documentary about a jobless (not homeless) guy (bittner) who looks after a bunch of “wild” parrots in san francisco. it’s supposed to be a touching picture about an eccentric, but very human, older man who finds peace and blah blah blah. elements of the film are certainly touching, but it reeks of bad filmmaking and an overly sweet treatment of nearly every subject in the film. bittner’s observations of the birds and the stories he tells are sometimes interesting, but are often overly sentimental and lose some effect because of this fact. his observations are draped in an anthropomorphism that only the most forgiving viewer can overlook. yes, they are interesting, but you must view them simply as stories a man is telling, rather than a true narrative of the birds’ nature. his declaration that he felt the spirit of a bird calling for him the night before it died is far-fetched and easily rationalized away; hence it is up to the viewer to decide how they feel about the entire idea. personally, i thought he was a lonely old man who wanted there to be something more than a jobless, girlfriendless existence. i understand it, but i don’t think that the bird’s spirit energy was talking to him. sorry.
the music was simply awful. amateurish guitar based new agey film music. overly obvious and only effective in the most simple ways. it would have been better off unscored. choosing to use slow-motion and freeze frame effects was unfortunate. it just felt so contrived and shocked me out of the documentary-watching mode. surely a documentary can take license in this way (moore does it in fahrenheit 9/11, reggio does it in koyaanisqatsi), but it just did not work in this context. this is indicative of the film’s primary problem – its author. she just inserted herself too much; i couldn’t help but think how good the film would have been if she had taken the fly-on-the-wall approach of a pennebaker, smith or hegedus.
in the end it’s revealed that irving fell in love with her subject and her and bittner are going out. that’s the surprise ending, sorry if i ruined it for you.Watched in theater