BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)


birdman_ver2_xlg2014

s15

CANDLES 8

DIRECTOR: Alejandro G. Iñárrit

May contain spoilers!

Taking the awards season by storm in 2014/2015, Birdman is a film which is launching an unremitting assault on modern cinema, as well as the cult of celebrity. It all begin with the casting of Michael Keaton, who let us face it, has not really reached the potential of his early career. This was Batman in 1989 and again in 1992 and the fictional Birdman character who also, was at his height in the same period, clearly harking back to that character. Though with the font on the Birdman 3 poster hanging on Keaton’s dressing room wall being the same as Iron Man (2008), the film’s true targets are announced in the opening scene. And what about the bookending shots of meteors plummeting to earth?

Is this just a metaphor for falling from fame or a veiled dig at a man who is seen by many to be destroying the art form of modern cinema itself, Micahel Bay and Armageddon? Maybe I am reading too much into this but with a film like this, interpretation is everything. But there is no doubt that Marvel’s comic book bubble is at the heart of the film, one which follows Keaton as the ageing ex-superhero star who is trying to prove to himself as well as everybody else that he is more than just a celebrity and is in fact a real actor.

Art imitating life?

The cast are all without exception, on top of their game and this is their movie, an actors movie about actors in a world being consumed by celebrity. But this is also a directors indulgence, with a solid narrative being dismembered by disjointed flights of fancy, dreams, hallucinations and the exploration of inner demons. And even though this can cast the film into the “love it” or “hate it” zone. The comedy and lighter touches pull it back from the brink on several occasions.

Birdman is palatable for broader audience whist pandering to the film festival crowd. But even though this movie believes that it has a lot to say about the vacuous state of Hollywood in 2000’s with the rise of comic book movies and pandering to the audience’s need for action and blood, it too it guilty of the same sort of cynicism.

This offers up sex, dark humour and pondering self pity and analyses as it plays to the Oscar crowd, coveting and successfully garnering awards. Michael Bay is after the money and Birdman is after the trophy and both offer up their souls to get what they want. At least Bay is not attacking Hollywood to get what he wants? Something to think about Mr. Iñárrit.

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