Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu is the most recent winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, so when my buddy asked if I wanted to watch it I almost had to say yes. Though I was not prepared for what I saw. This was the craziest movie I have watched in some time. I thought it was fitting that the soundtrack for this film was jazzy because Birdman is the film equivalent to free jazz. You are just never sure where it is going to go.
Birdman is about an actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) towards the end of his career, and he is banking everything he has on a Broadway play he is writing, directing, and staring in based on Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is his last big chance at proving his worth as an actor after walking away from the mega-blockbuster superhero movie series the titular Birdman. Oh, by the way Thomson is mentally ill and the voice of Birdman taunts him and speaks to him everywhere he goes.
As you can imagine putting on a stage play is probably not the best thing for a person with mental health issues to be doing, and the people around him are not doing him any favors. They are all just nuts, and their zaniness is pushing Thomson further and further down the rabbit hole. The whole thing makes me very wary of stage productions. If this movie is to believed, it is just full of nothing but wigged out jerks. Though it makes for an
entertaining unique movie watching experience.
The actors in Birdman were all fantastic. Edward Norton plays the egotistical method actor perfectly, Zach Galifianakis gives his most muted part in recent memory as the manager/everything else for the play with a talent I didn’t know he had, and Emma Stone as Thomson’s daughter continues her trip to the top of the Hollywood ‘A’ list with another great performance. Though it is all anchored by Michael Keaton who breaths life in to the barely sane Riggan Thomson.
The acting and the story were good, but where this movie really differentiates itself is how it was shot, or how they made it look like it was shot anyway. The movie looked like it was one long take. With the camera always zooming and panning from one scene to the next. With no clear ‘cuts’ Birdman never lets you take a moment to breath. It just keeps going. Which adds to the perceived mania of the lead character. This was quite an achievement of filming and editing by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
While I was watching Birdman the crazy just kept washing over me, and when I had finished watching it I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. Because of the one lone shot style the film it never let me take it all in. Though now that I have had time to decompress, I have to say I think I liked Birdman quite a lot, and it was good to see something different for once. Maybe I should listen to more jazz? (nope)