Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who directed “Amores Perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel” and “Biutiful,” brings viewers “Birdman,” a film about a washed-up actor who is about to make a comeback on Broadway. Michael Keaton stars as Riggan, an actor known for his iconic role in the Birdman superhero franchise. Riggan's life crumbles little by little as his wife divorces him and his daughter gets checked into rehab in the days following his return to acting. His Birdman alter ego follows along, voicing out Riggan's doubts and insecurities.
Keaton notably played Bruce Wayne in the “Batman” franchise's 1992 reboot, which also starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito. Though there are obvious similarities between the actor and the main character, Inarritu insists that the film was based on his own life.
The film was shot on a $16 million budget, which is lean by Hollywood's standards. The director and the cast members agreed to take modest salaries to be able to rent the St. James Theater for a month. “Birdman” was also made to look as if it was filmed with one continuous shot, which part of the movie's stylistic conceit.
“I’m a big fan of the fabulously swooping and darting handheld camera work of Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity). And there’s much to like in the rest of the cast too, including a luminous Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis,” wrote Jeremy Gerard of Deadline in his review.
Meanwhile, The Concourse’s Tim Grierson mentioned in his review that the film’s camera workwas distracting.
“At first, the continuous-shot strategy is dazzling but also distracting. Even though the cuts are nearly invisible, you worry that after a while, the technique will lose its novelty…But soon, it becomes clear that such concerns don't matter, because frankly, the whole movie is pitched at that same show-off-y frequency.”
“Birdman” (or “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”) opens in theaters on Oct. 17, 2014. Michael Keaton stars with Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis.
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Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore