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Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

“THE FOUNDER”  My rating: B- 

115  minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“The Founder” is like a Big Mac concealing a piece of broken glass.

John Lee Hancock’s film about the creation of the world’s most successful fast food chain starts out as a playful story of capitalist innovation and gung-ho drive.

But it leaves us thinking that nobody rises to the top of the corporate heap without screwing over a good many people along the way.

We first meet Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) delivering his pitch directly into the camera.  Like most good salesmen he believes success is less dependent upon the peddled product (in this case industrial-strength milkshake makers) than on the personality and persuasion of the seller.

Except it isn’t working. Kroc spends his weary days traipsing across the Midwest of the mid-1950s, visiting Ma and Pa drive-in restaurants whose owners can’t see the point in a machine that makes six shakes at once.

But a side trip to San Bernardino, CA and the drive-in run by the McDonald brothers — Mac (John Carroll Lymch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) — is an eye opener.

Mac and Dick have created an operation capable of delivering an order of burger, fries and drink in just 30 seconds.

Everything is streamlined in a “symphony of efficiency.”

The McDonalds have instituted a kitchen assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud. There’s no dining room. No utensils or plates. Everything is wrapped in disposable paper. No girl on roller skates to deliver the food to your car (customers have to shlep up to the order window).

But the food is great and business is hopping.

Ray Kroc has seen the future.

 

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Michael Keaton and Edward Norton...exploring artistic differences

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton…exploring artistic differences

 

“BIRDMAN”  My rating: B+ 

119 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Birdman” is a tour de force, a heady mix of dark comedy and psychic meltdown with energy vibrating from every frame.

Writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Babel”), star Michael Keaton (in a bravura performance) and a terrific supporting cast deliver a movie unlike anything we’ve seen before.

If the film, full name: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” isn’t as deep as it thinks it is, there’s no arguing with the jaw-dropping creativity on display — technical, dramatic and thespian.

The setup: One-time movie box office champ Riggan Thomson (Keaton) — who earned worldwide fame portraying a feathered superhero called Birdman — has come to Broadway to write, direct and star in a stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”

Riggan has personally financed the production in hopes of restarting his moribund career (“I’m the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question”) and affirming his artistic credentials.

Turns out his sanity is on the line as well.

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