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December 05, 2022

Birdman: Movie Review

By Sand Pilarski

The first time I knew that Michael Keaton was an actor was when he was cast in the lead of Batman (1989). I thought it was going to be a horrible miscasting, but after I saw it, I was truly impressed, and he remains my favorite Batman-artist of all. In Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993) Keaton turned in an unforgettable performance as Dogberry, the local law enforcer. And so, when I heard he had been nominated for a 2015 Oscar for Best Actor in a movie nominated for a 2015 Oscar for Best Picture, yes, I wanted to see it.

I usually read reviews of movies on IMDb before seeing a movie, after being painfully stung by 2012 and Skyline, when I neglected to read reviews in advance. Naturally I had a look at Birdman on IMDb before we left for the show.

In the first two pages of user reviews, the vast majority really hated the movie, and thought it was a complete waste of time. Three users confessed that they had only signed themselves up for IMDb accounts so that they could warn others of how pointless and lousy Birdman was. I disagree with them. It wasn't that bad. A very small minority gave Birdman the highest praise, saying that it was pure genius, one of the best movies ever made. I disagree with them, too; it wasn't that good.

Keaton was seamless in his portrayal of a 60-ish former film star, once known for a grand superhero role: Birdman, as which character he made three films. But Riggan Thomas doesn't want to be remembered as an aging Birdman -- he wants to make a mark on the legitimate stage as a writer, director and actor. Yet his play is whacked repeatedly by multiple disasters, not the least of which is a prominent critic's promise of writing a scathing review that will shut him down, because he is a mere "celebrity" and not a real stage "actor." Is he crazy? Is he as good as he wants to be? Is the world crazy? Is the world what is actually "real?" Is everything as bad as it seems, or is life full of wonders and traps and escapes and bald-faced, beautiful revelations?

You'd have to see the film and judge for yourself.

As to the Oscars, was this Best Picture material? Well, The Grand Budapest Hotel was also nominated. Will I see The Grand Budapest Hotel again? Yes, as a matter of fact, I've seen it twice and will definitely watch it again. Birdman? Probably not. Not being all that well-versed in what constitutes "best" in the eyes of the Academy, I can't say for sure.

If it wins, it will be because it rode in on Michael Keaton's shoulders.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2015-02-02
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