When a washed-up former Hollywood star of three popular superhero films (Birdman, natch), decides to reboot his career by producing, directing, writing and starring in a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver story, the stress starts to become overwhelming, leading to hallucinations (or are they?) of telekinetic abilities and of his own voice as Birdman calling him a failure. And who did director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) brilliantly cast in this role? Why, Michael Keaton, of course.
The casting seems appropriate on many levels, as Birdman is a meta-film about stardom, franchise dominance, and egos in the star system if there ever was one. Ed Norton plays the public perception of himself: an arrogant, pretentious, yet undeniably talented actor in the play. Emma Stone is essentially playing Lindsay Lohan here (whose career she ostensibly replaced after Lohan’s crash and burn) as the daughter of Keaton’s character who’s gone through a long haul of drug rehab and no one really trusts anymore. Add to that cast Zach Galifianakis as Keaton’s harried stage manager and Naomi Watts as an actress about at the end of her rope with her co-stars and you have something approaching brilliance….all in one long simulated take.
Or at least, some of us thought so (clearly me). Listen to the Chris, Brian, JC and Michael have a surprisingly reasoned discussion on the vagaries of cinematic perception on Birdman.