BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)

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THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT (Robert Schwentke, 2016)

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My notes on The Divergent Series: Allegiant:

1. I have no patience for any movie where lovers still have time to kiss, make-out, and whisper sweet nothings to each other all while in the face of danger. If an enemy base is under attack, everyone’s on red alert, and you are both trying to escape, there is just no time for landian. Get your asses out of there and use your Victoria Court privilege card (with complimentary chicken after the first 12 hours) as soon as you’re free. Being based on a Young Adult novel is still no excuse.

2. It’s not really a requirement to see Divergent and Insurgent before seeing this one, but it would sure help. At least you won’t be like the noisy girls in front of me that would gasp at non-revelations (when Theo James’ Four called Naomi Watts’ Evelyn “mother”) and ponder on basic plot points previously discussed (“Ano yung mga factions? Paano kung gusto niya lumipat?”). They should be thankful I was Team Amity that day and I had no patience to drag them out of the theater and conduct a Theater Etiquette lecture.

3. I still couldn’t get over the fact that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort played siblings Tris and Caleb in this series. Whenever they stared at each other, I would always remember the scene where Hazel Grace mounted Augustus and they made PG-13 love with nose tubes and all. This movie was so bad that I would have preferred to see them instead in a lame The Fault in Our Stars sequel where their dead characters meet in heaven and read An Imperial Affliction on a park bench.

4. The wall-climbing scene reminded me so much of that tense-filled moment in Jurassic Park where Sam Neill and the two kids only had a few seconds to go over a high electric fence. Only here it wasn’t that exciting and I just said meh. And when a character was killed after, I was like meh. (Yes, this movie temporarily turned me into a goat.)

5. If Tris ever joined The Hunger Games (or if you’re a hipster, Battle Royale), she would be the first to get slaughtered. I laughed really hard whenever Shailene had to run because she looked really funny and wobbly and slow. Did she forget to take her vitamins that day?

6. I kinda liked the Mad Max-inspired bleeding rain dystopian scenes. I have always feared acid rain ever since I read about it in our first and only volume of Collier’s Encyclopedia (long story short, my mother just couldn’t say no to the nice salesman so she agreed to buy one volume because that was all she was willing to spend or maybe what she could afford that time and we ended up owning only Vol. 1 “A-B”).

7. I am tired of this double standard requirement of having women in nude shower scenes. Why couldn’t it have been Theo or Ansel (or heck, even Miles Teller’s Peter)? Right?

8. Wouldn’t it be great to have bar codes on our arms and it would serve as our personal information database instead? At least we won’t need to bring a license and passport whenever we’re asked to present two valid IDs. It would also save us the time of endlessly lining up in the SSS/NBI/GSIS/PRC offices.

9. Tris had to wear white all the time to show everyone that she was pure. Which was funny because after all of her make-out sessions, she couldn’t even wear white to her wedding.

10. For a supposedly high-tech facility run by the top tier, the Bureau had terrible security and the most inept personnel. The central elevator was compromised and yet Four was still able to reach the hundredth floor penthouse. Soldiers kept dropping like flies while none of the Divergent gang were even injured. In one scene, Jeff Daniels’ David used a simulator to harass Tris and proclaim that he had full control on all doors and room access, and yet all Tris had to do was shoot a wall to destroy the target. How lame could this movie get?

11. Could someone explain how those green protection fields worked? How could the Divergents’ bullets go through when they were the ones firing the guns and yet it shields them from gunfire of enemies? Was it a one-way shield? This had been bugging me since yesterday. Help!

12. “There can be no change without sacrifice, no peace without struggle. The world doesn’t work like that.” Tell us something we don’t know.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆