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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Birdman - A Film Review

Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman was a really interesting film to watch. I loved how close and personal it felt with the characters' relationships, showcased through the long continuous takes and close-ups. The editor deserves an Oscar nomination for putting seamless edits in between continuous takes to make sequences linked together like one continuous take. That filmmaking style got me into the story very quickly, and the cast were all fantastic in this film.

I agree with the comparisons to JCVD, a movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself and gets caught up in a robbery in Brussels (he's a hostage, but the police and media outside think he's the robber due to a misunderstanding). Particularly, it does feel similar with the hero actor making a meta statement about his past roles and his offscreen life, as well as including an amazing sequence where Van Damme "floats" above the scene to deliver a long monologue about his life in films, his challenges and his obstacles, and playing the hero and movie star while dealing with his insecurities and issues (drugs, women, maintaining his worth as a person). This scene had me holding my breath throughout all of it, and it was a surprise to see Van Damme do the best acting of his career. Not just playing himself, but being emotionally vulnerable and bare onscreen.

Similarly, Michael Keaton brought that onscreen, just being open and honest onscreen. I've been thinking in the last couple of years that he is an underrated actor, someone who fell below the radar after doing Batman Returns, due to him choosing supporting roles and largely character actor work, and it's awesome to see him back in a lead role in a meaningful film.

While I think Edward Norton is a egocentric dick in real life (from stories I've heard of him), he always kills it onscreen (I forgot that he's been very good in quite a lot of movies since the mid-90's) and managed to bring sympathy to such an obnoxious character.

Emma Stone was wonderful in this, I love how electric and charismatic she is onscreen, especially in films like this, Zombieland, and The Amazing Spider-Man. It seemed like she was being overshadowed by Jennifer Lawrence in the past couple of years, so I'm happy to see her back to her A-game in this film.

Naomi Watts was also great in this too. She didn't have as much to do as the other characters, but she's always been a very interesting and talented actress that takes risks onscreen, and I like seeing her in whatever she's in.

Another favorite performance of mine in this was Lindsay Duncan as the theater critic. She was so great at playing a cold, cynical writer who loved theater so much that she would rip apart anyone who she felt desecrated the art of it. I loved how she spoke in a quiet, mannered tone that would cut through anyone's heart. She was in only a couple of scenes in this movie, but was fantastic, and was one of the best parts of the film.

This was just a really interesting movie. I've included the monologue from JCVD because it had similar filming techniques and themes from Birdman.

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