I might be 21 days late with this, but happy new year everyone. Yeah okay, so I’ve been a little lax with the writing this year, what can I say? It’s January, and so far 2015 is shaping up to be one of my best years ever. That’s another way of saying that I’ve been having way too much fun. What fun you ask? Well, I saw Birdman over the weekend and I hate to succumb to the hype train, but I was impressed. So impressed I felt the need to share why, because there’s a lot there. (I also feel the need to give a quick warning here: I don’t feel like I spoil the plot at all, but if you were wanting to go into this movie blind, I do detail a bit of the technical accomplishment of the film, which you may want to discover yourself. Also fair warning: Arty farty bullshit is on full display below).
Leaving the theatre I recall saying over and over again that “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” and that’s the overall theme that I’ve carried around since as I’ve pondered it over. While sitting in the dark I found myself beaming at the novelty of the experience, and I surprisingly felt myself reminded of another movie which elicited similar feelings on my first viewing: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So much like Eternal Sunshine, Birdman is a deceptively simple story told in a uniquely elaborate way, it is technically breathtaking, full of wonderful performances, and is both surprisingly funny and genuinely sad.
There are so many little details that go into the allure of Birdman, more than I could ever list, but I will attempt it anyway: I love how the actors and filmmakers were able to parse together a film that looks as if it was done in a single take, employing insane acting chops, seamless special effects, and sweeping deliberate cinematography to cast this skilled illusion. I love how this technique takes a movie about a play and makes it feel like a play itself. I love the meta element of Michael Keaton playing a washed up actor who had a huge success with those Birdman movies from the 90s. I love all of the surreal twists and turns, as we slowly start to realize what is truly real and what is imaginary as the film progresses. I love the commentary on movies, theatre, and social media, both loving and critical in it’s way. This is just a visual and technical treat in so many ways, and much like Eternal Sunshine, when watching Birdman I found myself in awe of how they were able to accomplish what they did. It must have been a staggering amount of work to make this movie and the result is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
In the podcast episode that dropped today you can listen to my reasons as to why I think Eternal Sunshine is, for lack of a better term, a perfect movie, whether I feel the same about Birdman will still require thought and multiple viewings. But what I do know is that Birdman is a deft amalgam of all the disparate elements that go into a film, which miraculously found their way to a seamless whole that is both entertaining and thought provoking. And for that reason alone you should watch it.