Double feature: Here’s a fun new game to play – which Best Picture Oscar winner about ego, aging, and Hollywood’s incursion into the New York theater world am I talking about: “Birdman” or “All About Eve”?
Although these two films are separated by over 6 decades, so many descriptive statements about one of them can equally apply to the other. Through both films run two parallel fault lines of anxiety: that of personal decline and obsolescence, and that of an established cultural medium’s imminent eclipse by a more popular one (theater vs. movies but also television, movies and the general aura of Hollywood celebrity vs. the relative egalitarianism of social media and YouTube.) The dialogue in both harbors grandiose ambitions, undercut by dry wit. Both feature prodigies whose natural (so natural that they come across as unnatural) gifts precipitate the existential questioning mentioned above. Both give some of their best lines to embittered theater critics.
Maybe any self-referential movie about self-obsessed actors can be considered, in one dimension, a remake of or heir to “All About Eve.” There is certainly enough in it, content- and style-wise, for that to be true. Maybe a more apt question is this: in time, will “Birdman” be able to claim its own descendants?
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “gtrwndr87” and “ChocolateReviews” at Flickr)