Birdman- 15

Michael Keaton plays a washed-up superhero actor in this breathtakingly original showbiz satire.

I left the film not knowing if this was the best piece of film ever created or the worst drivel I have yet to inflict upon myself. I still don’t know.
Keaton is good and Norton steals the show, but in a film about actors it’s hard to tell if they are simply playing themselves or not.
While I enjoyed seeing such an ensemble on the screen, I am still finding it hard to see the point of the movie other than it being a mainstream artsy hipster conceit created simply to be an Oscar nomination.
I don’t feel like my time has been wasted, but I still feel like I’ve been left out of a joke or missing one vital piece of information that will make the whole thing make sense.The irony of seeing a play about producing a film noir movie (City of Angels, review to follow) made it hard not to see the flaws in Birdman.
The music in this film is obtrusive and unrelenting to the point of distraction. While it is later revealed to diegetic (or not, if it is indeed all in Keaton’s head), it detracts from the overall enjoyability.

It’s worth a high brow watch, particularly if you are in the midst of an Oscar buzz, but it is not a film for your DVD collection.

Cast- 9
cinematography- 8
plot- 7
music/sound- 3
pace- 7
enjoyability- 6

Foxcatcher- 15

Foxcatcher

Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo star in a gripping psychological drama based on the shocking true story of an Olympic champion.

Steve Carell in haunting brilliant, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are beautifully ugly to the point that it’s hypnotic. All three are able to suggest the emotional scars without having to dwell upon them.
The hard part I have always found about ‘psychological dramas’ is that it is a term thrown about to excuse the feeling that audiences don’t quite know what’s going on. It also seems to be a little confused about what it is trying to achieve; the first bulk of the movie plays like a Sports film. It was only the last third of the film that revealed itself as anything but a quirky, arty look at the world of wrestling.
I found the film a little overindulgent and lacking any energy or motivation to keep an audience captivated. That said, those who are interested in biopic and sports movies will find some redeeming features.

It is very much an Oscar bait movie: high brow, arty and primarily about the acting while not caring about the comfort of the audience.

cast 10
cinematography 7
plot- 8
pace- 5
music/sound- 5
enjoyability- 4

American Sniper – 15

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Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in the visceral true story of the U.S. Military’s most lethal sniper.

An all too real look into the Iraqi battlefield, Bradley Cooper is perfect in the role of Chris Kyle; Navy SEAL and sniper legend. His portrayal is uncompromising and powerful.
Sienna Miller is excellent as Chris’ suffering wife, left at home while he completes four volatile tours. However, the supporting cast feel a little underused and too interchangeable.
The film initially plays with the narrative; flitting back and forth smoothly until Chris’ timeline crashes back to the opening scene. It appears to be a common trick with a number of films recently and it really works here.
Apart from one action laden scene that takes place in a sand storm, this is one of the most engaging and emotive war movies for many years.

Cast- 9/10
Cinematography- 7/10
Plot- 9/10
Pace- 9/10
Music/sound- 7/10
Enjoyability- 8/10

Total-48/60

Theory of Everything- 12a

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“The life-affirming, superbly acted true story of Stephen Hawking’s first marriage’

No fault can be found with the acting, but you will be forgiven for making a comparison between Eddie Redmayne and the BBC forerunner of the role, Benedict Cumberbatch. Two high profile Brits playing the greatest mind- it’s hard not to. Devastatingly, I have to admit that Eddie appears the more committed of the two. Thankfully the film diverts from the same narrative early on, so that distraction is left back in the opening third of the film.

Charlie Cox and David Thewlis are amazing support. I will always welcome the appearance of either in any film, but here they both bring charm and heart to a heartbreaking biopic. However, it is Felicity Jones who really shines. Her personal battle of loyalty, frustration and abandonment is well developed.

There is a good pace to the film that makes its central character the relationship between Hawking and his first wife; Jane Wilde. Time passes for them fluidly and it finds a perfect balance between Hawking’s professional progression and their family life.
However inevitable, the ending is a little too bittersweet to be the film I was expecting it to be. I felt I was intruding on something a little too personal for it to be a comfortable watch.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 9
Plot- 8
Music- 6
Pace- 9
Enjoyability- 6