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Movie Review

Rethinking 'Birdman'


Because of all the fuss about Birdman, I saw it again and must admit I have a lot more respect for it on the second try.

I think by original review was too concerned about the transitions between scenes of the past and mental action and shifting points of view, and I didn't concentrate on the scenes themselves, which seem to work together pretty clearly to represent the complexities of a complicated world full of complicated people trying to work together.

Birdman is not, however, constructed as if it were all one shot, like the documentary Russian Ark. There are some very long-held shots that cover a lot of stairways and hallways and crowds and individuals and linked scenes, emphasizing the simultaneity of action and situations in an interconnected world that theatre tries to represent in a few hours on stage or screen. But there are also clear cuts between camera angles and separate scenes, thought not as many as usual.

I wish I had realized that in New York, people pay good sums to watch rehearsals of plays that are still being written and revised, even in mid-performance. The ridiculousness of the Birdman costume outdoes anything even in the drive-in sci-fis of the 1950s and '60s, and the theatre critic is badly misused, and I don't know why Michael Keaton can move things by mere brain power, but otherwise everything fits together thematically pretty well.

There is no claim that Michael Keaton's character was ever anything more than a comic-book-type star, and his effort to revive his long-dormant career is perhaps futile, considering all the obstacles he faces. And the ambiguity of Emma Stone's last closeup doesn't commit to what she sees in either respect.

But thought it may be a little too artsy for its own good, Birdman is a lot better than I had thought.