Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Synopsis: “A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.”
Without a doubt, Birdman is one of the better films of 2014 and will certainly be an Oscar favorite. Michael Keaton is in top form and gives a powerful if not THE performance of the year, for essentially, playing himself.
The movie itself is an ironic reflection of Keaton’s post-Batman career as an actor, using elements of both dark comedy and drama to illustrate what happens when an artist falls from grace and attempts to resurrect their past life. Since this is the film’s purpose, the movie is very self-aware and is a satire on the life of an actor, making it a very funny and contemplative experience.
The cast of Birdman is extremely good in terms of their performances, because just like Keaton, they’re just playing themselves. And if they’re not and are actually a completely different person in reality, then the performances are so extraordinary and natural that it doesn’t even belong in the “movies,” but rather in real life.
This is very noticeable when you begin to analyze the chemistry between the actors; when Emma Stone’s Sam playfully converses with Edward Norton’s Mike, or when Michael Keaton’s Riggan is pouring his heart out to Amy Ryan’s Sylvia; the scenes transcends the dialogue written on a page or advice from the production, for they are now real. Michael Keaton’s performance is definitely the main attraction to Birdman.
He can deliver very funny lines and then immediately bring out the emotion a dark scene needs, all in the same scene. Keaton is the man to beat this year for the Best Actor Oscar.
The other star of this film is the spectacular work accomplished by the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (who won the Oscar for his work on Gravity last year) and editors Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione.
They have achieved a very distinctive visual style to the film that I don’t believe has ever been done in a motion picture before. The entire movie, a 120 minute film, with scenes alternating from different days into various settings, is made to look like one continuous shot. It appeared as if the camera was left on and someone, with the ability to defy gravity and space, was able to capture almost everything on screen.
An ambitious move that pays off tremendously well in the film, these men are also the top contenders come next year at the Academy Awards.
Another reason I liked this film was the score. A character within of itself, it combines the kinetic pace of jazz with the grand orchestra of a theater. And along with the terrific cast and fantastic visual style, Birdman is an awesome movie. It is indeed a love letter to those who love theater and the drama that occurs between actors and crew, and them against critics, who in turn, are against the world.
However, there was something a little disappointing about my experience with this movie; I saw the exact same movie a few years ago. Just like Birdman will be, it was Oscar bait and movie critics and audiences immensely enjoyed it. Except that Mickey Rourke replaced Michael Keaton, and the theatrical stage was switched for the wrestling ring.
Now, while both The Wrestler and Birdman stand apart well on their own, I can’t help but notice how the films are almost exactly the same when regarding the plot and their titular character.
Other than that, I have no other problems with Birdman; go see it. Birdman earns 4 out 5 stars.