Movie Review: Birdman

So other than buying my mom a birthday present, buying Girl Scout cookies, going to my writing group, and hanging out (and having sex with) Paul, I haven’t done much this weekend. But I did coax Paul into going to the movies. There are a few I’ve been wanting to see and his taste can be picky, so he picked Birdman, then seemed uninterested in going at all the next day, then I got annoyed. He can be a bit of a homebody and gives in when I want to do things, which is fine, it’s just that he takes this tone sometimes where I can tell he doesn’t really want to do things. In his mind, he’s compromising–and he is–but it just comes off as very negative and “I don’t want to do this.” But in the end, he insisted we go, plus he liked the movie.

So, on with it.

I very rarely get around to seeing Oscar movies every year just because I don’t go often and sometimes Oscar movies can be hard to come by without heading into the city, but I do want to see them, especially with such hype and acclaim around them.

Thing is, I did enjoy Birdman, but I think it might’ve been a little overrated–with the exception of Michael Keaton’s performance, which was great. Maybe I’d feel different on a second viewing.

This isn’t to say it wasn’t a good movie, though–it absolutely was. The trailer, and even the film itself, hinted at something maybe vaguely supernatural from the start with hints at things like telekinesis, but I was thinking more along the lines of something like Black Swan from the start, and I was pretty much right. It’s about a man trying to revive his career, trying to be taken seriously, and trying to matter by adapting, directing, and starring in a Broadway play based on a Raymond Carver book, and the stress surrounding that–including issues with the cast and his personal life–combined with existing issues makes his mental state deteriorate. The whole thing is definitely well-written and well-done, and one of the things Paul and I both appreciated was that we weren’t sure where it was going. We were able to predict very little, and even when you saw certain events coming, the tense buildup to them and the delivery made it fresh and interesting so that instead of feeling predictable, in the way maybe a romance might be (or the way we thought Prometheus suffered), you felt more of this building sense of dread because you knew you were going down a not-so-good road.

The ending was ambiguous, which was interesting and has spawned a few theories. Strangely, I think the most convincing and logical one, considering previous events and characterization, is that the last few minutes of the film after a pretty huge climactic event aren’t real and are a fantasy. I think I like that theory better than assuming we should take the ending at face value.

Some great enhancing touches were the way it was filmed–it’s obviously not a two-hour long film shot in one take because that’s just about impossible, but it certainly looks like it is. The camera follows characters around in a way that would be documentary- or reality-style if it wasn’t so well-done and didn’t look so good, but it did give it a very realistic feel, almost like you’re peeking into these characters’ lives. Another thing I loved and thought was really cool was the fact that the music, with a few exceptions of excerpts of classical songs, was just drums, which sounded great and was used really effectively for tone.

Finally, the whole cast was excellent. Every single one of them. Birdman, even though I think it’s a little overhyped, is still worth seeing regardless, but if nothing else, go see it for how great the actors are. All the Oscar nominations the cast received were absolutely deserved, and while I can’t say much about who deserved the actual wins since I haven’t seen the other movies yet, the Birdman cast did deserve some.

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