BIRDMAN – Rated R

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Mexican born director Alejandro González Iñárritu sets forth to make one humanly frail and touching SUPER HERO – no remnants of BATMAN HERE, just in case you were wondering – with his latest film – BIRDMAN (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

When we meet Riggan (Michael Keaton) he has turned down playing yet again his super-hero persona – THE BIRDMAN.  Trying to break free of the hold this part has had on both his professional and personal life for years, Riggan attempts to revive the Broadway play “What we talk about when we talk about Love.”, to show that he is a professional actor – not just this fictional character – as he desperately needs to show his true talents to the world!

Following her father along for his career changing endeavor is Sam (Emma Stone), is trying to refocus her life too, as her father’s assistant. Sam seems to be getting lost in this crazy artistic world too, instead of focusing on what she needs to do to change her own life around.

When the lead actor is mysteriously hurt on the set, Riggan’s lead actress Lesley (Naomi Watts) happens to know that her old boyfriend Mike (Edward Norton) is available and convinces Riggan that he would be perfect for the role. Mike gives Riggan a run for his money when he auditions, so Riggan is sold on Mike and agrees that he is just what the play needs to make a its mark on Broadway.

As Riggan’s best friend and Lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis) tries desperately to get the funding in place and everything set for opening night, Riggan keeps feeling himself being drawn into a delusionary state by his alter-ego – THE BIRDMAN…….

Will Riggan be able to show the world that he is so much more than the world sees him as…..the feathered creature known as THE BIRDMAN?  Will Sam be able to find a way out of her own darkness in order to move on with her own life?  Will Riggan be able to sweet talk the theater critic that promises to destroy him and his show? Or will the pressures of his artistic life, and the bizarre behavior of everyone involved in THIS PLAY be too much for Riggan to overcome…..

I give BIRMAN an A: Gone are the days of black suits and fancy gadgets, as this SUPER HERO may know how to fly just like Batman, but that’s where the similarities end.  Keaton plays a tortured soul perfectly, aiming yet again to snag one of those Sag Awards or Golden Globes that has eluded him over the years.  I think that Oscar may just come a calling this year too, as his performance is absolutely stupendous!  Stone also does a fantastic job playing Keaton’s daughter with as many problems as her father, and Galifianakis is marvelous too, as Keaton’s friend and lawyer trying to save him from self-destruction if this play doesn’t make it past opening night!   Everyone in this film, including Watts and Norton were perfectly cast and put it all there for the world to see, in more ways than one.  Kudos to the cinematographers too, as I felt there wasn’t an inch of the theater that didn’t end up on film, making for one roller-coaster of a ride while viewing.  Suffice to say that BIRDMAN isn’t quite what you are expecting……but many times, that’s a good thing…..and watching this film certainly was for me. I consider BIRDMAN a MUST SEE even though it is in limited release.  This means you may have to travel a little further to see it, but it will be so worth it, as you want to see this one on the BIG SCREEN and not wait to see it on DVD!

Kathy Kaiser 

 

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