Tuesday, March 31, 2015

GAME 6 (2006) - Michael Hoffman

This teeny tiny indie from eight years ago is practically a dress rehearsal for Birdman. The similarities are so pronounced as to incite allegations of plagiarism. They both take place in Manhattan and concern the Theatre. Both films pivot around a Michael Keaton meltdown (here a washed-up playwright instead of a washed-up actor). His young, jaded daughter follows him around the city (Ari Graynor instead of Emma Stone), judging him for past wrongs. He's having an affair with a slightly younger woman (Bebe Neuwirth) and is obsessed with a critic's upcoming review (Robert Downey, Jr. in an Andy Warhol wig). He's haunted not so much by superhero voices in his head or past career choices but by the continual losing streak of the Boston Red Sox. It makes you wonder: Is Game 6 some kind of Birdman prequel? Or is Birdman a sort of bizarro indie world Game 6 reboot?

You might think so, but the similarities mostly end there. Game 6's director (the man who brought us, er, Soapdish and Gambit) is not quite so adept or flashy a craftsman as Iñárritu. But the script by Don DeLillo may be leaner, better beast than that of Birdman. It's basically an economical 1.5 hour amalgam of his more accessible novels. Obsession with classic baseball games as metaphor for life (Underworld). Reclusive writer disconnected to his own work (Mao II). People constantly switching vehicles and seeing people they know in traffic jams (Cosmopolis). There's even an "airborne toxic event" (White Noise), here represented by an asbestos cloud.

Game 6 is one of those little indies that came and went in the early aughts without making much of a blip. It's a shame because it's good little film and a fine pre-"comeback" Keaton comeback performance.

No comments: