Continuing Netflix's recent trend of working with A-list directors, "High Flying Bird" sees Steven Soderbergh make his Netflix debut. However, this movie doesn't quite reach the heights of Netflix's other recent prestige movies.
The film takes place several months in to an NBA lockout. With his accounts running dry and his career on the edge of collapse, sports agent Ray is trying to figure out how to both end the lockout and shake up the system in the process.
Ray is played by André Holland -- re-teaming with Soderbergh after their great TV show "The Knick" -- and Holland is the best part of the movie. As a smooth talker who manages to keep a cool head no matter how bad a situation he finds himself in, Ray is a charismatic lead.
Other characters include Ray's assistant Sam (Zazie Beetz), Ray's new client Erick (Melvin Gregg) and a coach (Bill Duke). The movie also features short roles for Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Sonja Sohn.
My biggest problem with the movie is that I found it hard to follow. Each scene is Ray getting into conversations or arguments with various people associated with the NBA. I don't follow basketball, so I didn't understand who a lot of the characters are and what they are doing. I assume my ignorance of basketball is why I found this movie so hard to follow.
While watching, and getting confused by, this movie, I thought of "Moneyball." I know even less about baseball than I do basketball, but that movie was very easy to follow. This movie doesn't hold your hand. Maybe it should.
Despite being confused by it, I was never bored. Ray is a compelling lead character and his interactions with the gruff coach character have real heart behind them.
Two other recent Netflix movies with big-name directors have been "Roma" and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs." After watching both, I was disappointed that I wasn't able to see either on a big screen in a movie theater. "High Flying Bird," however, doesn't feel like it needs a big screen. The movie was videoed on an iPhone -- the second Soderbergh movie to be filmed this way. As a result, it does look cheaper than most movies. It is also a talk heavy drama with no actual scenes of basketball being played.
I am fine with this one not having a theater run.
While I am only giving this movie a mildly positive review, I hope Netflix continues to allow filmmakers like Soderbergh to make these kind of movies that a big studio wouldn't touch.Entertainment on 02/09/2019
Print Headline: 'High Flying Bird' doesn't reach heights of other Netflix movies