I take the reins for this week’s Film Week In Review as Peter is off battling with his inner superhero ego. Here are my picks:
Birdman (2014) Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu
Iñárritu has been at the helm of some critically acclaimed films in the past. In 2006 his multi award winning film Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, took away one Academy Award, Best Director at Cannes and the the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in Drama. With 2010’s Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem, Iñárritu was nominated for the second time for the Palme d’Or and Bardem picked up the Best Actor nod at Cannes. Now with Birdman, Iñárritu seems to be on track for more global success.
Birdman tells the story of a washed up actor, Michael Keaton, who is trying to revive his career by directing and starring in a Broadway show years after hanging up the cape of a Hollywood superhero named Birdman. Keaton’s portrayal of an actor on the verge of a breakdown is simply brilliant. His mental state is questionable throughout and he truly gives the performance of his career as an actor and a father on the brink.
A stellar supporting cast of Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone is completed by the wonderful Ed Norton whose portrayal of a Broadway legend and egotistical prick is outstanding. The chemistry between Norton and Keaton is palpable and their to-and-fro arguing lends to many of the best scenes in the film.
The camera work throughout Birdman is fantastic. The fluidity of the scenes and seamless editing adds to the pace and tension Iñárritu transcribes onto the screen. The camera feels like another character in the story, a window and front-row seat into the neurotic life of Keaton’s character.
This film is undoubtedly funny, but it is also brilliant. Not just a brilliant comedy. This is a brilliant film that happens to be hilarious.
Enemy (2013) Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Having worked together on Prisoners, Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal team up again to bring José Saramago’s novel “The Double” to the silver screen. The concept of Enemy is straightforward, the resulting film…not so much.
Adam is a History teacher in Toronto, his life seems pretty mundane and repetitive. A colleague recommends a movie and Adam notices something quite strange; an extra in the film is his exact double. Adam decides to track him down and that’s where shit goes a bit weird.
Enemy is one of those films that you should go into not really knowing anything at all and so I am not going into much detail here.
There is some fantastic acting and twists and turns to beat the band. Gyllenhall gives one his best performances to date in my personal opinion.
If you liked Memento or The Machinist this is right up your alley, if you are looking for something less brain stressing I’d recommend Richard Ayoade’s similarly themed The Double instead.
Enemy is currently being shown in the IFI and Light House Cinemas. I urge you to catch it while you can.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014) Dir. Shawn Levy
As we all found out over the Christmas period, there is only so much time one can spend with their families without going completely insane. Last year’s This Is Where I Leave You tackles this subject with gusto. After their father passes away, four grown kids have to return home for seven days to partake in the Jewish tradition of Shiva; seven days of mourning.
The four siblings are played by Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman, 30 Rock’s Tina Fey, Girls’ Adam Driver and House of Card’s (and soon to be Yellow Jacket in Marvel’s Ant-Man) Corey Stoll. As with all families, there are plenty of secrets, plenty of rivalry and a good dose of hilarity.
As they return to their home town, the family must deal with their past also. We are gifted to a range of storylines linking the family together and intertwining wives, exes and could-have-beens.
The relationships between all four siblings are believable and with their psychiatrist mother, Jane Fonda, prying into their lives, the laughs are a plenty.
Although the film doesn’t break the mould or push the boundaries, it is an enjoyable watch. The top-billed cast deliver all-round good performances and with a supporting troupe including Dax Shepard, Ben Swartz, Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant the entire ensemble is very impressive.
Director Levy has had many box office successes such as the Night at the Museum films and Date Night but with his last outing, the lack-luster The Internship, flopping, this lower-budget comedy is a good way to bounce back.
A fine film to watch when you don’t want to worry about any major thinking and everyone will be able to associate with at least one of the siblings.