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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Birdman (2014)

A washed up actor (Michael Keaton), most famous for playing the superhero Birdman in the movies, attempts a comeback by writing, directing and acting in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver story for the Broadway stage. As the show approaches its opening night, his personal demons threaten to derail the show as much as his co-star (Edward Norton), a loose cannon who can't seem to control himself. For most of its running time, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's BIRDMAN (subtitled THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) is an exhilarating and imaginative piece of cinema. Seemingly shot in one long uninterrupted take (though obviously there are unseen cuts), Inarritu and his ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (GRAVITY) have fun with the possibilities of cinema but too often it seems showy but not necessarily in a good way. Inarritu and his co-scripters (there were three others) balance the film with both humor as well as pungent commentary but they can't seem to have found an acceptable ending for the film and so they fumble badly on the finish line. But at heart, this is an actor's film and there it glows. Keaton, in a career best performance, deserves all the accolades he's been getting and Norton and Emma Stone (as Keaton's daughter) are pretty awesome too. I didn't care much for Antonio Sanchez's drum underscore. I love drums as much as the next guy but it became annoying after awhile and called attention to itself. With Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough and Lindsay Duncan who shares one of the film's best scenes with Keaton.

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