The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill Art imitates fauna in Judy Irving's attractively home-grown documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill . The parrots themselves — about four dozen of them,… The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill Art imitates fauna in Judy Irving's attractively home-grown documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill . The parrots themselves — about four dozen of them,… 2005-02-11 G PT83M Documentary Shadow Distribution
Movie Review

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005)

MPAA Rating: G
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill | BIRD POOP IS GOOD FOR THE HAIR Polly want a really good documentary. And a cracker
Image credit: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: Daniela Cossali
BIRD POOP IS GOOD FOR THE HAIR Polly want a really good documentary. And a cracker
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Limited Release: Feb 11, 2005; Rated: G; Length: 83 Minutes; Genre: Documentary; Distributor: Shadow Distribution

Art imitates fauna in Judy Irving's attractively home-grown documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. The parrots themselves — about four dozen of them, a nonnative species who make their home in a boho corner of San Francisco — are barely wilder than Mark Bittner, the fiftysomething philosopher to all and employee of none who has made it his profession to feed them. More than that, Bittner has named and befriended his avian neighbors.

With his long, scraggly ponytail, abandoned dreams of becoming a musician, and squatter-out-of-the-'60s attitude to financial stability, Bittner is easy to type as a Type. But he refuses the label of ''eccentric,'' and Irving doesn't accept it either. Just as the self-taught naturalist takes the time and care to know each parrot, so Irving takes the time and care with Bittner, who emerges as a humane, insightful citizen-scholar. (When his own circumstances change dramatically, the lives of a few in the flock do too.) Wild Parrots has something of a molting look and an excess of watch-the-birds music. But in watching the birds and the man with an affectionate, curious eye, the filmmaker builds a story of surprising emotional resonance.

Originally posted Mar 02, 2005 Published in issue #810 Mar 11, 2005 Order article reprints