In the new film from Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Keaton plays actor Riggan Thomson, who is best known for his role as an iconic superhero and is looking to revamp his career after falling on hard times. No, this isn’t a documentary, it’s Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and it’s a scathing satire of the cult of celebrity that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, I promise.
The film opens with Riggan attempting to revive his career as he writes, directs, and stars in his own Broadway play, adapted from the Raymond Carver short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Everything is tied to this play — Riggan’s finances (he spent the last of his Birdman money funding it), his career (the play is supposed to be his big comeback), and his family (his girlfriend stars in it, his daughter (Emma Stone) is his personal assistant, and his best friend (Zach Galifianakis) is his stage manager). As opening night draws closer, Riggan battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.
The cast of Birdman is hilariously, and not unintentionally, led by the best ex-Batman playing the ex-Birdman, but it also ironically stars two other veterans of superhero franchises, Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Ed Norton (The Incredible Hulk). Michael Keaton’s Riggan even has a dream that he is upstaged at his funeral by George Clooney (another ex-Batman). It’s partly these subtle allusions to the superhero universe that make this film so enjoyable, but it’s not the only thing. The superb acting, the strong message, and the great, heartwarming, funny, and sometimes sad moments in the film make it a must see.
But what’s really remarkable about this film is the cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki, who won an Oscar in cinematography for Gravity at the 2014 Academy Awards, has shot the film in what feels like one continuous long take. As the New York Times says:
“The camera doesn’t just move with the story and characters, it also ebbs and flows like water, soars and swoops like a bird, its movement as fluid as a natural element, as animated as a living organism. (Like that famous Steadicam shot in “GoodFellas“ but longer.) Mr. Iñárritu’s partner in illusionism is the director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki, a Houdini of fluid camera movements whose genius is for keeping you watching rather than distractedly wondering.”
Birdman opens at the Burns on Friday, October 24 as a Westchester Exclusive, with a special advanced screening on Thursday, October 23 at 9:45 pm. Tickets for all screenings are on sale now!