I have finally had the chance to see Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and it will probably remain my choice as best film of last year. A delirious showbiz comedy, certainly one of the best movies about theater or film ever made. Michael Keaton, incredible in his role, is the declining movie star Riggan Thomson, who has abandoned the superhero role of Birdman that made him rich and famous and is now trying for validity as stage actor and director by starring in his own self-financed Broadway play adapted after a Raymond Carver story.
The film is so intelligently constructed (the on- and off-stage are so interlinked that you often get the feeling you can’t tell fiction from reality, if the characters talk as themselves or playing the Carver dialogue) and filmed, by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won the Oscar last year for Gravity (giving you the impression that it is a one-take film), that it makes me want to say that it has its own stand-alone place in cinema. Birdman is placed in the theater world, but it cleverly alludes to the vanity of blockbuster Hollywood, to superheroes and remakes and cinema interested solely in box office rankings, to actors addicted to celebrity, trying to adapt themselves in a new world dictated by social media. But it takes a visionary non-American director to render an American subject in such an incisive, original, satirical yet emotional way.
And it’s wonderful to realise director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s talent for comedy (I still can’t shake off the heavy impact that the tormenting story in 21 grams had on me). The entire supporting cast is amazing, from Edward Norton (hylariously narcissistic) and Emma Stone (I don’t think there is any other actress more entitled to the Oscar nomination – for what these nominations are worth – in supporting role), to Naomi Watts (she continues to prove herself better), Amy Ryan and Zach Galifianakis. The score from Antonio Sanchez adds to the originality of Birdman, maintaining an edgy, jazzy vibe throughout, transmitted to the viewer. Everyone seems to have done their piece flawlessly and it shows.
photo: movie poster | production credits
Don’t you feel inspired when a piece of clothing looks better in the street than on the runway? This is often the case, isn’t it? The individuality of the wearer is what makes an outfit. I liked this Preen coat (obviously, given its military style) in the presentation, but I’m loving it here. It’s been given life.
photo: The Style Heroine
One of this season’s big trends is fur/faux fur (if we can call a trend something with a repetitive presence in winter collections). Not something I’ve paid too much interest to in the past and something I’m more likely to wear in the form of a fur stole or scarf, or a chic trapper hat. Eschewing the challenge of a fur coat, it’s just a touch of glamour that echoes a sought-after ease when paired with a more casual item (because we tend to be more on the comfortable side in the cold of winter, don’t we?), like an elbow wool-patched corduroy blazer.
photo by me | original photo: David Yurman Fall 2008 ad campaign, featuring Natalia Vodianova
by guest writer
The Castle of Sand (1974) might just be among the best thrillers I’ve seen. The first on my list should be High and Low (1963) by one of the Japanese cinema’s great directors, Akira Kurosawa. Yoshitarô Nomura is the director of our pick for this Sunday, a prolific and engaging persona of his times. The screenplay is an adaptation after Seichô Matsumoto’s novel with the same name. The integration of the characters into a movie that runs more than 2 hours and 20 minutes is simply wonderful, just as the story line, the actors’ play, cinematography and music. You get the feeling of that Japanese sensibility that is only present in their films. The opening scene introduces us the two investigators, Detective Imanishi (Tetsurô Tanba) and Detective Yoshimura (Kensaku Morita), starting their quest to find the mysterious killer of a grocer, ex-cop Miki. With nothing clear in their hands, they start assembling the puzzle with great difficulty and dedication.
The cast of the movie is impressive, gathering actors with a very good reputation, either young, middle-aged or even almost retired actors, like Chishû Ryû, for example. Yasushi Akutagawa’s composition and music add to creating a deeply moving story. Takashi Kawamata is the cinematographer and the one that doesn’t miss important visual points throughout the entire length of The Castle Of Sand. The swing between present and past in flashbacks is the element that bounds together the missing elements in Eiryo Waga’s (Gô Katô) life. The ending scene is as unforgettable, as it is the photograph with the little boy, building his sand castle.
photo: movies still | Shôchiku Eiga