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Friday
Jun132014

Yes No Maybe So: Birdman

How did we end up here? In this dump. You were a movie star, remember?

Surely one of the year's most intriguing features in concept and casting alone, is Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu's Birdman. The director collaborating with the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (fresh off his Oscar win for Gravity) trains the movie camera on the best Batman (I'm with Seth Rogen's in Neighbors on this one) as he plays a has-been movie star famous for playing a character named "Birdman". Now he's on stage years later trying to rejuvenate his career.

Concept and casting alone were enough for a "maybe so" tilting yes. And then came advance word from test screenings that the film really delivers across the board in performance so "yes". And then came the teaser which begins with a 41 second continuous shot like its asking me to marry it. So now I'm at 'Yaaaaas! I will. I will. I do!"

Making the traditional Yes No Maybe So a more lopsided formality than is healthy after the jump...

How to downplay expectations now? Let's just take this in visual steps as with Maleficent (for which we realllllly should have yanked our expectations southward)...

How to downplay expectations now? Let's just take this in visual steps as with Maleficent (for which we realllllly should have yanked our expectations southward)...

00:01 That 41 second continuous shot, which one can hope is even longer in the movie - can we start from outside?, if we're being honest is a little show-offy so it should be a maybe so since Innaritu is way too fussy. But the lights have it. Lubezki taking us from green to blue to hot pinks and more in seconds. It's so much YES.

00:35 That gravelly voice. A satiric jab at superheroic self-importance could not be more timely given the current marketplace. YES

00:41 [Aggressive Knocking] Is he going to be a total asshole? I'm so sick of antiheroes. Maybe So

00:45 Intriguing special effects break. Are these fantasies or film clips within the film? Yes.

00:52 Love that shot of Emma Stone looking skyward. It just occurs to me now that it could just be a shot of Gwen Stacy looking at Spider-Man amplifying the superhero showbiz conceit. But for her roots, so you know we're grounded in reality. Or our fantasy has let itself go. Yes.

00:54 Oh Hai. Just a little break to absorb the cosmic beauty that Lubezki finds all the time like it's everywhere. It's like he's daring us to try "Best Shot" with this one next year. YES YES YES YES

1:01 Flowers sliding away from Keaton... Okay maybe we're somewhere between reality and fantasy and this is giving me Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind vibes and that is NEVER SAFE AS COMPARISON because movies like that come along once a decade if you're lucky. Temper expectations temper expectations temper expectations. This type of thing is really hard to pull off. maybe so... (but really yes)

1:08 Our only glimpse of Naomi Watts who is in bed with Edward Norton who was just seen kissing Emma Stone for a millisecond earlier in the teaser. Is he bedding everyone connected to Keaton? maybe so (on account of no strong feelings)

1:10 The pairing of these two images is upsetting. In the good way. Just how unhinged is this man and metaphorically/literally broken is this man? Yes.

1:15 Some of the greatest movies are about the theater. So by all means, take us back there. As long as it's still cinematic which this CLEARLY is. Yaaaas. 

1:17 God that's beautiful. The subtle winged font forms the silhouette of Birdman if you're paying close attention (it's barely visible unless screencapped) YES

1:21 Is everythign in this movie self-parody? Edward Norton, a notoriously difficult to work with, playing a super difficult to work with actor who belittles and then wrestles his co-star? If everyone has a sense of humor about themselves this could be awesome BUT if it's too self-aware it's going to eat itself like an oroborus.  maybe so... 

1:24 but really yes because Norton's briefs

1:45 Those drums and cymbals over the credits. Like exclamation points for the actors names. Yes, please 

I predicted this for six nominations in my initial Oscar crystal ball findings but perhaps I underestimated it on the acting side? Still bravura auteurist pieces are never sure things with the acting branches. Will this movie make me rethink my stance on Iñárittu since I've always said he needed some comedy to temper his miserabilism? 

What say you? How much of a "Yes"?


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Reader Comments (31)

WOW.

That is a GREAT teaser. YES to just about everything here. Talk about really selling a film while still truly being a teaser. LOVE. Can't wait.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Somewhere between a hell yes and a f**k yes.

The whole concept plus Lubezki, plus Watts and Stone, plus Keaton in one of those "born to play" roles, and I'm hooked.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

YASSSS!!!! The internal monologues felt like very Malick considering Lubezki. And somehow, it felt very Holy Motors to me.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaph

There is so much YES about this teaser that I can barely contain them. They are flying out all over the place! YES, YES, YES, YES!!!

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

hat wig on Michael Keaton. The fantasy elements. Underwear fights & craziness. Emma Stone. I'm all YES.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Yes! Once again, Nat, you articulate the multitude of thoughts one can have in only 1.5 minutes, but overall I'm still a big ol' yes.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Dissenting view: The opening shot seemed so indulgent and "man walks toward the camera" overdone (which always takes me out of the movie, I just think of the actor filming it, and how aggressively and self-consciously PERFORMED that move is) so ho-hum. Then the shot of Emma Stone made me think: god no, is she a love interest? Between this and Magic in the Moonlight she sure is cornering the market on "girl dating guys who could easily be her (grand?) father". The slaptastic briefs fight also struck me as way too self-aware. It reminded me of Norton parodying his Moonrise Kingdom schtick in Budapest Hotel. Slappy messy fights I think are also over-played in boy-man movies that I just feel like all the crew are out of view cracking up and the actors can barely contain themselves and oh look how much fun they're having...yet again, taking me out of the movie. So I'm definitely a "MEH": I'll see it only after gauging the reception after release.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Yes. Keaton can join Basinger and Nicholson in the Batman Oscar club. Of course this means Michelle Pfeiffer isn't even p'trying.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I am a YES. You're dead on about the superhero self-importance thing, especially on the DC side.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

i say YES, after the disappointing Biutiful i hope this is a return to form for Iñarritu. And one thing is certain, he's a great actors director and the performances in all of his movies are nothing but superb

Probably it's just me but this gave me a very Jonze-esque vibe

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

Yes...just...yes...

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

A yes.

What a welcome left turn from Iñárritu. Much needed from him I think- anytime I see his name I can practically hear the cry of fishmongers in the background. Banish them from my mind Birdman!

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSVG

I was hoping for a glimpse of Riseborough. But with her, Watts and Ryan I was already a yes.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

I'm not gonna watch this because it's one of my most anticipated films this year and I want to be as unspoiled as possible. And since it's likely to be in my top 5 at year's end... "bravura auteurist pieces are never sure things with the acting branches"...you are absolutely right, Nat. I don't have the highest hopes for broad mainstream awards support.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Yes. I was so into this trailer, I burned my breakfast.

And its not just Norton's briefs, its the briefs with the old man bath sandals combo which he is gripping with his toes for all he is worth.

And the drums...........and.......and....Watts.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I'm so happy for Michael Keaton -- he's been underrated for too long.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Hoping for a King Edward career renaissance. <3

YES.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

This looks absolutely incredible. The most striking aspect of the trailer for me was the lighting throughout; Lubezki really is a visual genius.

It's a definite yes for me.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

All YES.

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

No/Maybe Sos

I'm not a big fan of Iñarritu
Did I hear some narration in there? It's better to show than tell.
I'm not as big of a fan about films about films/plays as you are.
The whole end bit with Edward Norton was not funny, suspenseful or all that interesting. That's concerning as it was contained easily the most words of the trailer and probably best represents what this film is going to be 'like'

Yes
Keaton (he looks great!)
Stone
Cinematography

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Oh HELL yes!

June 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

yes

(has any cinematographer ever won consecutive oscars?)

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Felt like Spike Jonez's version of Requiem for a Dream. HELL YES! *.*

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

All the yes.

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Having had no prior knowledge as to what it was about other than Innaritu doing a comedy (which, let's face it, he's not exactly known for), I am now ridiculous excited.

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Amy Ryan!
yes.

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentershawshank

a little bit below yes, only because I too am weary of Iñárittu's miserabilism and this teaser veers a little too dark for me. I am all for an exploration of Birdman's psyche, but I need a little more laughs is what I am saying. And no, that Norton bit at the end did not qualify. At all.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Par, answering your question: Yes, four cinematographers have won the Oscar in consecutive years:

W. Howard Greene (1936 and 1937)
Leon Shamroy (1944 and 1945)
Winton Hoch (1948 and 1949)
John Toll (1994 and 1995)

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoel

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! OMG that trailer was everything! I'm so in for this one. Slay it, Mr. Keaton!

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDorian

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