Saturday, October 25, 2014

Birdman - Review

Birdman – Review
Imagine this. You are formally dressed while entering a room where you see one small table with layered linens and one matching chair. You proceed to sit down to examine what is in front of you.  You snap your napkin to your lap as you quickly discern with your educated eye that slightly towards your right is one empty crystal stemmed glass and a single corked bottle of Chateau Laffite Rothschild by its side; one of the world’s most expensive wines at $23,000 per bottle. You know now you must savor this experience.

Also, directly in front of you is one small plate of white fine china with four small gourmet appetizer crackers equally covered with appropriate thin slices of French Foie Gras and an equal accompanying of Norwegian thin slices of Sockeye Smoked Salmon, with all four appropriately covered with one teaspoon of $1,500 an ounce of Russian Beluga Caviar, topped with a modest amount of capers and a smidgen of lemon zest to round it all out. Doesn’t this all just sound deliriously delectable? Or maybe not?

You see, this imaginary scenario I concocted for you is about consuming something most 95% have never experienced on their pallets much less seen before. And no matter how specifically, in and of itself, something is uniquely different by its elements of wordy exclusivity or providing specific descriptive details of the exorbitant prices attached to it, there is nothing automatic about it that will usher in some universal euphoric culinary wave of delight for these creative tiny pricey morsels. To be expected, some will always find they love it and sing its praises; others will simply say they like it, others will say it’s just OK and finally some will simply they hate it and it is over rated from the word go. But as the old adage always states, whether it is art, wine, food and or personal taste, it is always in the eye of the beholder.  And after viewing actor Michael Keaton’s latest effort and genuine Best Picture contending film entitled “Birdman” in my estimation it will beckon a response more from a culinary point of view than an appraisal of established forms of art, touching on a range of possible palatable reactions from movie goers who will see and appraise it with a measured matter of their own personal taste.

First, going in to the theater to see this, know from the very get go it has moments of genuine strangeness to it. In the first few minutes you see Keaton’s character levitating in midair in his under wear having a conversation with his subconscious in the form of one his previous fictional character he use to play. He also apparently been able to mysterious secure in real life the same telekinetic power that character had to move objects around about the room (with no obvious explanation). Keaton’s role is of a man under duress and torment of his own making playing a man named Riggan Thomson who is a washed-up actor and who is slightly neurotic who once played an iconic superhero named ‘Birdman” in his youth. Older now in his sixties, he is consumed with his own ego and a myriad of family chaotic troubles. He is also simultaneously battling, while in the midst of all of this turmoil, the need to mount one last ditch new approach to his troubled career by financing and acting in a play on Broadway that he wrote as the final bid to reclaim his past glory.

Shot in what felt like real time from beginning to end we see Riggan battle with other actors egos, bitter critics, a daughter as his assistant who is in sobriety and a dysfunctional range of staff and production mishaps. Overall, thematically, “Birdman” is about something most people in their overall arch of real life will struggle with at some point, specifically their egos incased in an aging older body with worries of self-doubt while at the same time finding a need to secure a sense of ones’ own aging self-worth. In Riggan’s case, he believes that in spite of this gauntlet of naysayers and emotional impediments, his obsession to getting his play off the ground will somehow help find that magical path again of making him a national household name once again.

I found Birdman to be inventive, fascinating, refreshing, directorially wild, daring, ambitious and thought-provoking while trying to explore the differences in what constitutes too often ephemerally popularity verses what really lends itself to more meaningful prestige and lasting professional integrity. How this film takes us on this self-evaluation journey is at times a bit unusual for the almost 2 hours running time, but still nonetheless a fascinating and brilliantly acted journey in deed.

Shot with a documentary feel to it, we get to examine hour by hour under a visceral microscope the nerve racking anxiety that occurs for an actor seeking the glow of a successful finish stage production with a live albeit unaware audience underfoot. Actors do get paid (sometimes) lavish salaries, but here we get to see the stress they incur in finding that right mix of writing, directing, acting and assemblage of administrative support into pulling off a successful production that is compounded even more by Birdman’s Riggan angst debilitating travails and emotional frailties all the while he tries to make something gloriously imaginative.

I can’t say much more than this, “Birdman” will be in fact nominated for Best Picture. I also can’t say it’s the front runner either, but it will surely get several nominations for Best Actor for Keaton, Supporting Actor for Ed Norton and Emma Stone respectfully, a Best Original Screenplay nomination and a nomination for its Director Alejandro González Iñárrituis as well.

If you decide to see Birdman, know going in, just like that imagining of you sitting at that table with those 4 small appetizers and wine for you to consume, it is an acquired taste going in to see it and probably an acquired taste evaluating what you saw coming out.

4 Stars

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