Beautiful Boy

Amazon/Plan B (2018) 120 min. R 

Director: Felix Van Groeningen 

Screenplay: Luke Davies & Felix Van Groeningen based on Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff & Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff

Cinematography: Ruben Impens; Editing: Nico Leunen; Production Design: Ethan Tobman; Art Direction: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.; Costumes: Emma Potter

Stars: Steve Carell (David Sheff), Timothée Chalamet (Nic Sheff), Maura Tierney (Karen Barbour), Amy Ryan (Vicki Sheff), Kaitlyn Dever (Lauren), Andre Royo (Spencer), Stefanie Scott (Julia), Amy Forsythe (Diane), Jack Dylan Grazer (Nic Scheff at 12), Timothy Hutton (Dr. Brown)

Critical response to it has ranged from lukewarm to rapturous, and there were high hopes built into Beautiful Boy prior to release. It seemed like surefire stuff. The story was timely, given the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic, and it was expected to be a major Oscar player during awards season. But despite respectable reviews, it has hit theaters with little fanfare, doing only modest business.

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Birdman

bdmFox Searchlight (2014) 119 min. R

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Screenplay: Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione

Production Design: Kevin Thompson; Set Decoration: George DeTitta Jr.

Costumes: Albert Wolsky; Score: Antonio Sánchez

Stars: Michael Keaton (Riggan Thomson), Emma Stone (Sam), Edward Norton (Mike Shiner), Naomi Watts (Lesley), Zach Galifianakis (Jake), Amy Ryan (Sylvia), Andrea Riseborough (Laura), Lindsay Duncan (Tabitha), Merritt Wever (Annie)

Given the advance word of mouth, award accolades and promising premise, with Michael Keaton as a has been superhero movie star trying to reestablish himself as a serious actor by staging a Broadway play, I was expecting to like Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s surreal satire far more than I was ultimately able to. Perhaps I set my sights too high, persuaded by critical consensus (“The only opinion that matters is the critic.”) which seems to have accepted the film’s artistic pretensions at face value. Given the movie’s brutal representation of their own breed, reviewers appear motivated by a desire to prove what good sports they are, but there is such a thing as being too tolerant.

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