Category — comedy
Michael Keaton is the real deal. For decades he’s proven it: Whether In a full tilt farce like Johnny Dangerously (1984), an odd ball dramedy like The Paper (1994), taking on the flat-out dramatic in Clean And Sober (1988)- Hell, even One Good Cop (1991) comes to mind. Throw the guy the right material and he flat out shines. And such it is with art film director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s [Amores Perros (2000), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010)] latest film, whose full mind boggling title is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), where Keaton plays a nearly washed up actor named Riggan Thomson who’s desperate to show the world he isn’t just a tent pole superhero thesp, but a serious, important artist. This movie plays like an X-Ray of cinema itself, peeling the layers away until you’re sick to your stomach, exposing us to the madness underneath it all. Inarritu uses a ‘single take’ technique (a clever budgetary cheat) to force us to witness it all without release, as Keaton becomes increasingly unhinged and scenes descend to mania. The film opens on him in his underwear floating off of the ground Swami-like a’la Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen (2009), and it only gets crazier from there. It’s a joy to behold. Obviously Keaton is a bit of stunt casting, reminding us of those glorious Donner and Burton days, when the bedrock for cinematic superdom was first being laid and Marvel Phase 3 was just a twinkle in a fanboy’s eye. But his presence turns Birdman into a remarkably personal journey, adding layers of meaning to the whole affair. His creepy “inside voice” drives the narrative, forcing Batman, er, Birdman towards more dizzying heights of self-reflexivity. And the rest of the cast is to be commended as well, especially Edward Norton, a notoriously difficult actor to work with who taps into that meta-text here as well. If there’s one grievance with the film it’s that the material gets thin where Emma Stone and Naomi Watts (who worked with Alejandro on 21 Grams) are concerned, giving the impression these characters were afterthoughts. Tiny nitpicks really, because Birdman delivers the goods in hallucinatory doses, its surreal imagery of a New York as seen from a deteriorating mind accompanied by a jazzy drum score courtesy of Antonio Sanchez. Venture down this dark tunnel with Birdman, and you’ll find that by the time you reach the other side, Keaton’ll be your dark knight yet again.
November 3, 2014 No Comments
Here’s a quick set-up and pay-off scene from one of Woody Allen’s most underrated flicks, Broadway Danny Rose (1984), impeccably shot in black and white by the late great Gordon Willis, who passed away earlier this year. We love this film’s wraparound device of a bunch of wise guys sitting around talking about some poor shlub talent agent named Danny Rose and how he came to be entangled in a love triangle involving a lounge singer (Nick Apollo Forte), his mistress (Mia Farrow), and a jealous gangster. Here you see a great example of Allen’s narrative strategy, who made a career of subverting story via fundamentally changing one essential element (most times casting himself as the unlikely lead in a story that would otherwise play “straight”). Here he flips the script by changing the setting in which a contrived situation occurs and turning a standard chase/shoot-out scene on its ear by adding one small (literal) element: Helium.
June 18, 2014 No Comments
We’re back after a long hiatus with this fantastic scene from the Marx Bros‘ A Night at the Opera (dir. by Sam Wood, 1935), the trio’s (Groucho, Harpo and Chico) first film after leaving Paramount (and ditching Zeppo), made under the watchful eye of legendary MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who helped make it their biggest grossing film. The story of Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho) urging socialite Mrs. Claypool (perennial punchline Margaret Dumont) to donate $200,000 to the New York Opera Company, this scene – in which the stowaways pretend to be three famous aviators – is one of a handful of great scenes in this classic comedy. Enjoy!
March 12, 2014 No Comments
Been a busy past couple of months here at IOC, with new writing gigs and a few health scares diverting us from our usual pace – but we’re still alive and kickin’ – so bear with us as we try to right the ship and return to our normal frequency. In the spirit of overly ambitious undertakings here’s a terrific scene from American Movie (1999), a documentary directed by Chris Smith about the love of moviemaking and the quixotic attempts of Mark Borchardt to make Coven. If you haven’t seen it you’re missing out on some hilarious can-do spirit! And don’t forget to follow us over on our IOC FB page where we do a pretty good job of keeping up with the latest movie news – and posting a ton of posters three times a week!
December 18, 2012 No Comments