Friday, November 21, 2014

"Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" Review - Written by Tim Hellman


Critically acclaimed indie black comedy flick starring Michael Keaton as a has-been movie star, who puts everything he has into a Broadway play; in hopes of recapturing his past glory. The film costars Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough and Amy Ryan. It was directed, produced and co-written (with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo) by Alejandro González Iñárritu. The movie is a Oscar hopeful in many categories; likely including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (for Michael Keaton). I found it to be a really interesting and well made film but not quite as good as all of it's hype.

Riggan Thomson (Keaton) was once a huge movie star that starred in three blockbuster superhero movies (as the popular character Birdman). He hasn't made a hit movie in the 20 years since and hungers for that fame, and relevance, again. So he's writing, directing and starring in a play adaptation of Raymond Carver's classic short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". He's invested all of his money in the production; including refinancing a house he promised to his daughter Sam (Stone), who's also a production assistant on the play. While trying to make the upcoming premier a success, Riggan struggles to get along with the cast and crew; especially Sam, his girlfriend Laura (Riseborough) and a self absorbed actor named Mike Shiner (Norton). He also hallucinates that he has telekinetic abilities and often talks to himself in the voice of his former character Birdman.

The movie is pretty funny, it's also a great psychological character study and fascinating look at showbiz. The directing is always interesting to watch and it's pretty cool how Iñárritu manipulates the camerawork, and editing, to make the movie feel like it's all one continuous shot. The score, that's highlighted largely by drumming, works very well at setting the tone and mood for the film as well. The acting is all excellent too; especially Keaton. Experts say he'll likely win the Oscar this year because (like the play is for his character) this movie is redemption for him (having starred in two blockbuster 'BATMAN' films, just over 20 years ago, and not having made a hit movie since). I like and admire the film quite a bit, but it's not one of the best movies of the year.

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