A meditation on the meaning of art, success and failure, life and death, and human existence
|Birdman (2014) - By Alejandro González Iñárritu|
Our Rating: 9.0
IMDb Ratings: 8.1
Genre: Comedy | Drama
Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton
Runtime: 119 min
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a 2014 Oscar-winning drama film co-written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu whose previous assignments include Babel, 21 Grams, and Biutiful. The movie stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis in major roles. Birdman is a departure from the contemporary style of filmmaking. Iñárritu devises a technique (perhaps, taking a leaf out of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope) that gives an illusion as if the entire film were shot in a single extended take. Birdman's strong albeit bizarre dialogue and impeccable slapstick timing on one hand hark back to the works of the American screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, particularly Glengarry Glen Ross, while on the other, it strongly reminds of the films like Barton Fink and The Player in that it deglamorizes Hollywood while exposing its hypocrisies in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner.
|Michael Keaton (left) and Edward Norton in Birdman|
Birdman tells the story of Riggan Thomson—a washed up Hollywood actor, essayed by Michael Keaton, once famous for playing an iconic superhero called "Birdman"—as he battles both his inner demons and outer foes in a desperate attempt to reinvent himself as a Broadway director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". But, there is more to Riggan than meets the eye. Is he a tormented artist so committed to his art that he goes to the point of living his act? Or, is he a paranoid schizophrenic with suicidal tendencies? It is this dichotomy associated with Riggan that gives Birdman its true meaning and impetus. At the 87th Academy Awards, Birdman won in four of the nine categories it was nominated including the Best Picture and Best Direction, edging past critics’ favorite Boyhood—Patricia Arquette bagged the solitary Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress.
Birdman offers a nice blend of realism, surrealism and magic realism—à
la Gabriel García Márquez. The movie has a strong undercurrent of dark humor but
that doesn’t stop Iñárritu from posing several serious questions about the
meaning of art, success and failure, life and death, and human existence. Birdman
doesn't feed any definitive answers but rather allows the viewers to engage at
their own intellectual planes. Birdman exalts artists, celebrating their
commitment and dedication to art, while it belittles critics, deeming them incompetent
to judge artistic works. While Birdman is best seen as a parody on the comic
book superhero films that Hollywood churns out year in and year out, there’s no
denying that Birdman is a significant superhero film in itself. Perhaps to
exaggerate the effect (although Iñárritu hasn’t acknowledged it publicly
whether it’s deliberate or not), almost all the major actors cast in the movie
have, at one point or the other, been associated with a superhero flick: be it
Michael Keaton (Batman), Edward
Norton (The Incredible Hulk), or Emma
Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man). Given the
Academy’s lack of regard for the superhero genre, Birdman’s Best Picture win at
this year’s Oscars is truly historic.
|Emma Stone (left) and Edward Norton in Birdman|
|A Still from Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman|
(This review was first published at mad about moviez)
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