music friday: miranda lambert
geezer cinema/african-american directors series: the inspection (elegance bratton, 2022)

birdy (alan parker, 1984)

I'm not a big fan of Alan Parker. There are a couple of his movies where the over-the-top presentation connects with me (Shoot the Moon, Angel Heart), but when I don't connect, I really don't like what I see (Mississippi Burning, The Life of David Gale). Birdy might be the first time where I'm more in the middle ... I didn't love it, didn't hate it.

Birdy is a buddy film about two young boys-turning-men who are damaged. It's more obvious in the case of the title character, played by Matthew Modine, whose love of birds goes beyond wanting to have them around ... he wants to become a bird. Nicolas Cage plays Al, a typical high-school jock, and his damage comes during the Vietnam War. Much of the film centers on Al, returned from Vietnam, trying to bring a comatose Birdy back to some semblance of the real world. It's not a bad movie, and both of the stars are good in their roles. But it's never clear why Al hooked up with Birdy in the first place. They are a true odd couple. I could believe that Modine and Cage were friends, but Al and Birdy were a mismatch that remains unexplained. So I didn't find myself as involved in their relationship than I imagine was intended.

I admit, the impetus for my finally watching Birdy was that my cousin Jon Guterres was a grip on the film. He always has good stories about the films he worked on. I forwarded the following clip, and asked him where exactly he was as they filmed, and what exactly did you do. He said he was a very hard scene to film, and passed along this photo of him and Alan Parker lining up a camera shot for the scene:

Jon and alan parker birdy

Here is the scene:


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