The masterful ‘Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ is an experience that will profoundly resonate. From its pristine writing, to its carefully constructed direction and cinematography, to its genius casting and performances, ‘Birdman’ is just a dream of a movie.
The film tells the story of Riggan (Michael Keaton), a washed up actor who used to play a superhero icon called Birdman. In a valiant attempt to reclaim his career, he adapts, directs, and stars in a Broadway play. With problems from one of his very method actors (Edward Norton), assistant daughter (Emma Stone), emotional co-star (Naomi Watts), overly sexual girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), flamboyant producer (Zach Galifanakis), and loving ex- wife (Amy Ryan), Riggan prepares for the breaking point of his career. This film eerily serves as a somewhat personal film to Michael Keaton, giving the mere fact that he was known for playing Batman, a comic book hero similar to Birdman. Keaton is an actor that proved time and time again that he can play virtually anything from heavy and hard hitting dramatic roles to silly and funny comedic roles.
Andrew (Miles Teller) is a 19-year old student at a music conservatory in Manhattan. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons – absolutely brilliant) is a teacher at the conservatory with a ruthlessly brutal teaching style. After picking Andrew to play in the school band, he pushes Andrew to his limits in order to realize his full potential, at the risk of his humanity. Director Damien Chazelle has described the film as an origin story to the jazz musicians of the golden age, and it thrives on the myths of jazz heroes such as Charlie Parker. They’re urgently looking for the next Parker, in search of perfection.
J.K. Simmons nails this part! He’s a force of nature, with a terrifying presence that incites the fear Bryan Cranston achieved with the peak of his Walter White. In fact Chazelle has done a masterful job in casting the two leads in Teller and Simmons. Their respective acts are full of purpose, full of tension and ultimately terrific.
World leaders have descended on Paris to join a 1 million strong march of solidarity in the name of freedom and liberty. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo we have been forced to question our rights in society. What can we say, what can we write, what can we draw?
Firstly it’s important to distinguish that in our society everyone is free to take offence at anything but what they cannot do is insist that someone do not do something that does offend them. We are free to offend and we are free to be offended. The second thing to distinguish is that every idea is open to scrutiny and no idea whether it is a philosophy or a religion is immune or can/should be immune from criticism. And this is where people wrongly accuse one another of being phobic of their religion. It is not islamophobic to scrutinise Islam just as its not Christian-phobic to scrutinise Christianity.
In the wake of today’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead, including some of the publication’s most notable illustrators, cartoonists took to the favoured medium of the magazine to do what they do best.
Neill Blomkamp, best known Director for movies District 9 & Elysium revealed that he was working on a secret Alien film project that included a returning Sigourney Weaver – the concept art is gorgeous! Unfortunately the project is dead, or was never going to be made in the first place, yes, feel the disappointment!
He uploaded various concept art images onto his Instagram. The first image was of a pissed off Xenomorph Queen and had this caption: “Was working on this. Don’t think I am anymore. Love it though. #alien #xenomorph.” Then he continued to upload a whole lot of beautiful Alien-inspired work onto his account, commenting, “Woulda rocked. Was a mental stroll into the world Ridley Scott created.”
The art seems more like Blomkamp’s personal pitch for an Alien film, and not something a studio pulled from him. Blomkamp even told one Instagram commenter, “Fox never said no.” What could that mean? Did Blomkamp ever actually pitch this to Fox?
You may remember back in September-ish there was a lot of controversy and news about the upcoming Top Gear Special as the presenters and crew had been attacked by a mob in Argentina.
Why? Because the license plate on Jeremy Clarkson’s car contained the letters FKL, which some have argued was chosen deliberately as a reference to the Falklands War.
Top Gear have said that the FKL license plate was purely coincidental, you can find the whole explanation in a statement here. This weekend the BBC aired the Special in full (what was left of it) despite requests from the Argentine government for a full apology and for the episode to be pulled.
Richard Hammond, James May, and Jeremy Clarkson explained that they were driving to Ushuaia in Argentina, where the battleship Belgrano had sailed from at the start of the Falklands War. Their task was to build relations, build a stadium, and then play a friendly game of car football with some Argentinians.
Jeremy Clarkson then said:
They said that they had been aware of this before they arrived in Argentina but argued that there was little they could do, as license plates cannot easily be changed. They had however planned to get around the issue but said “we were never given the chance.”
What followed was a typical episode of Top Gear, continuous car breakdowns, various oversized presents they had bought one another, typical trio banter and absolutely beautiful scenery!
It went tits up when they arrived in…
The team had been tipped off that there was a planned protest up ahead so they had checked into a nearby hotel. After they checked in a suspicious group were pictured in the car park loitering around various cars.
Clarkson said that the people outside were a “gang”, consisting of war veterans and associates who had told them there would be trouble if they continued filming. The police then arrived, confirming the seriousness of the situation.
They showed the head of the group, who argued that the number plate was a reference to the Falklands. Top Gear producers told the veterans the number plate was going to be replaced before the game of car football, but the gang weren’t having it.
They were then ordered to leave.
It was odd seeing as they had received a warm welcome in the rest of the country.
They had been told by the war veterans that a mob was on its way and they only had three hours for the crew to leave the hotel (it usually takes 24 hours to pack up such a vast crew). The presenters however were instructed to remain in the hotel as they were the main targets.
The crews convoy was attacked after they had departed from the hotel that night. First motorcycles began to get in the way of the convoy, and appeared to be looking for the presenters in amongst the cars.
They were then told by the police that an angry mob was ahead in a nearby town.
The crew was then attacked y the mob, with various objects (stones, eggs) thrown at the cars. Two members of the crew were hit and injured but they managed to escape the mob. They decided to abandon the three cars featured in the special however as they had become a “magnet for trouble.”
The crew then went off-road “fearing for their lives”, after they were warned by Police that another mob was ahead.
They then successfully crossed into nearby Chile. As per normal the Daily Mail is calling for the trio to be sacked and the BBC disbanded, like every other weekend really.
A number of US cinemas have said they will screen Sony film The Interview on Christmas Day. The move comes just a week after the film company cancelled the release of the movie after suffering a devastating cyber attack. Primarily these will be independent cinemas and so far only within the United States.
Furthermore Sony’s new lawyer, David Boies – hired to guide the corporation through the aftermath of the hacks – has threatened legal action against Twitter if the social networking company fails to ban accounts sharing leaks.
In a letter to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s General Counsel David says:
If stolen information continues to be disseminated by Twitter in any manner, Sony will hold Twitter responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by Twitter.
In the letter Sony asks Twitter to share the legal threat with Val Broeksmit, a musician who has been posting various screenshots of hacked Sony emails on Twitter.
Sony then demanded that Twitter:
comply with all future requests with regard to any other account holder seeking to disseminate the Stolen Information via Twitter. In addition, we ask that you provide the Account Holder with a copy of this letter, and request that the Account Holder cease publication of the Stolen Information on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed that the letter is authentic but declined to specifically comment about the company’s response. Thus far Val Broeksmit and other Twitter accounts sharing content from the now infamous Sony Hacks are still live.
The images are incredible. Whether it be a full moon above Battersea Power Station, or the Shard arising from the clouds, various weather conditions have provided Burns with ideal opportunities for spectacular scenery images.
Reflecting on his work this year, Burns told The Independent that “interesting skies” and a mixture of weather had led to him producing some of his best work. He said: “The reason for the great images this year is simple; we have had some very interesting skies. We have had a good variety of weather from clear skies, to thick fog, and lots of great storms, not to mention the supermoons. The only thing we haven’t had is snow.”
Burns hopes that 2015 can be an even better year, as he builds up to his 2016 book that will bring together a collection of some of his best images from a decade of work.