Archive for April, 2015

birdmanposterBirdman was definitely your unconventional Best Picture Winner.  It will, no doubt, be viewed as strange for most moviegoers.  While it definitely has it’s fair share of unusual qualities, I don’t really find it all that bizarre.  I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person that talks to myself, and it’s simply this introspective communication that makes up most of the content that’s viewed as “weird”.

Let me first say that I think Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Riggan/Birdman deserved the Oscar for Best Actor.  While Eddie Redmayne did a fine job, there are plenty of other actors that could have pulled that off (In fact, fellow nominee Benedict Cumberbatch also portrayed Stephen Hawking).  I felt that the character of Riggan had greater depth and Keaton did a phenomenal job.

However, I was simply blown away with the extended shots this film contained.  It was unreal how few cuts this film actually contained – I’m sure if I googled it, I would find out.  The complexity of extended shots is overwhelming for the actors and film crew.  If one person misses a line or one of the set crew is out of place, the whole scene is blown and they have to go back to square one.  All of this to say, it’s really hard to do what director Alejandro G. Iñárritu did.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

The film follows the story of Riggan.  A former big-budget movie star who’s attempting to redefine himself through the theater…and I don’t mean movie theater.  Riggan is determined to break the image that’s been assigned to him, by writing, directing, and acting in a Broadway play.

Riggan’s character – as many of us can identify with – has become obsessed with other’s opinions of himself.  This initial obsession led to him donning the Birdman mask.  And, while it produced fame and money, his newest endeavor seeks to destroy the mask that constantly plagues him.  Much of the plague manifests itself in an inner battle between Riggan and Birdman.

This film doesn’t sanitize the depravity of the theater – both on and off the set.  In my estimation, the viewer gets an accurate portrayal into the world behind the theater curtain.  To put it bluntly, it ain’t pretty (viewer be warned).  Debauchery and vice are an aspect of each and every character as we get a front-row seat into their lives.  The flaws of these characters even manifest itself onstage, making the viewer assume the play will be an enormous failure.

Riggan’s attempt at theater, however, becomes a success.  Even as he’s guaranteed a devastating review from New York’s most notable critic, his efforts seem to win the audience over.  Yet, as we come to expect, Riggan has a surprise left for the audience.  During the climax of the play, Riggan’s character commits suicide.  While the gun has been a prop throughout the rehearsals, Riggan takes a loaded gun onstage for the live performance.  Sure enough, he puts the gun up to his head and pulls the trigger, moving the viewer to assume he’s just killed himself in front of a live audience.

The next scene opens in a hospital room, where we discover that Riggan is still alive.  As he fired the revolver, he actually blew his nose off instead of his brains out.  As he regains consciousness, Jake (Zach Galifinasakadkjas) informs him that the play has been a huge success.  What’s interesting, however, is that Riggan now has a new mask.  Blowing his nose off resulted in plastic surgery and we see him covered in gauze and bandages, resembling a mask.  He’s succeeded in ridding himself of the Birdman mask – which was beloved by fans – only to don the Surgical Mask which is also beloved by a new audience.

To be completely candid, Birdman is a film I don’t completely understand (there’s much I’m still processing).  What I do know is that it contains excellent dialogue that will resonate with most humans, because Riggan is us in so many ways.  We are shaped by opinions of others and we’re longing for acceptance.  Because of this, we put on mask after mask, hoping to find significance in the eyes of others.  For the Christian, however, we already possess something no audience can take away.  And it’s not a mask but a robe.  We just need to talk to ourselves more often about it.

Top 10 Saddest Animal Deaths

Posted: April 27, 2015 by jperritt in Uncategorized

In light of the I Am Legend musing last week, I thought this was appropriate. (Get some tissues.)

 

  1. The Desert Planet Isn’t Tatooine.
  2. J.J. Abram’s was apprehensive about signing on.
  3. There will be less CGI than episodes I, II, and III.
  4. The new “ball-droid” is called BB-8, and he’s real.
  5. The movie looks great!

Check out the complete and detailed article at IMDb, by clicking here.

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit—New Trailer

Posted: April 24, 2015 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

It looks like M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film will make you never want to visit your grandparents.

legend

This might sound strange, but I Am Legend has proved to be one of my favorite films.  Maybe it’s only strange to me, because of the low expectations I took into that film for my initial viewing.  I’ve written other posts on this film here and here, so check those out if you want a little more depth.  Today I’m simply musing about the “saddest” scene in the film.

[MAJOR SPOILERS]

As is this case with any film, the saddest scene is up for debate.  After watching this film multiple times with large groups of people, however, I’ve found that often times the audience is more saddened by the death of Sam (whose full name is Samantha….who’s also a dog) in comparison to the other sad scenes.

I too am sad at this scene, but is it the saddest?  I mean, Robert Neville (Will Smith) loses his wife AND daughter in the film.  Not to mention his own life.  This film is filled with death, yet it’s the dog that gets the memorable death.  Why?  Maybe it’s because Robert has to kill Sam?  Still though, I’ll take a dead dog any day of the week over my wife and children (which actually isn’t saying a whole lot, but you get my point).

On the other hand, I understand the sadness.  Most of us can identify with the loss of a pet.  And, while I still don’t mind losing a pet in comparison to a human (!), death is always an unnatural reality for Christians.  While humans are image-bearers of God and our death is more significant, the death of anything still leaves a big impact on creatures that were designed for eternity.

What do you think?  Why is Sam’s death such a big deal?  Did you find her death the saddest?  Let us hear from you.

Coming Soon: A Brief Theology of Movie Trailers

Posted: April 18, 2015 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

MV5BMTUyMTIxNzE1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU0ODQ4MTE@._V1__SX1394_SY660_If you’ve been following Reel Thinking for any length of time, you know that one of the things we do regularly—aside from offering weekly reflections on specific films—is highlight trailers for forthcoming releases. We’ve been doing so increasingly as the Oscar race gets heated up and as studios begin their summer blockbuster campaigns. And since Trailer Tuesdays are a staple here at Reel Thinking (and since we’re getting our first look at a certain highly-anticipated film today), I think it would be helpful to offer a few thoughts on the significance of movie trailers.

Obviously, there are many different ways to approach this subject. It is entirely valid to talk about the movie trailer as a marketing tool designed to sell tickets, analyzing the factors that determine what is shown, how it’s shown, and when it’s shown. On the other hand, one can look at trailers from a production standpoint—or as a sociologist, statistician, or rhetorician. But I want to do something entirely different; I want to briefly consider trailers from a theological perspective.

A primary function of the movie trailer is to build audience anticipation. As we settle into our theater seats (or huddle around a computer) and watch the latest preview, we experience a unique internal tension between excitement and suspense. The excitement comes as we get our first look at a movie we really want to see. At the same time, a trailer’s final reminder that the highly-anticipated film will not release for a considerable length of time often leaves the viewer is a state of suspense. An appetite is whet, but the main course is yet to come.

This is a tension in which we revel and delight, for movie trailer premieres have increasing become pop culture events akin to the opening night of the feature film itself. I think, for instance, about the time I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX. Paramount had promised to release an extended, 9 minute trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness that would be shown exclusively in theaters before this screening, and it seemed like some people bought a ticket just so they could see that trailer. They were on the edge of their seat for the entire nine minutes and there were some scattered cheers at the end. “I can’t wait to see that,” was whispered in many ears. No doubt, these words have been tossed about much thought the past few days, as the premier of the new Star Wars trailer and the first Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser have taken the internet by storm.

MV5BMjM4MjI2MDMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI2MDgzMzE@._V1__SX1394_SY676_All of this excitement and anticipation around movie trailers reminds me of the theological concept of the “already but not yet,” wherein Christians presently experience many of the blessings of the Kingdom while still awaiting the future, final consummation. We experience a faint shadow of that eschatological tension when we watch movie trailers. The preview makes promises of good things to come and excites a deeper—and for some people, hidden and suppressed—longing for a “Kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28).

[This post originally appeared on November 28, 2014. However, I thought it might be relevant to post again, given the Star Wars and BVS excitement. Check out the trailers for both below.]

 

New Trailer–Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Posted: April 16, 2015 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

Recently I bashed The Longest Ride for simply being porn for teenagers.  That is, the film doesn’t seem to contain much explicit content; therefore, they rely on the implicit – mixed with the fallen human heart – to produce sensual material teens and pre-teens can watch.

This got me to thinking about the definition of porn.  Pornography carries with it the connotation of ‘cheap’ or ‘low quality’.  However, with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey and TLR, I think we’re seeing a different quality of porn being released.  I’m not saying these movies contain any quality worthy seeing, I’m simply saying the box office has realized that there’s money to be made off of material that’s pornographic.

Porn seems to be saturating more and more of our culture and the statistics of porn consumption are staggering (One study shows that the annual consumption of pornographic videos comes to 11 videos per person on earth!!).  Because of this amount of consumption, movie-makers understand that there’s a market for this sort of thing.  Therefore, we have FSG, TLR and Magic Mike, as well as, it’s sequel being produced.  While all of these films may break away from certain conventions that apply to porn, they’re still taking certain recipes of porn.  However, a new recipe seems to involve adding a bigger budget and notable actors/actresses; making it a different quality.

It’s going to be interesting to continually see the effects of pornography on the wide-release films in the cinema.  Will we continue to see ‘quality porn’ being released at the local cineplex?  I’m confident we will.  Let me know what you think.

Trailer Tuesdays: Spectre

Posted: April 14, 2015 by jperritt in Action, Adventure, Drama
Tags: ,

The new James Bond trailer has been out for a few weeks, but in case you missed it here it is.  Also, be sure and check back tomorrow for Movie Musings on “Quality Porn”.