Right now there are two critics against Birdman — elite contrarian James Rocchi (here’s his Film.com review) and Film Freak Central‘s Walter Chaw (whose review is instantly dismissable because of his belief that Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim is a more respectable/honorable film than Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s 21 Grams and Babel). No biggie, minor potholes — there’s always an intelligent naysayer or two. No, the real machine-gun fire is going to come from somewhat older women who prefer safe-haven comfort movies. That’s not to say a sizable percentage of the Birdman dissers aren’t (or won’t eventually be revealed as) older males — I’m just confining myself for now to first-hand reactions that have dropped in my lap.
There’s a wife of a friend whose reactions to this or that award-season film have proven to be bellwethers in years past. When I asked her about Birdman she said, “Wild, isn’t it?” That’s code for “not my cup of tea.” But last night I was told she has serious reservations…uh-oh. HE’s own Glenn Zoller, a part-time Telluride resident, says that an older local woman hated it also. This woman and her husband were talking to a couple of middle-aged guys in a downtown Telluride-to-Mountain Village gondola, and she said at one point, “Whatever you do, don’t see Birdman.” And the guy across from her said in a perfect deadpan, “I financed Birdman.”
A journalist friend said last night that Birdman is going to enjoy a lot of heat and attention for two weeks after it opens on 10.17, but after that business will plummet because it doesn’t deliver the meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans that Average Joes are looking for.
From my 8.31.14 rave: “I heard more than a few reactions last night from comfort-blanket types. Some were apparently un-nerved by the constantly-moving, no-visible-edit Steadicam feeling. Some felt that the anti-Hollywood currents along with psychological edge-of-darkness atmosphere was not to their particular liking. Some felt that the dark, vaguely inconclusive ending left them in a funny place. (For a depressing analysis of this, read Scott Feinberg’s Hollywood Reporter piece.) Many more safe-haven types, it seemed last night, were declaring their love for The Imitation Game — a sad, handsome, impressively acted World War II period drama about a misunderstood, tragically under-appreciated genius.”