Monday, October 27, 2014
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)  (directed and screenplay co-written by Alejandro González Iñárritu along with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo) is a "fargin' good" film about "Riggan Thompson," a Michael Keaton-like character (played by Michael Keaton ;-) who had made his mark/fortune, some 20 years back, playing a winged Superhero named "Birdman" in three blockbuster films. (While having been a very talented comedic actor prior to starring in the first two blockbuster Batman [1989, 1992] movies, those two "Superhero" films largely defined Michael Keaton's career as well ... until ... possibly ... now ;-).
So ... after living 20 years on "Birdman money," Riggan decides, for reasons not entirely clear, to dump much of the rest of his money into an über-serious / über-intimate stage adaptation of an über-serious / über-intimate short story by Raymond Carver entitled, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Apparently having been previously dismissed by "serious critics" as "a Super-Hero acting lightweight," the consequently über-defensive Riggan himself _wrote_ the said über-weighty stage-adaptation of Raymond Carver's über-seriously titled _short story_ and ... was planning to direct it and star in it -- on Broadway no less -- to prove said critics WRONG!
That's if he can get the dang cast ... through rehearsals. The cast's only four people - two women, another male and him. How hard could THAT be? There's them plus another couple of significant others hanging about the set -- an ex-wife who's actually, if mostly shaking her head, somewhat supportive, and a daughter (played by Emma Stone) just out of rehab who _hates him_ though, of course, not exactly sure WHY she hates him, 'cept that she DOES ;-)
It _hasn't_ been easy ... two weeks before opening, A BIG METAL HOOK drops down "from above" and clunks Riggan's male costar in the head, knocking him out of commission (and threatening a subsequent lawsuit).
What to do? Well, Lesley (played by Naomi Watts), one of the two female leads in the play, tells Riggan that she could have a replacement for him. Who on such short notice? Well, he's HER BOYFRIEND, Mike (played by Edward Norton), an über-talented (but also über-problematic) Broadway "Method" actor. He's GOOD. But then if he's so good, why would he "be free" to play the role on such short notice? Well, did I mention that he was ALSO "problematic?"
So Mike "I am MY ROLE" steps-in with TRULY APPALLING CONFIDENCE and is soon arguing with Riggan over the point of many of Riggan's crafted out of "I'll show them"/love/desperation but in any case WRITING-SCHOOL-(AMATEUR)-LEVEL lines/dialogues in the play ;-)
Sigh ... "Just put this thing out of its misery," Riggan's "BIRDMAN" voice (in his head) taunts him: "BE WHO YOU ARE! SOAR! BIRDMAN !"
But poor Riggan is going to PROVE that he CAN be a "REAL ACTOR" ... Much, often hilarious, ensues.
I just loved this film! But then, I've loved Michael Keaton since his film Johnny Dangerously  ("It's a fargin' good film, you iceholes!" ;-). And the film's just a blast to watch. Other reviewers have commented on the fantastically long shots made in this film, and it's clever stitched together editing. It also shows that director Alejandro González Iñárritu can do more than just really, really weighty films like Amores Perros , Babel , Biutiful  and, of course, Gravity  ;-). Look for this film to receive all kinds of nominations come Awards / Oscar season!
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