is based on the life of mathematician Alan Turing and his quest of working for the British government trying to crack the German’s enigma machine to win the war. The film showcases Turing’s unique personality and his unstable relationships with his coworkers. During the film Turing also battles his, then illegal, sin of homosexuality. You are taken for an emotional ride as only a part of Turing’s life is revealed.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an action, Sci-Fi adventure that continues to redefine how fans view Marvel and their range of storytelling. Though the movie featured a star cast such as Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper, most of the film’s major talent were trapped behind animated characters: This strange choice, along with the off-the-wall humor, is a why many viewers believed the movie was set failure. If anything, the plot seemed to be a modern rehash of Dumb and Dumber set in space.
The Big Lebowski is a Coen Brother’s film starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore. The setting takes place in Los Angeles and a considerable amount of the character’s time is spent in a bowling alley. This film is considered a comedy as well as a drama.
The film Pride and Prejudice (2005) brought Jane Austen’s novel to the big screen for the first time since 1940. It stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, and Judi Dench. Set in late 18th century England, this historical romantic film portrays a time where the best a woman could do was find a wealthy husband.