February 08, 2019

High Flying Bird releases on Netflix on February 8th, 2019.

‘High Flying Bird’ gives us a hybrid drama/documentary look and feel about the behind the business side of the NBA. To examine the power dynamics of a sport being played predominantly by black men, yet owned by a small group of old, rich white people. The script has a rapid dialogue pace to it and provides plenty of thoughts about young minority athletes could potentially take back power in a world where new technologies can change the game.

We start with Ray (André Holland), an agent trying to stay focused on the business and his client, the #1 draft pick Erick Scott (Melvin Gregg) talking about the stupid loan that he just took out during a basketball lockout. Erick is nervous since he just joined the league but hasn’t been paid and just wants to play. Ray’s boss (Zachary Quinto) is worried about the agency going under during the lockout, while Ray’s mentor, Spence (Bill Duke), a youth coach, who regularly talks about how white owners created a system designed to not only profit off of but control their mostly black players.

While the players rep and the league go back and forth on who will relent first, Ray is trying to devise a plan on how to play the “game on top of the game” by outmaneuvering both the owners and the league. Using social media squabbles and streaming deals to get leverage for the players so they could possibly dictate terms. In between the story we get documentary footage from NBA players talking about their concerns and what they went through during their rookie year. It adds an interesting realism to it.

Director Steven Soderbergh like in his recent films use medium and close ups shots and handheld cameras like iPhones to shoot this film. It also works as a dialogue driven drama, with Soderbergh commenting on the changing film industry and it'll draw in basketball fans who are interested in the discussions of the inner workings of professional sports. Funny enough is that there is essentially no basketball being shown on screen.

The film also stars Zazie Beetz, Sonja Sohn, and Kyle MacLachlan. This isn’t a ‘message movie’ per se but it’s impossible not to walk away from it and think something in the system of professional sports is broken. It’s definitely something you should check out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

WillWill (Contributor) has called many places home but now resides in Michigan. An Air Force veteran and avid movie goer who enjoys indie movies just as much as major blockbusters. He is also a technology enthusiast.
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