Sunday, December 21, 2014

Birdman 2014

I'm mixed up with my feelings about this complex and imaginative film but also wish I liked it more than I did. The plot concerns an older actor who made his mark years back playing birdman, a comic book character in a couple of blockbuster movies. For various reasons the actor Riggan Thomson played to neurotic and outlandish perfection by Michael Keaton walked away from movie stardom and big bucks and when the film opens is attempting sort of a comeback and is struggling to put on a play on Broadway based on of all things a Raymond Carver book "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love."
               Everything that could go wrong with trying to put on a play goes wrong, and on top of that Keaton is having a surreal meltdown where he hears the voice of birdman, and has all sorts of visions that of course we are privy to. The movie is good when showing the backstage pitfalls of what it takes to do a play, and is full of fine performances including Edward Norton as a narcissistic despicable actor and Emma Stone (what a wonderful voice she has, one of the few "newer" actors who has a memorable speaking voice, it’s all throaty and lush) who plays Keaton's daughter who has big mental issues and drug problems and who works for him as his assistant and gofer.
               The movie not by accident or coincidence has real life parallels with Keaton's messed up career, how well we remember him, as Batman, and it was brave, risky and a gamble for him to take on such a transparent role. The director Alejandro González Iñárritu instead of molding the film as just a backstage look at what fools actors can be, (I kept thinking thank God I didn’t become an actor, as if being an artist is any easier or saner) and what it takes from their lives to do this crazy job, and instead mixes in sometimes annoying bits of surreal and wild fantasies that for me just didn’t work and after a while became redundant and as I said annoying.
              The film itself looks great, most of it shot in long takes with what looks like hand held cameras that move behind and through the theatre giving a somewhat threatening and unsettling feel to the story and his use of Times Sq. itself is brilliant. In several scenes Inarritu by opening doors onto the glistering neon colored night time streets of the Square creates self contained little theatrical acts and gives us some much needed breathing space.
                 One of my favorite of these street scenes has Keaton locked out of the theatre only in his underwear (don’t ask) forcing him to walk through the streets and around the block to the theatre entrance causing quite a commotion among the flocking tourists who hover like nasty pigeons. Is this a nightmare, a fantasy or reality? My dreams usually have me wandering the streets not in my underwear but without my shoes. Look for Keaton to take home the best actor Oscar in a few months, Hollywood loves a good comeback story. 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter