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Birdman Set To Soar Michael Keaton To New Heights

Aug 2 2014, 3:11pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Movie News

Birdman Set To Soar Michael Keaton To New Heights
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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The latest international trailer describes what to expect in Alejandro González Iñárritu's flick about a washed up actor. It's been 20 years since Riggan Thompson (Keaton) played Birdman and is now looking to revive his career.

How do you describe Michael Keaton's latest, seemingly complicated role in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)?

Mashable's Josh Dickey describes the story-in-a-story like this: "Michael Keaton is a washed-up actor who once played a superhero in a major motion picture and is making a desperate attempt to revive his career."


Well, that's a lot meta in a single sentence. Breaking it down, Keaton plays a washed up actor, Riggan Thomson, looking to revive his career after once playing a pretty popular superhero. So Birdman is a stand in for Batman, then?

And, no, Birdman isn't Hanna-Barbera's version-even with similarities. However, the costume looks to be a cross between cartoon Birdman and DC Comic's Hawkman meeting X-Men: First Class costume designer Sammy Sheldon in a dark, dangerous alley. It's a great design, but probably difficult to peel off and on.

How do you revive a career? Try desperately to get a play on Broadway, of course, while trying to repair familial and career bridges and relationships. The hardest level will be recoiling who he is within himself. So much meta about an actor.


And Thomson's upstaging rival’s played by American History X’s Edward Norton. The film uses an inner dialogue narration about what's going on in an almost surreal, dark comedic approach. But not a lot of information has been released by director Alejandro González Iñárritu—who also co-wrote the screenplay with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo.

However, Birdman is a screen adaptation of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. And keeping things close to vest will help drum up interest, plus helping become Keaton a household name again.

After wowing the world with The Caped Crusader, Keaton had many roles but none quite so memorable. Though, anyone who saw the actor playing Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing might disagree.


Keaton managed to steal every scene Dogberry appeared in, including those with the late Richard Briers. Talk about some serious acting chops. It's not all Multiplicity and Beetlejuice for the 62-year-old. And the Shakespearean "I am an ass" scene was played out beautifully by the actor.

Recently Keaton's appeared in the Robocop reboot and Need for Speed, but he needs a serious reboot of his own. Listening to critic chatter, Birdman may just be the perfect vehicle.

Dickey's "Michael Keaton in 'Birdman' Is as Meta as a Movie Trailer Gets" does a great job of summarizing the overall meta feel again. Thomson "laments being recognized everywhere as Birdman — something Keaton knows more than a little bit about — and is facing down his own ego along the way." It's like a dream role for most former superhero actors.


Iñárritu's latest film is a little lighter in the darkness than previous ones, like 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006). Sounds like a perfect match up for Keaton, then. Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione got all the scoop on what to expect until the movie opens in "Hot Trailer: Michael Keaton Takes Wing In Venice Film Festival Opener ‘Birdman’."

As the opener for the Venice Film Festival, chief Alberto Barbera described the film as "inventive and light."

What's so light and inventive? No one's quite sure yet since all the audience has seen is the U.S. trailer and an international trailer, but definitely has people taking. And Tartaglione points out that Alfonso Cuarón, director of last year's Oscar-winning opener Gravity, will be there to promote and support Iñárritu.


Alex Maidy from JoBlo describes the new trailer and style as "a lot funnier and a lot darker than we have seen along with a very Charlie Kaufman-like blending of dreams and reality as Keaton's subconscious invades the real world."

Kaufman's work includes Being John Malkovich, Adapation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so the comparison works to create a dream-like quick shift to reality style. Definitely different from most character versus plot focused films.

"This place is horrible, smells like balls." Definitely not the latest rom com. Especially thanks to the dark gravely voice reminiscent of The Dark Knight.


And the satirical absurdity works at poking fun of Hollywood's obsession with raking in money and no plot when you see Keaton fly through air, helicopters bursting at the snap of a finger, and an enormous Transfomer-sized bird cawing on top of a building.

Somehow it all seems to work.

What else are people saying about the film?

Well, director Jon Favreau and editor Walter Murch recently appeared at  "Movies in Your Brain: The Science of Cinematic Perception," an event where the two discussed how movies are produced and what that perception gives the audience. Maidy covered the Birdman conversations in "Jon Favreau says Birdman has virtually no edits; new international trailer."


Favreau pointed out how the film's single seamless take really works for the audience, to the point people almost forget the film's actually been cut many times. Perhaps that's Barbera's inventive angle.

Birdman isn't supposed to be a big blockbuster, like The Amazing Spiderman 2 or The Hangover, but the movie will definitely offer the two actors another reel in a versatile acting resume. It’s a nice, artsy piece meant to grab the audience’s emotions and tug on them while leaving a permanent mark on the brain.

 


Added to the character of the film itself, the cast also includes Emma Stone playing Thomson's daughter who's also dating Norton's character, and Zack Galifianakis seems to play Riggan's agent/manager, Brandon Vander Hey.

Birdman will premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 27 and hits screens nationwide on October 17.

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