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MeinPanzer
Dec 19, 2004
anyone who reads Cinema Discusso for anything more than slackjawed trolling will see the shittiness in my posts

I just saw Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, and since it's starting to get a lot of press but we don't seem to have a thread devoted to it yet, I thought I'd write up a little post on it.

Birdman marks the return of Michael Keaton to the big screen with his first major role in a mainstream movie in years. His role is essentially autobiographical: he plays Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor famous for his success as the superhero "Birdman" in the late '80s and '90s who decides to stage an adaptation of a Raymond Carver play on Broadway. It features a fantastic cast of characters played by, among others, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis. If you really want to enjoy it going in, that's about all you need to know.

I thought this movie was great, and, even more than that, one of the most entertaining I've seen all year. Inarritu has managed to make a stimulating, thoughtful, riveting, and hilarious movie satirizing celebrity culture, but one that is ultimately intimately personal. This film's frank meta discussion of what it means to be a forgotten leading man in Hollywood reminded me of JCVD and The Wrestler, but I think more successfully than the former and in a different, more engaging way than the latter. Keaton has aged profoundly, and his buzzing energy in this performance is both alarming and entrancing.

Birdman resonates with allusions, echoes, and meta-commentary. Naomi Watts reluctantly engages in a lesbian kiss, a la Mulholland Drive; Edward Norton is a difficult but brilliant method actor, just like he has a reputation for being in real life; and at one point the camera lingers on a long hallway covered in a carpet pattern reminiscent of that one in the famous tricycle scene in The Shining, only here the terror at the end of the hall is the smashed poster featuring the protagonist's lingering superhero alter ego. This is fundamentally a movie about movies and about the role they play in modern society; it's no accident that it centres on an actor trying to make it on Broadway but haunted by his Hollywood past.

The acting from Keaton and Norton in particular is excellent, while Stone, Galifianakis, and Watts also do a good job, though the latter two are given less to work with. The only real disappointment for me was Amy Ryan as Riggan's wife, whose delivery was wooden and awkward. The movie plays with the idea of acting acting, as the entire thing is filmed like an intimate, backstage peek, presented as a single long take, and the stage actors often ham it up just as much in the privacy of their dressing rooms as in front of the theatre audience; a key point put under the spotlight time and again is the artificiality inherent in the craft of acting (Norton's character pretentiously declares that the only truth is on stage, using this as license to be a total rear end in a top hat in real life). The viewer is bombarbed with the aftermath of the excesses of celebrity (in a few parts literally), but Birdman excels when we finally get moments of true emotional connection later in the film.


I should note finally that this is a really funny movie, and there are a few scenes that really got the theatre going. One part involving Keaton being forced to walk through Times Square in his underwear stands out in particular, but Inarritu keeps things lighthearted throughout, playing with different registers to highlight both the ridiculous seriousness and the actual serious side effects of celebrity.

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Jose Oquendo
Jun 20, 2004



I caught the Birdman panel last week at NYCC. I'm really stoked for this movie. One thing I'll mention since you put it in the spoilers but isn't really a spoiler: The whole movie is shot like it's one long continuous take. It's pretty neat how they did that and still hid the seams.

MeinPanzer
Dec 19, 2004
anyone who reads Cinema Discusso for anything more than slackjawed trolling will see the shittiness in my posts

Jose Oquendo posted:

I caught the Birdman panel last week at NYCC. I'm really stoked for this movie. One thing I'll mention since you put it in the spoilers but isn't really a spoiler: The whole movie is shot like it's one long continuous take. It's pretty neat how they did that and still hid the seams.

It is a great technique. Inarritu both really ramps up the tension throughout the movie and disorients the viewer with it, as occasionally what seems to be a smooth transition between scenes ends up disguising a lapse of several days.

Irish Joe
Jul 23, 2007

by Lowtax


Is this movie getting a wide release? I love Michael Keaton, but none of my local theaters are playing this and Box Office Mojo says its only at 4 theaters total.

MeinPanzer
Dec 19, 2004
anyone who reads Cinema Discusso for anything more than slackjawed trolling will see the shittiness in my posts

Irish Joe posted:

Is this movie getting a wide release? I love Michael Keaton, but none of my local theaters are playing this and Box Office Mojo says its only at 4 theaters total.

Strangely, I can't seem to find any information on when it's supposed to get a wide release. I caught this at the Philadelphia Film Festival. I imagine it'll get a wider release by November, since October 17 seems to be the "official" US release date.

zenintrude
Apr 7, 2008

Where we're going,
we won't need eyes to see.


Irish Joe posted:

Is this movie getting a wide release? I love Michael Keaton, but none of my local theaters are playing this and Box Office Mojo says its only at 4 theaters total.

10/17/14

NEW YORK
AMC Lincoln Square
Angelika Film Center

LOS ANGELES
The Landmark
The Arclight Hollywood

10/23/14

Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Bellevue, WA
Bethesda, MD
Boston, MA
Boulder, CO
Brookline, MA
Brooklyn, NY
Cambridge, MA
Chicago, IL
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Evanston, IL
Fairfax, VA
Indianapolis, IN
Irvine, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Montclair, NJ
Pasadena, CA
Philadelphia, PA
Plano, TX
Pleasantville, NY
Royal Oak, MI
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Scottsdale, AZ
Seattle, WA
Sherman Oaks, CA
St. Louis, MO
Toronto, ON
Vancouver, BC
Washington, DC

Arthe Xavier
Apr 22, 2007

Artificial Stupidity


Lucky you - this is my most anticipated movie of the year ( followed by Interstellar ), and I have no idea when it is going to have a theatrical release here in Finland. Will catch it as soon as possible, though - so good to see Keaton back on top of his game. Being a professional actor myself ( who mostly does theater ), I can't wait to see what I get out of this movie.

Walked
Apr 14, 2003



Looks like this starts showing here (DC) tonight, but wont be able to catch it until tomorrow. Excited because I keep hearing its really good.

The_Rob
Feb 1, 2007

musicals are garbage


I was already planning on seeing the movie, but I was even more ready when the director said in an interview that he thinks that Superhero movies are cultural genocide.

Firstborn
Oct 14, 2012

Hope is a mistake


IGN posted the most pretentious review of a movie I've ever loving read in response to Birdman:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/10/17/birdman-review

This review says absolutely nothing, and reads like a goddamn school paper. It's not that I expect quality from them, I just don't know what to even think about this.

Dengue_Fever
Sep 21, 2011



Is this in any way related to the portlandia skit with "birdman" going on a walkabout? If so, I'm in.

Seanticleer
Oct 23, 2014


Got a chance to see it last night, and after watching the excellent trailer earlier this year, I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. But lo, this movie was honestly one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a long long time. If that poo poo's open nearby, and even if you marginally enjoy watching Edward Norton getting punched in the face, you should check it out.

It's also worth mentioning that the score is incredible, going back and forth between soft orchestral moments and fast, spastic jazz drumming by Antonio Sanchez that perfectly punctuates movements and emotions in lieu of traditional editing.

Bird in a Blender
Nov 17, 2005

It's amazing what they can do with computers these days.


Saw this Friday night in Chicago, and I really enjoyed it. Due to the nature of shooting everything to make it look continuous, the film has very few pauses. The camera is usually following one character, then just quickly moves onto the next one. The soundtrack was excellent, and the sound editing was great as well as the surround sound in the theater was used to really good effect. I was often caught looking around as I would here a clock ticking to my right, or someone talking as they exited a room to my back left.

justlikedunkirk
Dec 24, 2006


I'm not a big fan of this one. It was really ho-hum for me. Yes, the acting and filmmaking is objectively very good, but it's poorly used. The gimmick is distracting, and feels like an attempt to cover up the poor screenplay. There really isn't much that the movie's trying to say, it's a lot of the same old commentary on the industry (aging actors, redemption, art vs commerce, yadda yadda). The actual comedy sucks too. References to people like Justin Bieber, a lesbian kiss as a punchline (and strangely enough the movie leaves that moment hanging), a boner joke, it's all stale and juvenile humour.

I don't mean to sound like a negative Nancy over the movie since, yes, it IS well-shot and the cast brings their A-game. But it's really flawed to me, and not the movie critics have been going nuts over.

Madkal
Feb 11, 2008

It was all going well, and then the parademons showed up

Fallen Rib

I ended up seeing this movie tonight with my dad, which was kind of strange as he generally likes movies "with happy endings" ie romantic comedies (and sometimes the odd war movie too). He heard the movie was getting rad reviews though, so thought he would try it out, though I told him he probably wouldn't enjoy it too much.
Well he definitely found it strange but didn't hate it, so there was that. For me I loved it. I studied theatre for a bit in school so I really enjoyed the backstage inner working of a play thing going on, and the way the movie was made (to look like one continuous scene) gave the film a sense of being a play within a play (within a movie about movie actors in plays).
Keaton was amazing in the role and showed a dramatic range that I didn't really think the actor was capable of. He played his part with such emotion that you couldn't help but feel that he was cast in some form of meta-casting where he was told to play a washed up actor whose glory days was playing Bat/Birdman. He was really a great force in the film and I can see a nomination going to him.
Other stand outs was Edward Norton who was probably told to play himself, but to ramp it up to 11. There is one scene in the movie where he really really overdoes the whole "method acting" thing and it is both creepy/revolting/insane/hilarious. And in the end, that is what the movie seem to be critiquing and being about. The idea of the actor being there as a distraction, and being there to be a mirror of reality. It takes some interesting twists and turns, but is a movie really worthy of discussion and worth viewing. Even if you like movies with happy endings.

Xealot
Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.



I saw this in LA over the weekend and thought it was great. Anything that can play with subjectivity in such a surreal way scores points with me, even if the "gimmick" of it feeling like a continuous take occasionally felt like a chore (that is, knowing that you can't get to this or that moment until the character takes you there. After a while, you just wish it could cut to a new scene.)

My only plot complaint is the ending, with the effectively literal Chekhov's gun. Riggan choosing to shoot himself feels like such a 90's art movie bow to tie onto a movie, and not in a good way. As soon as Ed Norton commented on the stage gun, I knew a real one would show up. And it feels like such a cheap source of dramatic weight to add some life-or-death stake in a movie that isn't generally about that. It effectively ends like The Room, which is never a good likeness to have.

It didn't help that assholes next to me left the theater opining, we don't know that he *didn't* kill himself! What if the epilogue was another fantasy!?! Sure. Fine. Maybe. Why not.

Yoshifan823
Feb 19, 2007

by FactsAreUseless


Saw this on Friday. It left me feeling a bit cold. The craft is amazing, the shots insane, the acting phenomenal, particularly Keaton and Norton, but for whatever reason, I didn't enjoy myself quite as much as I thought I would, and I love insider baseball stuff about theatre. It is still well worth seeing.

Seanticleer
Oct 23, 2014


justlikedunkirk posted:

I'm not a big fan of this one. It was really ho-hum for me. Yes, the acting and filmmaking is objectively very good, but it's poorly used. The gimmick is distracting, and feels like an attempt to cover up the poor screenplay. There really isn't much that the movie's trying to say, it's a lot of the same old commentary on the industry (aging actors, redemption, art vs commerce, yadda yadda). The actual comedy sucks too. References to people like Justin Bieber, a lesbian kiss as a punchline (and strangely enough the movie leaves that moment hanging), a boner joke, it's all stale and juvenile humour.

I don't mean to sound like a negative Nancy over the movie since, yes, it IS well-shot and the cast brings their A-game. But it's really flawed to me, and not the movie critics have been going nuts over.

I agree with the muddled theme (A lot was going on in the movie, but I'm still not positive on what its core message might be [not that all movies need one]) and with the weirdness of certain scenes (the lesbian kiss - along with Andrea Riseborough's character in general being all over the place writing-wise - felt out of place), but I had no problem with the humor. Honestly the tone and general tightness of the script is what I enjoyed so much. I honestly had a ton of fun with this movie, and it was that sense of humor that sealed the deal for me. The cinematography didn't seem gimmicky to me, but I can see where you'd get that feeling. But it may be that the "single camera move", which as Madkal pointed out made the film a play-within-a-play, made everything feel unified in my mind.

Vertigo Ambrosia
May 25, 2004
Heretic, please.

I absolutely adored this film, and I got a somewhat different message from it than it seems most people did. The first thing I thought of when I walked out was this Calvin and Hobbes strip:



The point isn't that Reagan deserves to be taken seriously as an artist and not just as a blockbuster superhero actor, but that the concept of high art vs. low art (dramatic theater vs. titillating film) is complete loving bullshit. The critic character is really obnoxiouisly on the nose about the debate (she's a real weak point of the film, particularly the scene where Reagan confronts her), but remember what she ends up writing; after deriding the entire genre of action films, she ends up praising a dude actually shooting himself in a scene where he commits suicide. She, and the theater community in general, enjoys cheap violence and gore just as much as the people who saw all the Birdman films to see him fly around and beat up monsters. We're all watching an independent film by a famous director where Michael Keaton flies around in the air and walks around in his underwear, and that doesn't make us philistines.

Xealot
Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.



Vertigo Ambrosia posted:

The point isn't that Reagan deserves to be taken seriously as an artist and not just as a blockbuster superhero actor, but that the concept of high art vs. low art (dramatic theater vs. titillating film) is complete loving bullshit.

I completely agree. That's what I loved about it...it's pretty much trolling both categories.

Ed Norton's character alone was awesome to me for making fun of method fetishism so coherently. He's just an rear end in a top hat who hides behind his craft to justify being an rear end in a top hat. And the film calls that out as an affectation and a gimmick, just one that doesn't involve explosions and CG monsters.

bullet3
Nov 8, 2011


Birdman loving rules, see it.

rawillkill
Aug 15, 2009

Emma Watson is what runs trivia teams.


Vertigo Ambrosia posted:

The point isn't that Reagan deserves to be taken seriously as an artist

Just chiming in to say it's Riggan, not Reagan

Vertigo Ambrosia
May 25, 2004
Heretic, please.

Yeah, I realized that a while later but wasn't sure if it was worth editing

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

Now that's what I call a geekMAN!

The most amazing thing about Keaton's performance was watching him play a role, in-character, then play that role better, but still in-character. Layers, onions, etc. The fact that I never thought it was an actor playing two or three separate roles, but instead a character playing that separate role really wowed me.

I do a little acting (a very little acting), so the craft and other backstage stuff was fascinating.

I think my favorite thing about the conceit of the single take was the way it toyed with expectations. On the one hand, I knew that the camera wouldn't stay as soon as the two lead actresses started to kiss, but that moment where I wanted it to stay and knew it wouldn't was really satisfying. And of course the opposite happened after Emma Stone chewed Keaton out and basically called him out as a hack and then the camera just lingered as her anger melted to regret. So uncomfortable and so poignant when the camera had moved so much during the rest of the movie and just stood still there, basking you in discomfort.

Fantastic juxtapositions.

resurgam40
Jul 22, 2007

Battler, the literal stupidest man on earth. Why are you even here, Battler, why did you come back to this place so you could fuck literally everything up?

Just came back from this (it's come to AFI Silver!), and... I think I need to see it again. It's a great film, don't get me wrong, but it's going to take probably another viewing before I can articulate why. I also need to do some thinking on what happens, particularly at the end and what it was trying to say.

One thing I can say though: this is a goddamn funny movie. As somebody else who's got (a little, like, high school and college( acting experience myself, some of the bits are just so on the nose, it's great. Like, oh my god, I was howling at the bit where Riggan gets his robe caught in the door and has to go around to the front of the theater in his underwear, not only because that's funny in and of itself, but because it really is like something out of an actor's bad dream (one I might have had, actually), and because he goes on with the show anyway, because really, what the gently caress else can you do in that situation?

jeeves
May 27, 2001

Deranged Psychopathic
Butler Extraordinaire


This was a fantastic movie.

asecondduck
Feb 18, 2011

Wait. What the heck happened to the first duck?


Vertigo Ambrosia posted:

I absolutely adored this film, and I got a somewhat different message from it than it seems most people did. The first thing I thought of when I walked out was this Calvin and Hobbes strip:



The point isn't that Reagan deserves to be taken seriously as an artist and not just as a blockbuster superhero actor, but that the concept of high art vs. low art (dramatic theater vs. titillating film) is complete loving bullshit.

For what it's worth, that's exactly what I got out of the film. It's pretty much explicitly stated toward the ending, when Spider-man and Optimus Prime take the stage with the drum line. Heh, there's a sentence I never thought I'd type.

And while the critic seems like a gigantically obnoxious strawman, I'd argue that the superhero movie fantasy sequence is just as overblown--the difference is I, and I think most people, know that the movie in question actually exists (at least, I think it does, I haven't seen any of the Transformers films beyond the trailers, but I have no doubt that it's exactly what they are like). And from reading some theater reviews, I have no issue believing that somewhere out there a critic like her exists too.

Also if anyone wants to read something so overwrought and off the mark that your eyes will roll straight back into your head, here's The Dissolve's review of the film: http://thedissolve.com/reviews/1152-birdman/

Hilario Baldness
Feb 10, 2005





Grimey Drawer

Just saw it at Sundance. Absolutely amazed. The continuous take format makes this an incredibly exhausting film to watch.

Michael Keaton was absolutely brilliant. From the initial table read with the actors, to all of the failed previews, to the psychotic meltdowns, and most importantly to the conversation with his ex-wife about his greatest regrets (which I found to be one of the most genuinely emotional cinematic moments since the likes of The Wrestler which this film shares some thematic similarities to). I actually left the theater feeling guilty that one of my main reasons for seeing the film was the chance to see Keaton in a relevant film because of my early childhood admiration of his work in the Batman franchise.

Go watch it.

KingsPawn
May 22, 2006
E4!

I liked this movie and definitely recommend most people to see this wonderful film. I'm still trying to write down my thoughts on how the movie frames the debate between cinema and theater as the vanguard for art. Really go see it.

Breadnought
Aug 25, 2009



Birdman was fantastic, but I'm surprised only one of you has mentioned the score so far, instead of... like... all of you. The acting was phenomenal, but it was the incredible drum score that most consistently wowed me.

Yoshifan823
Feb 19, 2007

by FactsAreUseless


Breadnought posted:

Birdman was fantastic, but I'm surprised only one of you has mentioned the score so far, instead of... like... all of you. The acting was phenomenal, but it was the incredible drum score that most consistently wowed me.

Whiplash did it better.

LionYeti
Oct 11, 2008


Grimey Drawer

I just got home from this and holy poo poo I've never seen a movie like this in a long time. Maybe since the wrestler, Keaton has this desperation combined with vulnerability and manic energy makes it impossible to look away.

Yaws
Oct 22, 2013



I'm glad this movie is getting acclaim because I like Keaton and want him to do well

androo
Aug 24, 2006

Maya's older sister. She was a top-notch lawyer and my mentor and friend forever.


Just saw it. It was amazing.

Still trying to wrap my head around the last 20 minutes. There are so many different variables and overlapping meanings.

Hilario Baldness
Feb 10, 2005





Grimey Drawer

Like the quote on the dressing room mirror: "A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing."

Hace
Feb 13, 2012

<<Mobius 1, Engage.>>


Fantasic movie. Please go see this if you can.

insomne
Nov 26, 2007

unrestrained rhythms.

Just saw it, and that was a really loving good movie. It's definitely one I need to watch again because there is a lot of stuff going on and some of it I almost assuredly missed. Also chiming in to say that the jazz drumming throughout the movie was incredible.

Completely agree that it's saying a very blatant "gently caress you" to both the "high art" and "low art" camps.

Slackerish
Jan 1, 2007

Hail Boognish


The characters in this movie have conversations that go at Sorkin speed on fast forward. It's fine, because it's extremely well-written and acted, but I'm going to have to see the movie again because I missed a lot of the dialogue.

That being said, I'll probably see it at least 3 more times in theaters because I think it's my favorite movie of the year. Didn't think anything could top Boyhood, but here we are.

Recess Monkey
Aug 16, 2002



lelandjs posted:

Also if anyone wants to read something so overwrought and off the mark that your eyes will roll straight back into your head, here's The Dissolve's review of the film: http://thedissolve.com/reviews/1152-birdman/

With a fixation on the creator/director and ignoring the merits of the film itself, I can't tell if this guy is being (virtuously) ignorant, or if he's cleverly adding a brilliant new onion layer of symbolism.

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Speed Crazy
Nov 7, 2011


Firstborn posted:

IGN posted the most pretentious review of a movie I've ever loving read in response to Birdman:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/10/17/birdman-review

This review says absolutely nothing, and reads like a goddamn school paper. It's not that I expect quality from them, I just don't know what to even think about this.

While I think his attacks on Iñárritu are hyperbolic and petty, I do agree about the sourness of the scene with the critic and that some aspects came across overstated. I think my biggest issue with the film was that I found it very engaging and superb on a purely conceptual level, but failed to connect with it in any other way.

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