What Black Swan was to Ballet, Birdman is to Broadway. I bet that occurs to you within the first 15 minutes of watching this movie.
Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns) plays himself—that is, an actor who once played a superhero but has suffered the same fate as other actors best known for iconic comic book roles. Excuse me, graphic novel characters. More celebrity than thespian, now popular only at Comic-Con.
The Batman Franchise seems particularly vulnerable to the curse. Before Keaton there was Adam West. After Keaton there was Val Kilmer. Only George Clooney seems to have escaped unscathed. But then he had already solidified his A-list status and was Gorgeous George long before Amal.
Keaton has found the perfect vehicle for a comeback. Birdman ticks all the boxes for critical acclaim (unusual character arc, interesting direction by heretofore underestimated director, points of view that are unique if slightly weird) and popular entertainment (hot new star in Emma Stone, A-lister with excellent acting skills in Edward Norton, enough humor and in-jokes to last 100-plus minutes).
It is Keaton’s best work so far. Who knew the star of such flicks as Multiplicity and Jack Frost had the acting chops to pull this off? Of course fans of the Keaton Batman had been saying he was aces all these years, but I never believed it.
Now? I’m not exactly a Keaton fan (in the way I’d watch a Ralph Fiennes film even if the best thing he did in it was sit on the toilet), but I think they should give him the Best Actor Oscar and everyone should watch Birdman.
The story has lots of existential stuff related to social media to please millennials and enough introspection coupled with off-the-wall humor to please those of us who know what vinyl records sound like.
The supporting cast is a perfect foil for Keaton as he acts out the full range emotions known to man and a Broadway audience. Norton (Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk) has never been funnier and sexier—and he gets nekkid to show us what Salma Hayek has been missing.
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spiderman, The Help) begins her transition from ingénue into serious actress in this movie. She has the lightness of Zooey Deschanel, but not nearly as boring.
Even the uncredited actor (Benjamin Kanes) in the Birdman suit helps the film by being eye candy and reminding the audience that it is watching the Black Swan of Broadway.
Naomi Watts and Zach Galafianakis also star.
So watch Birdman. It is the coolest movie this season and it will introduce you to a whole new, film-viewing experience.
In case you don’t pay attention until the very end, let me clue you in. It’s called superrealism and art students have known about it since the 1940s. This is the film version. And it is 10 times more fun than looking at a painting from 1945.
Hits the Philippines via Ayala Mall theaters 28 January 2015.