NEW YORK – Michael Keaton goes meta in Alejandro Inarritu’s best film to date, Birdman.
Batman is trying to make a play on Broadway as a way of getting away from the superhero alter ego – Birdman – who haunts him to this day. Unfortunately he hires the Incredible Hulk, a complete asshole of an actor who is likely to steal the show, or steal Batman’s daughter played by Spider-man’s girlfriend.
Alejandro Inarritu films most of the action in one flowing continuous take (obviously there’s some smokes and mirrors here but the illusion is brilliantly maintained and never looks like a mere gimmick). The writing is top calibre as well, with some corrosively bitchy zingers. Despite the post-modernity and contemporary references this is when it comess down to it a backstage comedy, like Noises Off, or more recently Shakespeare in Love. The Show Must Go On drives the narrative forward even at the risk of the sanity of its protagonist. And there is a biting angry satire, that seeks to demolish just about everything in its path – superhero movies, twitter and youtube celebrity, rehab, journalists, actors, even this very act of criticism itself. The acting is superb, with some career best performances from Edward Norton, Lindsay Duncan, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis as well as a toweringly twitchy tormented Michael Keaton.
This is clever, self-conscious, deliriously entertaining cinema at its best.
Birdman will be out presently.