Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Kenny Chin, Naomi Watts, Jamahl Garrison-Lowe, Jeremy Shamos, Andrea Riseborough, Katherine O'Sullivan, Damian Young, Keenan Shimizu, Akira Ito, Natalie Gold, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan
Synopsis: A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
10 / 10
- Alejandro González Iñárritu does an excellent job orchestrating this masterpiece, as the film's director and co writer.
- Great script that's chalked full of deep messages about life, while cleverly satirizing the Hollywood industry; particularly superhero movies.
- The visual effects are amazing, and compliments the story's deep philosophical and spiritual messages.
- The single continuous cinematography shot was excellent, as it helped create a unique feel for the movie itself.
- Great soundtrack and musical scoring
- Sound effects were good
- Michael Keaton gives an Oscar worthy performance.
- Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Edward Norton play their parts perfectly
- All the actors exhibit great on screen chemistry together.
- The editing was good
- The Broadway settings and atmosphere was a nice touch
- Unlike most movies, you really have to pay attention to it from beginning to end, in order to understand it.
Does anyone still remember that classic Hanna Barbara cartoon called "Birdman?" In fact, he was the world's second solar powered superhero on TV, with the first obviously being "Superman." Ha! Take that "Captain Planet!" Oh yes. Those were the days. In fact, I remember "Cartoon Network" even did a spin off series called "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law." Oh how I used to love that show. I still remember getting a kick out of all the cameo appearances, by some of my favorite cartoon characters growing up. As far as what any of this has to do with the new film, "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)", it has absolutely NOTHING to do with that old cartoon show whatsoever. With similar names though, I couldn't resist bringing it up....
"Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" is arguably one of the best films of 2014, as it gives audiences a clever satirical look into Hollywood today; particularly when it pertains to the superhero genre of movies. The film contains a deep message about how some actors can struggle to stay relevant in their latter years, while dealing with the perception that some of them might be nothing more than a talent less celebrities making money rather than doing anything creative.
This brings up an interesting question about art versus commercialism that comes off as both innovative and deep. The story follows a struggling actor by the name of Riggan (Michael Keaton), who was famous in for his iconic superhero role, Birdman. In his recent years, he finds himself struggling to stay relevant in a society, as he yearns to recover his family and his ailing career. Along the way, he even tries to reconnect with himself, as his sanity is on the brink of shattering.
The inner monologue and freak out moments of the film, where we see Riggan hallucinating, are arguably some of the best moments of the entire movie. It's during these crucial moments that we find out a bit more about the character, and his inner struggles to regain his own sanity. Throughout the film, Riggan is presented as something of a tortured soul, who's aching to stay relevant in the grand scheme of things. As his teenage daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), points out to him, he's scared that he won't matter in the world. And in a lot of ways, that's a strong fear that anyone can relate to. Who are we really? And do we actually matter in the grand scheme of things?
"Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" portrays a strong social commentary about life in general, as we all struggle to matter in this world. Often questioning the nature of own lives, on an existential meaning. It's an interesting movie that brings up a lot of thought provoking existential, spiritual and philosophical questions about life; which causes the movie to stick with you long after you see it.
Like Ang Lee's "Life of Pi", "Birdman" doesn't always go for a straight narrative, where everything is laid out for it's audience. During various scenes, Alejandro González Iñárritu uses a lot of symbolism to convey the emotions of the story itself; where it often falls upon the audiences' interpretation to figure out the rest. This is especially powerful around the ending, as it's left open for interpretation, which only enhances the story's deep existential message even further.
Alejandro González Iñárritu does a masterful job orchestrating this epic masterpiece chalked full of symbolism, as it offers a lot of deep messages about life. Everything from the atmosphere, the setting, and the continuous one shot cinematography helps create a unique fast paced story that'll stick with you long after you see it.
If this movie were to have any flaws it's that you have to pay attention to it closely in order to comprehend it all. If you don't, then you might get lost following the story. However, it's definitely worth it.
Michael Keaton gives a command performance, as he plays the beaten down old actor trying to make a name for himself on the Broadway circuit. Facing various obstacles along his path from an upstart co star trying to steal his thunder to an angry critic, who seems hellbent on ruining his good name for no other reason than the fact that she sees him as a pompous celebrity, who doesn't deserve to do anything artistic in his career.
Of course, a rational person knows that most critics aren't like that, but it's a nice "tongue and cheek" joke poking fun at the stereotype of critics, in today's modern media. Although I can't say Michael Keaton deserves to win the Oscar this year, I can tell you that this is arguably the best performance of his career. Therefore, if he does win an Oscar, then this might be his best chance to pull it off.
Of course, that's not to say his other co stars aren't in top form either, as everyone gives a stellar performance in this movie. Edward Norton plays the perfect fast talking arrogant smart a** that acts as the perfect antagonist to Keaton's eccentric overzealous tortured soul. Emma Stone does a tremendous job playing the laid back rebellious ex stoner girl, who's merely trying to get by in life.
And if your one of these skeptics out there that isn't sure about Zach Galifianakis' ability to do anything outside of hardcore d**k joke comedies, then I challenge you to watch this movie. "Birdman" not only proves that Zach is capable of starring in serious roles, but it also shows that he's still able to add bits of humor to a character, without playing the drunk buffoon archetype.
"Birdman" may not be one of last year's biggest movies at the box office, but it has something deeper than most of the other films of last year. It has a lot of deep existential meanings about life, as it captures your attention from the beginning, while leaving a lasting imprint on you long after you've seen it.
If your craving something truly unique on a narrative and visual scale, then I would highly recommend this movie.
© 2015 Steven Daniels