High Flying Bird
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High Flying Bird

High Flying Bird (United States / 2019). Direction, editing and photography: Steven Soderbergh. High Flying Bird full Cast André Holland, Melvin Gregg, Zazie Beetz, Bill Duke, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Jeryl Prescott Screenplay: Tarell Alvin McCraney. Music: David Wilder Savage. Duration: 90 minutes.

He is not the first director to film a professional film with an iPhone (Sean Baker had done it in the remarkable Tangerine), but the prolific, unclassifiable and always surprising Steven Soderbergh continues to show that he can make good movies with a smartphone. After having made the last year Disturbed (Unsane) with that same technology, it returned to appeal to a telephone (in this case an iPhone 8) IO to shoot High Flying Bird, original movie of Netflix that the giant of streaming has just launched on its platform few days after its world premiere at the Slamdance Festival.

That a feature film of this quality and with such a cast has materialized in just two weeks and with a phone that costs only 600 dollars (although you usually add some lenses and accessories) is in itself a feat, but if this story did not have the narrative, acting and thematic quality that it delivers would be simply talking about an example of productivity.

The problem that many users of Netflix can find when entering High Flying Bird is that it takes place in a foreign universe for the majority like the NBA, Little the professional basketball league of the United States, although it is far from being a purely sports movie (in fact it does not have scenes of games).

The film is set during one of the many lockouts (the last in reality dates from 2011) for lack of agreement between the owners of the franchises and the players’ union. In this context – no team can negotiate contracts with representatives or figures – appears Ray (André Holland, protagonist of the excellent series of Soderbergh The Knick), an agent who tries to sustain an ethical behavior, but at the same time is pressured to get that Erick (Melvin Gregg), a rookie selected first by a professional team in New York, can secure a career and a salary.

The film is based on some prodigious dialogues that the performers release at full speed (the rhythm and self-confidence refer to the style of Aaron Sorkin). In that sense – and in the line of another Soderbergh film like Erin Brockovich, a daring woman Apollo 11 Spencer (the mythical actor and director Bill Duke), an old coach who offers a ruthless speech about the origins, foundations and miseries of the NBA against young aspiring basketball players.

Instead, Tarell’s original screenplay Alvin McCraney (whose In Moonlight play Black Boys Look Blue inspired Barry Jenkins to film Luz de Luna) is scattered when he flirts with a romantic subplot (that’s where Zazie Beetz appears, one of the revelations of the Atlanta series) or when inserting snippets of black and white interviews with real NBA stars such as Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Town and Donovan Mitchell. Dora the Explorer Anyway, none of these elements ends up disguising the power of a film that exposes as few the contradictions and abuses of professional sport (and savage capitalism) in the United States.

Zachary Quinto – as the chief manipulator of Ray – and Kyle MacLachlan The Professor and the Madman Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks who here plays the owner of a team that is not named but appears to be New York Knicks – complete with Sonja Sohn (representative of the association of players) and Jeryl Prescott the main cast of a very low budget movie (cost less than two million dollars), but multiple scopes.

Duration: 90 min

Release:

IMDb: 6.4

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High Flying Bird
High Flying Bird
High Flying Bird
High Flying Bird
High Flying Bird