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A struggling artist, working on his ultimate effort, to direct a stage play, a play that will prove him right or wrong, will redeem or destroy him. But the intensity and circumstances of the play makes it increasingly impossible for him (and for the movie audience) to distinguish between play and reality, between play in play and reality, between mindset within mindset, etc.

With this description, this could be either of at least three movies that spring to mind: 8 ½, Synechdoche, New York, and – well – Birdman.

Of these three, Birdman is the least complex and the least remarkable one. Which is not to say that it is without merit. But in comparison this story of a former superhero actor who is now haunted by his superhero alter ego and some superhero visions as well as by the narrow dark alleyway that is the only remaining path to rescue his career and his respectability. The film decides to take a somehow particular approach to telling this story, by using one long camera shot, with invisible edits, stressing the personal perspective maybe, in any case stressing the frantic succession of events and impressions. This directorial oddity is used to quite good effect, I have to say. Only late in the movie did I realise that they are doing this, that they are having the camera bounce between characters, following them every which way, disallowing discontinuity of space while being quite happy with discontinuity of time (there are some time lapse moments that create some neat effect within this one-shot scenario.

And then that’s about it. The plot itself, the characters hopping around this formally exquisite structure are not much worth mentioning. In the best tradition of “Babel” (and from what I hear about “Biutiful”, also there), the formal achievements are what Iñárritu excels at, while he does not have too much to say about the people populating his field. Of course Michael Keaton is great (isn’t he always?), and it is kind of amusing to see him being haunted by his former Birdman self, and to self-elevate and what not. But what is the point of the whole story? That actors who are past their shelf live struggle in the world of young superheroes. Right… Imagine doing the same film with a female lead then. Would give us a whole new Sunset Boulevard experience… that’s a film I would rather have seen, actually!

As it is, Birdman is sufficiently entertaining and occasionally amusing. The Awards hype has more to do with the fact that academy members love themselves and their industry, so a run down actor always scores.

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