There are few movies out there that not only live up to the hype but also transcend it. Let’s move right
past the obvious parallel between the Bat and Bird (and no I don’t mean Robin). The cast is perfect, the camera work is fantastic, and the soundtrack is so real you could hardly distinguish it from your own unofficial, life theme. Birdman is the first true and successfully shot “slice of life” flick there has been in a long time. Hollywood has gone Hollywood. That may sound sickeningly cliché yet it has never been truer.
Not a person living has ever accused LA of being a bastion of honesty, and still fewer go there in search of truth in art. It’s a minefield of tent pole movies with million dollar graphics and five-cent scripts. Ironically those countless millions aren’t enough to sustain the celebrated celebrity careers. Michael Keaton’s turn as the masked avenger may have made it acceptable for the mainstream to buy comic book movie tickets yet he managed to land himself in obscurity. This is the not so subtle theme of Birdman. The Aging Riggan (Keaton) is haunted by the success of his past character Birdman. That gritty voice, at times reminiscent of his Beetlejuice character, acts as a constant reminder of his past glory. Often catching glimpses of current superhero actors lamenting their lack of respect for the road he paved. Art imitates life indeed.
Accompanying that gravely voice is the constant hammering of drums. The continuous pounding demonstrates the throbbing madness we all keep at bay. The drums play louder and louder until cooler heads prevail or finally erupting in a thunderous demonstration. On the subject of madness there was a delightful tilt to Macbeth’s struggle to overcome the crushing fate he had been resigned to. Lines from the play are actually audible during the quiet moment before Riggan gives in to his inner most desire.
Finally, to complete the films critique on relevance in a big budget world director Alejandro González Iñárritu ties it to the actual shooting style. He uses less than 20 visible cuts giving the movie a more natural flow. Moreover the story seems to span only a few days. A whole lot of life can happen in just a few days. Perhaps most importantly the words are perfect in this film. We average folk don’t have the luxury of a special effects team to realize our existence. Instead we have only the words we speak and the minds eye to envision dreams (nightmares though they may be at times). Actors deserve to win Oscars based on their creation of a character and convincing delivery of dialogue. Keaton and the entire cast deserved to win awards regardless of the outcome. Norton’s portrayal of the narcissistic parasite that has a begrudging place in everyone’s group of friends, especially earned a footnote. They transported us into a life not a film and that is a task, which occurs far to rarely.
Birdman delivers a movie we can all in some way relate to. If it’s the need to be loved, the desire to be relevant, or the nagging of an inner voice pointing out your shortcomings, Birdman delivers.