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Paddington rulz ok
2 months ago
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Official Discussion: High Flying Bird [SPOILERS]


If you've seen the film, please rate it at this poll.

If you haven't seen the film but would like to see the result of the poll click here.


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In the midst of a pro basketball lockout, sports agent Ray Burke finds himself caught in the face-off between the league and the players. His career is on the line, but Ray is playing for higher stakes. With only 72 hours to pull off a daring plan, he outmaneuvers all the power-players as he uncovers a loophole that could change the game forever. The outcome raises questions of who owns the game – and who ought to.


Steven Soderbergh


screenplay by Tarell Alvin McCraney


  • André Holland as Ray

  • Zazie Beetz as Sam

  • Melvin Gregg as Erick

  • Sonja Sohn as Myra

  • Caleb McLaughlin as Darius

  • Justin Hurtt-Dunkley as Jamero

  • Bill Duke as Spencer

  • Jeryl Prescott

  • Zachary Quinto

  • Kyle MacLachlan

  • Glenn Fleshler

  • Bobbi Bordley

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Metacritic: 74/100

After Credits Scene? No

VOD: Netflix

All previous official discussions can be found on /r/discussionarchive

95% Upvoted
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level 1

A bit late to this one. I’m an NBA diehard and lover of basketball movies in general but this didn’t really resonate with me. It felt a bit forced and underwhelming at times with a lot of flowery dialogue with no real punch to it. The overall message is nice, but the majority of the movie felt oddly paced and flat. Maybe just not my style of movie.

level 1

Anyone find the audio to be kind of muffled? I found it kind of hard to follow.

level 1

I was very much looking forward to this and I wouldn't say it disappointed but it was bit different than I thought it would be. 

First of all, I gotta make a movie on an iPhone. While I thought Unsane looked cool, this was another level. The natural lighting was a 10. The performances were great and the dialogue was quick and Sorkin-y. I loved the concept and the story because I am big into the NBA, but for some reason I didn't feel as emotionally invested in it as I wanted to be. I also wonder how someone will feel about it if they don't know the NBA. 

Overall, pleased with it and I love that Soderbergh is doing what he wants, how he wants.


level 1

Love the concept. But this is your classic underwhelming movie. No tension, no drama, barely a laugh. Only the concept (and Zazie Beetz 😘) held my attention.

level 1

A couple of things that maybe you guys can help me with:

Do you think Sam's arc was a little forced? I'm assuming Myra was a lawyer since she was repping the PA and I can accept that Sam was a valuable assistant to Ray that there was enough mutual respect that she could interact with him the way she did but the ending didn't make sense to me. It when from Myra saying "you should come work for us" when they first meet to the insinuation that she would have Myra's job by the end of the next year. That's too much of a jump or did I miss something?

Also, when did Ray decide on the plan and put it in motion? It seemed to me that he came up with it on the fly during the press conference he called for Erick when he pauses as he's introducing him. I think I would have liked it more if it had been his intention from the beginning and the entire movie was about him putting the pieces in place.

And can someone explain the ending? First of all how is it ok that Sam opened his package? But then she flips through it before telling Erick he has to see it. Was the implication referring to something written inside? Because her tone was too serious for it to be just about a recommended reading book.

level 2

He did plan it from the beginning. Earlier he knew to turn on the tv and check out the hype surrounding the match. I think he planned the whole thing out but just hesitated at the podium because it was a big move.

level 3

At the end of the film, aspiring sports agent Sam (Zazie Beetz) thumbs through the book that agent Ray Burke (Andre Holland) had left for rookie basketball player Erick Scott (Melvin Gregg). "You have to read this," she says, eyes alight.

This is the part that was confusing. She opens it up and looks at it without any recognition. Then she thumbs through it for a few seconds before she tells him he has to read it. What did she glean in those few seconds? Wouldn't it have made more sense for her to look at it, give a smile because she knows exactly what it is and then tell him?

Also, Ray expects Erick to lead the revolution? Kid has no agency at all until the end and it was almost like a "you're ready" moment and then Ray goes to run his actual agency. Being vague while executing the plan is one thing but afterwards why not fill him in?

level 1

I very like this movie just have one question. What´s the meaning of the phrase " i love the lord and all his black people"?? Why it was banned to talk about slave in the basketball field?

level 1
3 points · 2 months ago

Steve made the cool black movie that Quentin Tarantino always wanted to make. I loved it, thought it was a fun ride with a cool idea and great characters. McCraney's story was awesome here.

level 1

Watched this and Gerald's Game last night back to back. Both great movies. High Flying Bird had a great script, great performances and a plus for any movie or tv show for me an actor from The Wire. Gerald's Game was a great watch but a tough watch.

level 1
8 points · 2 months ago · edited 2 months ago

I really enjoyed the film but I think Soderberg needs to stop shooting on an iPhone already. He could have shot this almost exactly the same way with the Red Cameras (see Logan Lucky, very similar visuals) and it would have aged a lot better. Some shots have that very obvious shutter problem that still plagues iPhone video, along with some dynamic range that is beat by most consumer video cameras, and it distracts instead of immerses.

level 2

It worked on some level for unsane because it looked more tight and claustrophobic, but this movie and unsane have very different tones, and it doesn't work nearly as well.

level 2

Ohhh okay, I was thinking the whole time there was something different/off about the shots in the movie.

level 1

It was a chill movie to pass the time. A bit lackluster, I felt; but it was pretty cool and enjoyable.

level 1

Nobody giving props to Bill Duke. He had nothing but wisdom in this.

level 2

Oh man, Duke was the key for me. Level 1 instigator, inspiring the central figures of the film to act by bringing down a hammer of knowledge here and there. Not to mention, his demeanor was pretty infectious (in a positively good way).

level 1

Not a very emotionally resonant film, but I did enjoy the crackling dialogue.

level 1

Can someone please explain the ending to me? Like what was the whole trick Ray pulled off?

level 2

He got the owners to the table in a way that the players would actually agree to something by creating a threat to the NBA. The threat being a new league with Netflix or one of the streaming companies showing the games. It was very unlikely to happen and likely illegal, but it caused enough issues with the owners that they decide to relent on their demands etc. Ending the lockout.

level 1
6 points · 2 months ago · edited 2 months ago

Felt like a movie made to say a few lines. A magic show that only alludes to there being magic performed. The player testimonials were completely unnecessary, only marginally related to the movie, and nothing you haven't seen countless times before. It's like watching Erin Brockovich without ever getting the satisfaction of finding the smoking gun.

Still liked it, and Ray was a great character. Just missed having that payoff.

level 1
21 points · 2 months ago · edited 2 months ago

Found this film fascinating but also kind of....underdeveloped? Like the entire ending fake-out felt like it was building to something, but then just stops. Like a heist film without the actual heist in the end. I felt like they don’t go far enough with the whole “fake league” concept to make it satisfying or even believable (just two players? Based on a viral clip or some office room gossip?) to the point where it makes the owners panic and cave. Like I didn’t believe it sitting at home much less basketball team owners. Felt like the movie had a bunch of ideas (which it had every character voice in every scene) it valued over just telling a satisfying story. And then the movie literally ends with a book recommendation.

Great performances though, and I’m glad that Soderberg gets to do his thing.

level 2

My main issue is how obvious the plan was. It was clear as day the entire movie that he was trying to threaten injury to the owners by showing that players could make money without all the middlemen.

level 2
7 points · 2 months ago

Felt like the movie had a bunch of ideas (which it had every character voice in every scene) it valued over just telling a satisfying story.

EXACTLY! So glad to find someone who had the same experience with this film that I did.

I just spent 90 minutes waiting for something, anything, to actually happen.

Didn't care one bit for any of the characters, because I don't feel like I know anything about them even after following them through a (supposedly) very important 72 hours of their lives.

And are we really supposed to believe that all these people so invested in being young black athletes have never heard of Harry Edwards and his 50 year old book that's been required reading in African-American Studies courses for decades?


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