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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Michael Keaton, Emma Stone dazzle in “Birdman”

There’s been a large amount of hype surrounding “Birdman,” and it’s easy to see why. The film is a celebration of performance and is easily this year’s greatest technical display.

“Birdman” is a compilation of numerous award-worthy performances, a fresh story with strong writing, masterly direction, a great message about the world of performing and the inner-monologues of those attempting to create some form of art.

Michael Keaton is the centerpiece of this film, in what is surely his strongest and most vibrant performance to date. His washed up, befuddled mega-star is full of regret and ambition that adds many different layers to the already complex character. Keaton plays the part with determination and vulnerability.

I admired Edward Norton’s performance even more, as I believe Norton found a character that he could really have some fun with. He brings anenergy to the film that makes everything much more fun.

Emma Stone continues her streak of strong performances here and even gives one of her best performances to date. She keeps a slick sense of humor but also feels relatable. She brings honesty and reality to this film, and her character is the one that keeps things grounded when they need to be.

“Birdman” is as much a celebration of performance as it is an exploration of the human mind and how we interpret our lives.

Naomi Watts also turns in a strong performance that won’t go unnoticed this year. Her “first time on Broadway” attitude is charming, and the care that she puts into handling her emotions and scenes is extremely admirable.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu turned heads with his impressive films “Babel” and “21 Grams,” and it was evident then that this man has a truly unique take on storytelling. “Birdman” is no exception, as Inarritu meticulously crafted a film that flows as if it were one continuous shot.

Every beat of the jazzy soundtrack fits in with something on-screen. The story he’s chosen to tell deals heavily with the human yearning to feel like we belong and have something to offer the world. The need to feel relevant, as well as to feel accomplished, is a common feeling, and Inarritu’s use of pop-culture, and how it’s affected film and stage performances especially, emphasizes how some of these performers feel. “Birdman” is as much a celebration of performance as it is an exploration of the human mind and how we interpret our lives.

The technical aspects of this film are astounding. The steady camera work and long tracking shots are absolutely gorgeous and the sign that “Birdman” was produced and directed by a true filmmaker. Inarritu provides many closeups to give us a better understanding of his characters, but we also get a view of them from afar and understand how they present themselves on the surface, much like how an audience member would see them in the theatre.

Superheroes are a moneymaker in Hollywood, and the concept of this three-part heroic saga is nothing that we haven’t seen before. Wanting audiences to view more serious, dramatic and passionate work is all too real, but it’s incredibly hard to escape the fact that everyone will remember movies that were made to be cash cows.

“Birdman” certainly has one of the best ensembles of the year, including some career-best work for Keaton, and it tells a unique story. The film doesn’t feel too long, but it drags in a few places and doesn’t always make sense. Distinguishing between reality and a fantasy isn’t all that hard in the film, but the two both have their pros and cons. This  film that deserves repeat viewings, but it has a good enough first impression to recommend it to any fan of film and theatre.

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