This Friday, just like the first weekend of every May since 2007, a new movie based on a Marvel comic book will open in thousands of theaters across the country, will make all the money, and will serve as the official starter pistol for summer movie season. And for many a seasoned moviegoer, that’s a cue for despair; after all, summer has become synonymous with big, bloated, stupid blockbusters of the Transformers school. And make no mistake, there’s plenty of those on the runway this season (how ya doin’, Terminator Genisys, it’s pretty funny that you’re actually going with that spelling). But don’t go into cinematic hibernation just yet; there’s also a steady stream of first-rate indie-flick counterprogramming on the runway, and some of the big movies actually sound pretty good. So, as a public service to you, the discerning moviegoer, we’ve assembled a month-by-month look at what might actually be worth your time and …Read More
It’s a shame that after months of general release, it’s rather difficult to go into a screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) cold. Birdman, which is neck-and-neck with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday night, is the story of Riggan Thomson (a wonderful Michael Keaton), a washed-up actor who made his name in a ’90s superhero franchise. He’s searching for artistic redemption by staging his own show on Broadway: an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s classic short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” If you — unlike myself — were lucky enough to see Birdman without knowing much about it, I’m sure that there was an initial spark of magic as you realized that it’s a “one take” movie, with a constantly roving, circling camera that keeps the audience mostly rooted in Riggan’s point of view.
This week, the Criterion Collection is releasing a double bill of the mid-‘60s Westerns The Shooting and Ride the Whirlwind, a treat not only for fans of revisionist Westerns and director Monte Hellman, but also for those who admire Jack Nicholson, here seen in two terrific performances that predate his breakthrough in Easy Rider. There’s a specific kind of pleasure in revisiting the early work of actors who would later become famous — not the roles that made them stars, but their earlier, quieter gigs, in which we glimpse an actor just trying to do good work, yet already exhibiting the spark that would mark them for fame. Here are a few of our …Read More
The pompous, self-important Method actor played by Edward Norton in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is not, as you might think, based on any particular prickly thespian Norton has worked with (and he’s worked with many: De Niro, Brando, Keitel, himself). In fact, he confessed after the picture’s New York Film Festival press screening yesterday, he was mostly inspired by his director. “I’m wearing his scarf in the movie, I’m wearing the jacket, everything I say in the movie, I’ve heard him say or know he wants to say…” It got a little eerie, Iñárritu confessed, when they got to the scene where Norton’s character is in the midst of a contentious rehearsal with Micheal Keaton—playing a character at least somewhat inspired by himself. “So I was explaining to Edward the movement of the camera and the pace and everything, and he began to question me about it: ‘What is it? Why is she saying that?’” And that’s when it hit the director: “Oh my God, this is a fucking mirror in a mirror in a mirror”—which is a pretty apt description of Birdman, when you get right down to it.