Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

What an odd duck of a movie. As the credits are still rolling on the end of this movie I find myself slightly dazed. I have no idea what the hell I think of this movie right now. My opinion of it changed from the first hour to the last, but now that it is over I have no idea anymore what my opinion is. 

The critics seemed to love the shit out of this movie since it was a chance to make fun of all the Marvel superhero movies as well superheros of movies past. It was also a chance to make fun of actors that choose to pursue Broadway even though they have no idea what the hell they are doing. I think Michael Keaton thought he was being made fun of when he was approached to be in this film. I don't blame him, either. 

It's bizarre that such an arty misfit of a film got nominated for an Oscar and won. Then again I guess that's what critics go for these days so that is what gets popular with the Academy folks. Yet it's even more bizarre that Keaton didn't win the Oscar for Best Actor. While this movie has me feeling confuzzled I cannot deny that Keaton totally owns this film. He's amazing in this movie as a washed up actor that might be completely insane or might actually have superpowers left over from his days as the man that portrayed Birdman. 

The entire cast is excellent. Edward Norton, in particular. There's a lot to like about this movie, but...

I just can't help but feel that this film leaves me feeling a bit put off. Maybe it's the ending, I'm not sure. In fact, it could be that this movie is a big tease. They call it Birdman and then have the audacity to not make a movie about Birdman. 

Or perhaps this film is a little too intentionally odd and artsy. It's like Hollywood is trying to do what Michael Keaton's character was trying to do when he quit being Birdman and decided to do a play on Broadway. At times the word "pretentious" did cross my mind as I watched this movie both for Keaton's character and for how this movie was handled. 

It's an odd marriage, this film. 

It's soundtrack is an oddity composed almost solely of some guy playing drums for almost the entire movie and the movie also gives the illusion of being shot in a single take like Hitchcock's Rope even though it really wasn't. 

This movie is a bit like watching a documentary and there's an intense feeling of realism, but then it gets fantastical with the monologues from "Birdman" and the explosive hallucinations seen later in the film. 

At times it feels like a theatrical drama comparable to Sidney Lumet's finest "one room" type of works, but then it blasts off into parts unknown and becomes almost Kubrickian. Sometimes it works and at others it doesn't seem to fit. 

This is just a real hard movie to pin down. 

I will give credit for being a breath of fresh air. It is very different and certainly worthy of watching again, if only to really get a better sense of it. 

I need to digest this one for a bit. It's definitely interesting, though. Overrated, but interesting. 

However, I suppose my feelings stem from me wanting this film to be closer to an actual superhero film than a film like a ultra depressive version of Author, Author. "Birdman" even gave me a lecture in the film about my expectations. Ouch. It is no wonder there were so many negative reviews I read on IMDB from users. 

But make no mistake about it: Keaton, Norton, and the rest of the cast are excellent in this movie. 


  1. I had no clue what this movie was about. It sounds interesting.

    1. I didn't have a clue what it was about before I watched it, either. It's definitely an experience and Michael Keaton's best movie in two decades.

  2. I finally saw this and I really loved it. I love dark comedy and this was very dark and pretty freaking hilarious in places. That scene in the hospital where they revealed his bandaged face cracked me up. I'm not quite sure what to make of the ending but it's somewhat like the ending of Being There. My take on the ending of Being There was Chauncey was so simple that he didn't know that it wasn't possible to walk on water so he could. Plus he lived in a 2d world. I'm not exactly sure what my take on the ending of Birdman is yet. It's going to have to sink in a couple of days (or more).

    I really don't see the movie as making fun of the superhero movies. I think the super hero character was a useful tool to show the crazy side of the Birdman. I see this more as a dark comedy about two opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, extreme pretentiousness and extreme self loathing. The theater side is the pretentious side. I think we all feel superior and worthless at various times in life and I think the characters in the movie represent those things. Maybe I'm just a pretentious asshole for thinking that :-).

    1. I need to see Birdman again. It's been two months and I don't think I really "got it" the first time around. So it's probably prime for revisiting. I think I'll need to keep revisiting it over time, too. It's one of those movies I think something can be taken different can be taken from it with each viewing.