Saturday, January 24, 2015

"People, they love blood. They love action. Not this talky, depressing, philosophical bullshit." - Riggan in "Birdman"

I remember reading Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” and moved by his simple yet powerful writing. In “Birdman”, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) directs and acts in a Raymond Carver play "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" to revive his long-forgotten acting career. Who is Riggan? He, like Keaton in real life, was once famous for his super-hero movies and this play is his only chance for revival. His co-star, Mike (Edward Norton) is a method actor but erratic during their previews. What stands between Riggan and a successful opening on Broadway? Is it Riggan’s voices-in-the-head, a spiteful critic or Mike?

Movies like “Birdman” reinforce my love for the silver screen. As the camera pans the claustrophobic labyrinths of the back-stage, I was excited to see what Riggan was upto next. He oscillates between a surrealistic world and the world of Broadway theater in New York City. Michael Keaton plays the role of his lifetime. He slips into the character of Riggan as if he is playing himself and the parts where he has to act in the play, he surpasses any Broadway actor I have watched. There is a scene where his alter ego persuades him to return to playing a super-hero and his response reminded me of Betty Davis refusing to return back to Broadway in “All About Eve”. He has my vote for the best actor Oscar this year.

What is Birdman really about? There are so many inferences you can draw. It is not just the personal quest of a great actor; it is also contempt for blockbuster movies versus theater. And maybe it is not about anything but an ode to the art of filmmaking. 

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