Sunday, January 11, 2015


Birdman is so in your face that it makes a motif out of characters speaking directly to the camera. It's a manic, propulsive, eager little thing driven by a relentless drum score, a swooping camera and restless actors who talk as though they could burst into flames at any moment. It's populated by caricatures and filled with the kind of passionate nonsense that regularly fills columns exclaiming that Hollywood has run out of ideas, or that theater is a dying art, or that truth and authenticity fill playhouses, or that blockbusters are beautiful diversions, or something...

None of this really covers up the gaping hole at the center of it where there should be an authentic human being grappling with the value of his life. But maybe that's the point? Maybe it's a movie about the hollowness of art that is itself hollow? Maybe it's made a - wait for it - unexpected virtue out of ignorance? I'd like to believe that but it does grasp after emotional truth. You can see it strain when Keaton tells his jellyfish story or when the camera tries to climb into Stone's eyes. Unfortunately you can't magically transcend the bullshit; you do have to leave some flesh and blood in your film.