Oct 13, 2014

REVIEW: BIRDMAN (dir. Iñárritu)

From my review for Intelligent Life:—
'Not since the salad days of Robert Altman has a director packed a film with as much filthy talk, dark humor, Puckish satire and deep relish for human fault and foible as Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu does in his new film Birdman... A gleeful deconstruction of Hollywood superheroes and has-beens — a kind of Sunset Boulevard for the age of spandex — the film is constructed entirely from long, continuous takes, shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who prowls the enclaves of the venerable St. James Theater on West 44th Street with much the same stealth with which he penetrated outer space in last year’s Gravity. Here the stars on view are just as dazzling, from the collapsing supernova that is Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), a wormy, preening method actor whose commitment to realism extends to getting drunk on stage, followed by actual intercourse; to the black holes of insecurity that are his costars, Lesley (Naomi Watts) and  Laura (Andrea Riseborough), a young starlet who may be pregnant with Riggan’s baby. “What are you going to do?” asks Riggan’s manager (Zach Galifianakis) as the forces of chaos lap the sides of his production.  “I’ll think of something,” promises Riggan. “I’ll riff.” That’s the film all over, from Keaton’s sidewinding, live-wire performance to the virtuoso single takes to the skittering snare-drum soundtrack — this is cinema as jazz, with a view of life as one extended improv. Mexican directors would appear to be on fire right now, holding their own against Hollywood in much the same way that the French did in the early sixties — speaking the same cinematic language but refuses to play by the same rules. Birdman bears much the same relationship to Hollywood superheroes movies as Breathless did to the Bogart flicks which Godard soaked up in his youth, before breaking down their formulas and reconstituting them, freeform, as nouvelle vague bebop.' 

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