Rent Birdman (2014)

3.3 of 5 from 656 ratings
1h 54min
Rent Birdman (aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
Determined to prove that he's a true artist, has-been movie superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) risks everything to finance a Broadway show. Now, as he grapples with inner and outer critics, a deranged alter ego, his estranged daughter (Emma Stone) and a temperamental stage star (Edward Norton), Thomson aims to soar above mediocrity.
Actors:
, , , , , Jamahl Garrison-Lowe, , , , , , , , ,
Directors:
Producers:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole
Writers:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Raymond Carver
Others:
Patricia Arquette, Antonio Sánchez, Armando Bo, Stephen Mirrione, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Jon Taylor, Emmanuel Lubezki, Martin Hernández, Aaron Glascock, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Douglas Crise
Aka:
The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Genres:
Comedy
Awards:

2015 BAFTA Best Cinematography

2015 Oscar Best Picture

2015 Oscar Best Director

2015 Oscar Best Cinematography

2015 Oscar Best Original Screen Play

BBFC:
Release Date:
17/07/2015
Run Time:
114 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English, English Audio Description
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • Birdman: All-Access
  • Gallery: Chivo's On-Set Photos
BBFC:
Release Date:
04/07/2015
Run Time:
114 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English, English Audio Description
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • Birdman: All-Access
  • Gallery: Chivo's On-Set Photos
  • A Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro G. Inarritu

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Reviews (10) of Birdman

Over hyped - Birdman review by BE

Goodness knows what it is about plus far too many expletives. If you want American clap trap, this is it!

1 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

The Bird Is The Word - Birdman review by Count Otto Black

If you've only got a vague idea what this film is about, and you think a movie about a washed-up movie star trying to prove that he's more than the superhero he played over 20 years ago starring somebody who just happens to be best known for playing a superhero over 20 years ago might be a wee bit too self-referential for its own good, you'd be wrong. And if you think this is a superhero movie because it's called "Birdman" and features a superhero prominently on a lot of the promotional material, you'd be wrong too. Be warned: if that's what you want, look elsewhere, because Birdman's barely in the film.

What we get instead, from a director outside the Hollywood system (and boy, does it show - I mean that in a good way), is a complex story which constantly veers from drama to melodrama to tragedy to comedy to wild fantasy and then back again with no warning at all. The camera is almost constantly on the move, and so is the plot, so if you want the cinematic equivalent of comfort food where you can switch your brain off and let a nice simple film wash over you, forget it! You really won't know where this is going from one moment to the next. Or indeed how much of what's going on in the main character's head is real, or at least might be.

Michael Keaton as the burnt-out, washed-up has-been who wants to prove himself as a serious actor on Broadway in a play he also wrote and is directing, but literally can't get that ridiculous Batman pastiche everybody still remembers him for out of his head is superbly disheveled, oozing desperation from every pore as he tries to cope with his impossibly temperamental leading man (an excellent Edward Norton), the ruins of his domestic life, his own terror that he doesn't really have the acting chops for this, an implacably hostile theatre critic, his drinking problem, bizarre mishaps such as accidentally losing almost all of his clothes in public, and of course that gravel-voiced imaginary friend who isn't so friendly and wants him to make "Birdman 4" even though he's far too old. Oh, and those uncontrollable telekinetic superpowers he may or may not actually have.

Relaxing is not an option during this film, because mentally it keeps you on your toes every second. If that sounds like too much effort to be fun, you'd probably be better of with a real superhero movie - there are plenty to choose from. But if you want to see something genuinely different that, from the very first utterly bizarre image, never slows down or lets up, and doesn't assume you're a moron just because you're watching a movie, you might find this film well worth a couple of hours of your time. Some people simply won't get it, but personally I'd call it a masterpiece.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Artistic temperament - Birdman review by NC

Michael has a naturally wired-up characteristic, which allows him to blast along through the film quite effortlessly. Looks just like a stageplay-made-to-film.

Well acted and good one for his scrapbook. Try...... Paciffic Heights and The Day Out if not seen them...........

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

Birdman (aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

The premise of Birdman will immediately be noted for its meta casting of the lead. Michael Keaton (who previously played Batman) plays Riggan Thompson, a washed up actor who was once the star of a superhero epic, Birdman. With those days behind him, Riggan attempts to helm his very own stage production of the novel What We Mean When We Talk About Love. But the Birdman persona never leaves Riggan’s presence, influencing his image and his mental state. On it’s surface, the story appears as a sound idea for a comedy in the vein of A Mighty Wind. But I was very surprised to find this picture to be more of a roller coaster character study on an egotistical actor and the despicable people who surround him.

When Riggan isn’t running around the theater trying to prevent his play from turning into a disaster, he’s in his dressing room wrestling with the voice of Birdman knocking him down. The gravely voice stuck in his head keeps telling him that he’ll only fade out into obscurity and that this play is a waste of time and money. The rest of the people who surround the production do not help him either. His lawyer (Zach Galifanakis) manipulates the actor into going along with the play to prevent the loss of money over Riggan’s sanity. His daughter (Emma Stone) reaffirms his pathetic life as both an aged actor and a terrible father. His lead talent for the play (Edward Norton) looks down on him as a celebrity who does not belong on the stage. And the local theater critic (Lindsay Duncan), who Riggan might have believed would be the one person who will judge him solely on his work, informs him ahead of time that she’ll strike him down in her review before the play even begins. Everyone is against him including his own inner voices.

And yet Birdman is still a comedy in an off-beat sense of one man coming to terms with mortality in the twilight of his acting career. It’s an amusing train-wreck of how everything behind the scenes goes awry from short-fused actors to wardrobe malfunctions. While those gags work, the film is at its best when it’s functioning on Riggan's personality and psychological state. He is an infinitely interesting character in how he perceives himself and interacts with others. Around his fans, he smiles and signs autographs. Around his family, he stammers and grows overly emotional. Around his crew, he explodes with frustration and rage both quiet and untamed. All of the accumulated pressures amount to a wounded man losing far more control than he realizes. Meanwhile, Birdman flexes his feathers in the background, reminding Riggan of a place where he could make millions and always be welcomed.

The mind battles Riggan has with Birdman are certainly one of the highlights of the film with Michael Keaton fighting against himself. He imagines that he has psychic powers, using his mind to move objects and trash his dressing room. At one point Riggan is given a shining vision of what he left behind; a world of epic explosions and computer-generated bad guys that was his license to print millions of dollars. Naturally, going for a theater career, he wanted to leave all that behind. But realizing that this was his legacy brings some minor reassurance to his project that appears doomed to fail from all sides.

Birdman was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who chose a unique, almost freestyle way of shooting this story. The entire film appears as one long shot with the camera bobbing and weaving between dressing rooms, the stage, the catwalks, the roof, the alleyways and even the nearby bar. When the camera isn’t taking us on the journey, it’s as close as it can possibly get to the actors booming at each other. There are also several quiet moments of transition as when the camera leads us up into the empty backstage hallways, listening to the distant sound of the audience applauding the end of a scene. We know in a few minutes Riggan will be headed through the halls to his dressing room and we’re given a brief breath before being let back into his tense world. There are also some nice little touches throughout as when the jazz drummer conducting the soundtrack is randomly seen in natural spots like city streets and unnatural locations like the theater break room.

Whenever Riggan looks in the dressing room mirror, the one thing that catches our eyes the most is a taped quote that reads “a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” It applies to the general theme of the characters, but I believe it also applies to the ambiguous ending. No matter how others may attempt to rationalize or explain away the reasoning, it doesn’t change what is actually up on screen. What Birdman leaves on screen is an unforgettable and intellectually challenging experience in a one-of-a-kind character study. Featuring a cast you can’t take your eyes off of with cinematography that makes you regret blinking, this is one of the smartest comedies of the year that digs its talons in and never lets go.

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