Archive for Alejandro González Iñárritu

The Revenant: Proof That It Really Could Always Be Worse

Posted in 7, Action, Drama, Horror, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , on February 10, 2016 by mducoing

Revenant - IMDBThere is beauty in misery. For the most part, this sums of Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s latest film, The Revenant, which basically follows a colonial version of Job through every horror one can imagine. Beautiful, engaging but also exhausting and ultimately over-the-top.

Premise: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival in pursuit of revenge. Result: A dark, emotional draining crucible of horror and madness that is both beautiful and traumatic.

Iñárritu‘s newest film forgoes much of the brilliant, often esoteric meta-tale of one man’s personal woes in favor of a far more direct route. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his “half-breed” Native American son are trackers who appear to be the only hope of a band of American fur traders out in the Northern Wilderness who have just been trounced in one of the most jarring camp raids to hit audiences in recent memory. Observers will be shaken by the powerful and painful direction and will welcome the subsequent low-burn tension that pits Glass against John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who has declared his opposition to Glass’s recommended plan in spite of Captain Andrew Henry’s (Domhnall Gleeson) decision to side with Glass.

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Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Peculiarly Brilliant; Brilliantly Peculiar.

Posted in 9, Comedy, Drama, Independent, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by mducoing

BirdmanThere are typically limits to how an audience can relate to a film. There are natural constraints, visual elements, sound, a sense of reality and personal entertainment to name a few. But writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) somehow transcends normal viewer-film relationships with Birdman, delivering a cinematic experience that forces audiences to engage with his material in completely different, abrupt, immersive, often uncomfortable ways. And we are better for it.

Premise: A has-been actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and madness as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim past glory. Result: An exhilarating ride through insanity, although unclear whose.

Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), of Birdman fame, is going through a personal crisis. Long after starring in a super-hero film franchise that busted global box offices, Thompson feels the repercussions of his Faustian decision to become a “famous” actor, if not necessarily a good one. To remedy this, he has decided to pull off a risky Broadway debut, producing, directing and starring in the adaptation of one of his beloved plays.

While the idea of this is complex enough, the reality is far more troubling. Amidst the very real turmoil of pulling off such a project, he is faced with countless drawbacks: an injured actor, a recovering drug-addict daughter Sam (Emma Stone), an insane co-star Mike (Edward Norton), a neurotic and insecure co-star Lesley (Naomi Watts), relationship issues with Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and mounting pressures from his best friend and attorney Jake (Zach Galifianakis). And, of course, there are the critics, the most important of which is the looming NY Times gate keeper Tabitha (Lindsay Duncan), seemingly bent on his destruction.

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