Movie Review: BIRDMAN - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: BIRDMAN

Michael Keaton stars in the new movie, BIRDMAN, an unconventional, highly original comedy about a former Hollywood action star who wants to prove himself on the Broadway stage. I've never seen a movie quite like it.

Keaton plays Riggan, an aging actor who years ago starred in three Birdman superhero movies.  Now he hears the voice of that superhero in his head. And sometimes he fantasizes that he has Birdman's super powers.

Birdman: How did we end up here? this place is horrible…..We had it all. You were a movie star remember?

As a shot of Riggan levitating suggests, BIRDMAN is a satirical mix of reality and fantasy. What grabs your eye early on is that the entire movie appears to have been shot in one continuous take.  The camera follows Riggan and the other characters, speeding around corners, gliding down hallways, circling the principals—all without apparent edits.   

To get the respect that he thinks he deserves, Riggan is directing and starring in a serious play he's adapted from a short story. Previews are about to begin and nothing is going right. For one thing, his male co-star Mike (played by Edward Norton) is a stage actor who scoffs at movie stars.

Mike: You guys (in Hollywood) know that if you crank out any toxic piece of crap, people will line up and pay to see it. But long after you're gone, I'm gonna be on that stage, earning my living, baring my soul, wrestling with complex human emotions.

There are many more complications. His much younger girl friend may be pregnant, and his just-out-of-rehab daughter, Sam, played by Emma Stone, is angry.

Sam: Face it dad; you're doing this because you're scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don't matter, and you know what? You're right; you don't.

Riggan deals with one crisis after another. at one point he finds himself on the street in his underwear after he accidentally locks himself out of the theater. 

Riggan:  I'm broke; I'm not sleeping, like you know, at all, and this play is kinda starting to feel like a nature deformed version of myself that just keeps following me around, hitting me.

Keaton is sensational in this role, displaying chops that almost any actor would envy.  The whole cast is top notch.

Director Alejandro Inarritu  has made a fascinating film that will amaze film buffs, but there are flaws. The movie is about twenty minutes too long, and the ending is ambiguous.

Still, BIRDMAN is one of the best movies of the year.    

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now    thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com     
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