Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) was once the iconic super hero known as “The Birdman.” After turning down any future appearances as the character he has decide to reinvent himself by staging a Broadway show called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Like with so many Broadway shows this one has its fair share of disasters leading up to opening night not the least of which is the loss of a lead actor to injury while on set. To top it all off Riggan is not only directing the show but starring in it as well. To add to that he has to juggle the method acting of his replacement actor, his ex-drug addict and defiant daughter, his ex-wife and then of course his current girlfriend who also happens to be starring in the show. With the premiere New York Times stage critic threatening to close the show even more it opens Riggan must face his deepest fears and most disturbing self. But the big question is where will all this lead? Starring Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Jeremy Shamos, Andrea Riseborough, Damian Young, Natalie Gold, Merritt Wever, Michael Siberry, Clark Middleton, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan.
I have to say flat out I was utterly surprised by this film. The few trailers I saw didn’t give me much in the way of understanding exactly what the film was about, just a general overview really. So as I sat in a hushed theater to view the film I found I was pleasantly surprised by what was displayed before me. Birdman was a truly unique film going experience for me and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen for a second. It offers something fresh to the film landscape despite the rather mundane and nonchalant topic it uses as its base.
First you need know that the film has a subtitle. The real title of the film as displayed on the opening screen is Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Intriguing right? Second I should say that the strange film that passed before me left me speechless. Riggan asks in the film “how do you get to be a critic anyway” and I find that makes it harder for me to ‘criticize’ if you will…don’t worry I still will.
The casting for Birdman is impressive. A group of fairly well-known actors, not the least of which who is Keaton, that when you think of them you expect certain things or certain roles. Those expectations aren’t met instead they are flipped on their head. Even Keaton’s role which is supposedly an exaggerated portrayal of himself comes off as more of an archetype. He is perfection in the role and after seeing him play it I doubt anyone else could have done it so well. Emma stone is a convincing recovering drug addict and Edward Norton…well he is Edward Norton and if you remember him from Fight Club his role in Birdman isn’t much of a stretch.
Birdman at its core is a satire. I appreciate though that the film doesn’t tell you what to mock but gives you options. I could have chosen to take it as mocking the onslaught of super hero films we have seen in theaters. Or perhaps it came across as mocking the general nature of being a famous actor. The list goes on and you as the audience get to pick. I like that.
Cinematically the film holds its own as well. It reminded me of Noises Off a Broadway show where there really are no scene changes you just follow from front stage to back stage and back again. You can’t tell where one scene ends and the other begins. Birdman’s flowing cinematography and seamless editing gave me the same feel where even at two hours long you didn’t feel as if there were any breaks or cuts to the film. It was one big long moment that I as the audience was privy to. Truly amazing work on a cinematic level.
Birdman is definitely one of the best films I have seen so far this year. I recommend you see it in the theaters if you get the chance even if you don’t typically see the more artsy style films. The performances of the cast alone are worth you going. Besides, Birdman has Oscar nominated film written all over it.
9/10 Stars – Keaton will be in the Oscar race for sure and so might the whole film if you ask me.
Before seeing Birdman, I knew this movie was going to be special. I mean it stars Michael Keaton, a man who use to be Batman and is now in a movie about a guy who use to be a giant bird-like superhero. Just like Riggan, Keaton turned down a role to be in the 3rd Batman movie and still to this day takes questions on why he made that move. He really never had a career after Batman and has never gotten out of the shadow of Tim Burton’s Caped Crusader. If you ask me, Keaton will always be Batman so this movie looked really interesting as the lead role seems to have many parallels to the actor who plays him.
As far as a movie goes, Birdman is dripping with artistic value. From inner struggles to reputation to relationships to metaphors about life itself, Birdman might look like on the surface as a weird movie about a guy who use to be a superhero, but it’s not. Birdman is entertaining, complex, comedic, enjoyable and dramatic all at the same time. The performances of EVERYONE in this film is amazing. If it weren’t for Keaton’s awesome performance, everyone would be talking about Edward Norton or Emma Stone. Has Edward Norton even made a bad movie? I would not be surprised if this movie takes several Oscar nominations come January because it is that good, and what makes it even better, is the common movie goer can appreciate this film. This movie is not THAT strange or out of the ordinary. It’s just flat out interesting and I loved it.
I wonder if Birdman will be Michael Keaton’s Broadway play and put him back on the map like in the movie? I always liked Michael Keaton as an actor and hope to see him more. Go see this movie especially if you love deep stories that are out of the ordinary.
9/10 Stars – Great story, characters and performances from everyone involved. This is Michael Keaton’s career and I love it!