Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Flies High For Accomplishment and Awards

By José Alberto Hermosillo 
Birdman, poster. Copyright ©2014 Fox
This year, the Oscar has “Wings,” “The Great Ziegfeld” is back, “Birdman” is “The Artist” of the season, and the “Midnight Cowboy” of the decade. 

The existentialist, hypnotic, dark comedy, masterfully directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“Amores Perros,” “Babel”) sets apart from the directors’ recurrent topics: communication, violence, emptiness, immigration, human exploitation, but death. Death is obsessively present in every work done by Iñárritu.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Photo by José A. Hermosillo. Copyright ©2014 Festival in LA
Divided into three acts, like in the theater, “Birdman” tells the story of a lonely falling star that years ago, after playing an iconic superhero, made the wrong decisions in Hollywood. Now, the only way to visualize his comeback is by producing, directing, and performing his play on Broadway: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” 

The fading fame of the actor, his divorce, age, daughter’s rehab, economic situation, and the lies of other actors made him struggle for survival.

Broadway is a jungle where everyone devours each other - actors, agents, lawyers, family, the public, and critics (remember the critics). 
Copyright © 2014 Fox

From the beginning, his “larger than life” Alter Ego is playing “Funny Games,” making him behave differently, out-of-the-ordinary, so crazy that people laugh. “You are Birdman; you are a God.”
To have his glorious return to the stage, the starving actor Reagan Thomson played by Michael Keaton (“Batman,” “Speechless”), must be “nice” to everyone, including himself. The situations in life will come up pretty rough on him. 

“Birdman” is a pendulum that swings from the long discussions to the long silences - the player is always trying to find what really matters in life. 
Copyright ©2014 Fox
“No need for drugs when you are already emotionally high.” 

The strident drum score of Antonio Sanchez is jazzy, rhythmic, and sometimes a “wild mambo.” Towards the end, the drums become dissonant and chaotic, enhancing the story to total madness with an unexpected resolution.

This movie seems to be shot in three days, but its chronicle of the shooting is much more complicated than that. It requires planning, building, lighting, choreography, and many rehearsals to obtain the perfect timing, making everything happen at the precise moment. 

Directors, actors, cameramen, editors, and the sound department must hit their marks to make the story flawless. Their moves have to flow perfectly, like the choreography of “The Swan Lake.” 

Let’s not forget the special effects, which come out of nowhere and are unique. 
Photo by Jose A. Hermosillo. Copyright ©2014 Festival in LA
Technically and symbolically, “Birdman” is structured in three parts (first rehearsal, dress rehearsal, and preview). Those parts are interconnected by the complicated long takes that follow the characters through the long hallways inside the theater and sometimes out to the streets.

Director of photography Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki (“Gravity,” “A New World,” “Tree of Life”) knows his craft and can challenge himself by using the same continuous “long takes” as the one he used inside the building of Cuarón’s “Children of Men,” only that in “Birdman” it repeats many times. The Academy Award® winner, cinematographer, is one of the best of his generation - Chivo is likely to win the Award for the second year in a row.
Copyright © 2014 Fox
The shot of the interior of the Korean grocery store is magnificent. Those thousands of chili pepper-shaped lights are not only colorful or fantastic but breathtaking, in one word: marvelous!
Copyright © 2014 Fox
Michael Keaton is phenomenal; his work with Iñárritu pushed the limits for the best performance in his career. 

Javier Bardem working with Iñárrit,u got an Oscar nomination in 2010 for “Biutiful,” and now Keaton will most likely get an Oscar nomination for his magnificent performance in “Birdman.” He is the front-runner to win gold.
Copyright ©2014 Festival in LA
Edward Norton, always controversial, his powerful presence ignites the big screen with fire. 

Zach Galifianakis’ performance is the best of his career. Emma Stone is superb and represents a new generation of Hollywood's great young actors. Everyone is just fantastic. 

“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” deserves multiple nominations and awards, a simple story in a complex movie that aspires to perfection.
Copyright © 2014 Birdman Facebook Page.


  1. Back in October: This year the Oscar© has “Wings.” “The Great Ziegfeld” is back. “Birdman” is “The Artist” of the season and the “Midnight Cowboy” of the millennium.