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Yojimbo's Movie Reviews (2306)

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 
"Birdman" by Yojimbo
2/4 stars

An ageing Hollywood star battles both his co stars and his own on screen superhero alter ego when trying to find thespian credibility while attempting his own adaptation on the Broadway stage. This is one of those films where the marketing is guilty of very misleading advertising; the trailer makes it look like an off beat superhero comedy, but the fact is that the "Birdman" character is hardly in the film at all. It's really a character study concerning the cult of celebrity, the need for acknowledgement and affirmation and the ever widening generation gap in the internet age. Despite finding fame as a Hollywood action star, Michael Keaton's nicely played protagonist is still riddled with insecurities, especially when dealing with his estranged daughter and his fellow actor Ed Norton whose great performance threatens to steal every scene in which he appears, as an obnoxiously self obsessed "serious actor" whose own issues make him totally incapable of any semblance of compromise. The film features a very strong cast who all perform admirably and there are some nicely observed characters and smart dialogue; it is also nicely shot, although despite being technically impressive, the "one take" device seems like a contrivance. But the biggest problem with Birdman is the same as all stories that concern actors acting about actors acting; it feels in constant imminent danger of disappearing up its own anus, being as it is just a rather pretentious and self-absorbed soap opera about a collection of characters it's rather difficult to care about. Technically very good but it contains little more than a few mildly amusing moments and as such I find the Best Picture award more self congratulatory than truly deserved. It looks, feels and smells just like a modern Woody Allen film; if that sounds like a compliment, you may well enjoy it. I personally can't stand Woody Allen.


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