|6:30 & 8:45 each evening|
|1:30 & 4:00 matinees Sat & Sun|
Rated R; 119 minutes
Todd McCathy, The Hollywood Reporter (excerpted)
Intense emotional currents and the jagged feelings of volatile actors are turned loose to raucous dramatic and darkly comedic effect in one of the most sustained examples of visually fluid tour de force cinema anyone's ever seen. All in the service of a story that examines the changing nature of celebrity and the popular regard for fame over creative achievement.
An exemplary cast (including Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Emma Stone) are led by Michael Keaton in the highly self-referential title role of a former superhero-film star in desperate need of a legitimizing comeback. All fully meet the considerable demands placed upon them by director Alejandro G. Inarritu.
Dating back to his international breakthrough with Amores Perros 14 years ago, Inarritu's films (21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful) have always coursed with energy and challenges embraced. Here, he and his indispensable cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have gone the extra mile to make a film that, like a far more complicated and sophisticated version of what Alfred Hitchcock did in Rope in 1948, tries to create the illusion of having been filmed all in one take.
The film's exhilarating originality, black comedy and tone that is at once empathetic and acidic will surely strike a strong chord with audiences looking for something fresh that will take them somewhere they haven't been before. Birdman flies very, very high.
|6:00 & 8:15 each evening|
|1:00 & 3:30 matinees Sat & Sun|
Rated R; 106 minutes
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly (excerpted)
Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neiman - a gifted jazz drummer attending New York's hyper-competitive (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory of Music. Andrew is a cocky prodigy who's driven not only to be great but to be one of the Greats. As the film opens, we hear the slow build of a snare drum. The tempo builds faster and faster until it reaches a fever pitch, which is exactly what writer-director Damien Chazelle's film is about to do too. Because standing in the doorway is Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a hard-ass maestro who looms over the school. Ropy, muscular, dressed all in black, Fletcher closes his eyes and listens - really listens. He's trying to divine whether Andrew has the chops to join his elite student band... or if he just wants to chew the kid up and spit him out. Maybe both.
Simmons, an actor better known for playing hangdog good guys such as the dad in Juno, has rarely been allowed to sink his teeth into a character like this. He's brutal and manipulative, and you can't take your eyes off him. Deep down he seems to believe that his tough-love approach can pull something beautiful out of misunderstood students like Andrew. And Teller, with his baby face and air of easily wounded vulnerability, makes Andrew someone you pull for.
As Fletcher puts Andrew through the wringer, pushing him to practice until his callused fingers bleed, you feel in your gut the simultaneous thrill and terror of the drive to be exceptional, whatever the cost. You don't have to be a jazz fan for Whiplash to zap you with its thrumming live-wire beat. If you can appreciate the sight of two totally dialed-in performers simmering until they boil over, that's enough. And that's pretty much the definition of jazz.