“Birdman” stars Michael Keaton as an actor who, years before, played a superhero—Birdman—and stages a Broadway play to show he has talent.
I had not read any reviews of the movie before seeing it. I only have read a couple of blips since. One there appears to be Keaton is a washed-up actor, Reggin Thompson, who seeks to rejuvenate his career by adapting for the stage, starring in, and directing the play. Perhaps that was how the movie was pitched, but the plot I caught was different. I thought Thompson seeks legitimacy as an actor after a career, long since dormant, as an action-comic book hero.
One notable aspect of the flick is the impression with which one is left that it is a continuous shot, like Hitchcock’s “The Rope.” There are a few transition sequences, as we see the City go from night to day, though, so “The Rope” it is not.
This seems to be a movie for actors. By this I mean the director let the actors have their ways on camera. The first major scene of the film gives one a big hint. As the actors rehearse, Thompson laments one actor cannot act. And tries to coax some emotion from the guy. In a few minutes’ screen time, that actor is replaced by Edward Norton’s character, who then improvs, with Keaton’s character, the same part of the script with which Norton’s predecessor had so much difficulty. We are shown how a “real” actor handles such a role. At other points, characters are able to act out in bizarre ways, so the actors can show their chops.
There are humorous moments in the 119 minutes of the film, a satire on show business. Overall, I thought it could have been edited down to 90 minutes without loss of anything positive. What perhaps is the punch line for the film—that, according to a previously-hostile reviewer, Keaton’s character has created a new type of acting—is somewhat at odds with the sequence of events. By the time anyone realizes what Thompson has “done,” the reviewer already has left the theater.
I was not upset at the ticket price for the movie I saw. Generally, from what I have seen on-line, “Birdman” has garnered generally positive reviews. The flick was okay, but suffers from the same weaknesses most movies made for actors’ amusement suffer. The plot is splotchy and the roles over-done.