The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill Judy Irving

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill Judy Irving
The infamous wild parrot documentary is essentially a pseudo-realist version of The Ugly Duckling, if the duckling were to be brutally slaughtered and eaten at the end, having never found his inner swan, and if a large, eccentric homeless man was constantly interfering and narrating about how truly depressing the poor thing’s existence really was. Yes, it’s the story of Connor, a persnickety blue-crowned Conure forced to live an existence with a swarm of cherry-headed Conures who never really accept him. It is all obviously an allegory for Mark Bittner, the aforementioned homeless man, who would more accurately be described as a "legal squatter hippie throwback” who doesn’t believe in being tied down by the man — you show ’em, buster! Thankfully, his strangely detailed narrative for the San Franciscan Wild Parrots who frequent his balcony for sunflower seeds proves entirely engaging and far too often relatable. Truthfully, who hasn’t felt isolated, at least occasionally, in a world full of insincere dickheads? This connectivity to the subject matter ultimately makes the doc devastating and shockingly affecting, which surprised this reviewer, who initially laughed at the lame parrot doc concept. This special two-disc collector’s edition has three-and-a-half hours of bonus footage. While initially overwhelming it all proves engaging. From Bittner’s initial home videos that were made well before the documentary to some follow-ups as to the current state of the parrot flock, there are endless shorts to appease curiosities left after the end of the original documentary. The origins of the flock are explored, along with a potentially false story about Connor’s life and more amusingly, a music video about the parrots, which seriously takes things a little too far. It was funny, and not because it wanted to be. Irving’s newer short docs are included on the DVD as well, which are unable to capture the spirit of her feature breakaway hit but are perfectly fine nonetheless. (Paradox)