2014 *** 119 mins.
Going into this film, I was expecting quite a different film than I received. The only other film I had seen by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu before this was Babel, and I didn't like it very much, either. I'm not a fan of Inarritu's style. The story of Birdman is quite interesting. Michael Keaton plays an aging actor trying to shed his superhero past. He adapts a distancing novel for the stage and directs and stars in it himself. As everything around him comes crashing down, he is haunted by his superhero alter ego. All the actors do a fair job, but their performances are hindered by a rare filmmaking technique. The entire film appears to be one long take. I'm sorry, but Hitchcock tackled this technique far better in 1948's Rope. This technique means the actors have to have their parts committed to memory, focusing on hitting marks and choreography, rather than really disappearing into the role. This is exactly why I'm not a big fan of the stage. When a show or a film goes on for a long time, the performances suffer. Michael Keaton is the only one here who actually plays his role to perfection. The digital cinematography leads to a lot of smudges and smearing, due mainly to the fact that I don't think Inarritu is aware of a tripod. The camera hardly ever stops moving, even when all we are doing is listening to two people have a conversation. The film deals with a lot of themes that appeal to me. For example, I've always wanted to be a serious filmmaker. I don't want to get there by becoming a social media superstar. I want to be a real, respected filmmaker, but I don't think it's possible in today's world. Keaton's character wants to be a serious actor. He doesn't have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. He wants to do things the old fashioned way, but the new fashions keep interfering. So, although I appreciate the themes, the style is off, the performances are stage-y, and the film goes on far too long. Again, Hitchcock was wise, knowing that the one long take technique works best for a mere hour and twenty minutes, not two whole hours.
Original theatrical aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Rated language throughout, some sexual content, and brief violence.
Alejandro G. Inarritu + Nicolas Giacobone + Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. + Armando Bo
Alejandro G. Inarritu