This Week at the Reel Deal

Column By JIM O’DONNELL
Reel Deal Theater  

This Friday our line-up will be Birdman, Penguins of Madagascar, Horrible Bosses 2 and Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1. Interstellar will end this Thursday.

Birdman won Best Picture and Michael Keaton won Best Actor for his performance at the Gotham Independent Film Awards last evening. This film will open at the Reel Deal this Friday and probably run for one week only unless folks really come out for it in which case we could play it for two weeks. It has gotten rave reviews so we hope to see you at the theater.

Theory of Everything will open at the Reel Deal Dec. 12. I’ve had a lot of requests in our town for this film. We hope you can wait until then and see it at the Reel Deal.

Movie poster for ‘Birdman.’ Courtesy Reel Deal Theater

Birdman review by Chris Sawin, Examiner.com

Birdman” originally left the impression that it was a live action adaptation of Adult Swim’s “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” (or the Hanna Barbera cartoon “Birdman and the Galaxy Trio” from the late 1960s) when it was first announced. After those hopes were crushed, a new anticipation rose from the ashes. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” is the latest film from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu; the same man that brought us “21 Grams,” “Babel,” and “Biutiful.” It is the first film with Michael Keaton in a lead-role in six years while the rest of the cast, which includes Emma Stone, Zach Galafianakis, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Andrea Riseborough, are all just as equally talented and impressive in their performances in the film.

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is the former star of a superhero franchise phenomenon known as Birdman. In the present day, Riggan is facing bankruptcy and has put everything he has into a play, an adaptation of Richard Carver’s short story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and is directing and starring in it. Riggan sees it as his one shot at a comeback. His best friend and manager Jake (Zach Galafianakis) is producing the play while his fresh out of rehab daughter Sam (Emma Stone) is his assistant. Riggan’s lead actress Lesley (Naomi Watts) brings in her talented and calloused boyfriend Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) to help fill a void in the cast Riggan was a little too eager to vacate. Riggan struggles to keep the play afloat while his eccentric cast mates consistently attempt to sink the ship.

In a way, “Birdman” is a bit like “Fight Club.” The Narrator’s interactions with Tyler Durden are very similar to Riggan’s constant arguing with Birdman. Whenever Riggan is alone he is haunted by his alter ego. Riggan has lost everything he has ever cared about; his wife Sylvia (Amy Ryan) is no longer with him, his daughter Sam hates him for never being there while she was growing up, and his acting career died with the Birdman franchise. Riggan’s desperation is given the voice of Birdman, which plays devil’s advocate, always looks in hindsight, and does nothing but remind Riggan of how things used to be.

Emmanuel Lubezki was in charge of the cinematography of the film. Just looking at Lubezki’s recent works, he’s credited with the likes of “Gravity,” “The Tree of Life,” and “Children of Men.” Needless to say, “Birdman” is absolutely beautiful visually because of Lubezki behind the camera. Colors are magnificently vivid, visuals are crisp and extraordinary, and even the impossible (like a man flying through the city) looks and feels as genuine as the brisk autumn air brushing against your face.

Everyone is so self-absorbed in the film, which is the main aspect of the film that makes it feel so authentic. The characters may be crude, harsh, and cynical, but dammit if they don’t come off as tainted actors and individuals familiar with the industry who have been chewed up and spit out by the never-ending cycle of it all. The opening credits are quite invigorating for the senses; letters of a Raymond Carver quote are revealed one letter at a time to a jazz-like, freestyle drumbeat. That same drumming is utilized throughout the film’s soundtrack as well as little hints of a full symphony at times.

Michael Keaton is undoubtedly compelling, Emma Stone feels like she’s finally matured as an actress, and nobody portrays a conceited a-hole you can’t take your eyes off of quite like Edward Norton. However, it’s Zach Galafianakis’ performance that will really blow you away. This is the first time it actually seems like he’s taken on a character with actual depth and multiple layers and Galafianakis completely delivers and it’s surprisingly great.

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” is a plummeting descent into the depths of one tainted man’s former glory while he wrestles with every aspect of his life to recapture everything he used to be. Riggan loved his career, but regrets the way he treated his family. It pushes him to the brink of insanity, which is illustrated so very well by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The desperation and devotion of Riggan bleeds through in Michael Keaton’s performance while the stress and tension he causes is felt through the actions and demeanor of the rest of the cast. “Birdman” is an exquisite black comedy that is slightly daunting, completely hilarious, and impeccably acted.

Coming attractions include The Theory of Everything, Exodus, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Hobbit , Into the Woods, Unbroken, and Wild (based on the book by Cheryl Strayed.)

Note: Do not trust other websites for Reel Deal Theater movie times as they are often incorrect and we’ve been getting a lot of confused patrons who use these random sites including Google. For correct show times, visit www.reeldealtheater.com or use the Los Alamos Daily Post listings for show times. If you have any requests, email me at odonnell455@gmail.com and I will respond when I know something.

Don’t forget, if it’s your birthday, the movie of your choice is free!

You can see our full schedule, show times and trailers at www.reeldealtheater.com.

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