January 15, 2015

Anti-gravity


Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 2014). This is the newest last superhero movie, after Watchmen (which didn’t make the grade) and The Dark Knight, with the subversion now shifting to the other side of the camera. This is actor insecurity, actor narcissism, actor competitiveness and actor anxiety sending itself up: can former Birdman star Riggan Thomson (former Batman Michael Keaton) make the transition to Broadway in a too-realistic Raymond Carver adaptation? What happens when actors act too much? Why are all the great actors in capes? So many questions. This incredible two-hour stunt has all the meta ingeniousness of a Charlie Kaufman script (call it Being Riggan Thomson), executed with astonishing skill and wit by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and genius cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (of Gravity and Malick fame). Did you ever expect the director of 21 Grams, Babel and Amores Perros to pull off such a context-specific New York and LA comedy? Did you ever expect to see a vain Hollywood star lounging ostentatiously with some Borges on his sunbed, as part of his “process”? Did you ever expect … and so on. Here is a reminder that you can still be surprised.