Monday, December 15, 2014


Birdman - 119min - R

This movie has me in conflict on how to review it. My film student brain loves the way it was filmed and appreciates the artistry of the scenes and the performances. The regular viewer brain finds it hard to connect with the characters. If I can draw from an automotive analogy, this is a really nice car that has a dark and depressing destination. The fight in my head--very much like the one in Michael Keaton's head--makes me land on a solid yellow light.

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) starred in the series Birdman twenty years ago. He hasnt done much with his life so he tries to jumpstart his career by directing and starring in a Broadway play. His daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), is a production assistant who is just out of rehab. His girlfriend, Laura (Andrea Riseboriugh), and Broadway newcomer Lesley (Naomi Watts) need a stand in for a recently vacated role. Lesley gets her friend Mike (EdwardNorton) to fill in but he causes problems as he is hard to get along with though he is brilliant on stage. The story focuses on the stress Riggan is under because he has poured everything into this production.

Not everyone will appreciate the labor that went into filming this picture. The film was shot to make it look like we are flying through the picture in one long take. There are obvious cut points in the film but they blend them together masterfully. The difficulty with filming in this fashion is the actors need to be spot on. If you have a six min take and one of the performers misses a cue or flubs a line, the crew has to set up from square one, especially if its a moving scene across the set and through another room. That is an incredibly challenging feat of filmmaking. The best part is they pulled it off. It was something the film geeks will Sqeeee over but its done subtly enough to not make it a distraction.  

The performances were really good but I didn't make a connection with any of them. I realize that the whole point of the film was to take a closer look at people in a rough time and place in their lives and how they are all struggling to keep afloat but it was hard to watch the level of anxiety portrayed. I walked out of the theater in a funk. As I think about it maybe it did connect with me emotionally, I was feeling their desperation and it made me depressed.

As a viewer I wasn't entertained and that is the bottom line. There were choices with the end that made me question what I was watching. I have stated before that the quickest way to lose me is to not play by the rules you set up for me. If you set the rules I will follow your story to the other end of the galaxy and different dimensions. The end made me shrug and say "Huh" and walked out.

To sum up I appreciate the film but didn't care for the ride. The best part of the journey is the going but the destination also needs to be worth the trip. What films have impacted you in such a way as to make you blue? 

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