This blog has never featured a movie review.
Well, I’m about to write two. Why have a blog at all if you can’t indulge in the things you secretly think you’ve always been a bit awesome at? I have always thought I’d be an awesome film reviewer, maybe we all do. But I especially have thought I possess superior gifts of film analysis. Which is strange because I don’t actually see a lot of films. I’m not a guy who goes and catches the latest Scandy dramas or art house classics, or even the dodgy blockbusters. Hell, I haven’t even seen Casablanca or any of the Godfathers. So I might actually be a cruddy reviewer cos I can’t contextualise … But who cares. My blog.
So I’m writing this in a place where I do in fact watch most of my movies. On board a plane. And just now I have watched the best movie I’ve seen in a decade. And then I watched Birdman.
The best movie I’ve seen in a decade (probably longer) is called Ex Machina. It’s written and directed by a bloke I’ve never heard of (Alex Garland) and stars absolutely no one. Well that’s not true. It stars actors, not stars.
And it’s absolutely f***ing brilliant. I seriously can’t put it any other way – and I know by being sweary I will be in trouble with my wife and my kids will snigger but this movie deserves the ultimate approbation. A simple premise about artificial intelligence, an almost paralysingly brilliant script and the most magnificently tense anxiety-inducing direction. This is a film that restores your belief in film. I’ve no idea if it has won or will win any awards. But it wins Stuey Gregor’s film of the decade, and that’s good enough for me. See it.
And then I watched Birdman. Birdman has won lots of awards yet has split those I know including my wife and bestie Polly who both loathed it, calling it self indulgent baloney, or words to that effect. I see where they are coming from.
Birdman is Hollywood doing quirk at its highest level. The directing and production are pretty bloody stunning granted and yet… And yet… It just doesn’t ring true. Sure, they’re trying to say something about celebrity, but they do it in such a magnificently Hollywood way the whole thing is laced in its own self-induced and self-involved irony. And shit I hate monologues. Who ever speaks like that? Who speaks like Emma Stone spoke to her dad? Who deliveries soliloquies like the Birdman did way too many times? I know it’s a fantasy but it’s also a bit bloody rubbish. Writing great words is one thing, writing great dialogue another thing entirely. And just as an aside, it’s not easy for me to pan a film with both Naomi Watts AND Emma Stone in it….
But Birdman isn’t all bad I reckon. People much smarter and more learned than me in the craft of film thought it brilliant. But in my mind it was show-offy and hyper produced. Put simply, it’s no Ex Machina. And I bet that’s not been said on the movie pages before.
Ex Machina. 5 stars
Birdman. 3.5 stars