Recommended Viewing Situation:
Listening to free jazz, wearing your pants over your trousers, squawking at traffic.
Running Time: 119 minutes.
Format: Digital Fim on Arri Alexa M and XT.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armanda Bo.
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki.
Awards: Oscar: Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Directing; Best Writing, Original Screenplay; Best Achievement in Cinematography and more.
A comedy film so disorientating, you’ll shriek like a newborn bird peaking out of the nest for the first time. Birdman (2015) ‘follows’ the mental deterioration of actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) as he tries to reinvigorate his acting career after being the face of the fictional superhero franchise ‘Birdman’. Amidst a sea of postmodern anxiety and new age American post-structural nihilism, he attempts to regain his credibility as a serious artist and reconcile his newly acquired ‘superpowers’, only to be pushed and pulled by inglorious Hollywood co-workers and a dysfunctional family unit. All together you have one of the most unique and funny films to hit the screens in the last 10 years.
From the minds of Alejandro González Iñárritu and his partners, this satirical onslaught is the 5th feature film to be written, produced and directed by the Mexican born film maker. Quite a departure from his other works, Babel (2006) and Amores Perros (2000), Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) is a handful for its unsuspecting audience. First off, the score: an almost 2 hour long free-jazz drum solo exploration, provided by the electrifying Antonio Sanchez. Next, the Oscar winning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant 2015 and Gravity 2013): have you ever wondered what a feature film would look like if it were all one shot? That’s right. One continuous take. No Cuts (that you can see at least). Finally, the noteworthy performances of the film’s cast: it’s quite a pleasure to witness a cast of Hollywood actors (Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Zach Galifianakis and Edward Norton) playing modern parodies of the arts community.
Now despite what some might think about the efficacy of the characters this writer’s brief excursion into the film industry as an a.c. and cinematographer can tell you one thing; Birdman’s eccentric array of personas is far closer to the truth than anyone would like to admit. Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) is quite real; I flat shared with a Mike Shiner in my university days, it was tiresome. Understanding the humanity in each of the characters is the revelatory key to Birdman. Iñárritu’s film discusses the perils of commoditising one’s self. It slowly picks apart a new generation that exist utterly self-reflectively, part of an industry of human expression and emotion that requires constant brand awareness. It asks questions about how much one’s career shapes identity and our inability to connect through the language of labels. The philosopher Walter Benjamin spoke of ‘Zerstreuung’, a state of distraction whereby we simply consume and exist waiting for a ‘wake up call’. I don’t think this film is quite a postmodern awakening; our natural rhetoric is too used to the reflexive tropes of art. However, I do think that this film is special example of how people deal with the waking nightmares of the modern day. If you want to know more about these themes check out this book.