Birdman – Review

FINALLY! After putting it off and battling the elements, I have finally seen ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’.

Tying ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ for the most Oscar nominations at this year’s ceremony with 9, ‘Birdman’ quickly became one of 2014’s must-see films. With a unique story that was brilliantly directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, this film acts as a breath of fresh air, delivering something that is innovative and truly remarkable.

The story and directing isn’t the only extraordinary component of this film. ‘Birdman’ showcases an all-star cast at the top of their game who deliver such real and fantastic performances, causing you to forget you are actually watching someone act. Also, we can’t forget about the mind-blowing score that is featured in this film.

‘Birdman’ is an imaginative movie that rides the line between being completely weird and genius, showing audiences that even when you think someone is down for the count, they will always surprise you.. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, ‘Birdman’ is about an actor who decides to adapt, direct and star in a play after his career has taken a downturn. Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) used to be one of the biggest names in Hollywood until he turned down the fourth sequel in the popular superhero franchise, Birdman. Riggan has put everything he has into this play and is his last attempt at holding onto what relevancy he has left.

Riggan has many issues that he deals with throughout the film. Between a crazy group of actors, his daughter who is fresh out of rehab and the fact the hears Birdman speaking to him, his plate is very full. In addition to this voice tormenting him, he also sees himself being able to move things with his mind and fly just like Birdman. Birdman’s voice is constantly trying to lure Riggan back to the successful film series and this constant harassment is only worsened by his other problems.

Michael Keaton’s performance in this movie is nothing short of extraordinary. There were many times when I was watching him and totally forgot that I was actually watching an actor, acting. It was just such an organic performance and really showed a man who is risking everything to make his career better. Keaton gives his best performance ever and is one of my favorites to pick up Best Actor at the Oscars.

My favorite scenes that show off Keaton’s acting chops are the ones with Edward Norton’s character, Mike Shiner. Shiner is a Broadway heavyweight that often bumps heads with Riggan over how the play should be done. I love this one scene where Riggan confronts Mike in a tanning bed after he lands the front page of the arts section and Riggan is somewhere in the back. It is funny and dramatic all in one, and both of the actors do a tremendous job.

Keaton and the other actor’s owe their performances in part to the director’s decision to do really long takes and use unedited scenes in the film. The film unfolds like one giant scene and everything just flows so brilliantly! Also Iñárritu made the decision to use takes where the actor messed up because “we live our lives with no editing”. When people talk, they don’t speak perfectly and we all stumble over our words or mess up so by using these unedited scenes, it grounded the film in reality. This really allowed for the film to feel like you are watching something live rather than something that has been edited to death.

I think that this movie will appeal more to those who appreciate the actual making of a film. I tried to look at this film as someone who loves what goes into making a great movie and as someone who is just a casual movie go-er. I can really appreciate the editing, how the score compliments the film, the acting, the directing and all the other bit and pieces that it takes to make a movie this good. When I looked at it from the angle of someone who just goes to the movies and doesn’t care about the making of it, I wouldn’t like it.

Not to sound snobby but this movie will be loved by those who appreciate the art of filmmaking and hated by those who just want to see a movie. I think that this is the case for a lot of films that are nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You always hear people say “that movie was terrible, how did that get nominated,” but it isn’t about what’s most crowd pleasing. If it was about crowd pleasing and how many people saw it, the Transformers movies would walk away with Best Picture (which would be a crime).  ‘Birdman’ really is one of those movies that are truly genius and revolutionizes the way film’s are made.

In addition to all the things I’ve mentioned, the score is just another brushstroke in this work of art. The entire score is percussion (!!!!), complimenting and contrasting the film is such an beautiful and strange way. Composed by Mexican Jazz drummer, Antonio Sánchez,the score acts exactly how it is supposed, adding emotion and depth to the film. To me the score sounded like the inner workings of Riggan’s mind, displaying his thoughts in the form of music. It is really beautiful and it is a crime that the score was deeming ineligible by the Academy due to referencing other works in it. I really recommend that you take a listen to the score, especially ‘The Anxious Battle for Sanity’.

‘Birdman’ is a film that captivates your senses and makes you remember why you fell in love with film in the first place. 5 Rating ‘Birdman’ was released on October 17, 2014 and stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis and Andrea Riseborough. The film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu


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