Birdman / Starry Eyes

Sherif Awad-Film Critic-Egypt

by Sherif Awad
The backstage of the entertainment industry can sometimes be
more interesting that the final products we see sometimes. There is a lot of
drama, comedy and also some horrors taking place every now then. That’s why
many films have tried to analyze the hunger for stardom and the sorrow of
losing it.
Last week, I have seen two American films that have
approached that topic in completely different ways.  The first is Birdman which everybody
should know about now after it received two Golden Globes: a Best Actor for its
star Michael Keaton and a Best Screenplay for its four writers Alejandro
González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo. We
started to read good European reviews about Birdman since its premiere
last August as the opening and as a competition film at the 71st Venice
International Film Festival. Last November, it got its wide release in the US
after limited release during the month of October.
The main character is Riggan Thomson, played by Michael
Keaton, who used to be Hollywood star famous for making a blockbuster trilogy
of a superhero called Birdman decades earlier. Riggan is not only tormented by
the voice of Birdman but also imagines himself performing levitation. Riggan comes
to Broadway as a writer, director and star of Raymond Carver’s short story What
We Talk About When We Talk About Love
. However, he has trouble
communicating with his co-star Mike (Edward Norton). Another day, a hangover
Riggan imagines he can fly over New York City like the character Birdman he
used to play.
Keaton was perfect in the role as echoes of his playing
Batman in two Tim Burton’s film before going in the shadows of Hollywood helps
him to get the essence of the role. Also, the film was shot in an unconventional
way with the camera works and editing style give the appearance that Birdman is
one continuous long take. Birdman owes a lot to his Mexican co-writer and
director Alejandro González Iñárritu who always comes up with britlliant idea
and directing methods since Amores Perros, Babel, 21 Grams
and Biutiful.

The second film is called Starry Eyes belongs to the
horror genre made in an independent way yet with good quality. It revolves
around an aspiring actress called Sarah Walker (Alexandra Essoe) who is determined
to make it in Hollywood so she spends her days working as a waitress in a
fast-food chain and her nights with other her roommates who happens to be a
group struggling actresses  and wannabes.
Between this and that, Sarah keep on trying her luck out on countless casting
calls in the hopes of finally catching a big break. After a series of strange
auditions with a mysterious casting duo from famed production company Astraeus
Pictures, Sarah finally lands the leading role in their newest film. The old
chairman of the company (Lou Deszeran) thinks she has a bright future ahead of
her, so he invites her only to reveal himself as a bizarre leader of a cult
involving some Hollywood veterans who practice some kind of satanic worships. Sarah
starts to lose her mind then her body is exposed to strange metamorphoses as
she become a monster taking revenge on her mocking friends before surrendering
to the dark cult of her new future. I saw Starry Eyes not only as a
horror picture but surreal look at Hollywood when the obsession of money and
fame becomes a nightmare. 

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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