Birdman (Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu / 2014)
With Rope and Russian Ark before it, the single-shot film imitates the theatre as you have nowhere to hide. Birdman takes us to Broadway, whereby an aging film actor (Michael Keaton) is keen to make his stage debut. Of course, in this modern-age, director Iñárritu uses subtle effects to make a week-long show last one shot. But this creative decision is not a stylistic flourish merely there to imitate last year’s Gravity. From the intense manager (Zach Galifianakis) to his out-of-rehab daughter (Emma Stone), every actor in this ensemble ensure that this is a film sewing together the fraying edges of this forgotten star rather than a single story relying on two people on a blank canvas. There is an arresting introduction of Ed Norton’s instinctive, board-tredding alcoholic as his genius and fatal flaws are revealed in a dualogue between Norton and Keaton. Emma Stone ferociously confronts the relevance of her father in a tech-savvy, superhero-obsessed age. In fact, the screenplay (written by Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolás Giacobone, Iñárritu and Armando Bo) hints at the true meaning behind Hollywood’s obsession with comics – as they are separate to this cold, busy world. They are, literally, above it all. And crucially, Keaton’s ‘Birdman’ (or Batman) was once among the stars. Even Norton and Stone know the glittering-lights of the spandex-wearing world after their respective turns in The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man. Not to be missed, Birdman tackles truth and forces you to see the humanity of our hollow adoration of heroes.