Singing Loudly: What's that Chirping in My Beer: A Movie Review

Singing Loudly

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What's that Chirping in My Beer: A Movie Review

It's been a little too long since I've done an actual movie review, but I have an valid excuse. I haven't really been to the theater in quite awhile. This week I went to see a spectacular movie, and I'll be going to see Batman Begins next week.

This week the movie was Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, which I think is one of the best movies I've seen this year. That includes all the movies I've watched on Netflix.

Like any good documentary, the movie does a great job of introducing you to the life of it's subject: Mark Bittner and the flock of wild parrots in San Francisco who love him. When the movie first begins you get to see these beautiful shots of parrots (and I'm usually creeped out by birds) flying from tree to tree. Then you see them fly a distance and come down at the garden kept by Bittner.

Bittner is the sort of person I long to be friends with. He is intelligent, calm, well-read, and insightful. Beyond that, he has a definite knack for things like history and psychology. These positive traits seemed to only be countered with his unkempt appearance ("I decided I would cut my hair when I have a girlfriend"), and possibly one very sad story he told about what happened the final night with a crippled bird he was watching. However, you can't ever be upset with Bittner because he really is like a modern day St. Francis.

What's interesting is that Bittner hasn't really had a career type job in 30 years. He is able to live in this amazing cottage where the parrots will come in and out by calling to him. The parrots are intelligent enough to call to him when they want in, yet the are still wild birds so they will leave when they are ready.

All in all, there are about 45 birds that you get to know as if they are characters in the story. Only you feel stronger emotions for them than other sorts of characters in movies because they aren't actors. You see joy, intrigue, love, hate, curiousity, appreciation, and just about any other emotion.

What is interesting is that the parrots love Bittner but like any friendship they get angry with him at times. He has one that lives in his apartment (doesn't want to leave), that will sometimes change from a loving parrot into a mean, territorial parrot. The way that he punishes the parrot is by taking him out to a tree. You see how sad the bird gets and scared by the noises around as he makes little squeaks to be let back in. The benevolent Bittner returns in just a few minutes to retrieve the bird.

Of course, living rent free in this cottage has to come to an end. The cottage is in a prime location to demand a high rent. When this situation comes into being it s when the emotions of the movie change from just happiness to really feeling for the birds and for Bittner. As he deals with the looming threat of having to move away from the birds you see just how much he loves them. What is more, you see as the movie goes on that he is not an eccentric person. He's just someone who realized that these birds are all unique, complex beings.

I would strongly suggest that everyone goes out and watches this movie. It really is a stunning film with both the shots of the birds and the story it tells. I can't think of many better subjects than Mark Bittner. This is a fantastic movie.

For more information, see the Roger Ebert review.


I saw that in April - and i loved it....go see Mad Hot Ballroom.

By Blogger Cav, at 1:55 PM, June 09, 2005  

Did it make you tear up in parts? Of course, it didn't do any such thing to me, but I know my friend was teary-eyed.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 2:58 PM, June 09, 2005  

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