Inarritu leaps off the ledge with 'Birdman'

Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:43pm EDT
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By Michael O'Boyle

MORELIA Mexico (Reuters) - As Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu neared his 50th birthday, he took stock of his string of acclaimed, dark films, and decided to do something really scary: confront his own struggle with being an egomaniacal filmmaker, in a comedy, in a single shot.

"Fear of the unknown is a great creative partner," Inarritu told Reuters at the Morelia International Film Festival. "It makes you more aware and open to circumstances that you haven’t planned for. It lets you make advantages from your limitations."

What emerged from his own mid-life crisis is "Birdman," his fifth film and an absurd comedy-drama that explores how modern identity suffers from what Inarritu calls the "disease of popularity" spread by social media and a culture of celebrity.

The film, which opened in limited release this weekend, is being hailed by critics as a masterpiece, a perfect fusion of form and content. Using what appears to be a single take, it tracks the breakdown of a has-been movie star who is trying to reinvent himself on the Broadway stage.

The Academy award-nominated Inarritu broke from his previous style seen in "Amores Perros" and "Babel" of deploying multiple storylines and juxtaposed time frames in bleak tales of fatal accidents that intertwine the lives of strangers.

"It was liberating to do comedy," the Mexican director said. "It felt like playing in a jazz band."

The film is still steeped in existential angst, but it comically portrays the actor's obsession with fame.

"In the times we now live, we have empowered the rest to tell us who we are," Inarritu said.   Continued...

Director Alejandro Inarritu poses during the photo call for the movie Birdman or (The unexpected virtue of ignorance) at the 71st Venice Film Festival August 27, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile