With a wink to his past and a subtle nod to his future, Michael Keaton captivates in his comeback performance as Birdman. The existential undertone of Keaton’s own career makes him perfect to play “Riggan Thompson,” a washed up actor who walked away from the third installment of his iconic superhero role. His hope to revitalize his career comes in the form of a Broadway play beside some major power players, including Ed Norton (Mike Shiner), Naomi Watts (Leslie), Emma Stone (Sam), and Zach Galifianakis (Brandon).
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu executed the daunting task of actually simulating a play, making the entire movie appear as if it’s shot in one continuous take, a magic trick much like Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rope.’The backstage drama boosts the film, with Thompson’s depression-driven turmoil beautifully juxtaposed against Shiner’s thespian antics, Sam’s rebellious rants, and Brandon’s failed attempts to temper the trouble. And for the folks who need a little extra entertainment inside this circus of delight, there’s some great shots of Norton in his underwear, who is near-naked for most of the film.
Each character is crafted with many layers, often wavering between confidence, depression, desperation, heroism, kindness, humor, and love. It’s clear that Keaton carries the film, and the actor takes no issue with the irony of his legendary Batman status. And though everyone is on the record as saying the film was not written with Keaton in mind, it’s a fitting mental conundrum, considering there’s a play inside a film that’s shot like a play that stars a guy who once played a bird on screen and in real life who is also launching a comeback on screen and in real life. GOT THAT?!!!
Watch the trailer below, and go see this film.
RATING: 5/5 DISHES
While the interview below is an interesting look inside Michael Keaton’s comeback in ‘Birdman,’ it’s also one of the first on-the-record answers about why Keaton turned down the third installment of his most celebrated film. When asked why he rejected Batman 3, Keaton simply said, “It sucked.” There were rumors about Keaton’s stance on the stinky film, but no official confirmation. As for why it actually sucked, It likely had to do with the absence of Tim Burton, Keaton’s legendary teammate. Watch below.
The only Tim Burton films I’ve ever enjoyed are the ones with Michael Keaton. That probably has more to do with Michael Keaton than Tim Burton, but that duo should have stayed together. So when I read that the writers for the upcoming sequel to Beetlejuice refuse to do the film without Keaton as their star, I felt like writing them a personal thank you for alerting the movie studio that not everyone is expendable — and Keaton is a Hollywood treasure. Here’s hoping the script is good enough — and the money makes it worth his while.