DVD review: Birdman
Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Four Oscars tell you how close to perfection director Alejandro González Iñárritu comes with this often hilarious - and telling - insight into the creative arts. There's also insight into how life appears to ageing men once they begin to suspect (and fear) that their best days are behind them.
Michael Keaton is cast as an actor who was once the face of a superhero franchise, but his star has faded, and he seeks some sort of redemption on the stage. It's a case of art imitating life for Keaton, who played Batman in two films and whose own career has been through many types of peaks and valleys.
Iñárritu surrounds Keaton with family members he's at odds with and fellow artists all looking for their own way in life - best of all, Edward Norton as an acclaimed thespian with the world (and women, it seems) at his feet.
Birdman is shot in a wildly adventurous style, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki was justifiably rewarded with an Oscar for his efforts in capturing the madness of backstage operations and of a life spiralling out of control. The few New York City street scenes also pulse with life, as do the driving beats of Antonio Sanchez's score.
The film's editors were ignored, oddly: they somehow manage to convince you that the entire production was shot in one long take. It's an effect that adds to the magic and the sense of madness, as do the voiceovers and eventual appearances of Keaton as Birdman, constantly reminding the actor of his mortality, and of how there was a time when his spirit was soaring.
That you never quite know what to take as real and what as imagined is another threat that adds to the distinctly human drama on play.
The sad irony of it all is that the performance of Keaton's career still wasn't enough to win him the Oscar for best actor.
Still, this is a wonderful experience, especially for any older man who's ever found himself stuck in front of a mirror wondering where it all went wrong.
Extras: Birdman: All Access - A View From the Wings; A Conversation With Michael Keaton and Alejandro González Iñárritu featurettes; gallery