Birdman (2014): Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan
Birdman - Best Picture at 87th Academy Awards
Play within a Movie - Hilarious Entertainment - A Dark Comedy
Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a quirky, clever, fresh and witty story about an aging actor, Michael Keaton, Riggan, formerly a famous costumed superhero in Birdman films. Riggan's turns down a lucrative opportunity to reprise the Birdman role and instead directs and stars in a Broadway stage version of a Raymond Carver short story. The four person ensemble desperately needs one more player and in enters Ed Norton, Mike Shiner, an arrogant, highly talented bankable actor with a jerk complex. Shiner a Method actor creates havoc causing drama amongst the four actors. Riggan, additionally deals with Emma Stone, Sam, just out of rehab, assistant/daughter. Stone is sarcastic, resentful and moody while dealing with a narcissistic father. To smooth over all the chaos and keep Riggan in check from losing it, best friend and producer Zach Galifianakis, Jake, is a wizard at wordsmithing the peace. Naomi Watts, plays Lesley, an actress excited to be on Broadway and living with the volatile Shiner and Andrea Riseborough, Laura, is Riggan's youthful girlfriend. For a final touch, Amy Ryan, plays Riggan's compassionate ex-wife, Sylvia.
"How Did We End Up Here?"
The storyline is infused with Riggan's alter ego/cynical conscious, Birdman, a voice that keeps Riggan flying literally and figuratively. In the film, the magical soaring and levitation are woven into the tale adding depth to Riggan's inner conflict between the past and the present while struggling to create a winning Broadway hit. Will the show be a hit? Will we appear like a loser? Why did we turn down a Hollywood Film? How did we end up here? The place is horrible. What happened to our money and where will we find more for the play? Questions that can indeed be asked by the audience reflecting on their own crazy journey through life. The chemistry between the four actors is brilliant on screen. Keaton and Norton are terrific with egos clashing and narcissism boiling over. Watts, Stone and Risborough are also magnetic in this wild and crazy movie that is thoroughly entertaining. And, Galifianakis shows off a different set of acting chops contrary to previous roles in the Hangover movies.
Of course, Keaton actually did play Batman twice and did fall off the film industry radar for one reason or anther. And, Norton, is known as a difficult actor with a Method acting background. Thus, in many ways these two are playing a slice of themselves, which makes the story even more desirable and a hoot to watch. Bottom line everyone in the cast is memorable, script incredible and cinematography shot to look like it was made in one take - all culminating into a seamless masterpiece of art. Birdman deserves a second or third viewing because of the depth in characters, the many layers and the dialogue between all the mere bit players. Indeed a dark comedy and simply hilarious. This is one film that will not be forgotten and watched over and over again.
Oscar NominationsBest Film
Michael Keaton, Best Actor in a Leading Role
Edward Norton, Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Emma Stone, Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Emmanuel Lubezki, Cinematography
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Directing