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Longtime readers know I like movies. They’re fun as a stand-alone proposition.

But movie-going is almost essential when Arizona’s solar-intensifying sprummer has come, gone, and Satan’s excessive heat warning says it’s 109 outside. Overnight it ‘cools down’ to the high 90’s.

So when outdoor activity partners with heat stroke, getting out often means movies. This weekend, it was Wonder Woman — highly enjoyable and big fun. Although I enjoy all genres, there’s nothing like a well done action film.

As some of you know, I’ve also seen my share of movies featuring lawyer protagonists. Admittedly, it’s been a while since there was one I liked. The Lincoln Lawyer is perhaps the last one I thought entertaining — but that was 6 years ago.

It’s not like I rush to see movies featuring lawyers. Quite the opposite. I think most are to be avoided. 2014’s The Judge was awful.

Nearly always they get the law and the ethics wrong. For instance, I missed last year’s The Whole Truth, starring that latter-day Olivier, the wooden thespian known as Keanu Reeves. I’m sorry to say I finally caught it online.

Of The Whole Truth, movie critic Rex Reed said, “A guaranteed cure for insomnia, an abomination called The Whole Truth is a courtroom movie that looks like a colorized version of an old Perry Mason TV show, starring Renée Zellweger’s new face and Keanu Reeves, who has the charisma and animated visual appeal of a mud fence.” Keanu plays that over-used movie stereotype, the ethically challenged criminal defense lawyer.

And why always an ethically challenged defense lawyer? Why not an amoral ERISA or corrupt water rights lawyer? In truth it’s probably because ERISA and water rights lawyers would have to arm-wrestle to avoid the title of most boring field of practice.

In any event, Keanu’s much better as pup-loving legendary hitman John Wick not as a lawyer. Just the same, I admit to liking his turn as the lawyer son of Satan in The Devil’s Advocate.

Recliner movie watching.

Glenn Whipp amusingly reported this past Friday that theater chains have “decided that the best way to sell tickets is to replicate moviegoers’ living rooms.” See “When moviegoers treat theaters like living rooms — texting, talking, even diaper changing happens.”

It’s true. Recliners have arrived at the cineplex, including the one in our neighborhood. I’m not sure, however, that Wonder Woman was better because my feet were up. The Whole Truth, on the other hand, is a different matter. The recliner would’ve meant In dormis delicto.

Fortunately, the movie-going pleasure of Wonder Woman was mostly unmarred unlike other recent movie experiences involving serial chatterboxes and obsessive texters. Save for a movie patron twice checking his cellphone two rows in front, we escaped Glenn Whipp’s exponentially worse experience with the in-the-theater toddler diaper-changing mother. “Because,” as Whipp explained, “that’s what those adjustable armrests are for, right?”

And that Bill Kilgore is not the smell of napalm in the morning.

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Photo Credits: Empty cinema movie theater, by Iwan Gabovitch  at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution; First movie of the year, recliner chair theater, by stupid systemus at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution.

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I finally saw Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). I wish I’d stayed virtuously ignorant.

As an avid movie-goer, I try to see all the Academy Award Best Picture Nominees before the annual self-congratulatory award show orgy. But this year I was late. So now playing catch-up, I finally got around to Birdman, which won Best Picture.

Birdman is the supposed black comedy featuring Riggan Thomson, an actor once famous for portraying an iconic Birdman superhero. It stars Michael Keaton as Riggan and who, for what it’s worth, was not a very good Batman.

With an annoying staccato drumbeat for soundtrack, the film depicts Riggan battling his ego, his family, his career, and himself while he struggles to mount a Broadway play. I battled, too, but to stay awake. Now I know why friends told me they wished they’d walked out of the theater midway into the 2-hour movie.

I will spare you the various analyses offered by film critics both of the paid and wanna-get-paid variety. Birdman is either a satiric tour-de-force or a surrealistic portrait or a hilarious high human comedy. Almost every critic in the world was left frothing as they lathered the film with rinsed and repeated praise. Call me an untutored Philistine but I thought it was undeserved.

Fortunately, not every well-known critic was stampeded by the herd. I savored what The New York Observer‘s Rex Reed said of it, “a miserable load of deranged, deluded crap masquerading as a black comedy called Birdman . . . . Some of the critics who embrace this kind of stupidity claim that Birdman pretends to say something witty about the perils of celebrity, fame, stardom, success and failure, not necessarily in that order, but I can find nothing good to say about any shard of the pretentiousness on view here.” 

Amen, brother. I’m only glad that instead of getting flipped the Bird at $10 per ticket at the theater, it cost me only $1.63 from the local Redbox.

My take on movies.

Occasionally, I like discussing movies here. And not always because of a or a connection to the legal system.

I’ve loved movies ever since I can remember, no matter that my earliest recollection is a sad one. At 6 years old, I recall watching a war movie with my dad and crying when the dog got killed.

Someday someone will explain why whenever there’s a dog in a movie, the pup always gets it. To this day, it persists as a cheap, manipulative directorial prop.

Far as I’m concerned, Birdman is just another film proving what I’ve said before. The . What critics call “good” — often mystifies, annoys or bores the rest of us.

“Critics,” I last wrote, “see so many films each year their souls are deadened. They’re left almost bereft of what passes for normal sensation. Consequently, their viewpoints and opinions become increasingly jaded. Unless a movie darkens, depresses and disheartens, it’s not worthy of acclaim. Unless the nihilistic characterizations make you want to slug back a fifth of vodka or jump off a building or slit your wrists, the movie is not an artistic success.”

Jump off a building? According to one interpretation, that’s what Riggan does in the end. Or does he? Who cares?

Call me unvarnished but when I go to the movies, I want to be entertained or educated. And once in a rare while — to be uplifted. No surprise, then, that critically acclaimed downers seldom translate into popular success.

Give me the other Bird, man.

https://i2.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/63/13/05/631305ccd811e6a65deec97afe3df995.jpg

Next time I want a Birdman, give me the attorney with a beak — the other ex-superhero named Harvey T. Birdman of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. Although he works mostly as a criminal defense attorney alongside other cartoon characters, he’s not emotionally tortured — even if he is a lawyer. So if I want surrealistic comedy, next time I’ll take the other Birdman.

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Photo Credits: Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, by Nathan Rupert at Flickr via Creative Commons-Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License; Captain Future: Man of Tomorrow, by Colleen A. Bryant at Flickr via Creative Commons; Português: El Rey, nosso senhor e amo by Angelo Agostini at Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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