Thursday Night Movie Suggestions: Birdman
Michael Keaton in Birdman
(or) The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
If you haven't seen Birdman yet, go see it. Right away. It's stunningly beautiful. I know those are just words, but there isn't really much else that compares. In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's latest film, Birdman, he satisfies on all counts. If you've seen any of his other films, including 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful, you know that he doesn't give anything to you straight. He takes ideas that people have only briefly thought about and delves into them, providing you with an autopsy on human nature and life itself. His satirical sense of humor is what gives the movie some light, in what could have been an ending similar to Fight Club.
The cast is fronted by Michael Keaton, star of the 80s Batman movies. He plays Riggan, the director of Broadway's latest, who goes almost full-auteur and writes and acts in the play. Naomi Watts and Andrea Riseborough play his fellow co-stars, not to mention Edward Norton, who is probably has the best performance as the pompous and pretentious stand-in. He is all talk and play offstage, but once the curtain is up, he's all business. He's the one you love to hate and, strangely enough, hate to love.
Lastly, I can't forget to mention Zach Galifanakis, Riggan's partner, and Emma Stone, Riggan's twitter-happy, pot-hiding, Truth-or-Dare-playing daughter. The latter scoring the greatest role we've seen her play yet. Arguably, the same goes for Galifanakis, but we've already seen him as the serious funny guy. The most serious Emma Stone has gotten was in 2009's Paper Man and 2011's The Help. She's the reason that people who have no idea what Birdman is about and what this movie means will see this movie. Of course Michael Keaton was the Caped Crusader and Edward Norton had his stint as the incredible Hulk, but it's Emma Stone who we've heard about and want to know more about.
She delivers during a scene with Keaton, when she explains to him just how irrelevant he is. She tells him about the sad truth that none of us ever want to admit. We don't matter. We're not important. The world is changing and he is only a distant memory of something that used to be great. Don't be surprised when she receives a supporting actress nomination.
Speaking of great, Antonio Sanchez's drum score is electric. For the first half of the film, you get an earthquake of percussion, and the epicenter is the Broadway theater. With the opening scene, you see a meteor crashing through the sky, which could signify a plethora of different meanings. We see Keaton, about halfway through the film, smash the meteor to the ground with Birdman's telekinesis, causing destruction and chaos that can be assumed is the plot of the Birdman films within the film. His constant talking to himself and self-destruction mirrors the fragility of his career and plunging social and emotional life.
Emma Stone in Birdman
A Play or a Film?
Birdman is a movie about an actor putting a play together that's based on a book from years ago. His struggle is seen through the entry of every new character. Every facet of his imagination and his lack of a psychologically healthy lifestyle only adds to the spunk that this film shares with its audience.
This is a film-lover's movie. The film is made up of several long takes that are probably startling to the average movie watcher and beautiful to the avid one. It's hard to tell exactly where a scene starts and ends, but just look out for the darkest spaces where the actors are hidden in door frames or hallways. The long take makes the finished film appearing more like a play than a movie. Don't be bewildered, there is a play occurring in the movie, but since it revolves around the stage and the actors and the dialogue and the audience, it's seems easy to mistake Birdman for a stage performance that just happened to be caught on camera. As opposed to a thoroughly planned out film where the actors steal the show with their perfect timing and flawless performances.
Written and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman is a great movie to see in theaters right now!
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence.
Other recommendations with a similar feel: 21 Grams, Fight Club, Vanya on 42nd Street