Everybody always asks me what birders do during the winter, since they foolishly believe that all birds fly south then, so what the heck is there for us to look at? To these people I usually laugh, wipe away my tears of laughter, pat them on the shoulder, and explain while still laughing that only most birds migrate, silly! However, many hundreds of them are too young or weak or old to make such an arduous journey, so these less fortunate ones are forced to stick around and endure the cold. That’s why I always advise leaving your birdbaths up year-round, so birds have something to bathe in during this time of struggle. We birders also usually stay put throughout these frigid months, and we don’t even have the luxury of feathers or leafy trees to stay warm in, so most of us don’t really go out birding at this time, you’re right. But that doesn’t mean we suddenly stop being birders for the season, that’s just nonsense! No, luckily we have a little thing called “The Cinema” where one can stay warm and comfy and full of popcorn while seeing birds on “The Big Screen,” just like we do outside! So I thought it’d be fun to take a break from my usual interesting posts about my birding adventures, and instead pretend like I’m Siskel & Ebert, by going to see a bird movie and then reviewing it! So I went to see Birdman (2014)!
When I first heard there was a movie called Birdman, I thought they had finally made a biopic about my life! 😉 No, I never seriously believed what I just wrote there, but boy, was I still confused by the name of this movie! More on that shortly, but first, a little context: Birdman was written and directed by some Mexican director, but don’t worry, there aren’t subtitles or anything. The plot involves not a birder, but an acter; someone who doesn’t bird, but rather acts, in movies, or in this case, a play, although he’d been in movies, too. There are lots of recognizable famous people in Birdman, such as the other guy from Fight Club (not Brad Pitt, though I wish!), and Zach Galfiankis, star of the classic dramedy Due Date. But the real standout performance was by the guy who played the titular character: fellow ‘Burgher Michael Keaton (but is he a birder and blogger too? I don’t think so!!! But I don’t know, maybe he is! I don’t think so, though.) My friend Emily is actually related to Mr. Keaton, so I figured I’d be able to go through her in order to get an exclusive interview with him for this blog, but I forgot to even ask her about it until just now. Well, there’s always the sequel!
As for the movie itself, it may as well have been simply titled Man, because there were hardly any birds in the whole darn thing!!! And there wasn’t a single birder represented, NOT ONE, even after years of us demanding to be taken seriously by Hollywood! So much for diversity in the film industry, I guess! And my real issue is this: what species of bird is this “Birdman” even supposed to be, anyway? They show him only briefly, and I could see that he had feathers and a beak, but that only narrows it down to maybe, oh, just EVERY BIRD EVER!!! I had even brought my Sibley guide and a flashlight into the theater with me, and I looked through every single page trying to compare the bird on the screen with one in the book, and I still couldn’t identify him! Ridiculous! Why would the filmmakers go through all that trouble of titling their film Birdman if they couldn’t at least be ornithologically accurate and have that bird be an actual type of bird??? Typical Hollywood, they took the lazy route and didn’t flesh out their characters or even make them at all realistic, instead settling on a vague characterization of an entire class of organisms. I’m sure any day now I’ll read about them greenlighting a sequel called Mammalman. Is he a dog, or a panda, or a dolphin, or just a regular human? Doesn’t even matter, these spoon-fed American audiences will eat it right up and ask for more, and the film will easily gross well over a billion dollars… Pathetic.
When the movie ended, I couldn’t even stay for more than half the credits, I had to get out of there right away and try to get my money back. (That was a whole ‘nother ordeal in itself, which I do not feel like reliving right now, but let me just say I DO NOT recommend going to such a scamming cheapskate independent theater like the Manor in Squirrel Hill. I’ll stick to Destinta, thank you very much!) All in all, I thought the acting, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the plot, and the editing were all quite good, but with such glaring inaccuracies about the world of birds, I’m afraid I had to give Birdman a rating of No Stars.
Well, that’s another one to add to my list of unsatisfactory bird movies: The Birdcage, To Kill a Mockingbird, Three Days of the Condor, The Pelican Brief, Black Hawk Down, The Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Winged Migration, and Albert Hitchcock’s extremely disappointing The Birds. (I was hoping the birds were going to kill the rest of the humans in the end, but they just sat there and let them escape! SPOILER ALERT!) It seems like the only time Hollywood portrays birds properly is when they animate them, such as Jafar’s hilarious talking parrot sidekick in Disney’s Aladdin, or the running chickens in Chicken Run (though I’m especially partial to that movie since the main character is voiced by Mel Gibson, and I just think that man can do no wrong!)
Looking ahead at the holiday movie releases, I see one titled Into the Woods, which is hopefully about just what it sounds like: going into the woods to look for birds. I know at least one good thing going for it: it stars major Hollywood star JOHNNY DEPP, whose most iconic role just so happened to be named after a bird!!!!! (I’m of course referring to Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow.)