Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest in a complex line of filmography takes a metaphysical step inward, toward ego and self.
The meta form in cinema is intriguing and often comes with a tilt of comedy. Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze combined as writer and director respetively for Adaptation (2002) in which Nicolas Cage stars in a treasure trove of metacinema with elements of black comedy. Tropic Thunder, directed by Ben Stiller, has a more explicit comedic approach in its satirical take on filmmaking set in a Vietnamese jungle. Obviously not all metacinema is comedic but from what I have read and seen from the trailer I find it unlikely Birdman will disappoint.
With Marvel, DC and other major studios announcing the next generation of superheroes to hit our screens all the way up to 2020, Michael Keaton’s Birdman while current could also be seen as prescient. What will happen to Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr., or Chris Evans in 20 years? Will they be mellowing in their own deluded self-worth attempting to re-capture the essence that made them great superhero icons? Or will they go on to bigger and better things? Birdman is slightly different in the sense that Riggan Thomson (Keaton) was Birdman in the way Adam West was Batman. By which I mean, Christian Bale for example is known for other roles, not just The Dark Knight. But when it comes to naming the best superhero movies of our generation the latest Batman franchise will undoubtedly be up there with The Avengers ensemble. But these actors stand separate from their characters.
From what I can gather from the trailer Thomson is Birdman.
Riggan Thomson used to be known only as, ‘Birdman’, a blockbuster star clad with a beaked mask and wings. Now, two sequels and some years later Thomson takes on the ambitious project of writing, directing, and starring in his Raymond Carver adaptations on Broadway. Weighed down by the consuming projection of a successful, popular, universally known alter ego Thomson battles with his co-stars and family to get his adaptation off the ground and give himself a reason to matter in the world. With a supporting cast consisting of Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Stone it promises to give a delightful insight into the ignorance of Hollywood’s ‘next big thing’ image.
With Emmanuel Lubezki at the helm of cinematographic control, of previous notability for Children of Men and last year’s Gravity, Birdman tantalises those of us who can appreciate vast scenes with immaculate depth, lengthy tracking shots and incredible detail. With the illusion of editing, both Iñárritu and Lubezki have combined to create an experience that alludes to an all consuming alter ego while simultaneously achieving a cinematic masterpiece in storytelling.
With the UK release set for New Years Day it might be difficult to get away from the family shenanigans of the Christmas period but if I get the chance I can’t see myself ignoring it.
Check out the trailer to see what you could be missing if you inadvertently let this one pass you by.
[A distant ‘Ca-caw-ca-caw’ can be heard] – Our protagonist questions himself “could that be the sound of Birdman, or myself fending off my Oscar rivals? Trippy. I can dig it.”