Ben Oliver

Banner image for Birdman


I’m the answer to a fucking Trivial Pursuit question.
14 March 2015

A former super hero franchise movie star tries to make it on the stage.

As if we needed more proof that an Academy Award means very little, Birdman won best film.

90% of this is supposed to come off as one take, the parts being spliced together smoothly using movie magic. That’s quite the technical feat and it sort of works. Ironically enough it’s also one of the film’s greatest weaknesses.

What’s the point in having what is a film-defining gimmick take over the whole production, then doing nothing with it? The camerawork and cinematography are top class, but the direction is lacking. It’s a cool trick that quickly becomes odd and out of place.

Edward Norton seems to get the brief but the rest of the cast overcook it a little. This is again not helped by poor direction; why must we get up in people’s faces all the time? The close-up is a powerful tool in cinema, here it is used carelessly.

More annoying is the pretentious script that ultimately feels insubstantial. It feels like Iñárritu sat down with the sole purpose of making something people will see as deep and meaningful, much like Michael Keaton in the film. In doing so, he’s made a film devoid of anything but fancy camera play.

Of course Birdman isn’t the worst film you’ll see this year, but it’s been over-hyped and underwhelms. It’s good that this kind of film still gets the green light but it needs to have someone with something to say at the helm.