Tag Archives: Amy Ryan

Birdman (2014) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references, offensive language & drug use
Cast:
Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson
Edward Norton as Mike Shiner
Zach Galifianakis as Jake
Andrea Riseborough as Laura Aulburn
Amy Ryan as Sylvia Thomson
Emma Stone as Sam Thomson
Naomi Watts as Lesley Truman
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), daughter (Emma Stone) and ex-wife (Amy Ryan).

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Best Picture winner Birdman was a movie that I really liked when I saw it, even though I didn’t regard it as a masterpiece like most people. Given that I was rewatching plenty of movies recently to see what I thought about them on a second viewing, I decided to rewatch Birdman, and I definitely got a lot more out of it on a second viewing. Masterfully directed, written well and acted well, Birdman is for sure a fantastic film experience.

Watching it a second time, I really noticed that Birdman was written incredibly well. There are plenty of references of Hollywood and has a lot to say about art, movies, the film industry and the like. Most movies about Hollywood that reference other movies and actors existing could easily fail at this but with Birdman they somehow they managed to do it in a way that doesn’t feel obnoxious. It’s an original and weird movie for sure, I mean this is a movie where the lead character can move objects with his mind and fly (or at least thinks he can). It’s a bit of a strange and dark comedy. It’s astounding how they managed to pack so much emotion and depth into 2 hours, and it had me entertained for that entire runtime. Talking about some of the best parts about this movie or explaining why they’re so great would involve spoiling a whole lot of what happened, and honestly it’s best if you go into it not knowing much already. The ending certainly is different, very ambiguous and it’s not going to work for everyone. You really have to interpret a lot of the movie (especially the ending) for yourself.

There is quite the large cast involved here, and they all gave some great performances. While everyone does very well here, it’s Michael Keaton who is the star of the show, really giving a career best performance. The casting choice is definitely meta, since the character is a washed up actor who once played a comic book character decades ago, and is played by Keaton who once played Batman of course. However it’s not just an inside joke, Keaton gives such a layered performance and really brought this character to life incredibly well. Edward Norton is great as a character that seems somewhat based off of his persona, a very talented but volatile method actor, among Norton’s best work for sure. Emma Stone is also great as Keaton’s daughter, giving one of her best performances. There is particularly one monologue with her which was one of the stand out scenes of the movie, and that’s saying a lot. The rest of the cast are all outstanding as well, some of which include Zach Galifianakis as Keaton’s lawyer and producer (in a more dramatic role that he hasn’t really done before), Andrea Riseborough as Keaton’s girlfriend and an actress, Naomi Watts as an actress, and Amy Ryan as Keaton’s ex-wife.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s direction of the whole movie is present throughout, and really added a ton to Birdman. Something that is really known was that this movie is made up of a bunch of long takes, making the movie look like it was done in one entire shot, it’s truly fantastic and creative the way they navigated the camera throughout all the spaces. There are parts where the camera goes black, and you can probably tell that one shot ended there and then another shot began, nonetheless the shots go on for so long that it’s nonetheless very impressive. Emmanuelle Lubezki’s cinematography as always is truly fantastic. The music is just a bunch of drums playing, occasionally at a seemingly random beat, and it kind of oddly works for this movie.

Birdman is arguably Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s best film yet, and I loved The Revenant. With his fantastic direction, the weird and original writing, and the great performances (especially from Michael Keaton), it really deserved all the awards recognition that it received. However, I can partially see why it wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I can’t really set you up for it, but I personally recommend that you watch the movie, just going into it movie with an open mind.

Beautiful Boy (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Drug use, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Steve Carell as David Sheff
Timothée Chalamet as Nicholas “Nic” Sheff
Maura Tierney as Karen Barbour
Amy Ryan as Vicki Sheff
Director: Felix Van Groeningen

Teenager Nicolas Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) seems to have it all with good grades and being an actor, artist, athlete and editor of the school newspaper. When Nic’s addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his father (Steve Carell) does whatever he can to save his son and family.

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Beautiful Boy is a movie I had been hearing about for a while, with it seeming to be a big awards contender. It was a movie based on a true story about drug addiction with Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet involved. When it came out the reception was generally positive, with some slightly mixed reactions, but the performances were highly praised. That’s probably a good summation about what I think of the overall movie, good performances but the rest of the movie is just sort of okay with some issues.

Beautiful Boy doesn’t feel like it was made with the intention to just win awards. You can feel like it came from a well intended place and was meaning to tell an important story about drug addiction. With that said, throughout it just constantly felt like something was missing from the whole movie. It feels oddly mechanical and emotional-less, like it’s trying to resemble an emotional and powerful movie but it doesn’t end up genuinely being that what it aspired to be. It just slipped into being melodramatic a lot of the time, and not in a good way. Even if we put outside the whole emotional feelings not really hitting, there are some issues. Despite it being about drug addiction, it doesn’t really provide any insight into the mind of a drug addict, sure one of the main characters is a drug addict but we don’t really get to know much from his point of view. It doesn’t stretch to being anything more than any other movies about drug addiction. It basically extends to “drugs make him feel better, he is addicted to them but they are killing him” and that’s all we really get from it. Maybe it’s because we get an outsider view about it, with the film from the perspective of the father (Steve Carell) than the drug addict son (Timothée Chalamet), and I think that really worked against it. After watching the movie, I was trying to think about what new things I’ve learned about drug addiction and all that and I realised there was really nothing. At 2 hours long it sort of dragged at points, it wasn’t boring but it does feel rather dull sometimes, and it was made worse by the fact that I didn’t care about what was going on.

The highlight of the movie is definitely the performances. Steve Carell has been having a more dramatic career ever since Foxcatcher back in 2014 and this is yet another solid performance from him. He is convincing enough in the role of a father trying to connect with his son who has these drug problems. Although I will admit, every time he raises his voice and yell (in certain dramatic scenes) I did hear Michael Scott from The Office and what was intended to be a heavily dramatic scene ended up being a little comedic instead. Timothée Chalamet is an actor I admit I haven’t been completely on board with. I think he’s fine enough but I wasn’t on the hype train for him that started when Call Me By Your Name happened. With that said he did give an impressive performance here. The supporting cast with Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan and others also contribute and play their part for the movie. I will say though that even with Carell and Chalamet’s performances being quite good though, it feels like they are being held back a little bit. Like they’re reduced to yelling really loud and having these big ‘acting’ moments rather (especially Carell), which I don’t think utilised the actors as well as they could’ve been.

I’m not familiar with Felix Van Groeningen but his direction works okay enough, nothing great though. Parts of it worked well, others not so much. The stand out part of the direction that really didn’t work at all however was the music. The music choices were really weird and work against the movie whenever when they were present. It really detracts from the mood of the movie and the scenes, any emotion that you may feel in the moment just disappears. Also like I was mentioning earlier, while I get the feeling that everyone was trying to be well intentioned with it, it does come across as being fake and ‘oscar baity’ (I often refrain from using that term but you can probably get what I mean by that).

Beautiful Boy doesn’t completely work as well as I think it was trying to. While it is a well intended movie about an important subject matter, it somehow comes across as being emotionally hollow and just doesn’t connect all that well. Not to mention some of the directing and writing decisions just really didn’t work in the film’s favour. If there’s any reason to watch the movie, its for the performances, particularly those of Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, who do some great work here.