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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.