Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

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Amongst the most intriguing films released in recent times. Past his prime of playing the legendary superhero Birdman, Riggan, an actor, returns with a new all or nothing theatre production.

Beware the following will contain plot detail.

In 2013, researchers from Microsoft found that since 2000, the average attention span of humans diminished from 12 seconds to 8. That’s 1 second less than that of a goldfish. If this is true, well, I better get on with explaining why Birdman is worth watching.

One victim of our ever-shortening attention span is Riggan (Keaton), who long ago played Birdman in a series of superhero films not unlike those produced today. Since then, life has been far from perfect for him with a divorce, an estranged daughter and money worries. Part of his money worries stems from the fact he has produced a new live theatre production, and it is this which is the main focus of Birdman. We follow the manic day before its premiere, but it’s more like experiencing it as the camera movement mimics being there. In contrast to the realism created by the silky-smooth camera work, there are also indistinguishable flashes of the surreal as Riggan imagines himself possessing the powers of Birdman. That’s about as complicated as it gets, the rest deals with the production and acting crew’s personal and professional lives which mixes in even more drama and dark comic relief. This brews a melting pot of pressure and like a volcano, you never know when it’s going to erupt.

Who better to play Riggan than Keaton, who himself played Batman twice, making the role part ironic and part self-parody. Also popular among critics now is Iñárritu and this one-two combination punch of talent delivers a knockout film. It unapologetically slams the critic, throws jibes at the superhero genre and all the while is entertaining. This is no mean feat. During its release, Birdman drew a lot of attention from critics and I believe the hype is warranted. Now though Birdman has left the mainstream and is a distant memory, but it leaves flying high.

 

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