Michael Keaton

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Review

“How did we end up here? This place smells of balls.” says the disembodied voice of Birdman; the alter-ego of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘Birdman or (The Virtue of Ignorance)’. What’s Riggan doing whilst his inner demon and career-shading superhero delivers this opening line? Why, he’s meditating in the middle of his shabby, run down dressing room – hovering some four feet off the floor.
And so begins Riggan’s unhinged story; a man made super famous by his superhero role 25 years ago, now trying to resurrect his career by directing, producing and starring in a broadway play. The role was not written for Keaton, but the similarities are obvious.
Inarritu takes a single camera, cleverly making the whole thing look like its shot in one take – although obviously not, and practically shoves it in the faces of Riggan, and his nerve-wracking entourage including manager (Zach Galifianakis – a man on the edge of financial ruin), daughter (Emma Stone – just out of rehab) and cast (Ed Norton playing what I imagine is a cartoon version of Ed Norton and a twitchy Naomi Watts) as they all sink under the weight of their own self doubts and self importance at what feels like break-neck speed. No sooner have we dealt with one conflicting philosophical theory about art, acting, truth, or relationships then we are thrown into another – all set to a backdrop of clever set-ups like a play within a play which is actually a film although it feels like a play – see what I’m getting at?
The characters make fun of themselves, of each other, of roles they have actually played and eventually of things you as an audience member have watched and all of this should be too much and too clever for its own good were it not for just how wonderfully silly, bonkers and downright funny it is. You get the feeling that at any moment – and very much aided by the scatty drum score that accompanies every scene, that the whole thing will just end abruptly and derail, but it doesn’t, it very much goes the distance. This is because it’s brilliantly directed and every performance is outstanding; most notable of all being Keaton’s.
I’ve missed Michael Keaton. As a child of the 80s, I had two movie uncles; Bill. Murray and Michael Keaton. And whilst Bill Murray is your prickish, laid back movie uncle, gatecrashing your house party to serve tequila, Michael Keaton is the relative most likely to arrive at said party by driving a car through the wall with a goofy smile on his face – just me?
And although he hasn’t been completely missing from our screens for the past twenty years, he’s definitely been less prolific and apart from his TLC-loving captain spot in ‘The Other Guys’, has steered clear of the kind of insane-character stuff that gave him his fame in the 80s. But Keaton is best with the straight jacket off. Even as ‘Batman’ up against Nicholson’s scene-chewing Joker, with little to do in the way of impact except for wearing the costume, he nearly steals the show with his “Come on, let’s get nuts!” line. That’s because he means it!
Here, Keaton gets to pull out every trick he has and some we haven’t seen before as he lurches from one pre-show disaster to another. Comedy like this has missed his talents, and so have I.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is in UK theaters from today.
Paul Mcghie is an Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, London Lift-Off Film Festival Judge and git. You can check out his feature project here. His work is on Vimeo or you can follow him on twitter @DirPaulMcGhie

Main Quad_AW_[28085] Birdman_5col

Clear History, Thor 2, Hunger Games and much more Upodcast

Back in the chair for Upod we have a varied episode, covering a multitude of films.

Heavy duty stuff to begin with as Asim and Martin have been watching documentaries.  Utopia, the latest from John Pilger, takes its name from a region of Australia’s Northern Territories.  Home to many aborigines the reality is that Utopia is far from being that for the indigenous population and in the eyes of the film maker, is proof that apartheid is sadly alive in a modern, prosperous, 21st century democracy.  The good vibes continue with Martin’s documentary, How to Survive a Plague.  It tells the story of how the gay community in New York fought back against the lack of HIV & AIDS healthcare provision in the face of people dying in their droves.  How to Survive a Plague is notable not only for the story it tells, but also for its almost exclusive use of archive and library footage.  Two absolutely affecting films that are well worth watching.

Lightening the mood somewhat, we then talk about the two current sequel movies – Thor 2 and Hunger Games 2.  No, of course they won’t be up for Oscars but bloody hell they are good fun and perhaps more importantly, build on the first instalments.  Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be difficult to better the first Hunger Games.

The main event and provided by someone close to Upod’s hearts, is Clear History.  The HBO produced and Larry David written movie takes us into familiar Larry territory, but is there more to this than an extended episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm?  We talk you through most, but not all of the huge cast (Michael Keaton, where have you been all these years?) and a few of the gags.  The transition from the small to the big screen is not easy pull off, but if anyone can accept the challenge, it’s of course Larry David…looking like a cross between a hippy and a caveman.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Robocop Trailer and Poster

We know all the cool kids have been complaining high and low about big bad Hollywood remaking Paul Verhoeven classic Robocop but as usual Upodcast has a different point of view and is kinda excited!

Here is the new trailer and a new poster.

There are some key elements that are different from the original, we are especially missing the crucifixion scene and other Christ allegories.

But still it’s great to see Michael Keaton back on screen.

 In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones are winning American wars around the globe and now they want to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable science of robotics to save Alex’s life. He returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before.

RoboCop, stars Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish and Samuel L Jackson. Directed by José Padilha, RoboCop is released on February 7th 2014.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Robocop: The New Trailer

Dead or alive, you're coming with me

The long-awaited (?) Robocop re-vamp has finally come to life with this trailer for the 2014 release of Paul Verhoeven‘s mid-80s sci-fi cult classic. 25 years or so really is a long time, so we can’t begrudge a re-make on these terms (unlike say, Spiderman). But the original, much like Total Recall, is held in such high regard that it does beg the question of whether audiences need the remake at all.

At first glance, this looks great – clearly so much more can be done with a budget these days – so there won’t be that old-fashioned feel to the movie. And secondly, the cast is of course impressive: Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish and even Miguel Ferrer. I’d watch it just because of Michael Keaton – a criminally under-used actor.

But what of the rest of the take-home from this trailer? A couple of things stand out for me right away: the more prominent role of the family and that he seems to know he’s human rather than robot, the inverse of the original where he has to figure out he is in fact human. Quite how these will affect the story, we can only speculate. There is also scope for comment on the military-industrial complex using machines in place of men.  You only have to look at the recent wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan to know how real drones are and how much their use could increase in the future.  How much this theme will be addressed may well have changed since the director gave a very positive interview back at the end of 2011.  We can only hope he has retained a lot of control over his movie.  Perhaps these will give the film a new dimension and give us something the original didn’t. On a basic level, I have to say I’m disappointed with him being painted black and riding a motorbike.  But in the interests of a fair and balanced report, silver Robocop did end up looking pretty awful in some of the merch.

Streethawk IS Robocop?

Don't forget, original Robocop didn't get mangled by a chemical spill, unlike one of the bad guys

Oh and the retractable visor really ought to have been a no-no from the very start – what were they thinking?  Director Jose Padhila, has form in the police sphere, having given us the Elite Squad movies. Both address police corruption, incompetence and bureaucracy (not that Robocop didn’t), so the omens are good. Possibly lacking however, will be a social commentary. The charm of the first is that there is more to it than meets the eye, lending itself to repeat viewings and making it so enduring.

This ad for the 6000SUX still makes me laugh.

I think it’s important to ask what a remake really can bring to the table – regardless of what is being re-made. Possibly not a fair comparison, but I’ll point out that operas / stage plays are typically only ever “revived”, not entirely re-worked. Sure the setting may change (e.g. Coriolinus a few years ago) and new directors and producers will bring their own touch, highlighting say one characteristic over another, but if Mozart wrote the music it won’t be replaced with a new score and if Noel Coward wrote the play there won’t be new dialogue added. So perhaps there is something to be learned from this. And maybe, just maybe, with such a great movie as Robocop, we could have had a restored print and Blu-Ray release on its 25th anniversary, celebrated with a “revival” on screen and in cinemas nationwide. Now I’d buy that for a dollar!

Enhanced by Zemanta