Main Plot Points:
- BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.
- In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.
What We Thought:
- Birdman is nothing like what I expected. I liked it, liked it a lot actually, but it’s not anything I thought it was going to be.
- I guess I expected there to be more Birdman in Birdman. I knew it wasn’t a comic book movie, it is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu after all, but I thought there would be more involving Birdman.
- The film is about an aging actor who was once a huge Hollywood leading man that’s now trying to get a Broadway show off the ground. Michael Keaton plays this actor who you are never quite sure of just how stable he is. There is a voice in his head, there’s a daydream type scene and times he thinks he’s moving objects with his mind so you are never sure of his mind set.
- All this takes place on stage and behind the scenes of his Broadway show. The more experience you have with acting or production or show business, the more it makes sense. It feels like one giant inside joke poking fun at everything and anything.
- For one, the movie feels like a completely anti-Hollywood movie (yet Hollywood is embracing it, so go figure). It mocks Summer Blockbusters, actors doing films just for the money and not respecting the craft. Theater will always be the truest judge of acting abilities and this film reminds us of that. The lead is a former comic book movie hero who is criticized by a theater critic. The fact that Michael Keaton plays this character is just another twist on things. Keaton had a huge run as Batman over 20 years ago. Edward Norton plays opposite Keaton and Norton was once the Incredible Hulk. Emma Stone plays Keaton’s daughter and she’s in the latest Spider-Man movies.
- Going back to that critic scene, I loved it. Others don’t and I think it’s because they are more critical than I am. I review movies, but I also work in movies so I respect the craft and creativity. The back & forth between Keaton and the critic is spot on perfection to me.
- The film itself is amazing to look at and will have people studying it for years. It seems like one giant tracking shot throughout the theater and New York. There are obviously cuts (most likely through doorways), but the camera tracks all the characters everywhere. It reminded me a lot of a Robert Altman film or even The West Wing. The color filtering on it is also amazing. Coloring and shading changes throughout to both highlight and lowlight a scene. It’s all pretty breathtaking to watch and film nerds like myself will eat it up.
- Birdman is like a piece of jazz music. It’s winding and you never know where it’s going. It’s epic even in enclosed areas. The score to the film is amazing and sets tone just as much the lighting and tracking. It’s incredibly well acted, well made and looks amazing. But just like jazz, it’s not perfect. I liked most of it, but I just didn’t love it. It’s slow at parts and never quite felt like it knew what message it wanted to give. It sets out to poke different things and it does, but is there more to it?
Notable Cast & Crew:
- Michael Keaton
- Edward Norton
- Emma Stone
- Naomi Watts
- Zach Galifianakis
Recommended if You Like:
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
- Michael Keaton