Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014): A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.
Wow. Hm. So....Birdman. This movie is FREAKING awesome. You know what's crazy? On paper, this movie should suck. It should suck a lot. A movie about a theatrical play involving a guy who was once a superhero known as the Birdman? A ridiculous premise. But Birdman works better than most anything else I've seen all year. Why? Well, it starts with the director/writer, Alejandro G. Inarritu. The way this story is executed is indescribable. However, what really makes Birdman as great as it is, is its cinematography. This is easily some of the best cinematography I have EVER seen from a movie. Period. And, when you throw on top of it some of the best acting I've seen all year, and you make it a comedy that is basically being a parody of itself, and you have a crazy 119 minute adventure known as Birdman.
So, there aren't a whole lot of things this movie does wrong. Um....the movie is not perfect, though it is close, as a few of the shots fall into the realm of gimmick-ey, The story was also very out there, and I had trouble following it at some points. Sometimes it was impossible to tell what was real and what wasn't. I know that was the point of the movie, but still...there were a few times where the movie got too out there even for me. However the movie did quickly recover from all of these moments and continue with its crazy and unpredictable pace.
And then there's the cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki. Emmanuel. Lubezki. This man is one of the all-time greats in terms of cinematography. His work with Alfonso Cuaron and Terrance Malick is virtually unparalleled. Following up his great work in Gravity, which included one of the best opening scenes I have ever seen, Lubezki took that idea and multiplied it by....the entire freaking movie. The entire movie is shot as if it is one long take. This premise is an indescribable risk, but it works....perfectly. Remember that whole thing I talked about in Unbroken and The Imitation Game and Theory of Everything where the crew played things very safely from a technical standpoint and it was really annoying? Ya. I can't even begin to imagine how bad this film would've been had they not shot it the way that they did. This movie will easily win Best Cinematography this year, as it is the best I know I have seen in a looooong time.
And it doesn't stop there. We must also compliment the actors involved in this film. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone all put in some of the best performances I've seen from a film this year. The believability, improvisation, and simultaneous ridiculousness of these performances also led this to being a damn near perfect film. At the end of the day, Birdman is worth every second of your time. It is definitely one of the most unique viewing experiences I've seen in a loooooong time. Is it worth Best Picture? Over Boyhood? I don't know. I have to let this movie simmer before I decide that. But we'll see! In the meantime, find a theater and go see this marvel of cinema. You'll thank me later.
The Critique: Millions of ideas all thrown against the wall simultaneously and yet....virtually everything sticks. Combine that with the some of the best cinematography I have seen in a loooong time, and you have one of the best films of 2014.
The Recommendation: A must-see for anyone who is a fan of the movies. Or Michael Keaton. Or Edward Norton. Or Emma Stone. Or fun.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
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