Monday, February 16, 2015

Birdman



IMDB: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%(critics), 83%(audience)

Director: Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñárritu
Writers: Alejandro González Iñárritu , Armando Bo ,Nicolás Giacobone , Alexander Dinelaris, Jr.
Stars: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts.

Release Date: 14 November 2014



An irrelevant actor, who once famously played a superhero in a successful franchise, decides to write, direct, and star in a play on Broadway. The film follows him in the days leading up to the opening night while everything around him seems to unravel. The entire premise of the film is incredibly interesting, especially to cast Michael Keaton, who formerly starred in several Batman films, and who’s career has certainly gone downhill since then as well. It was definitely a risky decision for Michael Keaton to make a film that clearly has some parallels to his real-life career, but he certainly made the correct decision.  This is definitely the best performance that I have seen him deliver and I genuinely didn’t know he had it in him. We also get fantastic performances from Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis. This is the first film I’ve seen from director Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñárritu, who also helped write the film, however he previously was nominated for 2 two Oscars for his film Babel. I found it very interesting how well they managed to balance the comedic parts of the film because it gets very dark at some points. The film is well worth watching, and in my opinion is definitely one of the greatest films of 2014. 
Riggan Thompson, Michael Keaton, is a washed up actor who is trying to gain the respect of the public by bringing a play to Broadway while he deals with the voice of his former glory literally haunting him as he believes he has super powers. A few days before opening night, one of his main, and worst, actors gets injured in rehearsals giving him the opportunity to work with Mike Shiner, Edward Norton, an accomplished theatre actor who the critics and audiences adore.  It all seems as though the play is going well on the night of their first preview with Mike disrupts the performance and begins a downward spiral for Riggan. After a series of malfunctions and crazy antics during the final previews, as well as a few outbursts from his daughter and a theatre critic, Riggan is left to question his abilities and plunges deeper into a depressive state where his delusions seem to reach a dangerous level. On opening night the performance going perfectly, he makes up with his daughter and ex-wife, and we are left with a sense of dread as we know what is coming. In the end the filmmakers leave it up to us to decide whether Riggan really was delusional or if he really was Birdman all this time.
 The main plotline was actually a fairly simple concept, but at the same time was never dull and really kept you hoping for Riggan that his play would turn out the way he wanted.  I didn’t find the plot to be cliché at all, its one of the most original films I’ve seen in a very long time. The plot is predictable in some ways, you know from about the middle of the film that he is probably going to harm himself at some point in the film, but the very end was not predictable at all, I thought they set it up completely that he was totally losing his mind, but Emma Stone’s face looking up and smiling at the very end just turns you in a totally different direction.

I suppose the theme of the film would be how far desperate people will go for respect and admiration. Riggan give everything he has emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially into his dream of bringing this novel to the stage, and when he is told that no matter how good or bad of a job he does, this big-time theatre critic is going to tear all of his hard work apart, he completely snaps.

Visually, the film was absolutely stunning, its difficult to discuss this film without talking about the fact that the film was shot to look like the entire film is just one shot. Obviously that is fairly impossible and since the film takes place over several days they had to be able to show time passing, but I thought overall all of the cuts were very clean and unless you were looking for them, you really wouldn’t be able to tell where the cuts were. In an interview with Michael Keaton he said that on average the takes would be about 9 minutes, the longest being around 16 minutes. If you know anything about filmmaking you will understand that that is a very impressive feat and the amount of planning and choreography that went into those shots must have been an unbelievable amount. Aside from the shots, the cinematography was really beautiful, the use of lighting was really great and the entire film has a bit of a dark grainy look.


Overall I deeply enjoyed this film, the storyline kept me interested throughout the film, the fact that the film looks like it was filmed in one shot keeps the film constantly moving forward and makes the film so visually stimulating and original that I find it difficult to believe that anyone could not enjoy this film. It is #193 on IMDB's Top 250 Films list and was nominated for 9 Oscars, I will update after next weekend when we find out the winners.I will easily give this film a 9/10 and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys interesting, artistic films.