BIRDMAN | MOVIE REVIEW

If this movie released in Australia in 2014 it may have knocked BOYHOOD from my number one spot for film of the year. It is brilliant, a landslide triumph on every level that presents a fresh movie that annihilates the showbiz industry and its blurred lines between talent and fame. It does so by presenting what appears a seamless one take, one shot movie with a cast that will score three Oscar nominations, a cinematographer that has the Oscar in hand plus a director and film that could possibly win them all, hell throw in best music as well for an Oscar. It releases January 15th in Australia from 20th Century Fox Australia, it runs for 119mins and is rated MA15+.

 

BIRDMAN MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
BIRDMAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

Michael Keaton plays Riggan, and Birdman, an end of career washed out actor who used to be one of the greatest superheros on the big screen. It may appear that this is a black comedy look at Keaton’s own life, only difference is he is not washed out and funnily enough the role was not written for him. Riggan was once incredibly famous for his role as Birdman and people still want their photos taken with him and ask him for autographs everywhere he goes. But Riggan wants more than his fame, he wants to be respected as a talented actor and so writes a play starring himself and throws everything he has at making it a Broadway success. This is his only chance for fame redemption and respect and nothing will stop him, including his own sanity.

You cannot go to see this movie to relax, for one, unlike most Hollywood films this one will make you think and then the pace of the film is schizophrenically frantic – let us call is schizofrantic. It is masterfully shot by GRAVITY Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who has another Oscar coming his way. His cinematographical bag of tricks this time lends the film to have the illusion of a single shot, never cutting movie, as in nothing ever pauses, fades, cuts, it never ends and it matches the pace of all the actors.

The movie is an over-the-top satire at fame and the industry, it is dark but also hysterical and completely off the page when it comes to technical achievement.

 

IRDMAN MOVIE IMAGE
BIRDMAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RIGGAN/ BIRDMAN (MICHAEL KEATON)

 

So Riggan is an ex famous guy desperate for that fame again in a modern world, not only does he want fame, he wants to be seen as an artist and respected, he once was the most famous action man but kissed it all goodbye by turning down Birdman 4, his desperation for that fame has destroyed most of his life, lost him a wife, his money and even the love of his daughter. Riggan is a casualty of his own self, just like Batman or the metaphorical Birdman who sacrifice their life to wear a mask to be something else for the betterment of mankind. Riggan does not strive his life changing antics for mankind, no he does it because of hubris. And this is part of the problem with Hollywood today, most actors read lines, stand behind their huge explosions and CGI while thinking they are freaking brilliant because they get six or seven figure payouts, and the industry doesn’t embrace the movies made with limited budget and abundant talent because, mainly, it is not their investment, they need to invest in their own movies so they can get the budget to make more, they then self promote these films through their own distribution companies because you need that return on investment – capitalist 101. The films critics love rarely make the big box office budget lists. Why? Because society and the industry want big budget McDonald’s movies and the industry feeds us what they want to feed us, it is only during awards seasons that art house masterpieces and movies made in genius are applauded, then most of the distributors re-release them into cinemas because the world has acknowledged them and it is time to give the masses what they want.

 

BIRDMAN IMAGE
BIRDMAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RIGGAN/ BIRDMAN (MICHAEL KEATON) AND MIKE (EDWARD NORTON) FIGHT

 

The irony in the satire is that Keaton is bagging out himself throughout the film and once played Batman, Edward Norton plays Mike, he plays the actor’s actor, the one everyone loves and is filled with so much talent, he also has his head so far up his own arse he is delusional, again, he has lost everything for his chosen path. The irony here, in real life he also played The Hulk. Then there is the daughter, Sam, played by Emma Stone, a recovering suicidal drug addict who despises everything about her father and what the life has wrought on her, irony with her, she was the glamorous love interest Spidey couldn’t save. This trio are beyond impressive, they are exceptional in everything and they all deserve the Oscars. That would be the biggest irony of all, if this movie won everything 🙂

The movie also has a sublime supporting cast in Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis and others, my greatest regret is that Kim Bassinger was not the ex-wife – I would have stood and applauded if that was the case.

 

IRDMAN MOVIE IMAGE EMMA STONE
BIRDMAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | SAM (EMMA STONE) LOOKS UP TO HER FATHER

 

Alejandro González Iñárritu delivers his best movie to date for me. The man is already a genius with his incredible movies, AMORES PERROES, BABEL, 21 GRAMS and BIUTIFUL but this time he does satire at its best, pairs it with one of the most amazing screenplays I have ever seen, gets some of the best talent available and then gets the best cinematographer of recent years to film it, everything about this movie was a winning combination.

Another piece of brilliance; as a critic, if I was intent on destroying a movie (or a theatre piece) without seeing it purely because I hated what the lead actor and director stood for I would be a shit critic. A lot of critics in the press are attacking this part of the movie, the two dimensional hate filled critic, Tabatha, played also superbly by acting stalwart Lindsay Duncan, probably because it gets close to the truth. I know of critics in Australia that walk out of a movie then give it a good score the next morning. Is it also not true that the highest critics in the world can make or break a restaurant, a movie or a theatre piece (especially on Broadway) purely based on their opinion? Surely this power is not all used for good, critics, while we may seem like a higher form of the species, are in fact real people, and are open to greed, power and persuasion.

Finally I have to mention the music, Antonio Sanchez’s score is a jazz score of the highest order, it is mostly drums and off beats that provide the heartbeat rather than compliment this frenetic film.

Riggan most definitely achieves what he wants, I cannot discuss the ending in the review, because like me you must obtain a few grey hairs internally debating this one, social media message me if you want to discuss it. But like Riggan, Keaton is back and it is an immense pleasure to see. I cannot wait for more from him and Alejandro.

 

JK’S POP SCORE:

5 Pops

KERNEL NICK’S POP SCORE: 

5 Pops

 

 

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