January 12, 2015

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2014
Riggan Thomas is attempting to mount a career comeback with a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story, years after entertaining movie audiences as superhero "Birdman".

Birdman is erratic, intense, manic. You spend 120 minutes in the presence of the true theater culture, with all of the moving parts. All of the dramatic impulses, the insecurity, etc. Riggan is the centerpiece of the story but one of many egos shuffling through the narrow halls of the St. James Theatre. Birdman could be called a character unraveling picture because Riggan is basically falling apart for the duration of the film. But his inner conflicts (you could call an overconfident voice in your head part of an inner conflict) and professional conflicts are completely compelling. There are constant elements of ego, self-doubt, regret. Digging your heels into a project that everyone around you seems to not have a whole lot of faith in. As time pushes on you only get deeper and deeper. The stage show is hanging on by a thread during the preview period, but then again all of the people orbiting Riggan are hanging on by a thread for the most part. It's a bold role for Keaton. Birdman is clearly a satirical look at his Batman days, where we didn't see much of him after he put away the Bat-suit despite the fact that the general public remained seemingly receptive. Nice to see him have a sense of humor about some of it. There's quite a bit of humor in the film, basically placing Birdman in a black comedy / dramedy category. It's actually a difficult movie to fully process in short time. There's a sense of satisfaction at the end credits, but it may need to marinate in your brain for a little while. Maybe because it's so flowing and bustling that there's a need for the mind to catch up afterward.

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