Watching Birdman is equivalent to watching a plane crash. Things and people of great stature colliding in a fiery inferno of ego and madness. Like the plane itself, these people are not aware of their folly. They go on and on with their self-destructive manner, not realizing the damage being done. Yet, it does not come across as some violently sickening act of destruction. It is much more of an apocalyptic waltz. To quote Pynchon "it is not a disentanglement of, but a progressive knotting into." We are watching the fall of the Roman Empire, but from our perspective it looks like the emergence of the Persians. A phoenix rising from the ashes-fitting. The subtitle for Birdman is "The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance." A joke on both the characters of the film and the audience. In some perverted way, their is virtue to be found in the depths of ignorance. It's just not the kind anyone is looking for. At the end of the movie, the main character Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), seems to have gotten everything he has wanted throughout the film. In reality, he's actually gotten the opposite. His ignorance and bullheaded stupidity masquerading as celebrity have made him the antithesis of his goal throughout the film. In some ways, it is a very depressing film even if it does not present itself as so. It is an indictment of show business while simultaneously being a celebration of it. Doing so in a way that is not hypocritical, but admirable. These characters are self-obsessed and theatrical lost puppies who come onto the scene screaming and raving in carefully practiced speeches because they have all lost the ability to just act like regular people. Maybe they aren't regular people, but a race of space aliens who landed on Earth and used E! news, Vanity Fair, and the biography of Corey Feldman to learn how to act like people. Even the movie's most "honest" character, Riggan's screw-up drug addict daughter (Emma Stone), has her lapses into self absorption and vanity. This a film steeped in utter madness. A loud and infectiously exciting barrage of drums accompanies the movie. In Riggan Thomson's most insane stretches of being, the constant beat of drums thrums along with it. The score reflects all of the character's neurotic and constantly frightened personas. One of the most present and important characters in Birdman is the camera filming it all. The director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, has made a very bold and audacious decision to film all of the movie in a series of long takes, edited together in a way that makes it look like the entire film is in one endless shot. The main plot of the film revolves around Riggan, a washed-up actor who once played a superhero in a series of successful superhero films (very reflective Keaton in real life), who is now vying for artistic merit with a Raymond Carver short story he has adapted and will act and direct in. The method of using the constant long takes and tracking shots that Inarritu has adopted here is supposed to make it look like it is a play itself. The actors don't film one close-up and then have a smoke break, they are constantly on. This reflects the vain theatricality of the characters in the film. They live their life like they are in a play: loud, wordy, flashy, and full of dense dialogue. A directing decision that could have devolved into a tiresome gimmick is used for real artistic value here. The wonderfully awe inspiring decisions on Inarritu's part and the ace work of the actors can easily make one forget about the film's noticeable flaws. The script has some rough edges. There are a few jokes that don't quite land and there are some lines that feel incredibly mean-spirited and misguided. There are times when it seems like the screenwriter feels worried the audience won't get the message he is trying to convey and that he must continually expound upon what he's trying to say tirelessly. Those particular moments made me cringe. Yet, when stacked up next to the rest of the movie, they seemed minuscule and not even worth mentioning. My only true problem with the film was its ending, which I won't spoil for anyone. Let me just say it could have (and should have ended a few scenes earlier). Besides all that, Birdman soars higher than Superman on helium. It is a massively entertaining meditation on show business, madness, and the deformed sick elephant we all call "fame." Anyone who scoffs at the current state of Hollywood, pointing out the mind-numbing barrage of formulaic superhero pictures that gets pumped out every year, certainly isn't wrong in doing so. But you only have to look so far as to Birdman to know that there is hope for cinema yet. Do not despair common folk, Keaton has landed and he is here to help.