Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
When you tell people that you want to work in the film industry, their first question is always: "Oh, so what's your favorite movie?" Up until a few years ago, I would always say Harry Potter because I never really had a favorite film. A film had never really affected or inspired me enough to make me think, "this is my favorite film." Until one glorious night in 2014 when my life was turned upside-down and all around.
As you would probably imagine, Birdman is a bit of an unconventional film to consider an all-time favorite (but that's me, unconventional). Peg me as dramatic, but watching Birdman for the first time was it was the closest thing I've ever had to a religious experience... Okay, yes, a tad dramatic. Either way, I was so astonished and influenced by this film that it spurred multiple rewatches, hours of over analysis, and four academic essays (Exhibit A).
To me, Birdman is the epitome of great movie storytelling. The film’s many layers are created through a combination of its celebrated technical achievements and its vibrant screenplay. Every aspect of the production, from the sound design to the staging and, of course, that phenomenal cinematography is there to serve the screenplay's intricate story. When looking at the cinematography alone, the single-take style not only creates enticing and exciting imagery but also plays a role in the story as well. Because the movement of the camera - messy, inconstant, yet with just the perfect amount of control - reflects back on the state-of-mind of Riggan. It reflects the chaos of his life and his mind. It makes us feel the actual sickness that he feels as he trudges through his life. (I actually did get motion sickness the first time I watched this... It was pretty incredible). Nothing is lost and nothing is forgotten in Iñárritu's production.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu is our generation's cinema auteur. His style of filmmaking is revolutionary, exciting, inspiring, and passionate. Birdman serves as one of his greatest masterpieces. Every aspect of the film was meticulously planned to ensure that the craft of the film proved to be exceptional, and, on this film, in particular, he was notorious for doing the shots over and over again until it was perfect. It's this exact dedication to achieving absolute perfection that makes you literally feel the passion in the film. That is what makes this film art, and Iñárritu an artist, because it's not just the story that moves, it's the whole picture.
But leaving aside the technical achievements of the film and phenomenal character work, what stays with me the most about this film, even to this day, is its commentary on Hollywood and actors.
Birdman, essential, is a film about actors. It's a film about the struggles actors face, about the rise and fall of fame and about what makes an actor an artist. After watching this film for the first, I felt all of my feelings and opinions about the industry, about actors and celebrities come into sharp focus. The film's themes and ideas about what it means to be an actor and what it takes to be a true artist spoke to me so deeply that I felt like the film was actually a part of my subconscious. I related to every word of dialogue like a blind man seeing the light. Iñárritu, Giacobone, Bo, and Dinelaris created an absolutely gorgeous story about the pain, the repression, the anguish, and the joy of being an actor in a media hungry world.
Every time I watch Birdman I fall even more in love it, which is exactly what a favorite film should do. I genuinely feel that this film was meant for me (it's destiny, baby). I have never felt such a strong bond and connection with a film as I felt when watching Birdman... I guess I'm in love.