Movie Review: ‘Birdman’ Flies Into the Great Cinema Vaults

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Preston Barta // Critic

BIRDMAN, 119 min.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Michael KeatonEmma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughAmy Ryan and Zach Galifianakis

Alejandro González Iñárritu is set to deliver audiences one of the most unique film-going experiences of the year with BIRDMAN or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). With its sweeping cinematography, sharp script and grade-A performances, BIRDMAN is one of the very best of the year.

Following the story of a washed-up actor (a terrific Michael Keaton) who at one time acted as an iconic superhero (Birdman) must sweep over his ego and family issues as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to recover his past fame.

Keaton is an actor who has proven time and time again that he can virtually take on anything, from profound and hard hitting dramatic roles (JACKIE BROWN) to silly and funny comedic roles (BEETLEJUICE). In BIRDMAN, he strikes a perfect balance between the two and turns in one of the finest performances of his career, if not the best. He fires on all cylinders and truly brings forth his own life experiences (the man did play Batman), especially in scenes with an equally as great Edward Norton.

Our exclusive interview with director Alejandro González Iñárritu (click here).

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Michael Keaton and Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu on the set of BIRDMAN.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Michael Keaton and Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu on the set of BIRDMAN.

Iñárritu has given us a handful of new age dramas to add to the cinema vaults, including BIUTIFUL (2010), BABEL (2006), 21 GRAMS (2003) and AMORES PERROS (2000). BIRDMAN is no different, and to be quite frank, this may very well be his greatest directorial achievement. He directs his actors with finesse and never lets them miss a beat (speaking of, Antonio Sanchez’s drum score lays some killer tracks for the ear canals). Given that this film is made to look like one extremely long take – like Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE – it shows just how good of a filmmaker Iñárritu really is, and just how talented his actors are, especially Keaton and Norton.

BIRDMAN features some of the best talent in the business, giving top Oscar contender BOYHOOD some stiff competition. Iñárritu’s great-screen return mixes heartbreak and black comedy with shades of Shakespearean tragic drama, and it shall not go unnoticed come Awards time (or now in theaters).

BIRDMAN opens in limited theaters tomorrow.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.