When Michael Keaton was cast as Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), not only did the most popular time of his career dawn for him, he may also have laid groundwork for today’s commercial dominance of superhero movies. After its successor, Batman Returns (1992), Keaton abandoned the cape and, despite appearing in Jackie Brown, faded into the background. The parallels in Birdman cannot be overlooked. Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, the once successful and popular star of the superhero series Birdman. In the meantime, Riggan has landed at the New York Theater and tries his hand at being a serious artist as the writer, director and star of a Broadway production. But his alter ego from earlier days does not let him go. The most conspicuous and innovative feature of the film is that director Alejando G. Iñarritu makes it seem as if Birdman was shot without interruption in a single shot. It’s another continuation of the experiment that Hitchcock started in 1949 with Rope. Iñarritu uses many tracking shots, which are particularly suitable for the narrow corridors inside the theatre (perhaps less in some locations outside), and hides cuts with the help of trick effects and often with the help of panning motion blurs. It is a stylistically successful experiment, albeit possibly exaggerated in its uncompromising and repetitive execution. For Iñarritu, Birdman is a skilful return following his lackluster transitional film Biutiful (2010). Michael Keaton made a much bigger comeback, not only winning several awards and nominations for Birdman, but also participating in the Oscar-winning Spotlight the following year.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 119 min.
Release Date: 2014/08/27 (in Venice)
Screenplay: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo
Editor: Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Budget: $18 million