Saturday, June 21, 2014

The "Birdman" Trailer: Michael Keaton Sort-Of Returns to Superheroes

It's been a while since we've looked at a new trailer on this site. I've wanted to include more trailers and thoughts on upcoming films, but the truth is so many trailers today are so blergh that I don't even watch that many. Studios are so eager to show you the whole movie in two-and-a-half minutes now, then say, "come see the extended edition!" I like going into movies as fresh as I possibly can, so what I want in a trailer is something promising that makes me want to see more. Which, you know, is the point of a trailer anyway.

The first glimpse of Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu's (Babel) latest, is a little over a week old, but while I try to finish my review for the second season of Orange is the New Black (coming soon!), let's take a look:

More after the jump.

The film is the story of a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton), best known for playing a masked superhero, who tries to make a comeback in a major stage production. Obviously, I love the meta premise, not only because it feels very much like a Charlie Kaufman idea (no slight comparison) but also for utilizing actors whose careers have been swallowed by superhero franchises both old (Keaton) and new (Emma Stone, who's wasting her time and talent in the new Spider-Man films). That Kaufman comparison, though, could be dangerous: Kaufman's work is not easy to live up to, and the comparison could easily turn sour when held up to, say, Being John Malkovich.

That being said, the most exciting and interesting thing I find about this trailer is the surrealism. Gonzalez-Inarritu showed some flashes of surrealism in his previous film, the very dour Biutiful (2010), but that film was bogged down with gratuitous miserablism that made it difficult to sit through. Really, Gonzalez-Inarritu's career has been one miserablist film after another, and the sameness of his films can conceal the fact that he's a truly talented filmmaker. Birdman, though, is described as a comedy, and though it seems like a pretty dark comedy, any move in a more playful direction would be good for the director. 

Also terrific: teaming up with newly-minted Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezski as director of photography has resulted in those sumptuous images, which can only be a good thing. The cast - including Zach Galifinakis, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, and Naomi Watts - is intriguing. And I love the martial version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," taken from the group's performance on the radio program Live from the Basement. It sets a perfect tone for the trailer, and hopefully for the film as well.

I'm really looking forward to this one now. What about you?

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