Birdman – Film Review – Yes, I Liked It

I liked it.

That could be it – a very short review.

No, wait – there’s more!

Here’s the outline of the film to orient you if you have not heard of the film:

Birdman, commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It stars Michael Keaton with a supporting cast of Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts.

The story follows protagonist Riggan Thomson, a faded Hollywood actor famous for his role as superhero Birdman, as he struggles to stage a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver, ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’.

I read the reviews and I saw a clip from the film, and knew that I wanted to see it at some point because I think Michael Keaton is a good actor.

He was ill-suited to play Batman because Batman wears a mask that covers half of his face, leaving just the lips and chin showing.

And Micheal Keation has cutie-bow pout lips, which don’t sit well with the image of the chisel-jawed Batman.

That aside, he is a good actor and shows a wide range of emotions. He comes across as being able to laugh at himself and yet he can be serious and doesn’t treat life as a joke.

Well that’s how he comes across. As to what he is as a person, who knows? After all, he is an actor.

And that issue was central to the film.

It was annoying also. If it had gone on for three more hours, it would have hurt. The continuous single shot would have hurt – but what would really have hurt would have been the claustrophobia of the characters.

The only real relief comes in two brief scenes. Are they ‘scenes’ when everything is in one panning shot? That said, the scenes were firstly Edward Norton happy with Riggan’s daughter at the side of the stage.

I wondered whether seeing that was part of what made Riggan act as he did in the next Act of the play?

The other relief was when Riggan’s daughter rested her head on her father’s chest.

Two tiny sparks of simple warmth in a mess of people with self-aware brains exploding over each other.

Alroy – Benjamin Disraeli

I came across a reference to Benjamin Disraeli having written a novel in 1833.

This is Benjamin Disraeli who would become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom thirty five years later.

The novel concerns a messianic prophesy about the coming of a messiah and about David Alroy, a Jewish pseudo-Messiah born in Amadiya, Iraq.

As Wikipedia relates:

David Alroy led an uprising against Seljuk Sultan Muktafi and called upon the oppressed Jewish community to follow him to Jerusalem, where he would be their king and set them free. Alroy recruited supporters in the mountains of Chaftan, and sent letters to Mosul, Baghdad, and other towns, proclaiming his divine mission. He was born Menahem ben Solomon, but adopted the name “David Alroy” (“Alroy” possibly meaning “the inspired one”) when he began claiming to be the Messiah.

He was able to convince many Jewish people of to join him and Alroy soon found himself with a considerable following. He resolved to attack the citadel of his native town, Amadiya, and directed his supporters to assemble in that city, with swords and other weapons concealed under their robes, and to give, as a pretext for their presence, their desire to study the Talmud.

What followed is uncertain, for the sources of the life of Alroy each tell a different tale in which events are interwoven with legend. It is believed that Alroy and his followers were defeated, and Alroy was put to death.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the novel:

THE cornets sounded a final flourish as the Prince of the Captivity dismounted from his white mule; his train shouted as if they were once more a people; and, had it not been for the contemptuous leer which played upon the countenances of the Moslem bystanders, it might have been taken for a day of triumph rather than of tribute.

‘The glory has not departed!’ exclaimed the venerable Bostenay, as he entered the hall of his mansion. ‘It is not as the visit of Sheba unto Solomon; nevertheless the glory has not yet departed. You have done well, faithful Caleb.’ The old man’s courage waxed more vigorous, as each step within his own walls the more assured him against the recent causes of his fear, the audible curses and the threatened missiles of the unbelieving mob.

‘It shall be a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving!’ continued the Prince; ‘and look, my faithful Caleb, that the trumpeters be well served. That last flourish was bravely done. It was not as the blast before Jericho; nevertheless, it told that the Lord of Hosts was for us. How the accursed Ishmaelites started! Did you mark, Caleb, that tall Turk in green upon my left? By the sceptre of Jacob, he turned pale! Oh! it shall be a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving! And spare not the wine, nor the flesh-pots for the people. Look you to this, my child, for the people shouted bravely and with a stout voice. It was not as the great shout in the camp when the ark returned; nevertheless, it was boldly done, and showed that the glory had not yet departed. So spare not the wine, my son, and drink to the desolation of Ishmael in the juice which he dare not quaff.’
‘It has indeed been a great day for Israel!’ exclaimed Caleb, echoing his master’s exultation… [Read More]

I read that and despaired. How could someone who was to rise to prominence write so leadenly?

Then I read it again and detected the light irony in the writing. I should read more if I can.

It’s still not the easiest reading, but easier than when I thought it was poor.

Disraeli Photo From Wikipedia

Korea’s Criminal Adultery Law 1953-2015

Until South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled on 26 February to abolish the crime, adultery was a criminal offence in South Korea and has been since 1953.

The report in the Korea Times mentions that

The first adultery case involving celebrities was in 1960 involving actor Choi Moo-ryong and actress Kim Ji-mi. The couple were in a relationship outside of marriage. In 1970, a local TV station famously aired video footage of the well-known actress Chung Yoon-hui in a jail cell for committing adultery.

The JD Journal quotes five of the nine justices on the court as saying,

It has become difficult to say that there is a consensus on whether adultery should be punished as a criminal offense. It should be left to the free will and love of people to decide whether to maintain marriage, and the matter should not be externally forced through a criminal code.

As the headline in the New York Times article has it,

‘Adultery Is No Longer an Affair of the State in South Korea’.

What good headline, with the unspoken link to ‘affairs of the heart’.

As for actual numbers, The Guardian reports that:

In the past six years, close to 5,500 people have been formerly arraigned on adultery charges – including nearly 900 in 2014.

But the numbers had been falling, with cases that end in prison terms increasingly rare.

Whereas 216 people were jailed under the law in 2004, that figure had dropped to 42 by 2008, and since then only 22 have found themselves behind bars, according to figures from the state prosecution office.

The maximum sentence for the offence under the law was two years. That said, South Korea was not the only country to have criminalised adultery Taiwan’s Criminal Code Article 239 provides that “married spouses who commit adultery be imprisoned for up to one year.”

The Backdrop For The Original Law

The Korean War lasted from 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953. I can’t help but wonder what relationship there is between the origin of the statute and the Korean War.