Movie Review: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

The Stake

birdman

“A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage…”

These words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth appear about halfway through Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, screamed by a crazy person on the streets of New York while the film’s antihero is at his lowest point. Michael Keaton, playing a washed-up Hollywood actor trying to restart his career with a staging of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” struts and frets at every hour of his play’s opening weekend. The film itself, meanwhile, is “full of sound and fury,” and although with Iñarritu at the helm Birdman is hardly a “tale told by an idiot,” the question of what exactly it signifies is still open. Something more than nothing, certainly, even if I’m not yet sure what that something is.

But let me back up. Birdman tells the story of an actor named Riggan Thompson, who made millions playing a Batman-like…

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Gate A-4

Live & Learn

naomi_shihab_nye

Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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How Interstellar’s portrait of loneliness left one viewer in tears

The Stake

insterellar blast

by Anne Taylor

Editor’s Note: Spoilers Ahead

I first saw Interstellar alone. I sat rapt in the front row for three hours. I left the theater dazed. I sat in my car, contemplated my keys, took one big breath and began to cry from the core of myself. It would not be an overstatement to say that I wept. Hard. For minutes. It wasn’t about Interstellar, not the story, the plot, the characters. In those minutes I didn’t care about some bullshit movie—though it was undoubtedly the catalyst for this deep, tidal wave of grief. Interstellar captured and conveyed utter loneliness in a way no movie ever has for me (and in a way that Interstellar itself will never be able to do again).

The movie opens with memories, dust, and a sea of corn. Here we see our first landscape of loneliness: Earth. The Earth has nothing left…

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#pointergate

Mayor Betsy Hodges

A few days before the November 4th election, I took a photo with an organizer while doorknocking to get the vote out. In that photo, the organizer and I pointed at one another (after, it has often been remarked, an awkward moment of set-up). A local news station ran a story that the pointing of our fingers constituted gang signs, that the photo undermined the morale of the officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, and that participating in the photo constituted poor judgment on my part. The head of the Minneapolis Police Federation — the union that represents Minneapolis police officers — made a comment publicly to that effect. He said, “She should know better” and asked, “Is she on the side of the cops or the gangs?”

As one of the two people pointing in the photo, I’ve tried to understand what the head of the police union…

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Get Angry

Staving Off Disaster

“All passion is founded on pain, grown through risk, and marked by the decisions we make in the face of tragedy. Tragedy introduces us to ourselves, to our deepest passions, to what it is that receives either our yes or our no.”

-Dan Allender, To Be Told

So I currently have a friend studying for her MA in counseling at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. And since we love discussing everything from Lost theories to philosophical and biblical debates, I’m pretty much getting a free, second-hand education every time we talk on the phone. It’s really quite wonderful. One of my friend’s teachers is the (rather profound) Dan Allender—a renowned Christian therapist and author of The Wounded Heart. Allender’s focus is on sexual abuse and trauma recovery. I’ve watched several of his interviews and keynotes, at the prompting of my friend, and I’ve certainly not been disappointed. Start here

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Embarrassing Episodes: Hello Stranger

Staving Off Disaster

Since quitting my job I tend to spend a lot of time inside. I don’t interact with people very often, so the threat level of embarrassing myself remains pretty low. If I do embarrass myself, it is most likely in front of my cats, who just sort of tilt their heads, and go back to cleaning themselves.

But when I go out into the real world anything can happen.

On Friday I found myself at the St. Paul Art Crawl, a giant community-oriented art show. My friend and I focused on the Schmidt Artist Lofts, nestled into the old Schmidt Brewing Company building. Artists participating in the show open their apartment doors, put out snacks, wine, and other drinks (“I can make a screwdriver, if anyone wants one,” one artist offered when I wandered into her loft), and make awkward small talk about their pieces. Despite the initial strangeness…

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It Only Took Me 2 Years to Write This

Here’s a story for you:

I read my friend’s latest blog entry (in which she renamed me “Becky”… how insulting!), and as I go to comment about this whole “Becky” tragedy, the word “uglyarchives” pops up as my username.   Ding. Pzzt. (That is the simultaneous sound of a bell going off and a lightbulb turning on). Ding. Pzzt. I made a blog once! And did I ever write a single goddamn post? Of course not.

September 3rd, 2012 — the day I almost started a blog. Let’s travel back in time…

1) I was living in a houseboat on the Mississippi

2) I was mostly unemployed (apart from a spotty UX gig)

3) I was in a serious-o relationship (the “Spanish” is to convey passion, duh)

4) I had no money

5) I was a few days away from competing in my first (and so far last) triathlon

Fast-forward to the present…

1) I live in a funky old house near the Space Needle in Seattle

2) I’m getting an MA in Counseling Psychology

3) The last time I was this single was freshmen year of college (when I immediately thought any boy that liked me was without a doubt a douchebag disguised as a tall attractive athlete. Spoiler alert: most are).

4) I still have no money. Though I occasionally work UW football games and clean up puke. (Dream bigger, children).

5) And no. No triathlons. But I think if you add together reading + sitting + drinking + writing…

Here is a giant bow-tie in the form of a moral: Life is really fucking hard. Change frequently. Diversified hardship makes for better stories.