Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige – A Birdman Review

Birdman Poster

A lot of people have been saying this is the best film of 2014. Whether it is on not, if you have any serious interest in film or acting, or like a film that gets you thinking, just go watch Birdman. If you don’t and want to find out what all the fuss is about, keep on reading.

Birdman is the story of Riggan Thomson, an over-the-hill actor who gained worldwide popularity with a series of superhero movies called Birdman. Riggan decides to fund, direct, and star in a broadway play in order to recapture his glory days, while also doing his best to keep himself and his family together.

The Good

  • This is a film that goes “You want to enjoy this movie? Well then wake the fuck up and pay attention!”
  • Great performances from all the main actors (I feel like I need to make special mention of Zach Galifianakis, who I have never seen in a serious role), although Emma Stone was probably the least impressive of the star-studded cast involved (but still did a good job)
  • Interesting and complex characters (although I do feel for the most part a couple of the actors were just playing themselves)
  • Fantastic cinematography that makes you feel like you are standing there in the room (the cameraman often seems to take on the perspective of a person who is wandering the halls of the theatre), and at times the camera gets some very, very intimate angles (there are moments when you feel like you are in the characters face, but in a good way)
  • An exceptionally unnerving and tension filled Jazz soundtrack (that’s mostly done with drums)
  • It’s shot so that it appears like it’s one continuous take (there’s some sneaky editing and amazing transitions to hide the fact that it’s not)
  • Lots of incredibly long shots that are made up of multiple scenes that feed into each other
  • Deals with things like acting, art and creativity, celebrity, criticism, love, personality, family, Hollywood movies… this list goes on for a while
  • Cynical but snappy sense of humour
  • Keeps you guessing about certain things that go on in the movie (you’re never sure if they’re real or going on in Riggan’s head)
  • A subtle but impossible to ignore tension that underlies the entire film
  • References things that actually take place in our reality
  • Fantasy elements are handled really well despite the fact that this film is meant to feel like it’s grounded in our world

The OK

  • I’m not entirely satisfied with the ending – I wish I they left it a bit more open ended
  • Due to the way the film was shot, sometimes it feels like it doesn’t really give you time to stop and breath

The Bad

  • What?

Final Thoughts

Birdman is not for the casual film goer. It demands your attention and you will miss out if you don’t focus. The film really deals with so much that at times it feels like it’s all just going to snap and come to pieces, but thankfully, it never does. It’s an exceptional film that makes you think, makes you laugh, and will sometimes make you cling to the edge of your seat. It deserves all the praise that it’s been getting, so if you have the time, go check it out.

P.S. The subject of critics and criticism is brought up by the film and as someone who writes and shares his opinion about films, I feel like I should say something here, but I won’t. I have enough thoughts about the subject that I can cover it in a separate post, so I’ll probably have that out in the next few days.

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