Movie Review: “Birdman”

    2014 started out as being treated like an afterthought for the movie industry. The biggest blockbusters weren’t coming out until 2015, and there’s never a good indicator of what’s on the horizon later into the calendar year. Guardians of the Galaxy turned out to be a terrific film, and X-Men: Days of Future Past and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both helped show that superhero films don’t have to be popcorn flicks, but can also be terrific movies. Science-fiction had a terrific year with Interstellar and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, while the independent scene has seen films like Boyhood grab people’s attention. I was excited for Guardians and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but the two films I was most excited to see were Nightcrawler and this film. I didn’t know much about either of them, but they had my attention and I was crushed when neither of them played in a theater near me. That’s why I went out of my way to rent both of them the day they came out on disc. Others have taken a liking to Birdman as well, in-fact, the film won for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. That doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot because the Oscars are a joke, but that’s a discussion for another time. The point is – I was excited. Very excited!

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iarritu. The film stars Michael Keaton, alongside a supporting cast that includes Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and Naomi Watts. Since its release, Birdman has received critical acclaim from critics and moviegoers alike, as well as being nominated and winning numerous large awards.

In the film, Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, an actor known for his work as superhero Birdman, that is trying to assert himself as a respected actor on Broadway through an adaption of a short-story by Raymond Carver. Meanwhile, the line between reality and fiction begins having itself blurred as sanity is sent hurdling out the window.

The editing of Birdman is perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the whole film. That is, the way director Alejandro and the editing crew had everything all seamlessly entwined together to make it appear as one single-shot. It isn’t actually one-shot, of course, but it’s nevertheless impressive and one of the unique things I’ve seen in a film from a technical standpoint in a long time. That feat alone, and the neat way they did it is enough of a testament to be deserving of at least some praise, however, it’s actually a good film in itself. That’s an understatement, and I’ll rectify it, Birdman is a terrific film that has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

The acting is superb on all fronts, and that’s refreshing, for a lot of films, it’s either a bunch of decent characters or one absolutely great character carrying the film. Edward Norton and Emma Stone do a terrific job as supporting characters and actually work to add a lot of extra depth and entertainment-value to the film. They’re very enjoyable, but, of course, there was no way they’d be able to outshine Michael Keaton in his role. Keaton, known for his work in Tim Burton’s Batman, was the perfect actor for this character, and that adds a certain realism and novelty to it. It all just feels right and completely natural.

The music is extremely well-done, albeit simple, and adds a lot to the look and feel of the whole experience. Antonio Sanchez did a terrific job with the score, and it’s a shame that he wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for it.

I think it’s obvious though that the most enthralling of it all is the plot, which is only accelerated and strengthened by what I’ve mentioned. Whether it’s deceptively simple or carrying immaculate depth, there is something to be said about it. It immersed me into it and I was left with a lot of different thoughts racing in my head.

Is Birdman worth all the hype it has received? I’d say so. I think I hyped it up more in my head than any of the award shows did, and I was satisfied. This is the rare film that operates on all cylinders, and absolutely everything, the editing, the score, the acting, all of it is done to advance the film.

Thanks for reading…

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