Sunday, November 16, 2014
Cindy Prascik's Review of Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Dearest Blog, this weekend my cinema unexpectedly offered awards season hopeful Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). I owe them a debt of gratitude for eschewing the usual smalltown "If it's not Transformers, why bother?" mentality and not making me fit in *all* the nominated films in the two weeks leading up to the Oscars!
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
The washed-up star of a big Hollywood superhero franchise tries to kickstart his career on Broadway.
Well, dear reader(s), Birdman is the kind of movie that many people may dislike despite it's being well done, and there probably won't be much middle ground: people will love it or they'll hate it. Me, I really, really loved it.
Michael Keaton turns in an extraordinary performance in the lead, simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious and sympathetic and distant and serious and insane. Early goings yet for me to say "All the awards, please!" but this is the kind of work that, even if he ends up not being my guy when the time comes, I won't complain about anything he wins. The supporting cast is similarly terrific, especially Edward Norton and the lovely Emma Stone.
I'll go on record as saying this is the first time I've seen Zach Galafianakis in anything where I didn't want to kill him; he is very good and almost unbelievably not annoying! At a glance, the story sounds like a buzzkill, as "has-been actor" tales rarely end well, but the telling is so entertaining that it doesn't feel that way. Certainly there's a bit of melancholy about the past, but there's also a hopeful note that comes with the having courage to take a chance. There has been much online debate about the movie's ending, and I won't spoil it here, but I will say it's a real conversation starter and--in my opinion--a perfect finish to a film that poses more questions than it answers.
Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) clocks in at 119 minutes, and is rated R for "language throughout, some sexual content, and brief violence."
Birdman is, across the board, one of the best movies I've seen this year, smartly written, beautifully acted, and truly entertaining from start to finish.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) gets eight.
Until next time...