Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Poster

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for once the academy got it right
PIST-OFF19 September 2018
With all due respect to Eastwood's American Sniper, the academy actually got it right with this pick for best picture. Every actor and actress in this given the space to breathe life into characters, every monologue and dialogue hits like a ton of bricks, every scene tries to get towards some fundamental truth of human nature only to have the next scene undermine that character and that purported truth. It's amazing that in the era of comic book universe movies that something like this can get made at all. An absolute must see before you die movie.
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Very much a divisive film, to me it was a 2014 highlight
TheLittleSongbird9 June 2017
Despite the near-universal acclaim from critics, 'Birdman' very much divided audiences to a quite extreme degree. This division is very much understandable, 'Birdman' has a great many merits but not everything will work for everybody.

To me 'Birdman' was an excellent film. Maybe not quite as good as the hype suggests, but nowhere near deserving of the many 1/10 votes when its merits are a great many that some people seem to have not acknowledged. Although, from personal opinion, a little over-hyped, 'Birdman' ('Gone Girl', 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'Whiplash' were also personal favourites, and 'Boyhood' was also better than given credit for considering the amount of hate it's garnered) was a 2014 highlight and a worthy Best Picture winner.

Not everything in 'Birdman' works. Some of the pace is a touch frenetic in parts of the second half and not everything feels quite as tied up as ought with things left a little loose.

However, 'Birdman' is an exceptionally well made film, with some of the best and cleverest cinematography of the year, some of the cinematography and editing is so dazzling it's enough to take the breath away. The special effects are also tremendous. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (in the first of his deserved director wins, the best being 2015's 'The Revenant), 'Birdman' is one of the best directed films of 2014 too and shows Iñárritu's immense talent as a director, with breath-taking vision, sense of mood and the ability to make the story as gripping as possible.

The script is fun, thought-provoking and at times touchingly profound. The story mostly, while sometimes thin, is gripping and the characters engage.

Michael Keaton gives his best performance in years, an outstanding performance and perhaps a career-best. Edward Norton is similarly superb, his performance also ranking among his best. Emma Stones charms and delights too.

Overall, very much divisive, with some people adoring or admiring it and others hating it, personally was one of the people who loved it while acknowledging its imperfections. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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What is wrong with people?
theocharous_an27 December 2016
I have a tendency to check user reviews on IMDb before watching a film. I was surprised to see how divided people were for Birdman. Most of the reviews were either 9-10 stars or 1 star. This made me want to watch the film even more and by the time I finished watching it, my faith in people had decreased by a little bit.

Birdman is brilliant! This is not just an opinion, I wouldn't even consider it as one of my favourite films, I didn't even give 10 stars. When I say it is brilliant, I don't mean that I liked it too much, I mean that every aspect of the film is masterfully dealt with. Sublime acting, excellent cinematography, interesting and unconventional directing and a wonderfully original score. OK there wasn't a fast-paced plot with lots of plot twists, but not every movie has to be like this. One of the reviewers who gave one star complained about the plot and suggested to the readers to go watch a Kubrick film instead. Well, Kubrick himself made movies with minimal plot which were nevertheless proved to be masterpieces (2001: A space Odyssey, Eyes Wide Shut). He once said: "A film is (or should be) more like music than fiction". Films are supposed to make us think and feel, like music does. You can make a good song by adding story-like lyrics and you can make a good song by adding no lyrics at all. The same applies to movies. There are plot-driven masterpieces and there are no-plot- driven masterpieces. Birdman is one of the latter.

I don't want to spoil the film. I just want to say that I would highly recommend it for anyone, except people who only want to see pointless action and superhero films. Birdman will make you think, reflect on similar situations you might have experienced and discover the other side of actors and films. I can absolutely understand people not liking it. There is not a single film that appeals to everyone. What I cannot understand though is people calling it a bad movie.
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True Definition Of A Masterpiece
CalRhys1 January 2015
Whilst viewing 'Birdman', I spent the first hour of the film trying to decipher my emotions and opinions towards it, what I was watching was a weird, yet wonderful work of art. Truly though, 'Birdman' is a technical masterpiece. Michael Keaton has generally been undermined as an actor (despite a few notable roles as Batman or Beetlejuice) and has instead faced Hollywood picking more acclaimed and popular actors, 'Birdman' however might just be his ticket to an Oscar nomination, and possibly even a win, his performance is mesmerising. Alejandro González Iñárritu has created a truly spectacular character study that arguably features this year's strongest acting performances, alongside a well- executed script, booming soundtrack and a monumental achievement with cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki in which he attempts a Hitchcockian approach, reminiscent of 'Rope', and displays the story through a seemingly single and unbroken sweeping shot. This is the true definition of a masterpiece.
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Life Imitating Art or Art Imitating Life...Can Anyone Tell the Difference? Does It Really Matter?
KissEnglishPasto26 December 2021
BIRDMAN just keeps coming at you, time and again, from every imaginable angle, until the end credits, about an hour and 50 minutes in. Is it just me ....or are many reviewers reluctant to state the obvious? Michael Keaton as a down on his luck Ex-Superhero, desperately trying to prove his relevance in 2015, to the entire world, to his rather distant family, but, probably most of all, to himself. Oh yeah, and he talks to himself in a rather smooth, but hoarse and gravelly BATMAN...I mean BIRDMAN, Superhero voice, his last on screen portrayal of which was in 1992! (Yes, in BOTH of them)

So, just where do we draw the line as to what is fact and what is fiction? That is one of many recurring themes dealt with in BIRDMAN. I think it is the central one in the film.... Just where and when do we draw those critical dividing lines? Riggan Thompson is feeling the rapidly escalating pressure of a quickly approaching Broadway opening. It is a dilemma of his own device. His life is in shambles. He finds himself still pining for his ex, while attempting, rather ineptly and intermittently, to bond with his daughter. He has taken on overpowering debt to finance his Broadway play that, if successful, will provide him with the self-vindication he needs to put his life and career back on track. His problems seem insurmountable, or at least, he has convinced himself that they are!

The ensemble cast performance is deliciously superb. Zach Galifianakis as the steadfastly single-minded lawyer/best friend, who has to employ his myriad of abilities to hold the production together and keep it moving forward. Emma Stone, as Sam, the more often than not neglected as a child daughter, just out of Rehab, who seems to be on the road to stability in her life by serving as the reluctant gofer for her neophyte Broadway director/producer father. Naomi Watts, as Lesley, one of the play's stars, perhaps the star struck little girl trapped in the 30 something body of a struggling actor who is on the verge of her lifelong Broadway wish- fulfillment debut!

Edward Norton delivers an Oscar-caliber performance as the obsessed Method actor who's only real moments are the ones he spends on stage. And of course, Michael Keaton, in the title role, projecting a gigantic on screen presence as a man possessed, obsessed, intensely flawed, human and, ultimately, somewhat skewed by his own inner demons! Makes you wonder... Exactly where does Michael Keaton end and Riggan Thompson begin?

I would be derelict in my reviewer duties were I not to mention the effective and original use of the continuous, one-take technique employed in making BIRDMAN...It lends an extreme presence, intensity and intimacy to the overall quality and tone of the film which is quite unique. I'm sure the implementation of this style presented director Alejandro González Iñárritu with a formidable series of challenges, which he dealt with flawlessly. Gonzalez has directed some previously highly recognized films, such as Amorres Perros, 21 Grams, Babel and Biutiful. This highly thought provoking film guarantees that we will be seeing more of his work in the future.

10**********....... ENJOY! / DISFRUTELA!
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It's satire people!
apbryant24 February 2015
I have to say I am shocked and how many bad reviews I have seen on this site for this movie. It seems to me that the majority of moviegoers who have chosen to review here are only capable of viewing a movie at face value.

This movie is clearly a satirical look at Hollywood and the constant need to remain relevant in the entertainment industry.

I will admit that the film does appear unnecessarily "artsy" in places, but some Hollywood actors love being unnecessarily artsy as they think it gives them depth.

That was the entire point of this film, for Hollywood to turn the camera on itself and expose all of it's own crap.

What I took from this film is what I have always felt about Hollywood, which is also what I love about it. Actors are inherently insecure, which is why they choose to be in an industry where there is a need for constant approval. The actors who are worth their salt risk everything to For that they will forever have my respect.

Definitely worth watching and worthy of it's Best Picture Oscar.
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audacious concept
SnoopyStyle20 July 2015
Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is famous for his role as comic book superhero Birdman. He is trying to revive his waning career with his first Broadway show that he wrote and directing with his friend Jake (Zach Galifianakis). His daughter Sam (Emma Stone) works as his grumpy assistant. Lesley (Naomi Watts) acts in the play. When a light falls on the lead, Lesley suggests headliner Mike Shiner (Edward Norton). Mike is a method actor who gets on Riggan's nerves.

The concept of long continuous scenes is interesting. It adds to the level of difficulty. It is audacious and makes the audience sit up to pay attention. Although this movie does not take place in real time. It's not 2 hours of Riggan's life. There is one amazing scene with Keaton in his underwear. There is a daring in that it is outside in the real world. It adds a higher level of energy and that scene buzzes. The standout performance is Norton. He's got the most fun character. Everybody does a great job especially Galifianakis, Stone and of course Keaton.
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Using the "M" Word Again...Masterpiece!
ClaytonDavis13 October 2014
I think we've all been exceptionally good this year because Christmas came early with Alejandro González Iñárritu's masterful "Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," an experience that you won't soon forget. Debuting at Venice and Telluride Film Festivals, the film closed an already impeccable New York Film Festival on Saturday morning for press and industry colleagues. It's a film that resonates profoundly, and may just be the best film of 2014. From its pristine writing (by Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolas Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris), to its carefully constructed direction and cinematography, to its genius casting and performances, "Birdman" is just a dream of a movie.

The movie tells the story of Riggan (Michael Keaton), a washed up actor who used to play a superhero icon called Birdman. In a valiant attempt to reclaim his career, he adapts, directs, and stars in a Broadway play. With problems from one of his very method actors (Edward Norton), assistant daughter (Emma Stone), emotional co-star (Naomi Watts), overly sexual girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), flamboyant producer (Zach Galifanakis), and loving ex- wife (Amy Ryan), Riggan prepares for the breaking point of his career.

"Birdman" is so damn enjoyable and one of the most entertaining films in years. It charms not just because of its story, but because of the performances and slick way that co-writer/director Iñárritu plays with tone. It's downright hilarious in parts, probably the funniest film of the year, and then there's the dramatic edge that comes into play, and simply breaks your heart. Above all, Iñárritu's "Birdman" is a celebration of cinema. It's an audacious achievement that floors just about every aspect of film witnessed in 2014. Iñárritu already had vocal admirers from "Amores Perros," "Babel," and "Biutiful," but this is his most accessible. This will move him up in the ranks with the Scorsese's, Spielberg's, and Eastwood's. He familiarizes us with the stage and the theater. He makes the surroundings a very palpable character for us to know and enjoy.

At 63, Michael Keaton has been criminally underutilized in his career, despite some iconic performances. The nerd crowd will worship him as the ideal Bruce Wayne/Batman combo, while the same thick will remember his "Beetle Juice" fondly for all-time. Where Keaton was passed over was for his dramatic capabilities. I've beat the horse dead on mentioning his cancer-stricken father-to-be performance in "My Life" or his recovering alcoholic player in "Clean and Sober." In "Birdman," Keaton marries the two with an undeniable sensibility that stands as the actor's finest to date. It's such a studied turn, you feel the accuracy and precision in which he executes every move and mannerism of Riggan. It's the role that Keaton has been waiting decades for. It's the role of his career.

If we're talking about underutilized actors, then Edward Norton needs to be mentioned. Two brilliant performances under his belt, both Oscar-nominated ("Primal Fear" and "American History X") but both passed over for someone else, Norton is back and better than ever. A scene-stealing standout, Norton makes us realize how unspoken dialogue between characters can be just as humorous without the punchline. Emma Stone has finally arrived with "Birdman." Criminally misused and passed over by Hollywood for "bigger name" actresses, Stone finally shows the world what they've been missing. In one single scene, Stone revolutionizes and captures the essence of "Birdman" with a ferocity that you couldn't see from any other performer. She finds the heart and soul of Sam, laying her on the screen meticulously and transparent.

Though brief in screen time, the vivacious Naomi Watts, the sexy Andrea Riseborough, and the seasoned Amy Ryan make their marks exquisitely. Watts gets the most chuckles out of the ladies while Ryan has the greatest arc for us to explore. I hope and pray that Zach Galifianakis continues down a path in independent cinema. Fully realized and delivered, he layers the film with a beautiful sympathy, vocal and restrained, he finds the meaning of Riggan and presents him to us.

Emmanuel Lubezki. That is a sentence, statement, and just pure cinematic meaning nowadays. You can't watch a movie shot by the Academy Award winning Cinematographer and not find yourself more intimately contained and available to the realm of the movies. Just one year after stunning us with "Gravity," Lubezki allows the audience to be in the movie. We are present in every scene, every movement, and every thought that a person is having. We feel as though Riggan and the cast are interacting with us. When they're laughing, we're laughing, when they're crying, we're crying. He is an absolute magician.

This seems to be the year of the drums because Antonio Sanchez composes "Birdman" with a drum score that lays deep in my ear canals. Tapping your feet and bobbing your head, Sanchez elevates the film to new heights. Editors Douglas Prise and Stephen Mirrione may be the unsung heroes because in the film, we are nearly in one continuous take, which hardly ever gives up (at least to the untrained eye). In no way do I call myself someone who can spot a digital edit, but I spotted no more than a dozen cuts throughout. That is amazing. I'm sure there were dozens more, but you couldn't catch them.

"Birdman" is a masterpiece (there goes THAT word). At a time where movies feel like they have to choose to between comedy and tragedy, Iñárritu's beauty works on us from the inside-out. It's a human story, comedy, thriller, mystery, all rolled into one. All told by a master filmmaker and storytellers. The year's must-see experience.
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"Art" vs. Commercial Success is the one-joke idea this overrated claptrap attempts to mine, ad infinitum
Turfseer23 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Birdman" is the latest overpraised and over-hyped "art" film by the acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton, who was known for playing Batman in the late 80s and early 90s, is cast here as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up Hollywood actor, once famous for playing a superhero Birdman character in the movies, now making a comeback on Broadway, acting in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story.

The entire film is shot as if it's one long take in a cinema verité style. Perhaps the best thing about the film is the behind-the-scenes peek at the technical aspects of a Broadway theater production. Initially, the narrative takes the form of a black comedy in which we're asked to laugh at the denizens of the theatrical world, all of whom are depicted as deeply flawed.

Riggan's big fault is that he's deeply ashamed of "selling out" years earlier when he took on his superhero role. But now, by attempting to mount a "serious" Broadway play, he has a chance to redeem himself. But his Birdman persona keeps appearing in the form of a disembodied voice (and later hallucinations), telling him that he will fail. The idea that there are those performers who believe that "art" is anathema to commercial success, is mocked incessantly throughout the film, but we get the joke early on, and eventually it becomes tiresome.

When the lead actor in the play is mysteriously knocked out by a falling stage light, Riggan is desperate to find a replacement, since previews are about to begin. At first the well known "method" actor, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), appears to be a godsend that will save the show; but soon it becomes apparent that Mike is exceptionally unstable. We're supposed to laugh at a character who gets drunk during his first rehearsal and later attempts to rape one of the female actors while they're on stage, lying on a bed, under the covers, before an audience who misinterprets the scene as comic.

Later, in a bar, Mike puts Riggan down further by pointing out that the napkin that was given to Riggan and signed by Raymond Carver, was given to him in a bar while he, Carver, was drunk. Mike tells Riggan that he's too untalented for Broadway and introduces him to Tabitha, the vicious Times critic, who later tells Riggan that she'll never give him a good review because anyone who sells out to Hollywood can never do anything good in the "legitimate" theater. The negative Times critic is just another example of the exaggerated caricatures sprinkled throughout the film, which simply aren't funny (a more realistic portrait of theater people should highlight both their positive and negative attributes!).

Also in the mix is Riggan's daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), who has just been released from rehab for drug abuse. Riggan receives a double dose of humiliation: first when he is locked out of the theater in his underwear and is forced to perform before the audience almost au naturel and later when he discovers the slimy Mike, has had sex with his daughter.

By the time we experience the "twist" of a "happy ending" at the denouement, there's nothing left for the audience to laugh at, since Mr. Iñárritu has smugly shot down all of his straw men caricatures. Riggan "triumphs" first when he blows off his nose with a gun loaded with live ammunition and Tabitha then gives him a favorable review, dubbing the performance an exercise in "ultra-realism." His new prosthetic nose appears to resemble Birdman's, and Iñárritu has Riggan fly away, now self-actualized, having had a Broadway hit.

The whole idea that commercial success and "art" is mutually exclusive is not borne out by reality. Even Riggan acknowledges that actors like Robert Downey Jr. can be successful in both worlds. So basically "Birdman" becomes a silly, "one-joke" idea, not based on reality nor worth hammering down our throats, ad infinitum.
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(...) the movie gets better in every way (...)
tbasaurecastro11 May 2021
I'm not exaggerating when I rate this movie a 10/10. From the first minute it's intriguing, you want to keep watching, not just for the impeccable performances, but for the incredible montage of scenes and the quality of the script. And best of all, as time goes on, the movie gets better in every way. Without a doubt, it is one of the best films in the history of cinema.
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One star and that's for Keaton's effort
aharmas10 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There's always a slot for a movie every calendar year for the one film that everyone praises but hardly anyone understands, likes, or comes close to fathom why it receives such accolades. "Birdman" and its entire cast and crew (with the exception of Keaton) have taken that spot, dislodging "Boyhood" out of this position. Still, "Boyhood" had Ethan and Arquette, which made it passable.

"Birdman" feels like an inside joke, and it never escapes that categorization for it constantly repeats its wink wink attitude. It keeps calling attention to how much it knows about the world of theater and its actors, so full of insecurity, mental trauma, every possible mental instability you can think of, and most importantly inmeasurable amounts of egocentric devotion. It is always, not so subtly calling attention to how hard it is to be a real actor, how much drama there is, and how special those beings are.

Keaton plays an actor who wants to be taken seriously by giving Broadway a try, and it's not an easy task because for starters, he doesn't trust himself as being anything else but a long-gone matinée idol, and this is in spite of his fans who keep jumping out of nowhere. You'd think that'd keep his ego satisfied, but where would the film go if there was no drama? So the four writers behind this mess keep piling up the tragedies... an addicted daughter, a possibly cheating girlfriend, who might or not be pregnant, a loving ex-wife who can't stay away in spite of the "attack", a manager who seems to offer too much support, a hateful critic, the local bar... I kept wondering when the Thelma Ritter character was going to make an appearance to liven things a little, but we did have an Eve Carrington type in there, somehow modified to make it look fresh and more psychotic. I never thought I would dislike anything Norton did, but this film managed to make him and Watts totally useless, and these two have been formidable, especially Watts in her last films. She's wonderful in "St. Vincent", showing she's capable of delivering great performances, and to make us feel even worse, there's that lesbian kiss, making me yearn for her sublime turn in "Mulholland Drive".

So much is wrong with this film that it would take pages to express the disatisfaction. The dialogue is borderline unbearable, making us wish the fictitious "Birdman" strike them dead. These people can't stop talking about their "problems" because if they didn't have them, their lives would be even more boring. It's just plain unbelievable that all actors carry that psychological weight. Are there any happy Broadway types? Even Watts is not happy she finally made it?

Then there is the gratuitous nudity. There was something strange about that preview, and it did hint at both something special and something really wrong with the film. To be fair, had the film concentrated on the Keaton character, it would have soared. This happens way too late in the movie, and it's an incredible flight of the imagination, but the road there is just mined with too many pretentious and incompetent attempts at being "original". I haven't heard that many yawns and sighs in one theater as I did this time. It's just an utter mess.

The subject of the theater and acting has been explored and shown with fantastic results, classic performances, and most importantly with superb examples of insight and drama. "All About Eve" and "All That Jazz might be the best of those films, and I can recall O'Toole, Finney, Weist, and a few other very talented actors and directors showing that type of life can indeed be full of drama, wit, insecurity and human comedy. "Birdman" only shows everything that can go wrong with trying to pretend that you do know what is going on.

Finally, don't get me going on those long hand-held shots... There was once a film about some criminals that was praised to heaven for something similar, and that certainly didn't make it a better film. In this case, it's supposed to be intimate; instead it's annoying, intrusive, disturbing and just another example that along with the interminable number of close ups, it only makes us feel extremely nauseous.
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Certainly an Ambiguous Challenge
Hitchcoc23 May 2015
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton are terrific. They are wonderful actors in nearly every sense of the word. I was engaged most of the way, but then the flying sequences. He is indeed a broken man. He is probably schizophrenic, listening to himself discuss his failures through the persona of the character he used to play. Enough has been written about this movie (it was the darling of the Oscars) for me to offer much. Nevertheless, I feel that we need to play fair with the audience. If this was a demonstration of what is wrong with Broadway and the Broadway crowd, let us know. There is a great scene where he confronts a powerful theatre critic who can make or break a show with a bad review (I never understood the power of these people) and chastises her for her vindictiveness and and arrogance in ruining peoples lives when she, herself, must not face the music. I'm sure her editors would disagree, but what he says is true. Unfortunately, as we roll to the end, we are made to make up our minds. I suppose it's OK not to be one with the character, but the ending is truly ambiguous, to a fault. Fantastic acting by the whole cast, yet it left me really cold at the end.
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A tour de force in acting with a highly quotable script
bob-the-movie-man24 January 2015
At one point in Birdman "or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)", Michael Keaton as 'celebrity turned serious actor' Riggan Thomson rants at a vicious New York Times critic Tabitha (the excellent Lindsay Duncan – – "About Time"; "Dr Who: Waters of Mars") about how all critics lamely fall on "labels" and "comparisons" to describe their subjects, never getting to the guts of how the art made them actually FEEL. And it made me FEEL like he was talking directly to me! So how did Birdman make me feel? What would be the snappy tag lines I would put on the poster?

"Astonished"; "Deeply impressed"; "Full of wonder"; "Slightly irritating" (that one probably wouldn't make the poster).

Birdman is definitely not a mainstream film, and it is likely to baffle and frustrate audiences almost as much as last year's almost impenetrable "Under the Skin". Riggan Thomson is part long-in-the-tooth actor and part superhero, at least in his fevered mind if not in reality. Surfing the C-list celebrity ocean following past glories in 'Birdman', 'Birdman 2′ and 'Birdman 3 (The Quest for Peace)', Thomson needs to prove to himself, his inner daemons and the world in general that he is a "real actor" by staging a play on Broadway. (In this regard, following Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman", this is almost art imitating life for Keaton). For this heroic effort he chooses a short play by Raymond Carver called "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" adapting it to allow himself to shine in the spotlight.

Thomson provides Broadway debuts for friend Lesley (Naomi Watts; "King Kong"; "The Impossible") and crazy girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough; "Oblivion"; "Brighton Rock"), but is less than impressed with his male co-star. 'Birdman' exits the guy with an "accident", but unfortunately that introduces a cuckoo into the acting nest in the form of famous actor Mike (Edward Norton), who risks completely upstaging Thomson with his theatrical brilliance.

This introduction leads to one of the best laugh-out-loud lines of dialogue so far in 2015: "How do you know Mike Shiner?" asks Keaton; "We share a vagina" replies Watts.

Again with this introduction, we see art imitating life, since Norton's performance (particularly in the first reel of the film) genuinely does risk outshining Keaton, despite all of his Oscar hype. I thought after "Whiplash" my choice for Best Supporting Actor was fairly safe with J.K Thompson . but after seeing Norton's performance I could see the race as much closer.

Overall though this remains Keaton's film, and his performance is remarkable in an extremely varied and challenging role.

Also remarkable is the gorgeously kooky Emma Stone as his sexually-louche and druggie daughter-cum-assistant Sam. This is particularly true in one astonishingly good rant to camera, where Stone delivers what could be termed an "Anne Hathaway Les Miserable" moment in its Oscar-worthyness. In each film, Stone is just getting better and better. I have said it before and will say it again, Stone is a future Streep in the making.

As the previews of the play progress towards a dramatic opening night, Thomson's grip on reality continues to unravel, as pressures get forced on him from all sides: artistic via Shiner; financial via his managerial colleague Jake (a dramatically better Zach Galifianakis than in the "Hangover" series); and via parental guilt over the relationship with his daughter. His outbursts both as Thomson and (down two octaves) Birdman become more and more extreme and paranoid – "I'm a f****** trivial pursuit question" he rants at one point while destroying his dressing room in rock group style.

The startlingly daring drum soundtrack by Antonio Sanchez actually counterpoints the action extremely well. Breaking down the fourth wall, the drummer keeps randomly appearing in a most surprising manner.

So what of the "Slightly irritating" poster quote? Director Alejandro González Iñárritu undoubtedly delivers a tour de force of a film; an instant classic that will be poured over by film students for years to come. However, he delivers the whole film in the style of one continuous take (give or take the odd time lapse sequence). And whilst this was entertaining to start with, I personally started to find it tiresome and irritating by the end of the film. Like Hitchcock's "Rope", also filmed in this way, you are constantly distracted by looking for where the edits actually fall, sometimes seeing what looks to be an inconsistent couple of frames where perhaps no cut existed in the first place! Worthy of note though was Emmanuel Lubezki ("Gravity") who's cinematography also bore many similarities to Hitchcock classic effects, including long drifting panning shots that appear to seamlessly melt through metal railings etc. Very impressive.

In summary, this is a must see for lovers of the art of filmmaking, and Birdman should feature very strongly at the Oscars in a month's time.

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nogodnomasters11 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) was famous as the Birdman. He has now taken his savings and invested it in a Broadway play based on the works of Raymond Carver. Riggan is haunted by his past. He hears the voice and character of Birman in his head taunting Carver would write, "Will You Please be Quiet, Please?"

Riggan's fresh out of rehab daughter (Emma Stone) helps out in the background as he struggles with the actors, especially Mike (Edward Norton). The previews were a disaster.

There is a lot of personal interactions that are going on. Riggan fears for the worse; that he will be a nobody and not remembered. He wants to do something else besides a cartoon character which is what he did best. It is interesting to note that Zach Galifianakis breaks out of his funny man role and does something serious...which was not as entertaining as his funny man role.

The acting was great. Emma stone had her scene where she lets loose on her dad about life. In fact the star liners were all given the scene to shine and they performed it well. The Birdman flashbacks reminded me a little of Jake Gyllenhaal" "Enemy" as you see the impossible, but in this case it was clearly Riggan's imagination...maybe.

I could see where this film would appeal to a certain type of movie going audience who like plot, theme, characters, and an under lying metaphor as well as a connection to the plays of the author it presents. I can also see where people could find this film slow, boring, and pointless...well acted scenes that don't seem to go anywhere afterwards.

Guide: F-bomb. Norton butt nudity. Some minor sexual innuendos.
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Good parts, but the film is too familiar and seems quite overrated.
planktonrules2 January 2015
At this time, "Birdman" has a phenomenal IMDb score of 8.7 and has been talked about a lot in regards to the Oscars. Whether the film does get the nominations (particularly for Michael Keaton) is something we'll know in the next few weeks. As for me, however, I really do think the film is quite overrated--and the biggest reason is that so much of it I've seen before--such as in Fellini's "8 1/2" and a few films that have copied this, such as Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories". The movie, at least to crazed film buffs like me, just lacks the originality to be a great film and it seems overrated.

As for the film, it's about a down and out actor who USED to be a big star back when he starred in superhero movies (like Keaton in real life). Now, decades later, he's attempting a comeback-- starring and directing in a Broadway play. The film is, generally, a behind the scenes look at what it's like during a production. But, it is also punctuated with very strange, surreal fantasy scenes--VERY reminiscent of Marcello Mastroianni's little fantasies in "8 1/2". In fact, there are so many that it's difficult to know what REALLY is happening at times.

I loved parts of the film. Many little bits and pieces made me smile or connected with me. But, at the same time, I struggled with liking the film because so many of the characters were either completely unlikable or were underdeveloped. This, combined with the unevenness of the script and familiarity of the style, the film didn't do much for me. Did I enjoy seeing it? Not especially, but I am glad I did see it-- and assume folks not familiar with "8 1/2" would probably like the film much more than me.
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At least the public knew to stay away from this
grumpy-39 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A bunch of very good actors, all wasted in an indulgent pretentious script, and even more indulgent and pretentious directing. the pseudo arts use of a drum soundtrack, the long boring hand held tracking shot, oh look i am doing all this in one take. the absolutely stupid plot, that takes ages to go nowhere, a film where the film maker is saying very loudly and in a very boring way, look how clever i am, why this has been praised by critics is beyond me. Actually to be honest i have now long given up on what critics say and write about a film. Virtually critic on both sides of the Atlantic seem to have lost any sense of what is good or bad. The amount of critically endorsed films that i have thought to be not bad but very bad seems to be growing each year. i have been a serious movie goer for some time now. i also have noticed that after a year or so these lauded films seem to get reconsidered , where the original praise is vastly reduced.
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Waste Of Two Hours
mboyd198619 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, I know - it's "arty-farty" and if you don't appreciate the ridiculously long takes then you are a Philistine.

I'm proud to be a Philistine.

I kept waiting for something to happen. It didn't.

I kept wondering: "how did they get the camera that was on the roof looking up at the building at night, to then see it in daytime and then slowly go down to the street and backwards through a metal grill and through a window and then..."

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes, what was the plot again? Forget the plot. just look at all the long takes and the arty-farty "actoring" going on.

Sometimes I just wish I could sue these people for wasting 2 hours of my life.
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Sweeping cinematography mixed with brilliant performances makes Birdman one of the very best of the year.
trublu21516 October 2014
Birdman is a brilliant, mind blowing experience that is filled with grand performances, Hitchcock-esque camera movements and a brilliant way of storytelling. Above all, Birdman's all star cast featuring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Zach Galifinakis propel this film to greatness, telling the story of a has been actor, Riggan, who was once known for a comic book franchise from yesteryear as he struggles to regain the stardom he once had through an off Broadway play. This proves to be harder and harder for Riggan as he deals with the disappointments of his own life while dealing with the difficulties of making this play his ticket back to stardom. This film serves as a somewhat personal film to Michael Keaton, giving the mere fact that he was known for playing Batman, a comic book hero eerily similar to Birdman. Keaton is an actor that proved time and time again that he can play virtually anything from heavy and hard hitting dramatic roles to silly and funny comedic roles as well. In Birdman, he strikes a perfect balance between the two and turns in the best performance of his entire career. He is firing on all cylinders and truly rises to perfection especially in scenes with an equally great Edward Norton. Another highlight of Birdman is the cinematography. First off, WOW. This film has some of the best cinematography I have seen in quite some time. Focusing on extremely long and spiraling takes, it submerses you in the scene, giving you the type of voyeuristic experience that Birdman calls for. We very much follow these actors as if we're watching a documentary on LSD. The camera movements are slow and bouncy, the tracking shots are nothing short of amazing and it gives an overall, dream like experience when watching this film, something that really benefits the film towards the latter half of it. I fully expect the film's Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki to score a Best Cinematography nomination come Oscar time. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has given us some new age classic films such as Babel, Biutiful, and 21 Grams. Birdman is no exception and, to be honest, this very well may be his masterpiece. He directs his actors with grace and never lets them miss a beat and with some extreme long takes throughout the film, it shows just how good of a director he is and just how good his actors can be, especially Michael Keaton. Overall, I could go on and on about this film and just how great it is but nothing of what I say here can really do Birdman justice. It is a film that you need to experience for yourself. With that being said, Birdman features amazing performances including a jaw dropping turn from Michael Keaton, along with some of the best cinematography I've seen in years. If there is one film to see during the Awards season, it is Birdman.
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proud_luddite16 February 2019
A former Hollywood superstar (Michael Keaton) was famous as a film superhero over twenty years ago. He attempts a comeback to fame by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway play.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, shows the same adept work in "Birdman" as he did in his best works "Amores Perros" and "Babel". There is almost a playful way the camera moves through the thin zigzag halls of the backstage of the theatre, giving the viewers the experience of the cast and crew in their daily work.

Overall, there is a welcome liveliness in "Birdman", not only in the directing, but also in the acting. Keaton heads a solid cast that also includes Edward Norton (a standout), Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis.

The story is good but might have been better considering the other achievements in this film. It seems to be trying to grasp something that is profound but only partly hits the mark. Also, a few cheap and old tricks lower the overall effect. A sitcom gag of being "locked out" in a very inconvenient way is decades old. Also, the cheap thrill of a spontaneous "girl-on-girl" kissing scene may not be as old but it's just as stale.

"Birdman" is still an enjoyable experience especially considering that Keaton (who was a superstar in two "Batman" movies over twenty years ago) might possibly be playing himself. - dbamateurcritic.
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2/10 bad
scifiactionfan16 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It is the most boring film ever. I wonder why so many people love it. Every time I started to get interested, they would play that annoying jazz drumming. My friend said it was better than "The Judge", not even close. From start to finish, that moving is an interesting story. From start to finish, I didn't care about any of the characters in this film. It won't get wide release because it won't appeal to most people. I have a theory that it will appeal to people that like jazz. It'll win awards because it appeals to critics. Oh, a spoiler, the plot is boring. I will say the actors did a really good job. I didn't have a headache when I went in but by the end of the film I did.
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Well-deserved Oscar for pretentiousness
dierregi18 January 2015
Washed up Hollywood star Riggan wants to prove he is a "real" actor by directing and starring in a Broadway play. But perhaps he cannot, because he is mental.

Wrapped around the claustrophobic world of actors, the movie is an exercise in navel-gazing and smugness. I guess it must be a big deal for a Hollywood superstar to prove to his peers that he is not just a money-making machine but also a talented actor. However, I truly do not care about the hysterics and anguish of Hollywood actors. That is why, when Birdman was acclaimed by the critics I already suspected yet another inflated balloon full of nothing. I waited until I could watch the movie for free, because I was very reluctant to waste money on yet another "Academy-worth" piece of crap and I am very happy I saved my hard-earned money.

The joke is twice on the audience, because the other theme explored by Birdman, besides narcissist actors, is audience stupidity. Not being the sort of person who cares about superheroes movies, I was nevertheless annoyed by the fact that the public of said movies is vilified by this piece of elitist crap.

It is difficult to point out what I disliked most about Birdman, since I hated everything: the overbearing drum soundtrack, characters shouting their lines, the smugness of the whole concept, the patronizing dialogs, etc… I do not even think Keaton was so great in it.

Finally, it is depressing to notice that the number of movies I want to walk out from is increasing exponentially. After decades of watching movies, what I expect is an interesting story told in an engaging way, but what I find is more and more egotistic directors busy only with producing crap bearing their trademark signature, being it Tim Burton Goth-chic or Wes Anderson smug-naive.
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Michael Keaton is back.
PWNYCNY24 October 2014
Michael Keaton is back. He thoroughly dominates this movie. He drives it forward, he makes it happen. Keaton's presence is so powerful that it shapes the entire story. This movie is about personal identity, artistic integrity, and the meaning of life. What is someone supposed to do if they believe that their life is a sham and a waste? At what point does the actor as artist stop dishing out garbage to earn a buck? How is one supposed to make sense out of their life when they believe they are a sell out? The story is set in the perfect place to deal with these issues. Where else but in a theater can such varied themes be played out? One can empathize with Riggan's plight as his self-doubt more and more conflicts with his need to achieve something worthwhile. Can he do it? Or is he merely a hack trying to pass himself off as something that he is not? He believes himself to be a failure yet does not accept it. This contradiction generates a tidal wave of emotion that makes Riggan such an incredible character.
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... and still no one asks the right question
A_Different_Drummer24 February 2015
Birdman at the same level as Citizen Kane? Hmmm Birdman is done by a modern day Robert Altman and it is a modern day Robert Altman film Altman was an experimental film maker. Sometimes in the same film some of the experiments worked. And sometimes they did not.

As with Altman's films, some people really like Birdman. And some do not.

So the real issue -- how did it win Best Picture????????????????? What the whole world keeps forgetting is that the Oscars were created as an "inside joke" where Hollywood could promote itself and congratulate itself and the rest of the world would watch because of the stars.

Boy do we love those stars.

More recently Hollywood has spawned a new tradition of awarding films which are teeter-tottering at the box office, knowing the Oscar will drive them into profit.

It is all about the money. Follow the money.
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THIS won an Oscar?
mcmiller5322 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
For me, a complete and total waste of money and time. My friend fell asleep about 20 minutes into this self-indulgent piece of tripe.

This movie strains so hard to make itself 'important' and 'groundbreaking' that it never stops to see that it has been done before by Masters such as Woody Allen, Hitchcock and any late night black/white '40s movie.

The 'plot' is as old as the hills. Man is successful but inwardly unrewarded. He has also rejected his family in search of California movie gold. So, he wants to redeem himself and try his hand at serious theater. Throw in a disturbed and rehabbed daughter, a long-suffering but understanding wife, and a producer pulling his hair out because the 'play' isn't a success and you've got all you need to know.

The rest is a montage of suspected hallucinations, maybe suicides "who knows?" and you're left feeling empty, cheated and angry because you know somebody's trying to be nouveau and special but simply missed it completely by being too insider and artsy about the whole thing.

Do not waste your time. If you want to see what theater and Broadway are all about and need a laugh, watch The Producers with Zero Mostel instead. If you want deep, head scratching drama that goes nowhere, go ahead, pay up and watch this nonsense.

And, I might add, Michael Keaton, to me, was trying too hard, had few acting chops and it was embarrassing to watch him in this. He, like the character he played, was trying way too hard.
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What a load of tosh
mikekisil9 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Less than a week into the new year and we have a prime candidate already for the worst film of the year. Inarritu has shown that his view of creating a production for the theatre is so hackneyed it is a rival for Mel Brook's "The Producers" but without the laughs. Here, as the director, he is self-indulgently showing off his abilities to the audience - watch me use time-lapse photography instead of cutting to move the time of the action along; see how I have learnt how to move my actors around the set from my regular viewing of the"live" episodes of "Coronation Street"; aren't I clever in the way I track my camera from the outside of a building into the inside via a balustrade and a window; what about the way I position my camera within the confines of a dressing room so that you don't see it recording what's going on inside - all this trickery highlights his inability tell a story in a way that involves the audience. I was looking forward to seeing Michael Keaton show his acting chops in a role that he was born to play - washed-up TV star trying to make a comeback into celebrity and the acting game in general but flirting with madness whilst trying to do so but his "Birdman" alter-ego kept getting in the way at the behest of his director. But his was not the only talent that was wasted. The rest of the cast were similarly handed caricature-driven roles that they could do nothing new with - Edward Norton playing a "prima donna"actor brought in to bolster the box- office appeal of the play and who has his own ideas on how to play his role; Naomi Watts playing an actress given her first role in a Broadway show and being crippled by nervousness to the extent that she is sick prior to the opening night performance; Andrea Riseborough as Keaton's new girlfriend possibly impregnated by him and not sure how to deal with this; Zach Galifianikis as the producer only worried about the money and the show's success; Emma Stone as Keaton's ex-drug addict daughter trying to keep Keaton and herself stable as Keaton goes off the rails - is there anything new here? I don't think so. The only reason I give this film one star is because of a short scene between Keaton as actor and Lindsay Duncan as Broadway theatre critic were she attacks him as a Hollywood invader of the "High Art" of Broadway and he attacks her for just being a labeller of theatrical types. This scene happens towards the end of the film and sadly comes too late to save it from its crassness. What a film it would have been if this had been the theme running through it. "The Sweet Smell of Success", "Topsy-Turvy" and even "The Producers" need not worry about their reputations for examining the theatre and the folk that work within and outside it. They are classics. This film is decidedly not.
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