Released: October 17, 2014
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Review by Austin Winkler
Birdman is a comedy-drama directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, and Edward Norton. Keaton plays a washed up actor who once played an iconic super hero. Throughout the film, he’s trying to get back in the game by producing, directing, and starring in his own broadway play while trying to overcome his ego and family troubles.
To say this film is interesting would be an understatement. It’s not your typical movie, and not for the casual movie-goer. It’s very indy, artsy and different, but it’s also one of the best movies I have seen all year. The first thing I noticed about this movie is how it was directed and shot. It’s all made to look like one continuous take with very minimal edits. There are certain scenes where I could pick out where they might have added in an edit here or there, but it’s all done so expertly, it’s very hard to tell. The illusion of a continuous shot also made the movie more tense and visceral. Some scenes were a little slow, but that’s the film’s only flaw. Everything else literally had me on the edge of my seat because of the tension created with the camera work. The script is also very well written with tons of realistic conversations and clever dialogue that’s sometimes even quite hilarious.
The film features an all star cast, as you could probably already tell from the first paragraph. Usually this is a bad sign for a film, but it totally works here. I can’t think of a single actor who was miscast for this film. Michael Keaton and Emma Stone have excellent chemistry as a very dysfunctional father and daughter who are both overcoming personal demons and trying to get through life. Edward Norton is also very good, but the actor who surprised me the most has to be Zach Galifianakis. He has proven to me he can do so much more than just a lovable idiot. His performance showed an incredible amount of emotional depth and it makes me excited for his acting career. Possibly my favorite thing about this movie is the message it sent. The movie explores directing, acting, criticism, and art in general and how hard it is to be successful without being a complete sell out. One of my favorite scenes in the movie shows a character going off on a theater critic, talking about how all they do is use big words in their reviews to intrigue potential audience members. It struck a chord with me because I feel like a lot of critics are like that. Now, I consider myself a film critic, but I do what I do not because I’m a wanna-be hipster who hates on everything, but because I genuinely love movies and I want to be able to voice my honest opinion on them. I hope this movie had the same effect on other critics out there as well because it’s a message that needs to be heard.
Bottom line, Birdman is one of those movies that starts growing on you as you leave the theater. When I first watched this movie, I didn’t really know what my opinion was, but now that I’ve had a couple days to think about it, I can safely say this is one of my favorite movies of 2014. The film is just as thought provoking as it is entertaining. Casual movie goers may be hesitant to watch this movie, but I still encourage everyone to check it out as soon as you can.
4.5 out of 5
When Austin and I arrived at the theater to watch Birdman, I knew what to expect. One of those quirky, odd, art-house projects that are always praised by critics. From the first scene, I knew it was going to be weird. But hey, weird is good when it comes to this movie. Why? Because it transcends the typical bizarre tone given by so many independent films. It is such an interesting concept, bringing a mainstream, veteran actor like Michael Keaton into a picture of this nature. It works…and it works well.
Sure, we’ve all heard the story before. The old, washed-up actor or artist gets a second chance, hoping for redemption in his now seemingly miserable life. But, when you have an important message, family drama, genuine characters and a top-notch cast all sprinkled in, you have a recipe for greatness and Birdman embraces this. With a career-resurrecting lead performance from Keaton, along with the likes of Zach Galifinakis, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, you’re always interested. On top of that, the script is exceptional.
What pushes Birdman above everything else is its message. This message is directed squarely at critics, primarily of film and theater. It’s a frustrated outcry or maybe even punch in the mouth to those who claim to know it all about film and the industry. This is socially and culturally significant, letting everyone know that everyone has their own opinion and its not worth hurting others to get across. We don’t have to know it all, we don’t have to critique every little detail, but we can indeed have an opinion. When things get personal, that is when everyone gets hurt.
Overall, Birdman is quite brilliant, as it boasts nearly every tool to make an excellent film. It then goes a step further, having its own opinion and voice in an industry dictated upon what “critics” say. It isn’t revolutionary, but it brings new ideas to the table and begs the audience to think for themselves and ask questions. Don’t let this one pass you by.
4.5 out of 5
-Coarse language throughout
-Some sexual references, but no sex or nudity
2 out of 5
Check out the trailer for Birdman below: