Birdman aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)

I didn't know exactly what to expect from this movie going in. I had heard that it was a good movie, and I knew that Michael Keaton was playing a guy who used to be a superhero, but that was about it. It turns out, this was probably slightly less of a superhero movie than Unbreakable was. But, it is more of a superhero movie than, say, Fury.

Michael used to be a superhero in a few Birdman movies, and now that's what he's known for. But he's struggling to be taken seriously as an actor by writing, directing, and starring in his own Broadway play. The play itself is immaterial as far as the movie is concerned, but the actual production of the play is very important.

Speaking of production, this movie is beautifully shot. It has some of the longest sweeping shots and unbroken scenes I've seen in a long time. There was a particularly good scene where Keaton's daughter, played by the talented Emma Stone, has a straight talk with her father about his irrelevance in the modern world. It's a touching and emotional scene, and I have no idea how both actors managed to stay in character for the entire length of the scene, but there were no camera breaks or cuts visible. I say visible, as it is pretty clear that they use some trickery when it comes to this kind of filming. They have unbroken moving camera shots that cannot happen and had to have been beautifully digitally stitched together.

Keaton struggles through the entire movie with his inner monologue that represents Birdman and everything he was. It is his ambition, his ego, and the voice that always tells him what he thinks of as the truth. Often when he talks, Keaton displays superpowers that are intentionally left vague as to their foothold in reality.

On stage, Edward Norton comes on as the actor who will make or break the play. He's amazingly talented as an actor, but he's so hard to work with that everyone hates him. It's almost as if Edward is playing a fictionalized version of himself on screen. It is my understanding that he is so hard to work with in real life that they got someone else (Mark Ruffalo) to play Bruce Banner in the Avengers movie after Edward did a tremendous job in The Incredible Hulk movie. It was clear that they weren't going to go with Eric Bana after that terrible Hulk false start.

Direction was very good
Acting was very good
Story was very good
Cinematography was excellent
Effects were very good

Bottom Line: An excellent and unexpectedly intelligent movie. Go see it.



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