Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Birdman (2014)

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Writers:  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo
Cast:       Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watss, Zach Galifianakis

A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to opening of a Broadway play which he wrote and directed. 

It is Inarritu's way of saying 'Fuck You' to the system that churns out sequels, prequels and reboots of superhero shitfests making billions along the way. But mockery is not just aimed at the studios but also at the vanity and pretentiousness of those who also operate away from that system. Edward Norton fits perfectly in that regard. I was fearful that Birdman would turn out very much like American Hustle from last year, which was adored by the critics and I couldn't just see what the fuss was about. It was not the case for Birdman and the humor in it is very layered and intelligent. Criticism is not limited to the performance arts business but also at the vapid 'Selfie' phase of culture that we are going through right now. Michael Keaton's role in it is not very different from how his career turned out as it stands and everyone hopes he gets the kick-start he deserves at this point of time. He was in the first two batman films with the second one coming in 1992, a year which is also referenced in this film as the year in which the last Birdman film released. Same can be said about the other actors in it with Edward Norton having a reputation of being very hard top word with.

It is not a film that you would expect from Inarritu and everyone would have raised their eye-brows when they heard he is making a comedy film titled 'Birdman'. There were several writing partners involved and the film is shot as if the entirety of it is a single tracking shot. It is not a distraction since we know it is not a single take anyway because of the amount of time lapsing. It was filmed in sequence and that maybe how they managed to include that reference to Meg Ryan's plastic surgery, which happened quite recently. The performances are delightfully screen chewy, especially from Edward Norton. The soundtrack which involved a lot of drumming reminded me of the Oceans series and the vibe that this one generates is also strangely similar. I sat through the entire film with a big smile and there are plenty of lines that makes you laugh out loud with some examples being:

Lesley: I wish I had more self-respect.
Laura: You're an actress.

"Sixty is the new thirty, mother fucker."

"Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige."

A put down of that critic is also perfect. I kind of thought it was gonna go the cliched path with the actor committing suicide during the performance but it surprised me again with how it went on from there. Overall it is just great and is certainly among the best from last year. 2014 has been really a great year.

Rating: 5/5