My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):
1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.
2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”
3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.
4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.
5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.
6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.
7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:
“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”
“You’re an actress, honey!”
8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.
9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.
10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.
11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?
12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.
13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.
14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.
(Originally published February 1, 2015.)