Seeing Birdman

BIRDMAN-red-one-sheet-bannerWe went to see Birdman today, a very peculiar movie starring Michael Keaton.  In it, he plays an actor very much like himself in that he once played a superhero in a movie series, Birdman, from the 90s but stopped playing that part after the third movie.  Since then, he hasn’t done much so he has decided to write, direct and star in a stage play on Broadway based on a Raymond Carver story.  When we join Michael Keaton’s character, he’s a few days from the premiere and they’re finishing up the last few preview runs, when of course all kinds of shit goes down.  His main male costar is terrible and something happens to get him replaced by Edward Norton’s birdman-image-4-6-20character, a very successful stage actor.  That stress along with family issues and oh yeah, the fact he’s actually able to hear Birdman talking to him as some kind of id while seemingly having Jedi powers all kind of lead Keaton to some endpoint that is fascinating for us to keep up with.

The movie has  been made in a way where it looks like there’s no real cut – it’s as if you’re a reality TV camera following Keaton around as he goes about his day.  It’s not a real-time gimmick though as time does go by and suddenly as you round a corner, the next show has begun.  It’s quite compelling, yet also exhausting.  I’ve read the making of this movie was thrilling and exhausting for the actors, and I can see why.  There’s lots of long takes and you don’t want to be the guy who fucks up.  Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts (apparently I’m only going to see Naomi Watts movies in theaters now after having just seen her in St Vincent), and Edward Norton are birdman01amazing.  The film itself is also amazing….BUT!  Yet again, here’s another movie that, to me, just can’t stick the fucking landing.  It’s literally the last 5 seconds of the movie where it just fucking leaves you wanting.  Why are movies doing this!!???  Come ON!

Spoilerish stuff ahead, I guess?

So, there’s a point where you realize that the movie is kind of documenting Keaton’s sanity unraveling and the things we see in the film are just his perception of things.  Birdman really isn’t there, Keaton doesn’t have Jedi powers to make things move Birdman-Michael-Keatontelekinetically, nor can he fucking fly.  We know that his whole Midtown flight didn’t happen due to the taxi cab element right at the tail end of that scene.  So when we get to the end, which was bleak until it wasn’t, and then he maybe leaps out the window but now he actually is possibly flying?  What in the holy fuck is that?  Really?  I would’ve been okay with him still feeling suicidal, even though that seemed kind of stupid too now that the NYT had raved about his show and he wasn’t destroyed, but now we’re saying he can fly since his daughter looks up and smiles?  UGH.

It’s so hard for me to love a movie when it manages to whiff the ending so badly. Much like Edge of Tomorrow, I really liked this movie a lot, up until the end.  The drumbeat soundtrack was hypnotic, the endless shot concept was done wonderfully, all the performances were Oscar-worthy, yet the movie had to go for unnecessary ambiguity.  It made no sense.  There wasn’t triumph in thinking he was flying – you could tell the theater we were in (at the Cinerama Dome) were all waiting to clap but when that moment occurred, it was just stunned silence.  WTF???

Anyway, I imagine this will do well at the Academy Awards regardless of that goofy ending, as it should.

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