Is Michael Keaton's Birdman Buddhist?

October 23, 2014 1:41 PM

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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's new film Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a blazing ride through the hyper-kinetic mind of Michael Keaton's "has been" superhero actor, Riggan Thomson, as he battles his own demons and a fickle public while attempting to resuscitate his fading career and his strained relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. Using a play within a screenplay, Inarritu has Riggan directing and acting in a Raymond Carver play about love and the meaning of life, as Riggan's tightly wound life of celebrity and super-status unwinds. Riggan is tormented by his ego, personified by the voice and figure of his old superhero character Birdman, alternately deriding him and telling him he is better than others. Meanwhile, Ed Norton, in superb form as the narcissistic theatrical star Mike Shiner, threatens everything dear to Riggan including his stature as an actor, the theater production in which Riggan has invested his savings and career, and even Riggan's life. The medium is the message in this film as the circuitous cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (who won an Oscar last year for shooting Gravity), with long shots through the back hallways of the theater and the streets of New York, seamlessly follows Riggan from beginning to end of his ego-trip.

Michael Keaton's palpable, frenetic energy paired with an earthly and likable humanity as an actor makes him the perfect choice for this role as his character searches for redemption and meaning. But what makes his character Riggan surreal is the fact that Michael Keaton played Batman to great accla...

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