Movie Time


I've got two movie reviews for you today. And let me be clear....I have NO film expertise. I'm just a gal who likes watching movies...silly ones, serious ones, and especially documentaries. Both of today's films are currently in the theater. One is full of inspiration. The other is full of alluring confusion. Wild. And Birdman.

First, let me tell you about Wild starring Reese Witherspoon. This film is based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Have you read the book? I haven't read the book and I really enjoyed the film. Witherspoon does an outstanding job as Cheryl Strayed...her gripping portrayal gives viewers a real sense of the raw grief-stricken wandering that Strayed's life took after the death of her beloved, courageous mother. Strayed spent 3 months walking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own...on the journey she confronts her deepest fears, anxieties, and regrets. By the time she finishes the 1000 miles, she is renewed and strengthened for a new chapter to begin. Great film. Highly recommended! Very inspiring. I left the theater ready to buy some hiking boots and face my fears!

Now, Birdman. I left the theater speechless and stunned...not sure whether I hated it or loved it, but pretty sure I hated it. My mom and I were going to go to the movie Big Eyes. But then I decided that I really wanted to see a comedy and Birdman is listed as a comedy online. I didn't know much about it, but I had Googled it and seen that it had very good reviews. So I thought, "Let's go for it!"

WHOA! It might be a comedy, but it is not of the Zoolander or Anchorman variety...or even The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou or Lost in Translation variety. This movie is dark. Super dark. And mind-bending. Upon leaving the theater, I probably would have only given it a 3/10. But now, a few hours later, I'd give it a 5-6...if not higher. By tomorrow, who knows? I'm definitely still thinking about it. So if you judge movies by how much they get you thinking, then this is a very good film. But it didn't leave me feeling inspired or necessarily ready to face my fears. It left me pondering the meaning of art and the influence of ego and the nature of reality. And I thought I was going to see a hilarious comedy! My brain was not ready!

There is a lot of cursing, so if you see it, prepare your ears. It's a hard film to describe. Michael Keaton plays the leading role of Riggan Thompson. Riggan is a film actor who starred in a super hero franchise called Birdman. Now, in his 50s, he decides to adapt, direct, and star in a Broadway play. Right off the bat, the viewer discerns that Thompson is not a picture of emotional stability. Is he endearing? Not particularly. No one is in this movie. Except maybe Thompson's ex-wife. Each character is complicated. Very complicated.

When I first came out of the theater, I thought it was a lackluster movie attempting to be profound. I felt like it was trying too hard. But the more I have pondered it the last few hours, the more I think it actually is profound...and the director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is perhaps quite courageous in making a movie that is so uncomfortable (I haven't seen any of his other films, but apparently they all have fairly dark, existential themes).

For me, it was hard to discern what exactly the director IS trying to say with this film. There are a lot of different themes going on, and it all melds together. It's also hard to discern which parts are true and which parts are Thompson's delusions.

If you're looking for a concrete movie experience with a very clear plot, this is NOT the movie for you. If you're looking for a gut-busting comedy, this is NOT the movie for you. If you're looking for a weird movie experience that leaves you perplexed and in deep thought and a bit frustrated that you went to see it at all, then check it out!

After the movie, my mom and I looked up some interpretations of the film online, and that was a fairly helpful exercise (here's the reddit feed with 2.4 billion spoilers...so don't look until you've watched). Overall, it seems like no one really understands it. But there are a lot of interesting commentaries and perspectives out there.

So, while I'd say I liked Wild better - it's pretty clear which film got more paragraphs in this blog post.

Bottom line: they are both good films in utterly different ways. But actually...they are both movies about people trying to make sense of the world and circumstances around them. Strayed finds her meaning on the Pacific Crest Trail confronting her fears and learning to accept herself and her story. Thompson finds his meaning...or perhaps, attempts to find his meaning...on the theater stage, clamoring for the affection and accolades of the masses.

I can hardly wait until Oscar season!

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