Method Acting. It is a popular technique of acting that is a huge theme in “Birdman.” The movie follows a former superhero movie star (Michael Keaton) in his attempt to revive his career on the Broadway stage. As he puts on the show, one of the supporting actors (Edward Norton) helps him realize the importance of method acting and making the performance on stage as real as possible. While this is interesting, what is even more interesting is the concept of “reverse method acting” which the film uses. The movie is actually a way for Michael Keaton (“Batman,” “Birdman”), a former superhero movie star to revive his career. It is genius in design because it allows Michael Keaton to play himself which he does extremely accurately. At no point during “Birdman” did I not believe that the character was once a superhero but now is just old.
Editing. This process is what allowed for movies to become what they are today. Through the invention of editing, filmmakers could create sequences of a variety of shots that could establish pace, inform emotion, and organize plot. Even more important, cuts tell the audience when to blink. It is a common practice in the film industry to have about 10 cuts per minute to match how many times the average human blinks per minute. Foolishly breaking this rule, “Birdman” includes no obvious cuts. Using long takes and a lot of camera movement, the film avoids cut at all costs. The result is a confusing and excruciating experience for the viewer. Three times during the screening I had to douse my eyes with water because they had become extremely dry.
Memory. When an actor gets a script, they are expected to memorize their lines. However, the nature of film allows for actors to need only a page of lines memorized on any given shooting day. Blocking is rarely created before rehearsal on set, so actors do not have to remember that either. In the case of “Birdman,” though, the actors had to do a tremendous amount of remembering. The film is shot in about three shots, which means that the actors needed to act out 45 minute scenes all in one go. They did outstanding in that context. The performances would have been considered great even if there were cuts, but the fact that they did it all in one long take just makes it incredible. They never forgot their lines or blocking, and all of the timing seemed to be perfect. It must have been taken forever to get it all to work.
A complex character study mixed with comedy, “Birdman” is a high energy, well paced film with interesting themes that doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking to be entertained. I give it zero popped corns.