Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Birders: The Central Park Effect

Visually splendid documentary has a narrow scope but will charm bird-lovers.

Jan 17, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370378-Birders_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A nature-lover's doc whose appeal is somewhat broader than it sounds, Jeffrey Kimball's Birders: The Central Park Effect will be a hit with the growing population of birders but also boasts a broader human interest. Despite its hour-long running time, it could sustain niche theatrical bookings in New York City and cities with similarly large green spaces before moving to video.

According to ornithologists interviewed here, major urban parks have a special attraction for migrating birds; on a good day, over a hundred different species can be found in Central Park. But the park and its winged visitors have a similar pull for humans, and Kimball finds some likeable characters who, while most visitors are pitching Frisbees and sunbathing, stand with binoculars trained on branches where a Connecticut Warbler or Olive-sided Flycatcher can be seen. (In a small but charming touch, Kimball lists the film's species in the credits as if each were a featured player.)

In a refreshing twist for this sort of film, none of these human subjects are kooks. Dedicated, yes, and sometimes even teased by friends—but from the sweet high-school girl to the septuagenarian who leads tours nearly every day in the spring, these are intelligent, socially competent New Yorkers who simply have fallen in love with life in the branches. As author and birder Jonathan Franzen puts it, discovering the variety of birds living overhead is "one of those rare moments in an adult's life when the world seems more magical, not less."

Kimball captures a staggering number of species, with a variety of colors and patterns that will surprise non-birders, and his high-def photography is crisp enough to satisfy connoisseurs who can distinguish subtle feather patterns from many yards away. The birds are not only gorgeous but, as they poke for food and rustle around, entertaining.

While gathering shots of birds, Kimball also captures the changing seasons in the park, offering not only naturalist appeal but some poignant connections to developments in the lives of his interviewees. Though he never follows these leads far enough to distract from his feathered subjects, Birders quietly reminds us that city-dwellers develop hobbies like this not only to connect to nature, but to find others like themselves.
-The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Birders: The Central Park Effect

Visually splendid documentary has a narrow scope but will charm bird-lovers.

Jan 17, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370378-Birders_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A nature-lover's doc whose appeal is somewhat broader than it sounds, Jeffrey Kimball's Birders: The Central Park Effect will be a hit with the growing population of birders but also boasts a broader human interest. Despite its hour-long running time, it could sustain niche theatrical bookings in New York City and cities with similarly large green spaces before moving to video.

According to ornithologists interviewed here, major urban parks have a special attraction for migrating birds; on a good day, over a hundred different species can be found in Central Park. But the park and its winged visitors have a similar pull for humans, and Kimball finds some likeable characters who, while most visitors are pitching Frisbees and sunbathing, stand with binoculars trained on branches where a Connecticut Warbler or Olive-sided Flycatcher can be seen. (In a small but charming touch, Kimball lists the film's species in the credits as if each were a featured player.)

In a refreshing twist for this sort of film, none of these human subjects are kooks. Dedicated, yes, and sometimes even teased by friends—but from the sweet high-school girl to the septuagenarian who leads tours nearly every day in the spring, these are intelligent, socially competent New Yorkers who simply have fallen in love with life in the branches. As author and birder Jonathan Franzen puts it, discovering the variety of birds living overhead is "one of those rare moments in an adult's life when the world seems more magical, not less."

Kimball captures a staggering number of species, with a variety of colors and patterns that will surprise non-birders, and his high-def photography is crisp enough to satisfy connoisseurs who can distinguish subtle feather patterns from many yards away. The birds are not only gorgeous but, as they poke for food and rustle around, entertaining.

While gathering shots of birds, Kimball also captures the changing seasons in the park, offering not only naturalist appeal but some poignant connections to developments in the lives of his interviewees. Though he never follows these leads far enough to distract from his feathered subjects, Birders quietly reminds us that city-dwellers develop hobbies like this not only to connect to nature, but to find others like themselves.
-The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Second Opinion
Film Review: Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering

Highly provocative documentary posits that a viable cancer drug has been suppressed for more than 40 years. More »

Through a Lens Darkly
Film Review: Through a Lens Darkly

An undeniably great subject is, ironically, trivialized by a blindly too-inclusive and injudicious filmmaker. More »

The Naked Room
Film Review: The Naked Room

Admirable though frustrating attempt to portray mental illness within a neglected population. More »

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears
Film Review: The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears

A film as stylish as it is narratively labyrinthine. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here