Tag Archives: Edward Norton

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu; Main Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward NortonEmma StoneNaomi WattsAndrea RiseboroughAmy Ryan;

Art imitates life, or so it seems, in this film but it left me wondering if Inarritu’s last effort is  campy navel-gazing or a honest, tongue-in-cheek look at the entertainment business? I must say I’m not completely sold on the latter. Using a rather ingenious editing move (shooting the whole film in one, continuos take!) and an inspired soundtrack, Inarritu introduces the audience to a collection of different types (or archetypes) of actors and somewhat hefty themes: art and fame, vanity and self-worth. Riggan (Keaton), a once famous actor, has reached stardom interpreting a popular superhero (starts with b…finishes with …man, little on the nose maybe?) but he has fallen into obscurity in more recent years. Eager to revamp his career and be accepted by the high-brow critics, he is directing, producing and acting in a Broadway play he has adapted from Raymond Carver’s story What we talk about when we talk about love. The film follows Riggan in the few days before the premiere, while he struggles with mundane issues as director/producer and with his inner demons embodied by Birdman himself, who follows him around and talks like he has been gargling marbles. His internal conflict is sometimes fueled, sometimes abated by the people surrounding him: his manager and friend Jake (Galifianakis, casted against type and a pleasant surprise!), his recovering addict daughter Sam (Stone), his girlfriend and actress Laura (Riseborough), his leading lady Lesley (Watts), his ex-wife Sylvia (Ryan) and, last but not least, Mike (Norton), renown stage actor who lives only for the craft. There is an interesting mix of comic and dramatic moments in the story, with the right touch of surreal that reminds me a little of Michel Gondry‘s style. Riggan wants desperately to prove that he is a real artist, well versed in the craft, and not a washed up movie star, he wants to leave something behind that’s worthy and, most of all, he wants to matter. In the end this film is about very human feelings we can all relate to and understand. Keaton gives a great performance, one that can propel him back to stardom, so life mimics art after art has imitated life…ok, I have a headache now…Anyway the supporting cast, in particular Norton, is pretty amazing as well and improve the already good quality of the film. Innovative and thought-provoking —7/10

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director:  Wes Anderson, Main Cast: Ralph FiennesTony RevoloriSaoirse RonanF. Murray AbrahamJude LawAdrien BrodyWillem DafoeEdward NortonTom WilkinsonTilda Swinton;

the-grand-budapest-hotel

This is the story of Gustave H. (Fiennes), renown and beloved concierge at the legendary Grand Budapest Hotel between the two wars, and Zero (Revolori), who starts as a lobby boy and then become his protégé and most trusted friend. As is Wes Anderson’s wont a voice-over narration begins the tale, in this movie he chooses to built it as story within a story, using an old writer (Wilkinson) who remembers meeting an aging Zero (Abraham) when he was still young (Law). Old Zero will recall his youth and tell his story to the writer. Gustave takes Zero under his wing from the very beginning and start schooling him in the delicate art of running a luxury hotel flawlessly, while he takes care of every need of the guests: Gustave is a full monty concierge, especially with the ladies. This might be considered the root cause of the adventures and mishaps that follows, with a touch of Buster Keaton’s humor. The death of Madame D. (Swinton), a longtime guest at the hotel and dearly attached to Gustave, sets in motion a battle for her very large estate and the possession of a priceless Renaissance painting (bequeathed to Gustave and stolen by him right after the reading of the will, in a genius move). Dmitri (Brody), Madame D’s son, will not stop at nothing to get it all, including murder by proxis, since his faithful henchman Jopling (Dafoe) will do all the dirty work. He manages to frame Gustave for Madame D.’s murder and send him to prison, allowing the audience to be delighted by a cameo by Harvey Keitel, as fellow conscript and means to Gustave’s escape. Zero and his resourceful girlfriend Agatha (Ronan), the pastry apprentice, are essential in helping Gustave to evade, to clear his name and collect what is due to him, but the secret society of the concierges of European luxury hotels will play a key role as well (and we get a Bill Murray’s cameo). By the end, the viewer will finally be able to piece together all the different parts of the story, it does feel like a bittersweet ending after such a roller-coaster of adventures, but it is always the case when one has to part ways with such great characters. We get all the trademarks of Anderson’s style: static camera, artful use of colours and photography, quirky characters and subtle humor. It is one of his best films to date, also helped by an amazing cast: Fiennes above all. Hilarious, amusing and inspired —9/10

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All-time favorite quote

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