Artistic comedy-drama, ‘Birdman,’ takes a realistic approach on show business

Published by adviser, Author: Harmony Kasper - Rocket Contributor, Date: March 18, 2015
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2002

Michael Keaton made his big return to the award shows this year with the comedy-drama film, “Birdman”(2014). After starring in mainstream classics like “Batman” (1989) and “Batman Returns” (1992), “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Jack Frost” (1998), Keaton decided to take a more artsy approach and sign on to star in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (“Babel” 2006) film. Birdman also stars other big names, like Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover trilogy 2009-2013), Edward Norton (“Fight Club” 1999), Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone (“Superbad” 2007) and Naomi Watts (“King Kong” 2005).

The film follows the life of Riggan Thomson (Keaton) as he tries to put his superhero role “Birdman” in the past and move on to some more serious acting on Broadway. The plot could be compared to what Keaton may have gone through himself after his “Batman” films and was possibly type casted as a “superhero” actor immediately after. Keaton channels this inner desire to branch out from his past perfectly, bringing in his own emotion to make it even more believable.

Throughout the film, the voice of Birdman continues to pester Riggan Thomson into going back to his “glory days” of being a superhero. There is something more going on with the story that makes it pretty dark. Could Riggan possibly have Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Zach Galifianakis plays Jake, Riggan’s lawyer and friend, while Emma Stone plays his daughter Samantha, who is a recovering drug addict. Edward Norton plays Mike Shiner, Naomi Watts plays Leslie Truman and Andrea Riseborough plays Laura Aulburn, as actors in the Broadway production alongside Riggan. Amy Ryan plays Silvia Thomson, the mother of Samantha and ex-wife of Riggan.

Each of these characters has a unique relationship with Riggan that challenges him throughout the film. Also, his inner self that argues with him on making another blockbuster “Birdman” movie drives a lot of the insane decisions and actions that Riggan makes.

Since I am a huge award show “junkie,” I knew I had to see this film as soon as possible because it won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography at the 87th annual Academy Awards this February. Keaton also took home his first Golden Globe award, winning for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards in January. The film has to be viewed with an open mind and no expectations of what you think may or may not happen.

This film surprised me. It was loud, violent, crude and wild. The characters did not give one ounce of care for their actions as human beings. Each was selfish, but cared for one another at the most pertinent moment. It’s also very artsy, with most of the film being shot with a single shot of film. This was a very interesting technique because the camera would follow the actors from one room to another, from the stage to out on Broadway.

This movie is not for someone who just wants to watch a film to see a lot of action or romance. Even though the film encompasses both, it relates more to an indie film that touches all subjects but in a more “real” manor. Many action films are completely sci-fi and fiction, while romance in movies is almost impossible to replicate in real life.

“Birdman” shows what some productions in the theater may really be like: actors sleeping with other actors, drugs, alcohol, physical and emotional fights and the general struggles of performing live. The movie is smart by bringing you around each character’s life so you get the full picture of how they really feel about each other.

I won’t give away the ending, but in a sense it’s very poetic. It fits along with many of the other unanswered questions the film presents. I think people who appreciate the technicalities of film and dark comedy-drama would really like “Birdman.”

Even though I was confused through some of it and am still thinking about what the ending meant, I thought it was a pretty good film. I can see why it swept at the Academy Awards and Keaton won his first Golden Globe because this is the type of film that wins awards. I think from now on, Michael Keaton is going to soar till the end, just like his character “Birdman” did through New York City.

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