BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)
directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
[director filmography: Biutiful (2010), Babel (2006), 21 Grams (2003), Amores Perros (2000)]
written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu [Biutiful], Nicolas Giacobone [Biutiful], Alexander Dinelaris [debut], Armando Bo [Biutiful]
starring Michael Keaton [Jack Frost, Multiplicity, Batman Returns (1992), Batman (1989), Beetlejuice] , Zach Galifianakis [The Hangover movies], Edward Norton [The Incredible Hulk, Fight Club, American History X], Emma Stone [The Amazing Spider-Man movies, The Help, Easy A], Naomi Watts [The Impossible, King Kong, The Ring, Mulholland Drive]
ENJOYMENT: ***** (out of 5)
"The most original film of the year"
The first year I really paid attention to movies was back in 2002, and Amorres Perros was one of the first foreign films I fell in love with. Since then, I've seen everything Inarritu has directed and have loved how he constructs ensemble casts to tell stories that interweave and show the interconnectedness of all of us. Birdman is no different. This film had my mouth hanging open nearly the entire two hour running time, and it was not just for the amazing cinematography, acting and dialogue. This film contains the longest continuous shots without a cut I've ever seen in a movie. I swear, there was 20 minutes that passed before I noticed the first cut. This is an art that is rarely used in movies for obvious reasons, but largely because filmmakers think it bores the audience, the choreography and camera work is demanding and actors are not trained to perform with the needed accuracy. Nonetheless, Birdman is incredibly exciting and freaking hilarious, and may end up garnering the most Oscar nominations of the year.
From the opening scene, where we find Michael Keaton's character in his dressing room preparing for a day of rehearsal in his acting/directing/producing debut on Broadway, we know that we are about to see some crazy stuff in this film. From that point on, we are led to believe that Keaton has ultimate control of his life and people around him, but that perhaps this control is the problem. Keaton embodies the definition of literary irony in his portrayal of a washed up superhero actor from the 90s who is now fat and old, but still rich, and is searching for recognition once again. He decides to pour everything, including his fortune, into adapting the Raymond Carver short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" for Broadway. In the process, he juggles the intense personalities of his co-stars [Norton and Watts], the struggles of being a father to a beautiful and rambunctious daughter [Stone], and his own view of himself. Throughout the film, we are reminded that Hollywood does still have some tricks up its sleeves, that 2014 was not a bust for filmmaking and that the only judge that really matters is us... and the influential theatre critic who can ruin our chances at a comeback.
OSCAR PREDICTIONS: This film will get nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actor Edward Norton, Best Supporting Actress Emma Stone, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. Michael Keaton will win Best Actor.
Other ratings: IMDB (8.7/10), Rotten Tomatoes (93%)