Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Birdman – Boyhood Beater

Birdman was pretty much the only major slip-up during last year’s crop of awards contenders.

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t some great stuff here. The cast are superb, with Michael Keaton on suitably deranged form as washed up actor, Riggan Thompson, attempting to put on a comeback play. Likewise, Zach Galifianakis’ performance suggests he should just give up on ‘comedy’ and stick with drama (albeit darkly comic drama), plus Emma Stone’s on great form (particularly during one barnstorming monologue) and Edward Norton . . . well, that’s true acting if I ever saw it.


So, what a shame it is then that the rest of the movie is engulfed by an overwhelming cloud of highfalutin tosh. Even those excellent performances are burdened with an air of self-indulgence. The technically brilliant camerawork (seamless cuts, resulting in virtually the entire movie looking like a single take) is distracting and uncomfortably showy. The cinematography is just too overtly ‘look-at-me!’ to ever blend into the background. It’s noticeable throughout and that just reinforces the fact that you’re watching a movie, which is far from ideal.

That being said, I’d like to take this opportunity to praise the lighting department and the editors. Their work here is world-beating and, without these guys and girls at the top of their game, Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography wouldn’t have received half the praise it did.

And then we get to the downright pretentious. The percussion-dominated score is truly painful, at times. I would have rather had a score performed entirely on castanets than the deafening racket we have here. It’s bizarre and, once again, terribly distracting. Too the point that it drowns out some of the dialogue, in fact. While many of the lines are spat and screamed, there are some real gems in amongst the roughage . . . so what a shame that many of them fly past unheard.

And, to finish, I may be biased, but I don’t take too kindly to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (director and co-writer) treatment of critics. Not only is it painfully hostile, but it’s cynical and nihilistic. I didn’t even get the idea that this was just stemming from the characters. It seems Iñárritu and his team genuinely share these sentiments and I’ve got very little time for that.

★★

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