By Sam Kench, who watched “Birdman” at Red River Theatres in Concord, NH
“Birdman” is a dramedy starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis among others. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson an actor known for a superhero role from his past (not unlike Keaton himself) who is now trying to regain relevance and prove his worth as a serious actor by putting on a dramatic stage production.
“Birdman” features a lot of comedy, which could be argued as its primary genre, but the film features incredibly strong dramatic elements as well. The film has a very good grasp of its tones and blends the genres wonderfully. It is very funny on more than one level and had me laughing multiple times throughout. “Birdman” is capable of being funny and serious within the same scene, and even within the same moment. A scene that begins with a comedic tone can evolve into a highly emotional confrontation and vice versa. The dialogue in “Birdman” always feels natural and more notably features incredibly dynamic and realistic arguments. In most movies if an argument is going to take place, the character will initiate their dialogue directly in the conflict, but in “Birdman” characters may start an argument about something small and inconsequential and use it to ramp up to the issues that truly plague their minds, as people often do.
The acting is fantastic all around. Every single performance, no matter how small is perfect. This is Michael Keaton’s largest role in quite a while and he deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance in this film. In fact “Birdman” also deserves Oscar nominations for best picture, director, and cinematography at least. Keaton’s character is very complex and makes for an impressive performance. Edward Norton is pretty much great in every role he plays and here is no exception. Emma Stone and Naomi Watts are both excellent as well and each of them are given scenes where they can really showcase their full acting ability. I was thinking that Zach Galifianakis might have been playing a purely comedic role, but he also has an opportunity to show off some impressive dramatic acting alongside the comedy.
The score to “Birdman” is great. It creates a fully defined style for the film right from the opening credits. The music done by Antonio Sanchez is fantastic. The soundtrack features mostly percussion and was stuck in head hours after the movie ended. “Birdman” features a soundtrack worth owning on its own and serves as the final layer of glaze on an already excellent film.
The most impressive aspect of “Birdman” is the way it is shot. The entire film aside from a short sequence is presented as one continuous unbroken shot. There are cuts in the film, but they are hidden. The editing is disguised to look as the camera is floating through the environment as an observer. As a filmmaker I can recognize places where cuts may have been placed, but most people likely won’t. I was amazed by the cinematography. The filming style had me completely captivated and serves to make the viewer more immersed in the film. The single continuous shot is a technical marvel and especially impressive when considering that the film takes place over multiple days in a variety of locations.
The presentation of Birdman is simply amazing. The director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a true master of his craft. The direction of Birdman as a whole is impeccable. This is a true feat of filmmaking.
Birdman is one of the best films of 2014. Everything about it, right down to the credits, is perfect. For now Birdman is in limited release and I was able to see it at Red River Theatres in Concord, NH. Definitely check this film out if you can.