Friday, November 21, 2014

Birdman (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies
"Birdman" Soars At the Tropic
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Michael Keaton starred in two "Batman" movies, and then dropped out of the franchise to do smaller films. That was over twenty years ago. Now he pops up in a black comedy titled "Birdman," which happens to be about "a washed-up Hollywood actor who once played the superhero Birdman in three blockbuster movies, before leaving the multi-billion-dollar franchise."

Sounds like art imitating life.

"Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" is currently spreading its wings at the Tropic Cinema.

With it, Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu presents the cautionary tale of an actor struggling to remain relevant. Riggan Thomas (Keaton) hopes to revive his career by putting on a Broadway play.

Assisting him in this quest is his flamboyant producer (Zach Galifianakis) and bedraggled druggie daughter (Emma Stone). They gather up a cast that consists of his sexy girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), a newbie Broadway actress (Naomi Watts), and a puffed-up leading man (Edward Norton).

The conceit of this film is that cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (an Oscar-winner for "Gravity") filmed it in what appears to be one long continuous take. Like Hitchcock’s "Rope." At 119 minutes that’s a heckuva flight for "Birdman."

But the question remains, will Michael Keaton … uh, I mean, Riggan Thomas … succeed in resuscitating his flagging career?

Here, it’s a race between opening night and a meltdown, as we watch our Birdman slowly lose his grip on reality.

Will his "Super-Realism" -- as a New York Times theater critic dubs his unexpected, showstopper acting technique -- save the day. Or will it give flight to Birdman.

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