Zero Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie; “Birdman”

Method Acting. It is a popular technique of acting that is a huge theme in “Birdman.” ┬áThe movie follows a former superhero movie star (Michael Keaton) in his attempt to revive his career on the Broadway stage. As he puts on the show, one of the supporting actors (Edward Norton) helps him realize the importance of method acting and making the performance on stage as real as possible. While this is interesting, what is even more interesting is the concept of “reverse method acting” which the film uses. The movie is actually a way for Michael Keaton (“Batman,” “Birdman”), a former superhero movie star to revive his career. It is genius in design because it allows Michael Keaton to play himself which he does extremely accurately. At no point during “Birdman” did I not believe that the character was once a superhero but now is just old.

Editing. This process is what allowed for movies to become what they are today. Through the invention of editing, filmmakers could create sequences of a variety of shots that could establish pace, inform emotion, and organize plot. Even more important, cuts tell the audience when to blink. It is a common practice in the film industry to have about 10 cuts per minute to match how many times the average human blinks per minute. Foolishly breaking this rule, “Birdman” includes no obvious cuts. Using long takes and a lot of camera movement, the film avoids cut at all costs. The result is a confusing and excruciating experience for the viewer. Three times during the screening I had to douse my eyes with water because they had become extremely dry.

Memory. When an actor gets a script, they are expected to memorize their lines. However, the nature of film allows for actors to need only a page of lines memorized on any given shooting day. Blocking is rarely created before rehearsal on set, so actors do not have to remember that either. In the case of “Birdman,” though, the actors had to do a tremendous amount of remembering. The film is shot in about three shots, which means that the actors needed to act out 45 minute scenes all in one go. They did outstanding in that context. The performances would have been considered great even if there were cuts, but the fact that they did it all in one long take just makes it incredible. They never forgot their lines or blocking, and all of the timing seemed to be perfect. It must have been taken forever to get it all to work.

A complex character study mixed with comedy, “Birdman” is a high energy, well paced film with interesting themes that doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking to be entertained. I give it zero popped corns.

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One Popped Corn

I Just Watched This Movie; “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Action. It is an easy way for a movie to capture the audience’s attention. By doing this, the audience doesn’t have to think about the deeper emotions of the characters. The filmmakers behind “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” obviously don’t understand this concept. Passing up on the opportunity to put Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) into another Hunger Games, Director Francis Lawrence instead follows the plot line of the books and keeps her underground for nearly the whole film. There are brief instances of action, though they are broken up by moving speeches by Katniss. In fact, the majority of the movie is just the internal struggles of Katniss after the trauma of the games and the destruction of her home. No one wants to see that. The reason we love and watch the Hunger Games is because it’s filled with fighting and killing. As soon as there’s something deeper than that, I lose interest.

Advertising. In most films released today, product placement deals are almost always used and can be extremely profitable. For example, the Transformers series encourages people to buy cars because… you never know… it could be a transformer. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 _ Book 3” includes a very effective bit of product placement. As Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion, she is filmed for motivational TV commercials. The film crew that does this, uses a combination of GoPro cameras and Google Glasses. The results were HD steady shots with perfect audio quality. The amazing quality matches the rest of the film, which I’m going to assume was filmed with those same cameras. This product placement will surely cause more feature filmmakers to use GoPro’s and Google Glasses.

Part 1. In present day hollywood, it has become tradition to split books into two or even three movies (like “The Hobbits”). “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 _ Book 3 + Chapters 1-28” does this effectively. It is in fact not a complete story. This is a great way to sell movies. Hopefully, other films will take note of this strategy, and not just films based on books. Imagine how cool it would be if “Avengers” was two parts. The first part could have been about the assembling of the team. A lot of conversations in rooms as they try to understand each other and get along. Then it could end with, like, the hint of an action scene. Everyone would be so excited to see what would happen next that they would all come back and see the second part. Which would have been nothing but action.

Though it was very much focused on characters and relationships and lacked any action, the performances, especially that of Katniss, kept the film entertaining. I give it one popped corn.

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