The gift bags are opened, the dresses are for sale, and Neil Patrick Harris is taking a very long nap: the Oscars are definitely over. But the curiosity surrounding this year’s award for Best Picture is not. Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu is an incredible, perception-shattering film (with a very strange title). But it’s not the comic book adventure that you might be expecting.
If dark philosophical romps are your thing, then Birdman will give you plenty to consider. The film opens with a shot of Michael Keaton floating cross-legged in the middle of his dressing room. He plays an actor who has become world famous for his movie roles as superhero “Birdman,” and has decided to take his talents to Broadway for a more artistic turn (ironically, some may wonder if that’s exactly what Michael Keaton himself is doing in this film). Meanwhile he struggles with narcissistic actors, critics, his ex-wife, his angst-ridden daughter (who informs him that he’s no longer relevant without a Facebook page), and his very own ego. He occasionally uses his mind to perform surreal magical feats. The movie will have you asking: How much of reality is dependent on individual perception? What does it mean to be relevant today?
And if cinematic experiments are your thing? Then Birdman is an absolute must see. The whole movie looks as though it has been made in one dream-like continuous shot. Instead of cutting from scene to scene, the camera follows characters from room to room; sometimes even travelling through their imaginations. The film is very self-aware, and there are plenty of visual jokes. Often times what you think is simply background music turns out to be a street performer or a crazy person. Be prepared for absurd surprises, and lots of comedic social commentary.
Check out other films by director Alejandro González Iñárritu here.
Or, for some background on the comic book character, explore some of the series Birdman has been referenced in: Daredevil, Punisher, and Deadpool.