We're in the early stages of awards season 2014, and one of the films being discussed as a major contender is Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, which tells the story of an out-of-work actor famous for portraying a superhero (Michael Keaton) trying to reclaim his former glory by directing and starring in his own play. Thanks to the strength of its critical reception, many have pegged the film to be a nominee in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor races (among others).
In recent weeks, the film has generated a ton of buzz not just for the meta nature of its story (Keaton was Batman once, after all), but also the technical prowess that will be on display. Looking to one-up his Oscar winning cinematography from last year's Gravity, director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki shot the film in in such a manner that it appears (with some editing tricks) to be a single continuous shot. All of Birdman's many qualities are on display in a new clip released, which you can view above.
In it, Riggan Thomson (Keaton) gets into a heated argument with his assistant Jake (Zach Galifianakis) over the role that Mike (Edward Norton) has in the production of their play, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." Both the movie's trailers and some still images have indicated that Riggan and Mike don't necessarily get along, which should not only provide moviegoers with some laughs (see: their fight scene), but also some dramatic weight as the former Birdman battles his bruised ego.
Without seeing the scene in context of the final product, it's difficult to say what exactly sets Riggan off, causing a backstage meltdown, but one can assume that it has something to do with Mike being a little more popular with fans than Thomson at this point in their respective careers. As Jake says in the clip, once Mike was brought on board, the advance for the play doubled - meaning that Norton's character could be the key to its potential success. Obviously, this isn't what Riggan wants to hear, since this is supposed to be his comeback in his play.
The clip hints at one of Birdman's overarching themes, which is sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goals. Riggan is looking to "validate" himself and earn people's "respect" with his production, and sometimes in order to do that, you have to bend your own rules. The relationship between the two actors will most likely be the main driving force behind the narrative, and if Riggan can accept Mike and the help he can bring, he's one step closer to realizing his dream.
Birdman is hoping to peel back some of the layers of the crazy side of show business, and if viewers needed any more proof following the reviews, this clip illustrates that Iñárritu has managed to portray this aspect to tremendous results. With a script that blends dark comedy with heavy character drama, inventive and creative filmmaking techniques, and a star-studded cast giving it their all (Galifiankas is clearly not doing his "Alan from The Hangover" schtick here), the awards prognosticators who say this is one of the ones to beat could be looking like clairvoyants come Oscar night. Riggan may or may not complete his comeback, but Keaton most certainly has.
Is Birdman something that's on your "to-see" list this fall? Let us know in the comments section below.
Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is now playing in a limited engagement. It will expand throughout the U.S. during October and November.
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Source: Fox Searchlight