Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R)

9 Stars

The viewer is a salmon.

Swimming up streams of consciousness, occasionally leaping between parallel tributaries to follow movements of different characters.

That’s right, folks – the old head-hopping narrator.

Extra thought provoking because the voiceover only chimes in to pester the protagonist.

What’s most noteworthy about Birdman is exactly that: Creative and original storytelling techniques.

Another example is the stylistic editing: The film has the appearance of all occurring within one take.

Therefore the cutting is minimal. Which is incredibly refreshing.

Big names are visibly acting in the same space, oftentimes physically interacting.

There’s no ‘cut to close-up’ as characters deliver dialogue, which makes for a more organic viewing experience.

(Sidenote: Hollywood should ban the ‘cut to close-up.’)

Birdman isn’t going to be your favorite, but it’s still great.

The writing is strong; the protagonist’s plight is timely and moving. The characters interact compellingly. The subject matter is thought provoking.

Although this term is overused, it takes a ‘gritty’ in-depth look at stage acting.

The metahumor is consistent and pointed. Even the casting is ironic.

Michael Keaton playing the washed up retired superhero. Edward Norton as a pompous know-it-all veteran.

Wanna know who’s excellent? Naomi Watts.

She delivers a stellar performance as Lesley; in a role that somewhat calls back to Mulholland Drive, in which she plays a sexually conflicted up-and-coming actress.

Emma Stone is ten types of terrific, but they shouldn’t have spoiled her monologue in the trailer.

Turns out Zach Galifianakis can play off-type extremely well, which comes as no surprise.

Andrea Riseborough is lesser known, but holds her own.

Finally, Amy Ryan plays a totally different character from her role in Gone Baby Gone and fits in perfectly with a slew of other great performers.

Although the trailer spoils most, the special effects are decent enough.

The surreal portion is a welcome addition to the common cinematic experience, and contributes uniquely.

Birdman’s a visual treat, as they say.

People seem to enjoy this flick. After all, what’s not to like?

It’s still in limited release, but you shouldn’t have trouble finding a screening nearby.

Expect a moving dramatic piece about the thespian business and you shouldn’t feel disappointed.

As always, the best advice remains the same.

Be a salmon – expect nothing, and eventually, you’ll feel something.

Resonates nicely with the subtitle, no?

5 thoughts on “Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R)

  1. I don’t think they should ban the “cut to close-up,” it works well when it’s employed with purpose. When “Birdman” goes in for the close-up, it’s really effective. That Emma Stone rant is great in close-up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marshall,

      Totally with you, pal. Some of the best monologues are delivered in close up.

      I was using some hyperbole in saying “Hollywood should ban the ‘cut to close up.'” I suppose the point of saying so is to raise awareness amongst those who don’t notice.

      My point would be better made in a review of Dracula Untold. In which dialogue is constantly delivered in ‘cut to close up.’ It’s used as a coverup for less-than-desirable filmmaking.

      Ironically enough, I was trying to highlight the refreshing lack of such gimmicks in Birdman.

      But I can see how you’d be confused. I worried about that line before posting. I’ll try to get around to Dracula sometime here soon; put forward that opinion in a more appropriate medium.

      Anyhow. Thanks for the comment, and for keeping me honest, buddy. Your opinion’s always welcome!

      All the Best,


  2. I thought “Birdman” was one of the most interesting and thought-provoking movies I’ve seen in a long time. There are many layers of struggles and some things left open to interpretation. I also loved some of the beautiful aerial scenes and especially the stunning doorway to the liquor store when Michael Keaton’s character is really down! Zach G. was terrific in the movie.


Thoughts, perchance?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s