5 January 2015

Wings And Desire

Visit and join our new Facebook page!
In many ways I envy people who have religion. I'd much rather believe that I'll one day be sitting on a cloud instead of simply being chewed up and then squirted out of a worm’s anus. Not only that but religious people believe that God has a plan for us all. How nice is that? Life might seem fucking pointless to me but even if it's pointless for a religious person, that's okay because that's what the Sky-Boss wants. As of right now, the only things I have planned for the week are to go to my soul destroying job in the day and then spend the evenings fantasising about the ways in which I could commit suicide. For me, I think the old noose-and-a-wank is currently the top of the possibilities. I'd like to have some higher-power comforting me that there is some reason to the misery of life but sadly I'm not a fucking idiot. God is dead and we're all alone in an angst-ridden vacuum of meaninglessness. Anyway, so to get to the point, I really enjoyed that new Michael Keaton film.

Birdman tells the story of an ageing, washed up actor who is trying to bring back some artistic meaning to his currently shit career. He used to be in a few turdy looking superhero movies before being overtaken by the current comic book boom and left out in the rain like a lumpy, unloved, dog. At the same time however, he also seems to be suffering from some sort of existential meltdown as everything around him turns to crap and he hallucinates conversations with the Birdman that he used to play. Michael Keaton has described what his character is going through as a mid-life crisis although come on Michael... you're 63! Unless you plan on living well into your hundreds, the phrase “Mid-life” seems a little ambitious. Throughout rehearsals for his play, everybody else also seems to be free-falling into the abyss as one colleague’s personal life is ripped apart due to her co-actor/partner who has the inability to experience life when not performing. Then there's Keaton's lawyer/best-friend played by Zach Galifianakis who seems more than happy to sell his soul by ignoring his client’s obvious instabilities and forcing him to perform a play that might kill him. Although when compared to The Hangover series, I would say this isn't the most morally dubious thing I've seen Galifianakis do.

Keaton's daughter also seems to be on the verge of a breakdown due her past drug problems and her current appreciation of weed. Although, at the end of the day, weed isn't that bad and despite her erratic rants, I think she's the only person who sees life for the meaningless canvas of shit that it is. In fact it could be argued that the film is an exploration into the idea of absurdism as Keaton's mental brain-fart is clearly due to his desperation to find value and meaning when clearly there is none. Even Ed Norton's character can only find truth when performing which brings us to the film’s interest in the purpose of art. Although before this all sounds too pretentious, this is demonstrated by him standing in front of an audience and showing them a pre-fuck stonk-on. In my mind, life is an open book for us to impose our own meaning on and art is a way of expressing our conclusions. Norton's character is metaphorical of this for me as he has to ‘perform’ to feel real. Obviously this interpretation of art reflecting life is true of Birdman too, as things occasionally get a little meta. Obviously Keaton used to play Batman before losing his way with arse-dribble such as Jack Frost, and Ed Norton has a reputation for being a massive bell-end. Emma Stone has always seemed pretty level-headed to me and as such I think an argument could be made that the entire film takes place in her character’s head as a way of coming to terms with her daddy issues and the emptiness of existence. 

The film itself was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who I'll admit I'm not a huge expert on. In all honesty, I couldn't even pronounce his name out-loud without sounding like a bulimic who’s trying to have mid-puke chat. Of all of his films, the only one that I've seen was 21 Grams and as enjoyable as that was, it was hardly a fucking chucklefest. From what I do know though, his films tend to have several narrative threads weaving in and out of each before being tied together at the conclusion. They're generally quite gritty, feature ensemble casts and contain about as much joy as the British Museum of Infanticide. In which case, Birdman is currently a hugely stand-out piece of work for him, sticking out like Norton’s raging, sun-bed reddened cock inside his tighty-whities. Firstly, this film more or less takes place in the one building, predominantly focuses on Keaton and miraculously appears to take place almost entirely in the one shot. Why they've decided to avoid cutting I don't know, although my guess is that it's to represent the tension, energy and madness of the characters unconscious stream of thought. Either way it works and not only avoids the trap of being a 3D-esque gimmick but also makes the opening shot of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity look like it was made by an inbred hick with a pin-hole camera and a gap where his brain should be. That's obviously not to do a disservice to Gravity either; it's just that Birdman's style really is that phenomenal. Iñárritu claims this film is about resurrection which could also be said of its relation to the other films in his career. Although Cuaron said the same about the themes of Gravity too so perhaps we're just heading towards some sort of Mexican director civil war.

As well as its style though, this film also excels with many of the cast giving the best performance that they have in years. I love Michael Keaton but there's no denying that this is a glowing, golden chunk of corn in what has been a few films worth of shit. Beetlejuice is great but from what I hear, Herbie: Fully Loaded was about as fun as watching CCTV footage of George Michael cruising for cock and crashing. The same can also be said of Ed Norton who hasn't really been this good since he pretended he was Brad Pitt and threatened to have his own balls cut off. Maybe he is a dick in real life but fuck it, I don't have to work with him and there's no denying the results that are on screen. In all honesty, I've never seen Emma Stone be anything less than brilliant but this is unquestionably her best performance yet. If you have to see one film that features both Stone and a pointless version of a super-hero then this is much better than The Amazing Spider-Man. None of this deters from the fact that this is Keaton's film though. In the way that it requires his real life baggage, you could argue that it's one of those films that literally couldn't exist without him in the main role. Kind of like how Lost In Translation needs Bill Murray, Harry Brown needed Michael Caine and The Wrestler needed Mickey Rourke and his chewed-up pork-chop face.

Anyway, so if you're the kind of person who likes to sit quietly in a darkened room and engage both their eyes and their brain then I really recommend this movie. In its depiction of obsessions, theatrics, the truth of reality and a descent into madness, you could almost see Birdman as a brother film to Black Swan. I don't know which is better though as I guess you'd have to decide that for yourself. I am more into superheroes than ballet but then where Birdman has Ed Norton's moderately incredible bulk, Black Swan features Mila Kunis chowing down on Natalie Portman’s mostly incredible fanny sandwich... so you know- swings and roundabouts! In terms of films that explore the relationship between life, art, and how meaningless everything is, this film really reminded me of a recent documentary I saw called The Act Of Killing and believe me, I compare nothing to that film lightly. All I'll say is that thank God I saw those two films at least a few days apart because I think a double feature would have made my wanking/suicide fantasies a little more real. The end of Birdman is ambiguous enough that you can kind of interpret it however you like although, like all good art, it'll probably just reflect back at you your own interpretation of life. For me, I was reminded of Philosopher Albert Camus suggestion that in the face of absurdism, instead of topping ourselves we should instead revolt, although I get the feeling that the rest of the people in the cinema were expecting a bog-standard superhero film and wondered when Keaton was going to don the feathery gimp-suit and kick crime in the tits. Either way I loved it. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.


You can visit the blog picture artist at _Moriendus_

No comments :

Post a Comment