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Yeah, this one is sitting well. Sittin' pretty. Might be sittin' mighty high on my year-end list.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I'm ultimately coming down negative on this film. I've not been a big fan of Iñárritu in the past, but about an hour into the film I was exhilarated by the film and really into its vibe. And laughing a lot. But it goes off the rails in the second half. It's virtuosity, in performance (Norton and Keaton especially) and cinematography (Lubezki is wonderful) is in the service of what exactly? I don't buy this film. At all.

 

Give me CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA for the best film of the year that explores the actor's life and the nature of performance.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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t. But it goes off the rails in the second half. It's virtuosity, in performance (Norton and Keaton especially) and cinematography (Lubezki is wonderful) is in the service of what exactly? I don't buy this film. At all.

 

Give me CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA for the best film of the year that explores the actor's life and the nature of performance.

 

+1

I haven't wanted a film to be over this much since the last twenty minutes of The Humbling or the last three hours of Cloud Atlas.

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I enjoy being at a point in cinematic history where we can acknowledge that a film with amazing performances and cinematography -- don't forget the soundtrack and direction! -- can be evaluated negatively because we're not sure what it all means.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I enjoy being at a point in cinematic history where we can acknowledge that a film with amazing performances and cinematography -- don't forget the soundtrack and direction! -- can be evaluated negatively because we're not sure what it all means.

 

No, not the direction. The direction is what i'm critiquing. AGI's vision is flawed. It's possible for something to be less than the sum of its parts.

 

To be clear, I think I understand the film. And I think its f---ing bulls---.

 

As my brother said to me, the subtitle should be "The Transcendent Ego of the Artist."

Edited by Anders

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Gotcha. I took it from your earlier "in the service of what exactly?" to be a reflection of the film's screenplay and an admission that you weren't certain of the film's meaning, or, perhaps, had concluded the story was essentially meaningless, which is different from "it's f---ing bulls---."

 

I don't mean to single you out, Anders. I was just using your close-at-hand response to represent broader negative/puzzled reactions to the film in the thread. I'm fine with critical divisiveness; I think films that break that way are often the best films.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I enjoy being at a point in cinematic history where we can acknowledge that a film with amazing performances and cinematography -- don't forget the soundtrack and direction! -- can be evaluated negatively because we're not sure what it all means.

 

No, not the direction. The direction is what i'm critiquing. AGI's vision is flawed. It's possible for something to be less than the sum of its parts.

 

To be clear, I think I understand the film. And I think its f---ing bulls---.

 

As my brother said to me, the subtitle should be "The Transcendent Ego of the Artist."

 

Saw it last night. I agree 100% with this. Despite it's visual ambition, there isn't a scene in this where AGI doesn't take the easiest path - dramatically, comedically, thematically, what have you. I felt sorry for these actors, especially Emma Stone.

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Regarding the soundtrack: I think would have appreciated Birdman's jazz drumming more had I not viewed Whiplash immediately prior to Birdman, which features superior jazz, percussion, and (IMO) performances.

Love this! I was actually coming to the opposite conclusion while watching Birdman. I haven't listened to the Birdman soundtrack since seeing the film. I have listened to the Whiplash soundtrack a few times, and have been disappointed to discover that the music doesn't appeal to me nearly as much in isolation from the film as it did when accompanying the movie.

 

 

I enjoy being at a point in cinematic history where we can acknowledge that a film with amazing performances and cinematography -- don't forget the soundtrack and direction! -- can be evaluated negatively because we're not sure what it all means.

 

No, not the direction. The direction is what i'm critiquing. AGI's vision is flawed. It's possible for something to be less than the sum of its parts.

 

To be clear, I think I understand the film. And I think its f---ing bulls---.

 

As my brother said to me, the subtitle should be "The Transcendent Ego of the Artist."

 

Saw it last night. I agree 100% with this. Despite it's visual ambition, there isn't a scene in this where AGI doesn't take the easiest path - dramatically, comedically, thematically, what have you. I felt sorry for these actors, especially Emma Stone.

 

With spoiler tags employed, can you explain how the ending scene(s) take the easiest path dramatically, comedically and thematically?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got around to this last night, and this film definitely deserves some discussion.

 

I don't really stand with the accusations that the film was meaningless - I thought the themes of struggling with relevancy, battling a rabid ego, and not being able to appreciate what you have were consistently played out through the film. There were some very concrete ties as we shifted from character to character.

 

Did the ending ruin all of that work? I don't really think so. The ending was flawed, yes, but only in the same way the character was flawed. In a film that portrays the downward spiral of a character, the writer assumes the responsibility to hash out that spiral and the eventual redemption. If the writer is himself incapable of providing a good method of redemption, or at least a reason why suicide isn't the only option left, then he's only guilty of not being able to answer some tough questions. It's a fault, but it's a fault that the writer shares with the character. I would have been much more dissapointed in some contrived and cheap Scrooge-esque revelation, and I'm happy the film didn't settle for that.

 

However, I was hoping to see his second attempted suicide be cathartic in some way. He described his first suicide attempt and it's thwarting by jellyfish - a painful experience that shocked him out of his ego and back into reality. This was portrayed nicely in films like Ink and Tokyo Godfathers, but if the writers don't share the same philosophy/theology, there's no way they could come to the same conclusion.

 

In sum, I won't criticize a film that explores a man chewing up his own soul when it isn't able to provide a satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed the imagery of his face cast (echoing the superhero mask) and the fact that he couldn't smell the flower he wanted at the beginning of the film. This was a film rich in thematic imagery, and I appreciated the rhythm of it.

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  • 1 month later...

My 60-second take.

 

In the end, I think Anders' take sums it up exactly: 

 

It's virtuosity, in performance (Norton and Keaton especially) and cinematography (Lubezki is wonderful) is in the service of what exactly?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnVvUvPYY7c

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Finally saw this last night.  Just read through all the comments.

 

I'm surprised nobody thought of bringing up this; it's what I thought of during the climactic moments.

 

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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That's brilliant, Nick. I want to say this flickered through my mind while I was watching it, but that could just be the aura of inevitability around a connection that's obvious once you see it. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Animation historian Jerry Beck noted a few parallels between Birdman and that cartoon back on December 8, and I thought I had linked to it here, but apparently not. (Maybe I just linked to it on Facebook. I hadn't seen Birdman at the time, so I might not have dipped into this thread that much.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Yeah, I almost posted here earlier, "Didn't this comparison already make the rounds?" But I couldn't remember the source and wasn't sure how widely it had gotten around.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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You guys seem more sure of what this movie was about than me. I sorta enjoyed it, but...ultimately my thoughts are "what a weird movie."

Nothing wrong with that conclusion. Must we be sure of a movie's meaning to enjoy it?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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You know.  This was one of the very very few movies that I've walked out on (not to take anything away from those who liked it.)  I just thought that it was too engrossed in finding it's revelling in icky behaviour to be humourous.  A film like the Wolf of Wall Street found humour in it's ickiness, and lots of it (and there was also more ickiness than in this movie), but it also made it clear that it disagreed with the bad behaviour.  This film makes the bad behaviour humourous (or maybe better - tries to) while also giving me the impression that it finds it all to be a completely acceptable way of living.  Granted there could have been a redeeming second half that I missed out on, but I just found that it wasn't saying enough valuable for me to warrant staying.  

 

I don't know.  It was several weeks ago that I saw the film.  Maybe I was just in a crappy mood at the time.

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