A Look At The Birdman Movie


One of the most acclaimed movies of 2014 is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and with good reason. The film follows Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, who is a former movie star who played superhero Birdman for three movies in the 1990s. Thomson is a shadow of his former self and is no longer a movie star. He has a broken relationship with both his daughter and ex-wife played by Emma Stone and Amy Ryan respectively. In an an attempt to prove he is not a talentless hack he decides to write, direct, and star in a Broadway show.

This is where the movie starts, Thomson is trying to make a last minute replacement for an actor he believes is incompetent. After going over lines with method actor Mike Shiner, played brilliantly by Edward Norton, he immediately hires him to take the part just one day before the first preview of the show, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”.

When that day comes Shiner decides to drink real liquor on stage and makes a scene and we start to see Thomson unravel. Keaton plays a very believable character struggling with self-doubt.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, a Mexican filmmaker best known for his films 21 grams and Babel, wrote and directed the film. His films often explore the cruel world and the imperfect people that reside in it, Birdman is no different. What is different is the cinematography. The entire film is made to look as if it were shot in one single shot.

If you went to the theater expecting to see a caped superhero you may be disappointed. And if you thought it would be some sort of social commentary on comic-book movies you’d be disappointed as well. It does, however, have some elements of social commentary on the world of Broadway vs. the world of Hollywood. Birdman only makes a few appearances as a character that haunts the actor and acts as a sort of anti-conscience.

Lets Take a Look At The Oscars 2015


Best Picture

American Sniper


The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


The Grand Budapest Hotel




Steve Carell for Foxcatcher

Michael Keaton for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Bradley Cooper for American Sniper

Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game


Best Actress

Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night

Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl

Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything

Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Julianne Moore for Still Alice


Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall for The Judge

Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

Ethan Hawke for Boyhood

J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Edward Norton for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Emma Stone for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Laura Dern for Wild

Meryl Streep for Into The Woods

Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game


Documentary Feature


Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth



Animated Feature

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

David Fincher’s Gone Girl Review

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck

David Fincher’s most recent foray into film was as exciting as ever. Fincher has been the go-to director for dark storytelling since his second film, “Seven”. Since then he has been nominated for several Oscars and even won a Golden Globe for, “The Social Network”. He seemingly cannot do wrong and his most recent film, “Gone Girl”, really shows the talent he has become.

Gone Girl was adapted from a novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, and though Fincher’s directorial magic shines, the story is what ultimately carries the film. The big reveal comes about an hour into the two and half hour film, which allows for the feeling of a second film with the same cast of troubled characters


The story begins with Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, at a bar getting a bourbon. But we quickly end up back at his house watching a suspiciously calm Nick call the police because of a broken table, an open door, a missing wife and other suspicious circumstances.

As the police conduct their investigation into the disappearance of Nick’s wife Amy, played by  Rosamund Pike, more is revealed and Nick looks increasingly like the culprit. Television news programs start to suspect Nick as the killer, and a smile at the press conference doesn’t do him any favors.

Right when the viewer is starting to think Dunne has done something terrible the film cuts to a free, driving and very much alive Amy Dunne.

That’s when we get a look into the mind of Amy and the meticulous planning of her own murder. We begin to see her not as a victim but a ruthless and petty femme-fatale.

Neither of these characters are likable and the next hour and a half is a deep character study of Nick, Amy and two more characters we are introduced to played by Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry.

“Nightcrawler” Oscar for Jake Gyllenhaal?

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal

There has been a lot of Oscar talk around Jake Gyllenhall’s performance in “Nightcrawler”, recently. The story is about driven sociopath who learns about the underground industry of filming scenes of accidents, crimes and fires. The story completely relies on the performance of it’s star, and he does not disappoint.


Nightcrawler begins with an introduction to this character we see develop throughout the film. He attacks a security guard who catches him stealing copper wire.

He is not a good man and this is not a heartwarming story.

Shortly thereafter, Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) witnesses a car crash and a film crew who gets on a call to sell crash scene footage immediately after getting a short clip of the wreckage. This is the character’s call to action. Bloom decides to trade in a bike he stole to a pawn shop for an old camcorder and a radio scanner.

He gets some footage of a car jacking and is able to negotiate a sale of his amateur footage to the morning news director of a struggling local news station.

A complicated and near sociopathic character herself, Nina, played marvelously by Rene Russo, gives a speech that would only inspire a character like Bloom. She tells him to continue getting quality footage but to focus on violence in affluent neighborhoods, at one point saying,

“A murder in Compton isn’t news.”

The next two scenes gives us a deeper insight into Gyllenhaal’s character. He hires a desperate assistant whose pay he negotiates down to $30 a night. The two go together to their first crime scene where we first see the willingness of Bloom to do whatever it takes to get material he can sell.

It works.

He is eventually able to purchase a better camera and a sleek red sports car, presumably to get him to scenes quicker. He does not, however, give his assistant a raise.

Bloom’s rival company eventually offers him a job after turning him down before. Bloom’s response is to cut the brake fluid in his van which results in an accident. Bloom films it.

At this point, we know this man is a sociopath, but what comes still surprises……

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men Days of Future Past

X-Men Days of Future Past

X-Men is one of the most popular franchises in movie history, and for good reason. Not only is X-Men a brilliant Marvel comic with powerful story lines and complex motifs, but it boasts an increasingly famous cast of mutants. Newcomers in this film were Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, and James McAvoy.

Not only did the film do well in the box office, as all X-Men films do, it received critical acclaim as well. Bryan Singer is an amazing director, he is best known for, “The Usual Suspects” but has comic book to movie experience with previous X-Men films and Superman Returns. He does not disappoint with X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The plot sets this movie apart from the rest.

The movie is set in the future, and rather believably so, where sentinels are on the brink of exterminating not just mutants but the humans who dare to assist them. The sentinels are robots that can mimic mutant mutations, so as soon as they are attacked by a mutant they absorb that power and can use it from thereon. There remains a few mutants in this future and we finally see Xavier and Magneto come together to fight their common foe. To do this, they must project someone into the past to stop this from ever happening.

Let the spoilers begin: [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]

Every X-Men movie has to have Wolverine. This beautiful predictability leads the writers to send Wolverine back to 1973 to stop Bolivar Trask, the creator of the sentinels, from being assassinated by Mystique. This event sparks a mindset for humans of us vs them. This is another subtle but not preachy X-men motif pulled off with flawless execution.

X-Men movies are not going anywhere, they make too much money, and the market is too big. The other good news for X-Men fans is that there is 40 years worth of stories, and Hugh Jackman is as timeless as Wolverine.

Finding Money in Hollywood Just Got Easier

SFinding Money in Hollywood Just Got Easier

For the past several years (depending on who you ask, anywhere between 10 and 30), film and TV productions have been trickling out of the Movie Capital of World and into other states and even other countries. The exodus has been blamed mainly on the tax and other financial breaks and incentives other cities — like New York, Baltimore, and even Albuquerque — have offered to productions in search of filming locations. Hollywood, on the other hand has not updated its tax incentive program for six years instead, it seems, relying on the rich history of the locations they have and the allure of the cities widely regarded name.

In that time, Hollywood’s program has become hopelessly outstripped by other cities. To make the difference clear, compare the 100 million dollar pool of incentives (doled out by a mystifying lottery system) to the 423 million offered in New York. Offered those financial choices and armed with the ability to greenscreen actors anywhere in the world afforded by modern technology, it’s no wonder even big name movies are taking their business elsewhere.

Faced with the very real potential of losing its reputation as the place to film, Hollywood is finally wising up! At the Chinese Theatre (a classic theatre in Hollywood associated with many great film premieres throughout history, including, among others, Star Wars and famed for the handprints and footprints of famous stars that line it’s forecourt) Governor Jerry Brown will sign the “California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act” and officially turn the bill into a law. This bill will more than triple the amount in the incentive pool, increasing the amount from 100 million all the way to 330 million. It will also change the way those incentives are distributed, giving the boot to the blind lottery system and enacting a process that will give funds based on how many jobs a production will generate.

Hollywood may be down, but it is certainly not out thanks to this bill. And it may have come just in time with TV really starting to generate critical acclaim and momentum in the entertainment industry there are going to be more productions and more hours of filming than ever this coming season. Dust off the cameras, Tinseltown is back!

Justin Perich on HuffPost Live


I discovered HuffPost Live, the live stream of the Huffington Post for the first time a few weeks ago. I ran across HuffPost Live while I was on their main news site  looking at articles in the Healthy Living vertical. It was then that I looked at  right top hand corner of my screen and noticed , funny man and popular actor Marlon Wayans was on for a segment about his new TBS show Funniest Wins. Marlon Wayans is the an executive producer and host of the new comedy competition in which 10 comedians compete  against each other for a starring spot on his series What The Funny and a $100,000 prize. Host Marc Lamont Hill had a hilariously entertaining interview with Marlon Wayans where the viewers are able to comment along in the live thread. I decided to ask him how he felt about Nick Cannons white face controversy since he  most notably wore white face in the movie White Chicks. To my surprise,  my comment was picked up and read live by Marc. Marlon Wayans answered with a great and legitimate response. You’ll have to watch the segment to hear what his response is! Check it out below. My question is answered about 15 mins in to the interview. I have been tuning in to Funniest Wins and I must say it is very funny and the comedians are talented. I look forward to checking out the rest of the season. 



justin perich neighborsNeighbors – As both a writer and director, Nicholas Stoller has proved himself capable of delivering highly enjoyable comedies which gently subvert expectations and tropes. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jason Segal’s Peter Bretter failed to win the Hawaiian girl back with the speech and had to return back to the mainland and get his life together before she’d consider taking him back. In The Five Year Engagement, the story begins where most movies end, the man proposing to the woman, and we get to see what happens when the butterflies fade and reality settles in. Neighbors has a similarly subtle uniqueness in its comedic approach to married life and generational struggles. The story finds Mac and Kelly Radner (played with heart and charm by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) living next door to a frat house in a college town, run by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco, respectively). What begins as a mutual respect between two “families” turns into all out war between the old and the young, the so-called mature and immature. This is a movie largely made by and for men, but writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien are to be commended for creating a major female character who is just as fun and complex as her male counterpart. Gone is the tired dumb dad and nagging wife routine–here Rogen and Byrne split the laughs and hijinks equally. While not as groundbreaking as the success of Bridesmaids a few years ago, the fact that male artists in showbiz are getting the hint and rising to the modest challenge of the Bechdel test is a good sign for the future of Hollywood. And on a basic level, Neighbors is just plain funny. 4/5 stars.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

justin perich captain americaCaptain America: The Winter Soldier – The latest Marvel movie is a nonstop action ride that will hold your attention from start to finish and not a second longer. Chris Evans, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson all turn in solid if somewhat stiff performances in this flick conventionally directed by Anthony Russo, a newcomer to the superhero genre who spends his allotted two hours attempting to build his bonafides by playing it safe and following his predecessors. As a result, the film never reaches the heights of The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s clever and inventive smash hit from a few years ago. Following the events of that movie, The Winter Soldier gives us a Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) living a quiet life in DC, attempting to adapt to modern life until another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is put in danger. The Captain teams up with the Black Widow and the Falcon to kick some ass, uncover an enormous global conspiracy, and save the day. It’s a formula we pay for and formula we get with this one–fortunately and surprisingly, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pen their best script yet, and the resulting films includes enough comedy, tension and pathos that we find ourselves caring about the characters the way you might care about an action figure toy–it may be lifeless and a dime a dozen, but there’s undoubtably a connection there. 4/5 stars.


justin perich herHer – My personal favorite for the Best Picture Oscar, Spike Jonze’s Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely man living in a slightly futuristic Los Angeles who earns his living writing intimate, handwritten letters for other people. By now, those who haven’t seen the movie have already heard what happens next–Theodore falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system (played pitch-perfectly by Scarlett Johansson). But the strength of the movie is that it succeeds not only in its novel premise, but in its uniquely satisfying execution. Her is a movie that never stops building on its own ideas. It makes you think not only about technology’s ever-growing role in society, but about human relationships in general. The romance is played perfectly straight, like any other movie about two individuals negotiating the delicate dance of falling in love. Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s LA of the near future is brilliant in its simplicity, in its warm, glowing, colorful nostalgia for a past that never quite was (art direction, sets, and costumes by Austin Gorg, Gene Serdena, and Casey Storm, respectively). Lastly, supporting performances by Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde, and Rooney Mara, as well as a dynamic score by Arcade Fire, make Her the leader of the pack in a year of terrific films. 5/5 stars.