Inside Out – A Review

Inside Out

The Disney-Pixar production company renowned for family friendly CGI cinema maintains its quality in Inside Out, an original piece that visualises psychology for young’uns and reminds us elder folk of the emotional jumble known as growing up.

I preface this review with this; the last Pixar film I saw was Toy Story 3, my last Disney film was also this. Safe to say I’m no expert on their works, I wasn’t even aware that apparently having a mini-feature before the main event was standard for them now but I enjoyed it a lot (enough so not to spoil it here).

We follow two simultaneous stories in Inside Out. The first is that of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias); we watch goofy, hockey-loving Riley grow in a loving environment from 0-11 years of age in Minnesota and San Francisco which begins as a hypercut montage of evocative “core memories” styled similarly to the first scenes of Up and then slows to a digestible, dramatic pace. The second, is also Riley, but broken down to her rawest emotions – in humanoid form, living in her mind which comically interact and help/hinder her through life.

Cleverly introducing Joy (Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) as the only emotions when Riley is a baby (laughing/crying being all babies really do) worked well and as time goes by Disgust, Fear and Anger subsequently arrive as Riley becomes more aware of her surroundings. Again, without wanting to spoil anything (I saw this a month before UK release) it’s safe to say all conversations are brilliant – one of the most striking and hilarious scenes actually being in the trailer when the family is round the table and everyone’s emotion-people debate and control like they’re piloting a Jaeger and contemplating “putting the foot down”.

Brightly coloured characters and environments and with expert levels of detail and imagination, the visionaries behind Inside Out execute a quite run-of-the-mill video-game like platformer-style plot but embellish it with understandable, watchable knowledge of the human psyche. The control centre runs the show, a “train of thought” flies around, there’s an abstract thought land, a long-term memory bank and a pit to represent forgotten thoughts… even the ground looks like brain tissue. Poehler’s voice carries tonnes of energy and contrasts well with Sadness’ monotone as they gallivant about trying to return happy core memories (orbs that work like film to project a current thought into Riley’s head) whilst trying to survive the darker side of human conscious and subconscious.

Meanwhile, a more relatable story of family difficulty plays out that moves the story along at a seemingly real-time pace. There’s a good sentimental message that underlies the film but it’s not schmaltzy and the dramatic climax hits all the right notes; adults will aww, kids will whoa.

Fortunately for cinema, Inside Out now has the biggest debut of any original, written for film, work in cinematic history ($91.1M vs Avatar’s $77M) and is currently the second biggest Pixar opening of all time behind TS3. This delights me as, previously mentioned in many of my reviews, celebrating originality will eventually cause the demise of crap ad-fests like Jurassic World and beget inspiring, truly enjoyable UNIQUE works like this or like the first Jurassic Park film.

I’ve tried not to write too much detail on the film’s specifics because I care deeply about your viewing experience and only want this review to prompt and remind anyone to go see this.

It’s a real Joy.

8/10

It Follows – A Review

It follows

It Follows made me feel like I’d ratted in prison for an early parole and felt paranoid for the rest of my life about who might find out and kill me for it. It made me feel like an orang-utan moving tree to tree as the wood-cutting apparatus closes in. I became the bus in Speed; unrelenting movement for fear of death. This is It Follows and, by God, did it scare me a little bit more than I expected.

Directed by David Robert Mitchell, It follows is a low-ish budget teen horror flick that takes itself just seriously enough. The story follows Jay Height (Maika Monroe), a young cool chick whose privileged life includes: a big house, pool, an assortment of friends and maybe as a consequence of all this, a new potential boyfriend. He’s cool too and has a swag jacket and before long they’ve done the nasty in the back of his shiny, stylish car (lit excellently and a deserving moment for blowing-up as the film’s poster).

Hereafter, things turn for the worst for Jay. Lazing and nonchalantly dangling her s-exhausted limbs about the metallic and leathery 80s inspired powerhouse of a car, her lover becomes a fighter, pinning her and choking her out. She awakens later, strapped to a wheelchair and unharmed physically however now she’s sexually contracted a curse. No, not an STI; some have tried to relate her newfound vexation with the risks of pre-marital sex in today’s day and age, if it were, everyone should be afflicted and not just in this case only the two most recent lovers. No, this affliction can’t be cured with an awkward exposure, slap on the wrists and a series of pills. If you’re the most recent inamorato/a, you’ll be followed. Indefinitely. Steadily. By your worst nightmare; until, of course, you pass it on. Or die.

Set in Suburban America, Mitchell creates a timeless feeling using characters and props that seem born out of the 80s, 90s, 00s, now, and even of the future. In doing so, he naturally acknowledges those who come before him and simultaneously breaks a little ground for himself. Dizzying circular panning forces you to look over your shoulder like the characters. Long takes past characters/out of windows/into open spaces with people milling around force you to pick out unorthodox beings and these shots don’t feel like chaos either, more like the organised yet laissez-faire movement of extras during the credits of Haneke’s Hidden. Scary moments are tactfully frightening wherein anything that can make us jump first builds us up, let’s us rest, then hits which allows us to reach greater heights as opposed to something out of the blue. Not to mention a superb score that ameliorates and integrates seamlessly with every aspect I’ve previously mentioned.

Overall, like The Babadook from earlier this year, It Follows is another great example of modern horror. A relatively open-ended final few scenes and, in my opinion, a disappointing “final fight” may not be to everyone’s taste however strong performances, a classically imagined script and several bloody scary kills and ghouls make this undoubtedly the best horror of the year thus far.

Though I think I preferred The Babadook.

7.9/10

Ex Machina – Late To The Party Review

ex machina

If you can’t tell it’s a machine, is it not a machine? Does that make it a human, then? Or something somehow of a lesser order like an animal? Hundreds, nay, thousands of films across the world’s cinematic history have tackled such questions from the silent Era’s Metropolis to the most notable, in this respect, Blade Runner. Ex Machina only deliberates the first of these questions; here we watch as Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) applies his best Turing test to the sexiest HAL 2000 I’ve ever seen.

Oscar Isaac plays Nathan, the creator of Bluebook, which in the film’s universe seemingly represents an amalgamation of Google and like… all the social networks. It rules the internet. Henceforth, Nathan rules an endless expanse of exotic rainforest that looks torn right out of Jurassic World; wet, humid and most importantly overgrown enough to hide his own personal residence and research centre that could make Tony Stark jealous. Bluebook employee and master programmer, Caleb, wins a competition and soon finds himself face to face with Ava (Alicia Vikander), Nathan’s AI, within the confines of this claustrophobic, windowless but overtly modern and naturalistic RnD condominium. Under CCTV watch by Nathan (the only points where Nathan isn’t drunk or exercising), Caleb (in his fair-to-middling American accent) and Ava interact and consequently unearth a side of Ava’s consciousness (or lack thereof) that Caleb just isn’t prepared for.

Vikander steals every scene she’s in and carries a nicely written film. Some simple green screen effects, I suspect, similar to those removing Marion Cottilard’s legs in Rust and Bone, make Ava look like a hypermodern Grandfather clock lady. Coupled with just the tiniest amount of twitch and robotic, mechanical movement (so, so similar to Sean Young in Blade Runner) and a gentle, emotionless voice, Ava embodies the classic AI filmgoers have come to know and love.

The small cast cements the fact that this film is about characters and their development; there is going to be dialogue and you’re going to have to like it and fortunately it’s good here. Look at the love Locke received, one face and a handful of voices to constitute an entire film and it works magnificently. Ensemble casts can work, again, with great writing. The last film I saw before this was Jurassic World: with its clusterfuck of high-profile stars from international markets performing insignificant roles; unknown actors spouting gobbledygook, watching Ex Machina felt like a straight scotch and JW a shot in a bucket cocktail of chaser and wasted potential.

Alex Garland does a great job with his first plunge into the pool of directing because he produces something unique and interesting, I’m sincerely hoping (despite already being clearly established as a writer) this won’t be another case of the Trevorrow’s or Gareth Edwards’ where he’ll be picked up to backseat direct a big budget franchise film or the like. I can see it now, the Blade Runner remake… hold on.

Dear Alex Garland,

I know $$$ feels good in your pocket and I can’t blame you for taking the money if it were to be offered, but please, please, for the love of God, stick to your guns.

What you create is worth so much more to art and to culture than another shoddy reboot.

Look at Edgar Wright, look at him and what happened with his involvement in Ant-Man. He worked on that script for a decade and it was thrown out so the director of the 2006 classic The Break-Up could take the reins. I know I don’t have to explain to you why that’s wrong.

Anyway mate, have a good’un,

Adam

Now that’s over, back to direction. Garland and crew emphasise the feeling of being trapped by only using stark artificial light in Ava’s (apart from a “window” looking at a plant of some sort in a small enclosed courtyard, possibly used to evoke Ava’s longing for freedom) and Caleb’s rooms and deep red warning lights whenever certain power-cuts occur, a contrast to the sweeping wide shots of the area surrounding the home. Nudity is tasteful and has purpose in the film’s context, something that really irks me about Game of Thrones and no unnecessary story arks arise other than to raise suspicions of Caleb’s being human or not.

And I can’t finish without commending our two leading men either. At first, I thought Isaac’s character was underwritten but after reveals, upon reveals he clicked into place perfectly and you realise what a bloody great performance was actually put to screen by Isaac who’s continues proving himself as a top-tier actor year in year out. Gleeson we’ve always known will become a superstar like his father, but right now I can’t say I ever want his run in lower budget films to end; he was awesome in Frank.

Just watch this film, I left it too long because my in-artificial lack-of-intelligence didn’t have sufficient processing power to drag my body to the cinema during its short screening period. Enjoy.

8.1/10

Mad Max: Fury Road – A Review

MMFR

I don’t condone starting anywhere but the beginning when it comes to watching a series of films, but today I saw Mad Max: Fury Road in 3D with no prior knowledge of Max’s madness and walked away from it utterly impressed.

Through a series of brash, screeching flashbacks at the most unhelpful moments of Max’s (Tom Hardy) escape from the lair of the dudes from the beginning of Star Trek: Into Darkness I deduced that Max wasn’t able to save the lives of a woman and a child in times past and it still haunts him. This was literally enough to have me on his side, it showed: he has a conscience, the events will play a part in his future decision making and most importantly that he isn’t perfect. No heavy-handed copy-paste spoilers from the last film necessary. I got what I needed to know.

The aforementioned albino part-naked desertkin do claw Max back though and make our lone wolf an unwilling blood donor to Nicholas Hoult’s character, Nux, a respected but weakened driver of sun-worn metallic desert vehicles. These two, joined by chain and blood transfer tubing, continue to chase after Charlize Theron who’s seized a rescue mission opportunity to liberate several beautiful women including that girl from that silly robot movie that we try not to talk about anymore.

Liberate them from who? Well, imagine a mix of Bane and the Troll King from the Hobbit, and squish that being into a Tupperware suit of armour and you’ve Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Joey boy rules over a bunch of impoverished humans by limiting their access to water while he gorges on mother’s milk instead and bangs the cuties to further his bloodline. Theron’s stolen bounty are the most desirable women for miles and they’re smart enough to want better for themselves anyway; Immortan Joey’s feathers are inevitably significantly rustled when he finds them missing and the subsequent chase constitutes the meat of the film.

And what dusty, explosive, petrol-drenched delicious meat it is. All the vehicles and costumes have a very steampunk, Fallout 3 post-apocalyptic hardiness to them born out of when the “world was killed” (something I’m sure Immortan Joe was a part of, as he was in the original MM film, but not something I know about in detail) and little moments capturing this feel like an armoury of attachable steering wheels really sealed the deal for me. The world does seem empty, colonies of warring tribes separated only by sand, salt flats and violent sandstorms all beautifully visualised which helps greatly with following the escape from one volatile zone to the next.

Backed by a roaring soundtrack (sometimes too roaring; there were several inaudible dialogue scenes similar to Interstellar) with orchestral and guitar elements, Hardy and Theron lead a pretty badass legacy (as far as I know) of films with plenty of gusto. I’m not sure how many of their stunts they performed themselves and frankly I don’t care as they all looked great jumping, swinging and pole vaulting between the arrays of vehicles hording around their unstoppable war truck trying to blow them up. There are tonnes of explosions, a fair amount of hand-to-hand combat involving just about everyone and it builds to a strong climax with plenty to keep your eyes open. In my experience the 3D worked well too with only a couple of cheesy “Wooooah it’s like it’s coming right at me!!!” moments which to me feel a bit too Spy Kids.

On top of all that, this article alludes to their being another battle between our misogynistic and feminist film lovers over the strength of the film’s female characters and their right to be there in the first place. Read into it what you will, I, being a new member of the Mad Max fan club, cannot comment on Imperator Furiosa’s (Theron) right to instruct/order Max to do things other than saying that Max and her clearly were working towards a common goal and part of being a team is situational task designation. I’m a huge advocate of more women in film too, I think all gender-issues were tastefully dealt with. I mean, here, Rosie Huntington-Whitely’s character is smart and beautiful and relevant to the story, now contrast that to her other film, Transformers AOE. Case in point.

So overall, watch this film. Support different types of action film instead of propagating the dominance of Marvel or Fast and Furious franchise films. It’s impossible to come out of this unsatisfied and that’s what I believe any action movie-goer wants in their hearts, a good ol’rush.

7.8/10

Say Anything – Late to the Party

SAy Anything

Say Anything is many things and to discuss its themes too heavily here would certainly ruin its impact for a first time viewer, fortunately saying it’s one of the most convincing, gentle love stories ever committed to film I think is more than adequate to warrant a watch from even the most heartless potential viewer.

Lloyd (John Cusack) is the guy so many young men think they are, or desperately want to be. Academically uninteresting but life-smart, naively confident without an inflated ego, Lloyd knows what to say and how to say it. Eventually when backed by his closest friends (all, oddly enough, females) he makes the phone call to Diane (Ione Skye) to ask her out. Weaving round her father’s paternal instincts masterfully like Messi through Munich’s defence, Lloyd through the trickery of brutal honesty camouflages himself as worthy and thus sets in motion 1989’s most evocative romance.

Lloyd and Diane’s first outing together is to a local graduation party wherein the tone is set for the rest of the film. She’s clever, like, insanely. Unfortunately, she’s also wildly out of touch with everyone but her father (portrayed by a joke in a graduation ceremony speech that bombed harder Million ways to die in the West) because of her miniscule social life leaving her widely admired but narrowly loved resulting in disconnected conversations and graduation album messages from her peers. Lloyd on the other hand is almost the polar opposite, sharing everything with pals, male and female, and family members, resulting in a truly well-rounded character.

And as we all know, opposites attract. She has a heart of gold but has never really shared it, he has so much love to give but never really given it; they change one another entirely for the better. Consequently I think the film is truly supportive of young people believing in the power of being themselves, looking inwards to solve their problems and being courageous enough to reach for what they want. I also admire it for its funny and entertaining portrayal of being a 19 year old beginning a relationship, everything from meeting the parents to the excited shakes on the precipice of physical love.

Furthermore, I admit I’ve watched a hellishly large number of romantic (comedy) films for a 22 year old single guy too, good and bad, and from that I can really vouch for the screenwriting here as the single most engaging part of Say Anything. No line makes me cringe like several did in Boyhood’s generally strong representation of adolescence and the sense of urgency created by Diane having to leave for England in 16 weeks to study, of time running out, similar to how Before Sunrise made me feel rushed off my feet is masterful.

Nowadays, I appreciate a film just making me feel anything; Ebert said the movies are empathy factories and I wholeheartedly agree as I was constantly questioning myself as to what I would do in such a doomed-love situation and with iconic scenes like the holding of the radio (with that song *swoon*) seen here I was simply astounded. I’m a big fan of Crowe’s filmography like I’m sure a lot of people are (though I haven’t seen We bought a Zoo) so I’m really looking forward his new film Aloha too.

All in all, watch this film. Male, female, black, white, straight, gay, fighter jet, it really doesn’t matter your situation, I think this is a film about how being yourself can really, really, pay off; and that’s what life’s all about right, isn’t it?

8.5/10

The Kid with a Bike – Late to the Party Review

KWAB

I’m glad this was my entry point into Dardenne film; Two days, one night has been staring me down on Netflix for too long now and after such a great experience here my hopes are even higher. Why? Well, a fine line is walked here by some masterful filmmakers who balance drama with thrills and cinematography with editing creating something truthful and exciting. They also bring to life a badass 12 or so year old character who makes Liam Neeson look lackadaisical when it comes to taking things back.

The Kid with a Bike at its core is a film about the importance of parental relationships in our formative years. Thomas Doret plays Cyril Catoul, a young lad stuck in a foster home and visiting his dad (I don’t recall his mother being mentioned at all?) on weekends. When the visits and communication become more and more sparse, Cyril’s heart is broken; he has a dad, however no idea why they can’t be together. This feeling of isolation and confusion becomes an attempt to flee his social captivity but to no avail, he made it to the flat but Daddy wasn’t there (Austin Powers will never die) which only leaves him more confused.

Later, Cyril is adopted on the weekends by the local hairdresser (Cécile De France) for reasons that aren’t explained but don’t really matter and is enticed further with her buying back his bike, previously sold by his father for reasons he can’t imagine but we can speculate over. Cyril’s character is definitely what sets this film above the majority though and really contrasts the maturities we have as children that we lose as we grow up against the advantages we gain from losing our innocence. The bike is a focal point for us as the audience to follow Cyril’s decision making and how he fights ferociously decisions being made for him.

Technically speaking, it’s a masterpiece. Close-up tracking shots mid-ride accentuate the happiness Cyril’s found in his own safe haven roaming the streets on his bike, conversely wider shots of him bombing down busy streets, a tiny lad, amongst people and cars kick our parental protective instincts into overdrive. The film is 87 minutes long because it’s edited like a work of art should be. Storytelling and editing intertwine magically about 30 minutes in when Cyril, the hairdresser and the Dad agree to meet in the town centre but Dad doesn’t show. “Let’s go to his house” but Cyril denies and heads off round the corner to check if he’s there but as he turns the corner we cut to them both walking up to Dad’s front door, emphasizing Cyril’s innocent blind faith.

All in all I have to say this film deserved every last drop of praise and every ounce of award it got back in 2011 when it was released. A young boy with the resolve of an action hero and the heart of.. well.. a young boy. I can’t recommend it more.

8.4/10

While we’re young – A Review

WWY

Will Noah Baumbach be the next Woody Allen? Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. I’m a big fan of both too but I’m obliged to acknowledge the prevalence of over-educated, creative industry-types mingling in up-state NY in both directors’ repertoires.

“While we’re young” tackles our need to feel purposeful and how the direction of the need changes as we grow older. Much akin to “The Squid and the Whale” and “Frances Ha” (the extent of the Baumbachs I’ve seen) our creative, this time an almost outta time filmmaker (Ben Stiller), whose masterwork is stuck in post-production purgatory becomes unsatisfied with the rut he’s unknowingly slipped into. “We could go anywhere if we wanted” ”If we planned like a month in advance, yeah”. Naomi Watts plays his significant other, they sit at home on their tablets, they go out to eat, but they’re both bored.

One day they meet a young couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried who act like they used to live with Hansel. They’re full of ambition, spunk and cool, intellectual vigor and this slowly chisels our middle-aged heroes into the people they want to be… or does it?

It be comedy first though, in a similarly bittersweet way to Mike Leigh’s “Life is Sweet” or “Happy-go-Lucky” where observation of life’s mundane banalities or hitting of meaningless milestones becomes funny. Even though a lot of us find it hard to relate to a filmmaker we can instead relate to his insecurity and doubt in tackling a project he loves, heck, I often question why I write about films when a Buzzfeed article regarding Iggy Azalea picking up dog poo garners thousands of views. Then I remember, as Sam Smith once said, “I do it for, I do it for the love”.

At no point do we go full mumblecore like “Frances Ha” could be described as doing, the film looks fine with no distinguishably interesting shots like those of TSATW though those could well be pinned on Anderson and Yeoman’s influences as producers. What we do get though is effective social commentary on the necessity of aggressiveness and drive to get big jobs and how as we age, almost everything becomes a personal project.

Though this film felt far too much like re-watching “Magic in the moonlight” (which in itself is hardly unique) I would definitely recommend travelling to a narrowly released showing of Baumbach’s latest. You don’t have to be an intellectual like Baumbach might want you to be to enjoy it, I promise. Ya filthy philistine.

7/10.

The Babadook – A Review

 

The Babadook

Like a beautiful, dark-angel burning away the premonition that the genre is dying, standing tall above a sea of over-budgeted yet underperforming witless torture porn and jump-scare tat; The Babadook is more than just scary, it’s horror. True horror.

So what constitutes a horror film? In my opinion, horror movies should instil a sense of dread or angst that we can feel rising so much so that we, the audience, just for an instant contemplate having to leave before it becomes over-whelming. If I don’t get that hit, that “Thank God this is Netflix and pausable”, then it just isn’t horror. I felt it several times recently during Under the Skin and I’ll never forget the hair-raising elation of Max Schreck/Klaus Kinski looming over their respective Harker interpretations or just about any time Michael Myers bursts into shot in Halloween.

As alluded to then, The Babadook strikes these notes cleanly without rushing or dragging (Whiplash reference) and comes together as a really solid piece. The story is relatively straight-forward; Australian actors Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman play mother and son Amelia and Samuel. We’re shown through flash-back and dialogue sequences that the father of the family died in a car accident whilst driving to the hospital for Samuel’s birth, an event Amelia subconsciously and unfairly partially blames Sam for. On the days approaching Sam’s 7th birthday, or the 7th anniversary of her husband’s death, Amelia reads an unexpected bedtime story to her energetic, apparently odd-ball son; a story called The Babadook and unfortunately tumbles into a world of paranoia and grief.

Set in modern Australia, yet looking like dreary suburban England, we watch as Amelia shrinks away from society and into her mind in a similar fashion to Ellen Burstyn’s character in Requiem for a Dream. Amelia is a carer for the elderly by day too, something known to be incredibly emotionally draining, so we feel for her even more when her sister can’t relate to her or help her and Sam’s outbursts at school escalate her stress and initiate a bout of insomnia.

The film’s scariest moments are at night as Amelia and Sam are stalked from the inside and out by what I can only describe as grief personified. On almost every establishing shot of the large, melancholic blue decorated house (Top marks – set design crew) the light reduces just a hair to accentuate night’s imminence, like a yawn or shuddering of the eye-lids hinted at falling asleep in Nightmare on Elm Street. Close-ups are used sparingly and instead shadow is used masterfully not just to fleetingly reveal our monster (and fully reveal it, RIP my boxers) in classic horror fashion but also to  showcase Amelia’s transformation as she releases 7 years of bottled up grief.

The performances are great, Noah Wiseman is definitely one to watch for the future, director Jennifer Kent pushes him into creating a loving child struggling with life without a father figure whilst trying to survive around a psychotic mother. A scene where he cowers against a dresser is so distressing it could quite easily be cut-pasted into an NSPCC charity ad.

The Babadook is an original, well-written and truly scary Australian film. If you’re a fan of Horror I’d definitely recommend it as it honestly will stick with you. Anyway, I’m off to watch Ouija again, fucking love that film, can’t believe the Oscar snub.

8.3/10

Birdman – A Review

Birdman

Birdman is the kind of film Woody Allen would recommend you if you liked his Bullets over Broadway classic but wanted something more self-aware and cerebral but just as funny. Directed by the hugely talented Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is the first mainstream film since last year’s Her to attack multiple deep-rooted themes of human life in such a beautiful, subtle yet funny way and better yet be consolidated with multiple Oscar (nomination?)-worthy performances.

My favourite kind of film is one that’s seemingly a script built around thought-provoking ideas and concepts. In an age where we stare more into Gorilla glass than our lover’s eyes Her worked as social commentary; another example could be Interstellar which I thought made an interesting case for love as a force that could transcend time and space. Here, we’re watching the most meta film about the state of the arts possibly ever made that touches on and pokes fun at themes of celebrity, art criticism, mental illness, self-acceptance and how that can be affected by how one is publicly perceived.

Keaton plays himself if he used to be Birdman, not Batman, and instead of deciding to continue being a film actor like he did, took a dive into the world of theatre. Birdman was prolific back in the day and Riggan (Keaton) is haunted by his alter ego’s voice every day as he strives to perfect the piece he adapted from a novel, directs and stars in. Why though? Is it because he’s worried he won’t be successful? Does he even want to be on Broadway or is all his effort simply a cry for help, an attempt to escape a degrading, money-grabbing franchise that controlled his life for too long?

Like any film there are highs and lows for Keaton’s character which flesh him out nicely and truly make you invest in his brilliant performance. Early on, Mike (Edward Norton), a driven, outrageously cocky (maybe cocky isn’t so appropriate in hindsight..) young actor who’s only truly alive on the stage, and Riggan have a brilliant improvisation session that transforms their wooden script into something real and dynamic. Later, Riggan isn’t so happy after confronting his neglected wild daughter (Emma Stone) and we wonder how real Birdman really is and consequently lots of spoilers happen.

If you want to talk Birdman though you have to talk style and direction. Iñárritu’s fellow Mexican countryman Emmanuel Lubezki, the film’s DP, is without doubt one of the most decorated and talented geniuses of film working currently with credits such as The Tree of Life, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men to his name among many others. Similar to Hitchcock’s Rope the film plays primarily as one single shot with masterfully hidden cuts. Imagine being on the “It’s a Small world” ride in Disney except the annoying puppetry is replaced with a screen and you just flow, seamlessly through the film. It’s wonderful, some might say a little exhausting. The floaty-cam and over-the-shoulder shots do feel very Tree of Life too. The rhythmic drumming score feels momentous and important, usually without overlaying dialogue similar to Wong Kar-Wai’s In the mood for Love did and will likely also be recognised at this year’s Academy awards. The film is an clear amalgamation of the work of talented people working how they want to, including the correctly casted actors, just how film should be.

And well that’s exactly why the film is written like it is. It documents the struggle of people searching for prestige over celebrity and vice-versa in an incredibly fickle world where a critic’s review can destroy your life’s work when art is supposedly subjective. It’s a darkly funny truth.

A thing is a thing, not what someone says about that thing. Well, I say this thing is brilliant but that’s just like, my opinion, man.

8.5/10