Birdman

New from the desk of The Movie Snob.

Birdman  (B-),  The latest film from director Alejandro Iñárritu (Babel) seems to be getting some award buzz, so I figured I should check it out.  Michael Keaton (Batman) plays Riggan Thomas, a once-successful actor who walked away from a popular superhero movie franchise to pursue . . . well, I’m not sure what, but something different.  Now, many years later, he is struggling to open a Broadway play that he has written, is directing, and plans to star in.  Everything is going wrong, of course; money is short, critics are sharpening their knives, and to top it off Thomas is starting to hear a scornful voice in his head—the deep voice of Birdman, the superhero role he left behind.  It’s a pretty entertaining movie with lots of star power.  Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) plays Thomas’s in-and-out-of-rehab daughter.  Edward Norton (Fight Club) plays the temperamental actor who just might save the play.  Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover) is Thomas’s over-stressed lawyer, and Naomi Watts (St. Vincent) and Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) are the actresses in Thomas’s play.  I’d have to say the film’s weakness is its length; at 119 minutes, it just started to feel a little long to me.  Cut out about 15 or 20 minutes towards the end, and I’d probably give it a solid B.

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Babel

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Babel 

“Babel” – Latin for slow, tedious, and sometimes boring. I ignored the recommendation of a movie buff friend and made the mistake of watching Babel last night. Babel is an odd cross between a Robert Altman film, Memento, and Not Without My Children. Anyone who has seen the Sally Field masterpiece Not Without My Children sees the weak link in the thread. Babel is four separate stories that are interrelated in some fashion. Standing alone some of the stories are not interesting at all. Other parts of the stories are not developed in a sufficient way to make me care about what is happening to the characters. Basically, some sheepherders in Morocco accidentally shoot Brad Pitt’s wife, Brad Pitt’s kids go missing in the Mexican desert, a deaf Japanese girl has mommy issues and possibly bipolar disorder, and there are no real terrorists in Morocco. These stories are all told on top of one another and in some cases out of order. I was really more focused by the end of the movie on just figuring out what happened and how it ended rather than just enjoying the show. Might have had more of an impact if more of the stories had ended in terrible, sad ways. I give it an “F” and wonder why it was nominated for an Oscar.

Babel

New from The Movie Snob

Babel (B+). I didn’t really intend to see this movie after one reviewer dubbed it “the feel-bad movie of the millennium.” But then I thought, hey, the millennium is still young, so maybe it’s not all that depressing. And you know, I was right. It’s not really best-picture caliber material, but it is a well-directed and well-acted movie with some interesting stories to tell. A vacation in Morocco turns into a nightmare for an American couple (Brad Pitt (Fury); Cate Blanchett (Cinderella)) when the wife is seriously injured by a gunshot out in the middle of nowhere. A Mexican nanny in San Diego takes her two young charges to her son’s wedding in Mexico, only to run into difficulties returning to the U.S. And in Japan, a deaf teenaged girl struggles to come to terms with her disability and her loneliness after the death of her mother. Okay, so the movie is a little dark. But it did keep me wondering what was going to happen next, and I did empathize with the characters. Maybe it is best-picture material after all . . . .