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NICOLAS CAGE & MATTHEW MODINE IN ALAN PARKER'S 'BIRDY'

Nicolas Cage looking a hybrid of middle eighties and early sixties in Alan Parker's BIRDY Year: 1984 Rating: ****
Alan Parker was an inspired choice to direct a feature combining anti-war sentiment and tortured, surreal insanity having pulled off PINK FLOYD: THE WALL a few years before BIRDY...

A neglected gem that, despite the title, centers equally on two "Philly Kids" Nicolas Cage as alpha male Al and passive Matthew Modine nicknamed BIRDY, living more in his mind (and with his bedroom birds) than on the outside, where Al revels in girls and muscular bravado...
Nicolas Cage and title character Mathew Modine in the present story of BIRDY
Yet the frame story has a meek, post-war/face-bandaged Cage at a military psych-ward trying desperately to bring his friend back to reality: mostly by reminding him (and us) of their fairly recent high school era past...

Modine, with lanky bird-like features to begin with, spends the present-time silently perched in locked quarters while Cage provides the hot and cold acting, which includes plenty of diatribes to sink his teeth into...
Nicolas Cage playing a similar tough guy character in RACING WITH THE MOON
Ironically, in the same year, 1984, Cage co-starred with Sean Penn in another wartime film taking place at home, RACING WITH THE MOON, about World War II — when William Wharton's source novel BIRDY is centered...

So it seems Alan Parker (with cinematographer Michael Seresin) has deliberately painted an old style aesthetic for the neighborhood that actually looks and feels more the bruised/antique 1940's than colorful 1960's...
Nicolas Cage with future Goodfellas starlet  Elizabeth Whitcraft under the bleachers in Birdy
That's if you take away Richie Valens' tracks, the progressive looseness of the girls and make the junked car... rescued and revamped by the polar opposite pals... a little bit older...

But BIRDY is not without a few noticeable 1980's touches, including a semi new-wave soundtrack by Peter Gabriel befitting particular images straight out of BLADE RUNNER or some of the better shadow-filled Neo Noir-inspired MTV videos at the time...
Nicolas Cage with character actor John Harkins in BIRDY
And while not always perfectly balancing arthouse melodrama with a lightweight coming-of-age hangout tale, the young actors seem genuinely close enough for the ups and downs to matter... smoothly blending the past into the present (and vice versa) while maintaining a race-against-time element for Cage to keep his best friend from the permanent clutches of ward major John Harkins...

Leading to one of the all-time greatest very-very-endings ever — bringing the entire picture down to Earth for a much more relaxing, relatable and enjoyable second (or third, etc) viewing.
Matthew Modine with one of many birds in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage and  Elizabeth Whitcraft hooked up in BIRDY
A well-built Nicolas Cage with James Santini in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine fix a car in BIRDY
Matthew Modine as Birdy in BIRDY with Nicolas Cage
Perta played by Bird No. 9 in BIRDY
 Elizabeth Whitcraft under the bleachers in BIRDY
Maud Winchester digging the flighty Birdy in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine channeling Woody Allen in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine channeling Woody Allen in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage as Al Columbato in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage as Al Columbato in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage as Al Columbato in BIRDY
 Sandra Beall with Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine in BIRDY
Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage in BIRDY
Nicolas Cage in BIRDY
Matthew Modine in Vietnam before Full Metal Jacket in BIRDY
Matthew Modine as BIRDY in Alan Parker's Birdy
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