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The masterful ‘Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ is an experience that will profoundly resonate. From its pristine writing, to its carefully constructed direction and cinematography, to its genius casting and performances, ‘Birdman’ is just a dream of a movie.
The film tells the story of Riggan (Michael Keaton), a washed up actor who used to play a superhero icon called Birdman. In a valiant attempt to reclaim his career, he adapts, directs, and stars in a Broadway play. With problems from one of his very method actors (Edward Norton), assistant daughter (Emma Stone), emotional co-star (Naomi Watts), overly sexual girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), flamboyant producer (Zach Galifanakis), and loving ex- wife (Amy Ryan), Riggan prepares for the breaking point of his career. This film eerily serves as a somewhat personal film to Michael Keaton, giving the mere fact that he was known for playing Batman, a comic book hero similar to Birdman. Keaton is an actor that proved time and time again that he can play virtually anything from heavy and hard hitting dramatic roles to silly and funny comedic roles.
Andrew (Miles Teller) is a 19-year old student at a music conservatory in Manhattan. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons – absolutely brilliant) is a teacher at the conservatory with a ruthlessly brutal teaching style. After picking Andrew to play in the school band, he pushes Andrew to his limits in order to realize his full potential, at the risk of his humanity. Director Damien Chazelle has described the film as an origin story to the jazz musicians of the golden age, and it thrives on the myths of jazz heroes such as Charlie Parker. They’re urgently looking for the next Parker, in search of perfection.
J.K. Simmons nails this part! He’s a force of nature, with a terrifying presence that incites the fear Bryan Cranston achieved with the peak of his Walter White. In fact Chazelle has done a masterful job in casting the two leads in Teller and Simmons. Their respective acts are full of purpose, full of tension and ultimately terrific.