MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and other streaming services.Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone
When I originally viewed Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) months ago, I just couldn’t figure out exactly what the longer title meant. It just seemed like the kind of pretentious stuff that I used to write while in high school. Now that Birdman has won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture I am sure that many filmgoers will have purchased tickets or bought DVDs to see what all of the hubbub is about. Ah, the unexpected virtue of ignorance. You were expecting a great movie, right? So was I.
There is no denying that Michael Keaton turns in an impressive performance as Riggan, a movie actor in a career slump who decides to direct a Broadway show. And the Academy Award winning cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (and the editing by Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione) creates a movie that appears to be a two-hour continuous Steadicam shot rather than a film that took weeks to make. Every actor brings passion and full commitment to the project. What’s not to like?
If you are easily intimidated by the surfeit of talent that came together for Birdman, you may find yourself charmed by this offbeat comedy-drama.
I, myself, found the movie trying way to hard to impress me with its cleverness. From the aforementioned long title (which should have served as a warning) to its dozens of literary shout-outs, its movie reference in-jokes and its overwritten character monologues, I kept hearing Birdman say “Look at me! Aren’t I clever?”
The main conceit is, of course, Birdman’s use of Michael Keaton, the actor who first brought Batman to the big screen in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Here he plays an movie actor in a career slump who became famous years ago playing the superhero character of Birdman. It is obvious that writer-director Iñárritu wants us to make that association. Riggan is now directing a New York production of a play based on the Raymond Carver story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. As the play nears its opening performance, Riggan has to struggle with his past and present lives, including an adult daughter (Stone), an ex-wife (Amy Ryan), an actor with a big ego (Edward Norton), his current lover (Andrea Riseborough) and – last but not least, Birdman, who speaks to him from inside his head. Much ado about next to nothing.
Don’t be fooled by the trailers. There are a few superhero moments in Birdman, but this is primarily a behind-the-scenes film about staging a play. How do you explain its many awards? Here’s my theory: Actors love this movie because of its focus on acting. Critics love it because it is superior to most of the drivel that they have to endure, including some mediocre superhero films.
You have my permission to skip this flick; or, if you do go to see it, not to feel bad when you forget about the movie hours later. Birdman is a lot like McDonald’s. No matter how many times they tell me “I’m lovin’ it”, I know that I’m not.
Two halos: A well-acted and ingeniously filmed meditation on art and identity that fails to make much of an impact.
Two pitchforks: Pervasive swearing; alcohol and marijuana use; a few mild sexual innuendos.
I love ya , I really do! But you be a wee bit pretentious yourself at times. I loved the movie, I like the rapid fire dialogue , the interior monologue and the steady cam disorientation. I like seeing old guys getting unexpected rewards. My wife didn’t entirely hate it , but that helped me defend it.
A Blessing on you old bald head,
Larry S. Hukill
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
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