Yes, "Oppenheimer," the ten-out-of-ten-stars movie that is everything and more than you've heard about, is that great.Yes, it will stir you to your very core. Yes, the apex scene of testing an atomic bomb is stunning-especially when we learned that director Christopher Nolan did not use any CGI in his film (I can't imagine what the budget was for TNT). But the real surpirse for me was yes, "Oppenheimer," currently running at The Flicks in Boise, clocks in at 3 hours long: but it is very fast-paced, particularly in its first two hours building up to The Manhattan Project test. Frankly, we need the third hour just to catch our breath and still our pulse.
You may have heard recently that a good many major Hollywood studios have begun shifting many of their much-anticpated titles originally slated for this fall, to 2024. Sure, they'll tell us that the writer's strike is the main reason for their reshuffling. But I have another theory. "Oppenheimer is going to sweep the Oscars unlike anything we've seen since "Titanic," which took home 11 Academy Awards in 1998. In fact, I think "Oppenheimer" may pass "Titanic's" high-water mark. "Oppenheimer" has something that "Titanic" didn't - now I know that Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett did a yeoman's job aboard the ill-fated liner, but there's at least a half dozen Oscar-worthy performances in "Oppenheimer," beginning, of course, with Cillian Murphy in the title role. But the supporting cast-oh, my. Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, and a wonderful Tom Conti in a few all-to-brief but scene-stealing moments as Albert Einstein, And Emily Blunt. Omigosh. Emily Blunt. You can just start etching her name on a Supporting Actress Oscar right now.
Now to something a lot gentler...but still worthy of your time and attention. I was recentlhy privileged to an advance screening of a gem called "Magpie Funeral," an unexpected surprise. Filmed on location in Boise (with extra locations shot in LosAngeles and Oklahoma City), "Magpie Funeral" is the passion project from director Gregory James Green (who co-wrote the screenplay with John T. Sweeney).
"Each heartbeat moves me closer to death. But while I breathe, I hope. For me, That's "Magpie Funeral," said Green. Its somewhat autobiographical and straight from my soul."
In the film, Darren Burrows (Northern Exposure, Amistad) plays Sy, an aspiring screenwriter who has a thing for birds, magpies, in particular. It turns out that, yes, magpies have funerals. When a magpie is found dead by another magpie, it calls out. Soon enough, usually five to six magpies will surround the body of their departed friend. Seriously. This is all true. One magpie will then fly away and come back with several pine needles in its beak, laying them by the body. A "moment of silence" is observed, and then the magpies depart,
Director Green scouted no fewer than five cemeteries in Boise...and patience paid off. He found one with a bit of magpie activity. Green would return to the cemetery for weeks in a wild hope that he might capture that magical moment for "Magpie Funeral." Indeed, one day, a bit of a miracle occurred...and as his crew set up, magpies began calling to one another to mourn the death of a magpie who had died in the cemetery. And soon enough, Green captured a magpie funeral on camera.
Ot is one of the multiple metaphors in this charming film's story. While Sy struggles with the loss of family and friends, he longs for connection - personal and professional. One day, he meets Nancy (Meredith Shank) and her too-adorable-for-words daughter Lisa (Elizabeth Leach) and life takes over...some good, some bad but then some very good. You know, like life.
Ultimately, "Magpie Funeral" is about possibility. And dreams. Green told me that, yes, "Magpie Funeral" will likely be comfortably distributed on a number of streaming platforms. But his dream is to share his passion for "Magpie Funeral" with an in-person audience at The Flicks.
"Perhaps your heart will beat a bit differently after watching," he said. "Maybe a little lighter, I hope."