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Old 17th Jan 2015, 10:43   #1
wshaw
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Join Date: 13 May 2003
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Default Birdman

[EDIT. Dang... posted this in the wrong thread. Can some kind person move it to reviews?]

On the one hand, it's conventional stage play format: a play about putting on a play. Riggan, the one-time screen god behind Birdman, wants to put on his self-penned play about Raymond Carver in order to salvage some dignity from his late career.

On the other hand it's a piece of outrageous fantasy, in which mental illness and the fantastical merge in the manner of Pan's Labyrinth. Set against the deadpan of the attempt to play Carver's dirty realist stories out, this is a brilliant, totally illogical mixup of a film.

It also has extraordinary performances. Edward Norton's depiction of a charismatic but deranged stage star, suddenly sets the film alight about ten minutes in. Likewise, Michael Keaton is brave to play the aging action screen hero, close-shot constantly so every wrinkle shoes. Big-eyed Emma Stone is fantasically weird and fragile all the way through.

The film's continuous tension comes from its two very opposite forms: realism and fantasy. The realism: Will the play make it? Will Keaton lose it completely? What's going to happen with that classic Chekov's Gun plotline? And then the fantasy: because you never allowed to know where Keaton's hallucinatory fantasies begin and end, you never know whether he's alive or dead, whether it's in his mind or actually happening on 42nd Street.

Excellently entertaining. And the soundtrack is superb too.
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