Movie Review : Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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Okay…. I was not even going to see this movie because of all the hype and well to be perfectly honest, it looked pretentious. But I had promised myself to see ALL Oscar Best Pictures this year before the actual ceremony …. hey that’s no mean feat in Australia!! …..and with a free afternoon, I found myself with no more excuses to not go and watch.

And I am so glad I did…..

Filmed in what appears to be one long take, Riggan (Keaton) is an aging actor who once helmed a superhero franchise and is now desperate for acclaim as a serious Broadway actor. Sound familiar?

Riggan’s play is about to go into previews, he is stressed to the max, he needs to find a new leading man and at this critical moment, his massive ego steps in to truly fuck things up for him. His daughter Sam (Stone) is fresh out of re-hab and dealing with demons of her own so even though she is her father’s PA, she is ill-equipped to deal with this circling madness.

His leading lady Lesley (Watts) suggests her partner Mike (Norton), an acclaimed stage actor, as the new leading man. Riggans would prefer Woody Harrelson, Michael Fassbender or Jeremy Renner … wouldn’t we all! …. but Mike is hired out of absolute desperation. It is seemingly just moments later that Riggan and Mike butt heads, with Mike zeroing in on Riggan’s insecurities with an uncanny accuracy and just pick, pick, picking at him.

His ever-present Agent/Manager Jake (Galifianakis) is doing his best to keep everything under control and in perspective but he faces an uphill battle with this motley crew.

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This movie is a study of the human condition. The search for love and acceptance, whether from your job, your family or that most sly of Mistress’s ….. the love of an adoring public. A blockbuster movie or a glittering career is only one new release away from being yesterday’s old news, as is the sometimes fleeting adoration of one’s fans. But to be worshipped and adored is intoxicating, even if you loathe the reason it’s happening.

Riggan despises his most famous character, Birdman, yet is desperate for the return of the public’s adoration. But they loved Birdman, not him. Not really. And he is also desperate for respect as a serious actor and this does not come from playing a superhero in a franchise.

It is a vicious, cruel double-edged sword and it makes for the most deliciously fascinating insight into the psyche of these characters, of many an actor I assume.

I watched this movie with voyeuristic glee. I felt not an ounce of shame as I rolled my eyes and silently bitch slapped almost every characters portrayed. It was a fantastic way to spend a few hours!

4 1/2 stars

Love Flick xx

Director : Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring :  Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Jeremy Shamos, Andrea Riseborough, Katherine O’Sullivan, Damien Young

Running Time :  119 minutes

Release Date :  22 January 2015

 

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