Friday, 16 January 2015


Went to see Birdman.    Its a movie about an actor who used to be a big movie star playing a super hero who is directing and acting in his own Broadway production, playing an actor who is trying to make a name for himself.  As its Michael Keaton, who used to be Batman in Two or Three or possibly both, its  an actor playing an actor playing an actor.   A positive onion of a movie.  Its also about the stage, the theatre, about actors and actors like playing actors.  They are literally playing with themselves and who doesn't like doing that?    If the Americans did Withnail and I, this is what it would look like.  The long corridors, the camera following the actors, not letting them go, leaves a breathless quality to the performances.   There's stronger sexual chemistry between the two male leads of Ed Norton (he is intensely brilliant) and Keaton (so is he) than there is between the female and male leads.  They prefer their own gender.   Thats actors for you.   Keaton is excellent but then he knows this character inside out probably - because its him.   Norton plays intense because he is intense.   I don't think he could do a superficial character if he tried - I'm not sure he would take those parts.   Birdman is arty, edgy and confronts the audience at one stage literally pointing at them saying 'you don't want all this dialogue stuff do you?  you want action, thats what you want." Ironically some people in the audience walked out because that is exactly what they did want.   They wanted to see super heroes and the actor playing the actor playing the actor wanted to be a super hero.   He cut his nose off to spite his face.   Thats ego for you. Or desperation.   There's one point when an actor is telling a theatre critic where she can stick her review.    That wasn't acting.   That was done on behalf of every actor and theatre director out there and the actor playing the critic couldn't help smile.  

As for the Oscars, its all about hero worshipping.  Each actor plays an unlikely hero.     Keaton plays himself.   Cumberbatch plays himself (although the explosion of emotion so close to camera at the end is phenomenal).   Redmayne plays someone else.  Redmayne should get the Oscar because the performance is seminal, not just brilliant. But think its a tie between the other two because Weinstein is behind Cumberbatch and Keaton wants to be a real life hero.  And by the end of Birdman you want him to be one too.   You admire the characters played by Redmayne and Cumberbatch you identify with Keaton.  After all, we all want to rise above it all - and fly.

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