Alejandro González Iñárritu’s BIRDMAN
Birdman is a new dramedy from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis among others. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson an actor known for a superhero role from his past (not unlike Keaton himself) who is now trying to regain relevance and prove his worth as a serious actor by putting on a dramatic stage production.
Birdman features a lot of comedy which could be argued as its primary genre, but the film also contains incredibly strong dramatic elements as well. It has a very good grasp of its tones and blends them wonderfully. Birdman is very funny on more than one level and had me laughing multiple times throughout. The film is capable of being funny and serious within the same scene, even within the same moment. A scene that begins with a comedic tone can evolve into a highly emotional confrontation and vice versa. The dialogue always feels natural and more notably features incredibly dynamic and realistic arguments. In most movies if an argument is going to take place, the character will initiate their dialogue directly in the conflict, but in Birdman characters may start an argument about something small and inconsequential and use it to ramp up to the issues that truly plague their minds, as people often do.
The acting is fantastic all around. Every single performance, no matter how small is perfect. This is Michael Keaton’s largest role in quite a while and he deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance. In fact Birdman also deserves Oscar nominations for best picture, director, and cinematography at the least. Keaton’s character is very complex and makes for an impressive performance. Edward Norton is pretty much great in every role he plays and here it’s no exception. Emma Stone and Naomi Watts are both excellent as well and each of them are given scenes where they can really showcase their full acting ability. I was thinking that Zach Galifianakis might have been playing a purely comedic role, but he also has an opportunity to show off some impressive dramatic acting alongside the comedy he’s best known for.
The score to Birdman by Antonio Sanchez is fantastic. It creates a fully defined style right from the opening credits. The soundtrack features mostly percussion and was stuck in my head hours after the movie had ended. It’s worth owning and serves as the final layer of delicious audio glaze on an already excellent film.
The most impressive aspect of Birdman is the way it is shot. The entire film aside from a short sequence is presented as one continuous unbroken take. There are cuts but they are hidden. The editing is disguised to look as if the camera is floating through the environment as an observer. As a filmmaker I can recognize places where cuts may have been placed, but most viewers likely won’t. I was equally amazed by the cinematography. The filming style had me completely captivated and serves to make the viewer more immersed in the atmosphere. The single continuous shot is a technical marvel and especially impressive when considering that the story takes place over multiple days in a variety of locations.
The presentation of Birdman is simply amazing. The director, Alejandro González Iñárritu is a true master of his craft. The direction as a whole is impeccable and is a true feat of filmmaking.
In closing, Birdman is one of the best films of 2014. Everything about it, right down to the credits, is perfect. For now Birdman is in limited release and I was able to see it at Red River Theatres. Definitely check this film out if you can.