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Michael Keaton stars as “Birdman”

‘Birdman’ in theaters now

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman,” or “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,” is one of the most unique films I’ve seen in a very long time. The film follows Riggin Thomson (Micheal Keaton), a washed up movie star known for his Birdman films, and trying to make it on Broadway. While doing so, he must overcome his massive ego, family troubles, and his crippling desire for fame again.

The first thing that caught my eye was the insanely unique style in which it was filmed. It played as if it was one continuous shot. There were no visible cuts in the movie, leaving it to flow throughout the entire thing. Given that this movie revolved around the setting of Broadway, it’s shot similar to how a play would be viewed; nonstop– not including intermissions of course. I thought that was incredible. It made the story seem as if it were happening in real time, allowing you to connect with the characters that much more because you were able to see everything they were going through and how they felt.

Adding on to the amazing style, it’s also jam-packed with great actors; Emma Stone gives a tremendous performance as Riggin’s fresh-out-of-rehab daughter, Sam. She is a struggling drug addict who works for her father on the set of his show. The father-daughter connection that Keaton and Stone portray makes it seem like they’re actually related. One scene in particular involves them getting in argument, and the emotion Stone puts into her character is outstanding. Surprisingly, Zach Galifianakis also provides a really good performance as Jake, Riggin’s best friend and co-manager of the production. By far though, one of the best performances (only to be tied with Keaton’s) was from Edward Norton, who played Mike Shiner, a nearly demented actor who is supposed to be saving Riggin’s show, but ends up causing a lot more damage than not. While providing a great comedy aspect to this otherwise dramatic movie, Norton’s character represents the shared love for the art of acting.

This film provided an almost hard to see message about the current situation of today’s movie industry. Throughout the entire movie, Riggin has an alter-ego as his character Birdman. Throughout the film, Birdman tells Riggin that he is too good for Broadway and that the real fame lies within blockbuster films. Riggin does his best to push it out but eventually succumbs to its will. While this is happening, Shiner argues that acting should be for the art and not for the fame. I believe that the character of Birdman is used to represent what’s wrong with the movie industry today.

Most films today are created for the sake of being blockbusters, and he uses Birdman, a superhero, to show that because the biggest blockbusters today are superhero movies. I think Iñárritu is trying to get the message out that film is an art style and should not be used for the purpose of making money. Throughout the film, Riggin is shown having “superpowers” that only he can see that he has. I think that represents the power that fame has over actors and the power that the actors have over people with that fame. Shriner pushes the limits of Riggin, forcing him to put actual emotion and thought into his play to be the best that it can, presenting the idea that actually caring about how good the product you make is just as important, if not more, as making money.

Another easter egg that drills that point in for me is that both Edward Norton and Emma Stone have played in superhero movies (“The Incredible Hulk” and “The Amazing Spiderman”). They both give such amazing performances in this film that Iñárritu almost makes you compare them to those films and see just how much they lower their standards for those kinds of movies.

Now, I’m not knocking blockbuster hits or superhero movies, I honestly love them with all of my heart but the artistic integrity in films is clearly dying and that’s what Iñárritu is trying to show through this film in my opinion at least. I’d be surprised if this movie wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.