Friday, November 28, 2014
The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (or Birdman) (a movie review post)
But then came Tim Burton's Batman, and the look shifted from "panic" to "vacant," which really wasn't appropriate for Batman. He failed completely to pull off a believable Bruce Wayne, the reason he was chosen for the role. Then after Batman... well... nothing. For a long time. Nothing "real," at any rate.
All of that to say that on a certain level I love this movie for the sole reason of having Michael Keaton as Riggan. It brings with it a certain amount of awesome. But he was also excellent in the role. He brought with him just the right amount of desperation to make you wonder wether Riggan is completely sane or not, something necessary for the film to work. In fact, it's this question that elevates the movie from just being about a washed up actor trying to revitalize his career to being a great magical realism story. Keaton was terrific.
In fact, all of the cast were great. Some of them in the ways they normally are, like Emma Stone and Amy Ryan, but a couple of them really stood out.
Zach Galifianakis did not do his normal eccentric weirdo; instead, he was a rather fretful lawyer too heavily invested in Riggan's show. He did a good job. A really good job. If he wasn't so physically distinctive, I might not have known who he was.
But the real surprise of the show was Edward Norton. I should point out that I am not a fan of Norton. At best, I find him annoying. Rarely do I find that he lives up to his own vaunted opinion of himself. Okay, never do I find that he lives up to his opinion of himself. Except this time. His first scene is priceless and I have to think intended as a bit of self-mockery. Whatever it was, it was genius. His portrayal of Mike, a character who can only really be human when he's onstage (not a good human, mind you, but that's the only place he becomes real), is amazing. I would actually love to see Norton pull a best supporting actor nomination for this.
The camerawork is worth noting, too. It has a continuous flow to it leaving you to feel as if you are moving along with the actors, possibly stopping to glance at things that grab your attention along the way. It's not always a smooth flow, lending to the feeling of walking with the actors. The change of character perspective is often accomplished by two of the characters running into each other and the camera following the new character when the two separate.
If you want something with a clear story and no unanswered questions, though, this is not your movie. There are pervasive questions about what is real and what is imagined, and the movie doesn't really answer those. Or even try to. It's the kind of film that will leave you questioning and wanting to see it again just to see if you missed anything. Or to see the Keaton/Norton scenes again. Or to figure out the jellyfish. That's the one I want to know, so, yeah, I'm going to need to see it again.