Monday, 5 January 2015

Birdman (5 Stars)

We all know what we have when a super-hero movie is made. We see a man pretending to be a super-hero. Or more accurately, we see an actor playing the part of a super-hero who has a secret identity, so it's a man pretending to be a super-hero pretending to be a man. "Birdman" takes us a step deeper into the maze. We see a man who thinks he's a super-hero pretending to be a man who plays a super-hero who pretends he's a man. But what if he isn't a normal man after all? What if he's really a super-hero who's become schizophrenic and sees the super-hero as being a separate person? In that case Michael Keaton is playing a super-hero who thinks he's a man who used to play the part of a super-hero. Whichever way you unravel the wool there will be knots.

The plot: In the 1980's Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) made a series of films about a hero called Birdman. Now he has fallen into obscurity. He's making a comeback by writing, directing and acting in a play based on Raymond Carver's story "What we talk about when we talk about love". His troubles with the cast, which I won't go into here even though they are significant to the film's plot, are dealt with by talking to Birdman, who speaks in his head when he's alone in his dressing room.

The film's cinematography is amazing. It's a series of long takes which are glued together, so that when a new event begins it starts at the same location and camera angle where the last one ended, so the film makes the impression of being made in one giant single take. Almost the whole film. When Riggan has to go into hospital the wool breaks. There are a series of short takes, before we go back to one extended take for the rest of the film.

The film is a work of genius. I feel tempted to see it a second time while it's still in the cinema. Maybe next week, if I have time.

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