Birdman

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Nope, not talking about Keaton here but rather Mr. Feng Xiaogang. I would definitely say this re-titling is up there with  Gravity 2: Before In the Cellar.  However, this title speaks on a much deeper level than simply a play on Damon’s character.  You will understand when you watch the movie.  At first I thought the English title, Mr. Six, was kinda lame but then I realize the Chinese title is the same thing but in Chinese. Though technically, the Chinese title is the full name of Mr. Six rather than just his last name but I digress.

I watched this movie simply because I saw the trailer and thought it looked pretty interesting but I wasn’t totally sold on it.  I was sold when a week ago all the showings on a cheap Tuesday for this film was SOLD OUT.  I’m talking about the showing at noon till the one at 7 at night was ALL SOLD OUT.  I have never seen that before so with that I was sold I had to check this out.  Then I found out who was in it during the opening credits; a former Chinese member of Korean pop group was in here, just like in The Witness (though with that member, he is still active).  At first I was afraid that it was simply because of his name that the draw was this huge but fortunately it wasn’t the case.  Simply put, the cinematography, soundtrack, storytelling and characters speak for themselves.

The cinematography here is great.  The tracking and wide shots really help build the atmosphere and the characters.  I think I’m bias since I don’t know who the director is nor do I watch many China-production films so I wasn’t really expecting this kind of cinematography.  The pacing of the shots were also great in the sense it was right up my alley.  The shots of mundane everyday activities always win points with me in terms of storytelling and character as it shows you the real life of that character rather than just giving you a high-light reel of said characters’ life.

The theme and imagery also shined through as well as it was paired with the soundtrack beautifully so it really added to the atmosphere and the scene.  Other things such as build-up and character realization were subtle and just authentic.  The execution of the pacing of the movie is interesting. It feels long but yet I was invested enough that I didn’t mind it at all though there were moments were plot devices felt very far-fetch but then later on when everything fell into place it didn’t feel like that at all but rather an authentic progression of plot devices.

The acting here was great though it largely depends on if you can go along with the overall theme as things could potentially fall apart when you don’t necessarily buy the stuff Mr Six does/preach throughout the film.  Though then again, I think it addresses more than simply, respect your elders as it is a social commentary about the relationships between young and old. It draws a fine line between being preachy and just idealistic.  I feel you would get more out of this film if you personally understood the whole ‘respect your elders’ mantra cause then you can see the struggle from both the old and the young.  The emotions are real here as it really challenges and supports the mantra at the same time. The use of characters are great as well.  Li Yifeng’s character as Mr. Six’s son seems impartial to the plot but when things get heated, he and  Feng Xiaogang has the most touching scene in the entire film and it just speaks so well of their chemistry. And again it goes into the pacing of the film, their relationship comes rather later in the film and one would have expected the relationship to be examined much sooner.  I actually like this change of pace as it broke your typical 2 hour movie mold of when events must happen.

To be honest, I can’t really separate each thing I just praised without talking about it all together as each worked so well with one another.  I really enjoyed this film.  Though one thing that somewhat irks me is how this film is being marketed.  If you watch the trailer, it seems like a standard revenge/justice flick in lines with say, Taken, in the sense its an old guy taking on a lot of people.  But in actuality, its Taken in real life. It really deals with age and coming to terms of how one’s body aged despite what you may have done during your youth.

So my advice? After watching the trailer, don’t expect action-packed explosive action but rather a great film about the relationship of a dad and his son.  You’ll enjoy it a lot more.

I will definitely be on the look out for this cinematographer’s and director’s future work.

 

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