Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie review - "Birdman" (2014) ****

A movie of very high quality, particularly the directing and acting, but I didn't think it was quite up to the praise it's received. My main beef was with the script, which feels a bit wonky and improvised - all the subtext is spelt out in dialogue, and is too often repetitive ("what is real?" "are you real?" "this is all fake").

The supporting characters weren't that memorable despite the quality of the people playing them - Naomi Watts is a jobbing actor and that's it, Emma Stone is a recovering junkie and that's it, Andrea Riseborough is a bit mad but basically nice, Amy Ryan (Keaton's ex) is just a nice person and that's it.

And also it lacked a certain reality for me - all this hoo had taking place on stage felt too OTT, there were far too many scenes of things going viral, and I'm no fan of theatre critics but the depiction of the one here (played by Lindsay Duncan) was really unfair.

But I loved a lot of it: it really captures the atmosphere of New York's Broadway district (something too few movies attempt these days) with its random musicians, crazy people and hustle and bustle of the streets; it's a Broadway movie at a time when such a beast is rare (are there really that many back stage people at shows today?); Ed Norton is great fun as an egotistical capital "t" theatre director; it's stunningly directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and shot by his cinematographer with those fabulous long takes; the editing is a marvel; Michael Keaton completely commits to the role.

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