Director: Alejandro Iñárritu
Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts
Movie Review Score: 9ish
“Birdman” is all about reputation and redemption. Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) was once an iconic superhero, hence the title. Thompson decides to revamp his acting career by writing, starring and directing his own adaption of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Thompson faces multiple problems around every corner.
He finds an actor that the Broadway audience adores, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), and everything seems to be falling into place. Thompson then has altercations with his daughter Sam (Emma Stone), with himself — and, it seems, with the world. Constantly battling production issues, he also fights the voice inside his head that taunts him to ultimately try and redeem himself.
“Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” to use its full title — is about crisis and how Thompson handles it. He wants to call himself beloved, and to feel himself beloved on earth, to paraphrase the opening of the film.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who also picked up Oscars for directing and writing, has made an incredible movie. It’s an ambitious stab at magical realism, with many scenes featuring Keaton moving things with his mind and flying through New York City.
Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who also picked up an Oscar, achieve an amazing feat by making “Birdman” appear to be just one shot with such smooth style. Most of the cuts are hidden within the pans and are so well done, it makes it incredibly hard to catch them. In the DVD’s special features, the actors talk about the difficulty involved with such long, continuous scenes. If they messed up the end, it meant starting all over again.
Michael Keaton is outstanding and it’s hard to believe he didn’t win Best Actor at the Oscars. It’s ironic as well, because in reality, Keaton is mirroring his character. As Thompson is escaping “Birdman,” Keaton is escaping his iconic performance as “Batman.”
In “Birdman,” we follow Thompson around and experience his claustrophobic life within the tight walls of the St. James Theater in New York City. He battles his alter ego while balancing on the fence of insanity. At times he’s a burning comet soaring through the sky, while in others he’s a dead jellyfish lying on the beach to rot (check the special features for that reference).
There are three bonus features included on the DVD/Blu-ray. The best extra is “Birdman: All-Access.” This is an awesome insight to the making of the movie, a behind-the-scenes look at the process and the actors’ and actresses’ thoughts. There is an in-depth interview with Michael Keaton and Alejandro Iñárritu about the movie, and the package includes stills from the set.
Norton and Stone both received supporting actor nominations and are well deserving of them. Iñárritu brought out the best in the rest of the cast including Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts and Andrea Riseborough.
“Birdman” is an incredible experience coated with brilliant acting, writing and cinematography, and is an outstanding movie that will be talked about for years to come.