Birdman proves to be one of the best movies of the year

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Zachary Wohl, Eastside Staff

The film industry has been caught in a blockbuster movie loop for far too long. Though they prove to be entertaining, blockbuster movies do not bring the originality some filmgoers look for. Birdman, also known as The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is one of the most holistic, original films to come out in a long time.

The film follows actor Riggan Thompson, an actor known for playing a popular superhero called Birdman as he tries to prove he is a real actor by starring, adapting,and directing a Broadway play. This proves to be challenging though as he has to deal with the hiring of an unpredictable actor, mend a relationship with his twenty something year old daughter and suffer through a delusional mid-life crisis.

Michael Keaton stars as the struggling actor, alongside Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone. The entire cast provides excellent work with Stone and Galifianakis providing career bests, and Norton, as usual, bringing his talent in full force to the screen. However, Keaton is the main focus. His performance brings realism to a character suffering from insane delusions while also showcasing a broad range of emotion. Keaton’s performance shines as it allows the audience to not only root for, but also to empathize with his character.

Yet, the most original aspects of this film are the subtle variety. Emmanuel Lubezki, who won the Oscar last year for Gravity, documents the film’s cinematography, which is mind-blowing. The film is shot to look as if it is one long, uninterrupted shot, but with just a few cuts before the actual plot begins. Not only is this a bold, limiting choice by director Alejandro González Iñárritu, but it also adds layers to the film. The uninterrupted feel of it mirrors the film’s plot; in other words, it causes the film to unravel like a play, similar to the play in production by the characters. On the other hand, from a completely lateral view of the film, the audience cannot help but wonder how all of the complex actions of the film seem to fit without cutting away.

The other refreshing aspect of Birdman is its “meta” humor. It is no coincidence that Michael Keaton, an actor known mostly for his role as a superhero, Batman, took this career-changing role of an actor known for portraying a superhero trying to prove his worth. The film does not shy away at referencing actors’ previous films, nor does it shy away from addressing the now traditional super hero movie. At several points in the film, the characters address the usual desires of people who go to the theater to see those traditional super hero movies.

Though the plot is engaging, it seems to take second fiddle to the cinematography, wit and themes of the film, causing Birdman, also called The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, to be the most original film of the year.