‘Birdman’ more than a cookie-cutter

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Promo photo contributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

By Chris Mudd, Staff Writer

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, has gathered the attention of both the art-house film fan and the traditional film audience by challenging the medium of film itself.

“Birdman” is a philosophical powerhouse, asking the audience about the true meaning of popularity and fame in the age of viral videos and cookie-cutter superhero movies.

The film sends a clear message that there are still original and interesting stories to be told in a Hollywood insistent on remakes and sequels.

Actor Michael Keaton brings us into the mind of Riggin, a longtime Hollywood veteran best known for playing a superhero in the 90s, mirroring Keaton’s own reputation. With Riggin’s career now at a standstill, he attempts to reignite it by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway show. What follows is a fever dream, jumping in and out of his imagination without transition throughout the film.

The seamless cinematography blends every scene together into what appears to be one shot, cementing a feeling of deep-rooted reality that few films ever achieve. The movie danced between film and theatre through the use of the long-shot technique, which reflected the story of “Birdman” itself.

This is easily the most meta film I’ve ever seen, as it constantly challenged and addressed the audience, both directly and indirectly. Michael Keaton brought with him the reputation of his Batman role in the 90s, only adding to the pervasive effect of the story.

Keaton’s co-star Zach Galifianakis proved that he has what it takes to be a truly great actor, putting aside his comedic archetype he so commonly plays to bring the character of Jake to life.

While at times the characters in the film seemed to slip into monologue a little too easily, the realism never felt stretched to a point where I no longer followed the story. I was enthralled from the first shot to the last.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has brought a truly wonderful and unforgettable piece to the film world. With nine Academy Awards, including best picture, he has elevated himself to the highest level of filmic art in the industry. I can think of no film more deserving of the honor.