Don’t get me wrong — I’ve heard nothing but pulse-quickening things about Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman, which will open the Venice Film Festival and almost certainly play Telluride directly after. But in selecting Birdman to close the 2014 New York Film Festival, festival director Kent Jones has relinquished his original dream of concluding with a major world premiere. Like, for example, Chris Nolan‘s Interstellar, which went south when Nolan-the-perfectionist either refused or dilly-dallied too long as far as screening it for Jones (or anyone else) in rough form. Birdman may turn out be the finest film of 2014 (who knows?) but in competitive pecking-order terms it’ll feel a bit like used goods when it plays NYFF after Venice, Telluride and (I’m assuming) Toronto.
“Birdman is a knockout,” Jones said in a release. “It’s consistently surprising and inventive — you think the movie is going in one direction and then Inarritu shifts gears and takes you somewhere else completely unexpected. The movie is like an intricate machine generating greater and greater amounts of beautiful radiant energy. The entire cast is amazing and they mesh perfectly, but I have to say that Michael Keaton is astonishing. He’s always been a terrific and, in my opinion, underrated actor. Here he gets the role he deserves, and he makes the most of it. And, it’s a great Broadway movie.”