Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Meta Cinema All Over Again

It if happens once, it's a fluke. But if it happens three times, then we can actually say that a trend has been born in Tinsel Town. In the last four years, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has awarded the coveted Best Picture Oscar to a film that basically presents a story about its own production. In other words, the textbook definition of meta cinema. Like Federico Fellini's or Truffaut's Day for Night, the latest batch of award winners represent the latest effort by today's filmmakers to present films that are actually about the film itself.  

The Artist started this latest trend. The 2011 French romantic-drama made in the style of a black-and-white silent film, took home the Best Picture award, and stole the hearts of many movie-goers who never thought of asking themselves why anyone would make a silent film in our times. This was followed by the memorable Argo, a film that recounts the story of how the CIA managed to rescue a group of Americans diplomats who were being held hostage in Teheran by making the Iranians believe that they were making a Sci-Fi film.

This year, Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) might have put the crowning touch on this trend -- or the kiss of Death. Alejandro González Iñárritu's brilliant rumination on superhero films, Raymond Carver and Magical-Realism surrounds the story of one washed-up, ego-maniacal actor yearning for a comeback by staging a vanity Broadway play destined to flop. Capturing it all, Emmanuel Lubezki's fluid camera, gives us the illusion that all has been done in one slick take, while ironically reminding us that we are watching a movie about a movie.

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