I have to state this from the start.
I am a big Michael Keaton fan.
To say that in the 80s and 90s he was a force of nature as an actor is an understatement. It made him a star in films such as “The Dream Team”, “Mr Mom”, “Beetlejuice” and of course “Batman”.
What I liked was that he could act. Actually act. He not only outshone his co-stars (Beetlejuice or Pacific Heights), re was able to play multiple roles and give them their own personalities (Multiplicity) and when it came to serious roles (Clean and Sober) he could give a nuanced performance.
So why did he fall from grace? Keaton started playing in lower budget movies, TV ‘guest spots’ and voice overs for the next two decades or so. 2014 saw him make a major comeback playing the villain in the remake of “Robocop” and then as Riggan Thomson in “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)“.
I was looking froward to seeing him in a performance which has showered him with awards and award nomination and as well as a BAFTA an Oscar nomination.
So why did it leave me cold.
In a nutshell, it was such a clever film that I was thinking about ‘how’ rather than be seduced by the storytelling. The continuous shots was amazing and the director and cinematography rightly have won awards. BUT the role in many ways took the fire out of what I expected from a Keaton performance.
It was clever but was it the best movie of the year. In many ways, it reminded me of Forrest Gump. A technically clever must-see film but was it better the Pulp fiction.No. Was Birdman more innovative or memorable than”Boyhood”. Emma Stone rightly got an Oscar nod and Lindsay Duncan was robbed. Her scenes with Keaton was the closes to the intense performances I remember from keaton of old.
But all I will remember from Birdman was it tuned Keaton ‘s usual red hot performance to a white hot one. And thatcost him an Oscar.