Sunday, December 7, 2014

Alejandro Iñárritu's new film "Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" at Landmark Theatres Oct 24 - Jan 8 | SIFF Cinema: Dec 19 - 24 & Sundance Cinema: Jan 9 - 22

Finally seeing wider distribution throughout the Landmark Theatres chain, a weeklong run at SIFF Cinema and at Sundance the following month! Alejandro Iñárritu's "Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" pivots on a significant literary figure of the 20th Century, that of Raymond Carver. Rather than an adaptation, Iñárritu's film digests "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" as material for a cycle of internal returning and mirroring of the Carver story in the life of it's fictional protagonist, Riggan Thomson played by "Micheal Keaton as a Former Screen Star, Molting on Broadway". This relationship of the real-world literary work and it's fictional realization for the theatre (within the film) is representative of "Birdman" as a whole, and what many are calling a cinematic equivalent of 'breaking of the 4th wall'. It's more accurate to see this complex interweaving of fiction within fiction, and our observation of a film-as-fiction encapsulating them both as a permeable membrane in which realities pass and intermingle. Brilliantly "Iñárritu Turns ‘Birdman’ into Risk Central" by constructed a flexible space out of film itself, where the observer's relationship to content is fluid throughout. It is this extended state of constantly adjusting, being made to reassess where we stand in relation to the "reality" of what's on screen, that's one of the film's great joys.

Among it's other strengths is its humorous and unabashedly playful analysis of popular culture and higher art, of artist and celebrity, of enrichment and entertainment. The film itself acting again as a intermingling of all of the above, it's fluidity captured in a illusory single-shot structure "In 'Birdman,' Broadway's St. James Theatre plays itself" that's as tricky and fun as the concepts explored. "Birdman" is many things; a backstage farce, a satire of media influence and ubiquity, a portrait of celebrity and the finicky nature of pop culture status, a drama about squandered potential and importantly, it's about creative resurrection. It's in this spirit of being being impelled to redefine oneself at a crossroads, in a state of total crisis, that Riggan Thomson is transformed into something new. Negotiating a minefield of self-hatred and neediness, remorse and blind rage, all the while as the megalomania of his previous celebrity-self knocks at the door of his psyche, Keaton's realization of Riggan's self destruction and rebirth surpasses expectations and then some. A total sight to behold, and one of the most inventive, multifaceted, smart and outright fun works of film in many a year, it's no wonder Film Comment's review is titled, "A Wing and a Prayer: The Dazzling Technical Tour de Force from Alejandro G. Iñárritu".