Thursday, December 18, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Movie Review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R) 119 mins B
The Comeback
Starring Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Ryan.

During this time of year when the movie world is giving us their best, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a solid black comedy, but not a great one. Frankly, I don't understand the hype surrounding this film. Michael Keaton is currently nominated for numerous awards for his performance. He is also the winner of the 2014 Chicago Film Critics Association Award for "Best Actor." Keaton is good, but Edward Norton Is better. Norton is the main reason why this Birdman works- he is the most interesting and unpredictable character in the film, he makes everyone else better.

Riggan Thomson (Keaton) was once a Hollywood A-Lister. He was the star of a popular superhero film franchise. But, Riggan walked away from the gig a decade ago and has struggled to find success ever since. Now he is trying to revive his fading career on Broadway as financier, director and star of a Raymond Carver play. Our protagonist has family problems, relationship problems, ego problems, and super powers... all of which is a blessing and a curse. This film is entertaining and offbeat. But, it never quite takes flight like I hoped it might.

Bonus Review 
Happy Christmas (R) 82 mins A-
What happens when the unwanted houseguest is family...

Starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham and Joe Swanberg

Let me say upfront, you're probably not going to like this film as much as I did... and that's okay.  This low budget, talky independent film starring two of my favorite leading ladies, Lynskey and Dunham, is my kind of film. It's a smart, no frills indie in which I could see myself as any of the main characters.  The dialogue is mostly improvised and maybe that's why everything here seemed so natural.

Jenny (Kendrick), is a twenty-something party girl who just broke up with her boyfriend.  In need of an escape and a new beginning Jenny moves in with her brother (Swanberg), his wife (Lynskey), and their two-year-old son. After striking up a new relationship with the babysitter/pot dealer, Jenny begins to head down a path of selfishness and irresponsibility that threatens to break-up the family.

This dramedy was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the "U.S. Dramatic Competition" at Sundance 2014. Anna Kendrick was also nominated for "Best Comedic Actress" by the Women Film Critics Circle earlier this month. 

The film had a limited theatrical release during this past summer and a home/DVD release last month.

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