‘Birdman’ of ‘The Sixties’

Posted on February 17, 2015
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“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) — famous for portraying an iconic superhero — as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. Riggan Thompson was Birdman, a crime-stopping superhero with a beak and a three-film franchise. Now, he’s a washed up actor trying to get his career and life back together by opening his own play on Broadway. On the eve of it’s opening, the play is close to falling apart and Riggan is forced to sign a younger, egotistical lead actor, whom he despises. What photo for Birdman results over the next three days is strange and dark as, leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself. The film is nothing less than an examination of human existence, creativity and aspirations. A tour-de-force performance by Keaton, fabulous directing (by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), cinematography (by Academy Award-winner Emmanuel Lubezki) and an unforgettable score. Our pick for best film of the year. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, best actor (Michael Keaton), best supporting actor (Edward Norton), best supporting actress (Emma Stone). Winner of a SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. Winner of two Golden Globes including best actor in a musical or comedy, best screenplay. Winner of the Darryl F. Zanuck PGA Award for best feature film. Co-stars Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Natalie Gold, Merritt Wever, Lindsay Duncan. From Fox.

Bill Murray has finally come into his own as one of this country’s best dramatic actors, and he comes to the fore in “St. Vincent,” a bittersweet comedy about a crumpy older man, his Russian prostitute girlfriend and his new neighbors. Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a single mother, moves into a new home in Brooklyn with her 12-year old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Forced to work long hours, she has no choice but to leave Oliver in the care of their new neighbor, Vincent (Murray), a retired curmudgeon with a penchant for alcohol and gambling. An odd friendship soon blossoms between the improbable pair. Together with the pregnant Russian hooker Daka (Naomi Watts in a wonderful role), Vincent brings Oliver along on all the stops that make up his daily routine — the race track, a strip club and the local dive bar. Vincent helps Oliver grow to become a man, while Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart. A thoroughly enjoyable — if predictable — outing. From The Weinstein Co.

The documentary “The Sixties” (2014) explores the most turbulent decade of the modern era in America. From the Cold War to the War in Vietnam, from the Space Race to the Long March to Freedom and Civil Rights, the events of the 1960s were both dramatic and transformative. The Beatles invaded America, Man landed on the Moon and the Women’s, Environmental, Conservative and photo for The Sixties Gay movements were all born. It was a decade of assassinations and urban riots but also of Woodstock and Haight Ashbury. Television sets were tuned to “The Twilight Zone,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” while record players spun the songs of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. In its examination and portrayal of this most consequential time, this CNN Original Series (which originally began airing in May on CNN) reveals why it was truly “The Decade that Changed the World.” Three three-disc set includes 10 episodes: “Television Comes of Age,” “The World on the Brink,” “The Assassination of President Kennedy,” “The War in Vietnam,” “A Long March to Freedom,” “The British Invasion,” “The Space Race,” “1968,” “The Times They are A-Changin’,” “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll.” $69.99 from PBS Distribution).

“An Autumn Afternoon” (1962), the final film from Yasujiro Ozu, was also his last masterpiece, a gently heartbreaking story about a man’s dignifed resignation to life’s shifting currents and society’s modernization. Though widower Shuhei (frequent Ozu leading manphoto for No Tears for the Dead Chishu Ryu) has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter, a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure from their home. As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master’s films, “An Autumn Afternoon” is one of cinema’s fondest farewells. New, 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. In it’s Blu-ray debut from The Criterion Collection.

In “No Tears for the Dead” (2014 — South Korea), Gon (Jang Dong-gun), abandoned by his mother shortly after immigrating to America, is raised by the mafia and grows up to become a cold-blooded hit man. Though usually flawless in taking out his targets, Gon makes a terrible mistake by killing an innocent young girl. A flood of guilt takes over his life and the situation becomes worse when his boss assigns him the job of killing the young girl’s mother — until he begins the  fight to save her life. From the director of “The Man From Nowhere.” On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from CJ Entertainment


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