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Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu

February 24, 2015

birdman

For the Mexican director Birdman represents quite a departure from his previous work, this time we don’t get a multi-layered dramatic story but a multi-layered example of metacinema with a dominant comedic tone. Casting Michael Keaton to play an aging Hollywood star who used to play a superhero with a costume – Birdman – is only the first of many moments in this film to evoke something else, mainly Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz and a lot of Woody Allen stuff (mainly Bullets Over Broadway), but Birdman has not much new to say about these abused subjects: silly Hollywood versus intellectual New York City, commercial success versus true art. The strong point of Birdman is that it mocks everyone and everything, as for its weak point, well, its playing with clichés is quite boring, I’ve had enough of the actor that being a star was an absent father, you don’t need to be an actor to do that and a midlife crisis when you realize you want to leave an authentic mark of your passage on planet Earth, Iñarritu tries to be funny exploring cliché after cliché but the only real interesting feature of the film is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography that with its ingenious simulation of a never ending long take seems to give to the film the continuous action of the theater event it stages. Birdman is a film deserving admiration, alas all of its intensity expires within the limits of its technical feats,  the one Birdman thing I will remember is the performance by an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts: I guess it would be impossible to play a middle aged (failed) actress finally having a shot at Broadway better than she does here.

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