Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

IMDb plot summary: 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 the opening of his Broadway play.
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, and Zach Galifianakis.

(Mild spoilers for this and Black Swan.)

When I saw this, the people around me did NOT like this picture. The woman behind me audibly booed at the screen for about a minute after it ended and spent the next several movie breaks talking about how much she hated it. According to her, it wasn't even that it was pretentious or self-indulgent (which are understandable criticisms) -- it was just that she didn't like the fantasy/reality blend.

Well, *I* liked it a lot. It reminded me of Black Swan, a previous Best Picture nominee that also featured performers going a little mad and slowly turning into the characters they played in scenes that didn't explicitly say whether it was all real or not. Birdman's cinematography is especially fascinating and delightful, in long unbroken shots that showcase the frantic chaos of the theater and, later, the beautiful freedom of letting go. (The flight scene is one of the most gorgeous moments I've seen on screen in a long time.)

I'm not going to dissect the story or dialogue or themes much right now, as I feel like I'll need another viewing before I can really pull together coherent thoughts on it. But I will say this was a fantastic cinematic experience, and I'm delighted that it won Best Picture.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Birdman > Last Action Hero
Birdman > Argo
Birdman < The Lego Movie
Birdman > Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Birdman < The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Birdman < Sense and Sensibility
Birdman > Edge of Tomorrow
Birdman > Grave of the Fireflies
Birdman > Easy A
Birdman > Take Shelter
Birdman > Rise of the Guardians

Final spot: #399 out of 2324.

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