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August 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Early reviews of Alejandro Iñárritu’s offbeat superhero movie Birdman, which opened the Venice Film Festival today (Wednesday), have been for the most part, well, super. Peter Debruge in Variety hails it as "a triumph on every creative level, from casting to execution, that will electrify the industry, captivate arthouse and megaplex crowds alike, send awards pundits into orbit and give fresh wings to Keaton’s career." Writing in Britain’s Empire magazine, critic Damon Wise calls the film "an experimental yet fully grounded work by a supreme visual stylist" that deals with "issues of art, artistry and why we create." Wise calls Iñárritu’s multilayered script "a thing of wonder in itself" and describes the "perfect physical precision" with which he has transformed it to the screen as "a miracle." That miracle, writes Robbie Collin in the London Telegraph, is what appears to be a single long take that runs from the beginning to (almost) the end of the film. (Collin figures that Iñárritu used about eight very long tracking shots "brilliantly staged and seamlessly stitched." As for the star, Collin remarks that it’s "the role of Keaton’s career." Mark Adams in the British trade publication Screen Daily agrees. The role, he writes, "really shows off [Keaton’s] range and charisma and one that should see him in contention when it comes to awards season." Taking note of the fact that Keaton plays an aging actor who once found fame playing a superhero, the Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy writes, "An actor who himself has waited a very long time, and perhaps with diminishing hope, to make a comeback, Keaton soars perhaps higher than ever as a thespian with something to prove when not wearing a funny suit." The film itself, McCarthy concludes, "will surely strike a strong chord with audiences looking for something fresh that will take them somewhere they haven’t been before." But amid all the rapturous initial reviews, there is a jangling one from Xan Brooks in Britain’s Guardian, who considers the movie "a jubilant ride" but one that "feels deeply thought rather than deeply felt; a brilliant technical exercise as opposed to a flesh-and-blood story." It is, in the end, he concludes, "a depthless, self-absorbed film about a shallow, self-absorbed man; jittery and relentless from the first to last gasp."