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Tag: Birdman

Top 3 posts of 2015

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These were the 3 most viewed posts on holditnow in 2015.

Birdman: “a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) slowly unravels like a sweater caught on a nail. Birdman unspools relentlessly through a continuous maze of backstage corridors and  claustrophobic dressing rooms of a Broadway theatre that could easily stand in for the mythological labyrinth of Minos. Michael Keaton is Riggan Thomas, who is Birdman; who may have or may not have been Icarus. Birdman reads like a Fable. Birdman felt more like a performance than a movie. While watching Birdman, I didn’t want it to end, right up until it did.

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pinkie and blueboy

Pinkie and the Blue Boy

It’s the classic boy meets girl story. Married by a curator/collector in 1927 resulting in a relationship cemented by sentimentalism; Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy 1770 and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Pinkie 1794 have been eternally entwined in the  collective consciousness of the wigs and keys crowd since the early twentieth century. They are the subjects of endless reproductions, porcelain figurines, commemorative plates and all manner of kitsch. Two youths betrothed to one another by the place they shared on a museum wall. The girl in pink and the boy in blue; how perfect is that?

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Van Gogh vs Picasso

Van Gogh and Picasso are two of the most recognizable names on the planet. Countless books and millions of words have been devoted to their lives and work. Their art changed the way people see the world around them. This fact is no small feet and these men were 2 in 107,602,707,791There weren’t billions of people waiting in line for  Picasso Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris in Toronto or for Van Gogh: Up Close in Ottawa but at times it felt like there was. The big names bring the big crowds. For me this is a mixed blessing. I love the fact that people are going en masse to experience art and taking the time to truly look at things but it can make viewing the art troublesome. This summer has been a spoils of riches for the art going public, with two blockbuster shows just four hours away from one another. So, this past week I made my pilgrimage to spend time with two of the icons of western art.

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Happy New Year and see you in 2016.

 

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Birdman: “a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.”

BIRDMAN_gallery_cover_photoAlejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) slowly unravels like a sweater caught on a nail. Birdman unspools relentlessly through a continuous maze of backstage corridors and  claustrophobic dressing rooms of a Broadway theatre that could easily stand in for the mythological labyrinth of Minos. Michael Keaton is Riggan Thomas, who is Birdman; who may have or may not have been Icarus. Birdman reads like a Fable. Birdman felt more like a performance than a movie. While watching Birdman, I didn’t want it to end, right up until it did.

Note: at no point in the film does Michael Keaton utter the phrase “I’m Birdman.”

He does however say something along those lines in 1989 in Tim Burton’s Batman, when he played one of the first incarnations of our modern box-office super hero. His costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone are also no strangers to the comic book franchise both starring in reincarnations of The Hulk and The Amazing Spiderman respectively. Our fascination with super heroes is at an all time high and Birdman takes a sideways glance at the phenomenon. It also brushes up against: social media, the cult of celebrity, ageism, art versus commerce, magic realism, ego tripping at the gates of hell and the validity of criticism.

This last point has gotten under the skin of a small number of pop culture critics who may have unknowingly taken it a little too personally. They retaliated with words like “show-offy” and “pretentious”. The film is a well executed artful take on the continuous tracking shot that helps to establish the stress one experiences with the staging of any creative endeavor when you are working within a narrow timeline. If doing something well with innovation and intent is “show-offy” than so be it. As far as pretension goes, it is actually a theme the filmmaker addresses head-on and like most adult conversations you can actually discuss an idea without automatically falling victim to it. Birdman is an allusion to the idea of art as social criticism but demystifies the art of criticizing itself. (How’s that for pretentious?)

birdman-movie-picture-11Birdman is a drumbeat. Birdman is great performances; every actor brings their A game. Birdman is a comedy and Birdman is a tragedy; sometimes within the same scene. Birdman can turn on a dime. Birdman is a movie you should go see. In the end, Birdman is many things, and ‘a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing’.

4.5/5

Related: The Grand Budapest Hotel Review