WTF: Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Birdman 35 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)

Birdman 01 poster (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)

Spoiler Alert:

I shall be dissecting Birdman, examining its guts and studying its structure to see if it soars or is for the birds, man. So read on only if you’ve already seen Birdman, or don’t plan to.

Watch BiRDMAN here

Birdman 02 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Michael Keaton gets high


Birdman 03 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
High on Life. And natural gas.

0:02:02 With the comet plunging to earth and a man in his tighty whities, two tails begin the film.

0:05:57 Michael Keaton is Riggan Thomson, the director (and lead actor and adapter) of a Broadway play. After Riggan looks up at the stage lights, one falls and strikes the actor Riggan doesn’t like. Both the actor and the light black out.

0:06:16 Riggan tells the producer (and attorney and best friend), Jake (Zach Galifianakis), that they have to cancel the first preview. The show must go on later.

Birdman 04 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“Come on! ‘The Hangover’! I’m sure you saw it.”

0:06:44 Riggan confesses to Jake that he made the light fall. Jake thinks Riggan is a little light in the head.

0:07:56 In Riggan’s dressing room, the poster behind him speaks to him. The poster is of himself as Birdman, a super hero in a film years earlier.

Birdman poster: That clown [Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman] doesn’t have half your talent and he’s making a fortune in that tin man getup. We were the real thing, Riggan. We had it all. We gave it away. We handed these poseurs the keys to the kingdom.

Especially ironic when Michael Keaton was Batman. Twice.

Birdman 05 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
He’s pigeon toed


Birdman 06 GIF Wall Flowers (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Wall Flowers

0:12:36 Lesley, Naomi Watts as an actress in the play, tells Riggan and Jake that Mike Shiner (“we share a vagina” – I’m assuming this is a hetero thing) is available as a replacement actor for the bloke who was knocked on the head.

Brandon: Ask me if he sells tickets.

Riggan: Fine, does he still tickets?

Brandon: He sells a shitload of tickets. Now ask me if the theatre critics love him.

Riggan: Do theatre critics love him?

Brandon: They want to spooge on him.

Riggan: Hey!

Brandon: Lesley?

Lesley: Right on his face.

It would seem as though I’ve missed my calling.

Birdman 07 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“Jake, Lesley has come between us.”

0:13:32 Edward Norton plays Mike, a theatre actor who is as serious as genital warts.

0:14:38 I like the idea of people with super powers who don’t want to become super heroes. Reminds me of me.

0:17:06 Emma Stone is Sam, Riggan’s daughter but also his secretary. Even I might consider spawning if it meant I could have a live-in assistant.

0:17:42 Mike compliments Sam’s ass-et. This could be problematic considering his girlfriend is in the play and Sam’s father is the director. #DumbAss

0:18:02 Al K Hall nudity alert (if Al was gay). Ed Norton isn’t an ass but he has one, and here’s the ass he rode in on.

Birdman 08 SC ass (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Plot hole


Larry [Michael Siberry, talking about the wardrobe]: Everything’s too small.

Sam [watching Mike undress]: No kidding.

0:20:42 Andrea Riseborough is Laura, Riggan’s apparent GF. She’s missed her last two periods, and I don’t think she’s taking about a football match.

0:22:42 The play inside of the film is based on the short story “What we talk about when we talk about love”, by Raymond Carver, whom I admire hopelessly. (I’m not alone in my cult; Robert Altman made the film Short Cuts based on several of Carver’s works.) When I begin feeling superior whilst reading the Internet, I read Carver to humble back down.

Birdman 09 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“Are you memorizing my hairlines?”

0:25:04 In the middle of a performance, a drunk Mike goes off script and calls Riggan out for replacing the gin in his stage drink with water. Then he criticizes the audience for their disapproval. If this happened more in the theatre, I’d see more plays.

0:28:06 Riggan’s ex (Amy Ryan as Sylvia) arrives backstage. We learn that Sam was in rehab and that Riggan is meant to be watching over her somewhat. This is when super powers would come in handy.

0:29:14 Riggan wants to mortgage a house that’s intended for his daughter to finance the play. In case you were wondering where he stands on the old ‘being a good father’ thing.

Birdman 10 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“How did you fit your hand in the little red keg?”


Mike: I wanna know something. Why Raymond Carver?

Riggan: I was a kid in high school doing a play in Syracuse and he was in the audience. And he sent this back afterwards…

[Riggan unfolds a piece of paper he keeps in his wallet and hands it to Mike]

Mike [reading the note]: ‘Thank you for an honest performance, Ray Carver’.  Yeah?

Riggan: That’s why I knew I was going to be an actor. Right there.

[Mike grunts]

Riggan: What’s so funny?

Mike: Nothing, it’s just on a cocktail napkin.

Riggan: Yeah, so?

Mike: He was fucking drunk, man.

Maybe I’m not alcoholic enough to be a good writer.

Birdman 11 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“No, it’s not beer, it’s Belgian mineral water.”

0:37:48 The soundtrack sounds like the soundtrack to Whiplash. Lots of jazz percussion. Maybe they couldn’t afford all of the instruments.

0:39:53 The tattoo on her left arm is “The wound is the place where the light enters you” by Rumi.

Birdman 12 SC Stoned (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Teat for Tat?

0:39:08 Riggan and Sam fight because he discovers she’s been smoking marijuana. #EmmaStoner The dispute ends with her saying,

You hate bloggers, you mock Twitter, you don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this [play] because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right, you don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.

By this definition, I exist because, in addition to this website, I have a Twitter account and a Facebook page. I’m also on Tumblr, Imgur, Pinterest and Reddit, so I must super exist. #Existential

0:41:06 Emma Stone rocks.

Birdman 13 GIF Palette (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Her face is a palette of emotions

0:43:33 When Mike and Leslie are in bed on stage, he nearly rapes her simulating a sex scene and then parades about on stage with a tent in his underpants.

Birdman 14 GIF Hard Acting (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Acting is Hard

0:46:22 Leslie breaks up with Mike after that stunt.

Leslie: Why don’t I have any self respect ?

Laura: You’re an actress, honey.

0:48:36 Laura and Leslie begin ‘lip syncing’ in the dressing room. #LGBT

0:54:44 Laura’s not pregnant and she’s upset because Riggan is superficial. Maybe, but at least he didn’t claim to be pregnant when he wasn’t.

0:56:41 Ed Norton in a speedo. Wow, I wish I had his body. In a box in my bedroom.

Birdman 15 SC Ken (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
He looks like my Ken dolls

0:58:22 Mike and Riggan wrestle because Mike stole Riggan’s Carver story and gave it to the press as his own. #Play-gerism

Birdman 16 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Fight Club 2: Fight Like A Gran

1:00:26 The voice in his head is Birdman, telling him he should stop posing as an artist and do another superhero film.

Riggan: Look at me. I look like a turkey with leukaemia!

I don’t think I know what this means.

1:00:17 The year he mentions being Birdman is in 1992. Coincidentally, this is also the year Michael Keaton filmed his second and last Batman film: Batman Returns. Coincidentally.


Riggan: I’m Riggan fucking Thompson.!

Birdman: No, you’re Birdman, because without me, all that’s left is you.


Birdman 17 GIF Robot Chicken (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Robot Chicken

1:05:34 Fair warning, if Mike and Sam sleep together, I’m deducting points for predictability.


Mike: Hey, tell me something. What is the worst thing that he did to you? Seriously.

Sam: He was never around.

Mike: Yeah…? I mean, so what? That was it?

Sam: No, it was how he tried to make up for it by constantly trying to convince me that I was special.

WTF!? First world daughters.

Birdman 18 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Like Time Magazine on Father’s Day, she has Daddy Issues

1:07:48 Sam continuously ridicules Mike and kisses him after telling him how bad his declaration of affection was. It’s so WTF and so normal that it’s trite. Why can’t this film have the magic that Riggan has?

1:09:56 Apparently Mike is not as impotent as he claims. Did Sam forget her lines? Because Mike is feeding her his cue.

1:14:14 Riggan gets locked out of the theatre during a cigarette break and has to walk down Broadway in his underwear. This is for those of you who don’t believe smoking is bad for you.

Birdman 19 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Riggan, Spiderman, Bumblebee, Drum major, Statue of Liberty, Ironman

[Note the cameos…Riggan will be meeting them all again later]

1:22:47 A pretentious New York intellectual theatre critic (Lindsay Duncan as Tabitha) informs Riggan that she will close his play by writing the harshest review she has ever written. She knows this even before she’s seen the play. I hate critics. #selfloathing


Riggan: Wow, what has to happen in a person’s life that they have to become a critic, anyway?

A mixture of heartbreak, ridicule and lavage.


Birdman 20 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Electric vomit


Birdman 21 SC Macbeth (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Street Theatre

1:28:58 Riggan wakes up passed out on a stoop and Birdman appears, telling him to give up. More an arch-enemy play than a superhero save.


Birdman 23 GIF Snap Decisions (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Snap Decision

1:32:05 Riggan atop a building takes the leap of faith and flies away. More magic than realism, yet not enough of either.

Birdman 22 GIF Take Off (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
His career is taking off

1:37:54 Riggan reminisces with Sylvia (his ex wife) about a romantic story in which he bedded another woman the night of their anniversary party (WTF!?) and then he tells he loves her, tying in the name of the play (‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love ‘) to his life.

1:38:44 Keaton does a bang up job on his monologue but is one monologue enough for an Oscar? Here he talks about what a shit he was with his ex and his daughter, and one wonders why he uses the past tense: he was a shit with his daughter just a few hours ago.

1:39:54 He prepares a real, loaded gun for the final scene of the play and opens the door magically with one finger. I’m not impressed, I’ve met hundreds of people with magic fingers.


Birdman 23 Worth a Shot (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Worth a Shot

1:42:54 The standing ovation is such that the critic storms off in a huff, knowing she cannot pan the play, because it will be Number 1 with a bullet.

Riggan hallucinates the characters he passed in front of the theatre.

Birdman 25 SC Gang's all here (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Riggan’s reunion is all in his head

1:45:16 In the hospital room:

Sylvia [to Brandon about a rave review from their nemesis]: You’re happy about this?

Brandon: Happy? I’m fucking euphoric! This is the kind of review that turns people into living legends.

Sylvia: He shot the nose off his face!

Brandon: He’s got a new nose! And if he doesn’t like that one, we’ll get him a new one. We’ll use Meg Ryan’s guy, who gives a shit?

Meg Ryan's guy doesn't give a shit
Meg Ryan’s guy doesn’t give a shit

1:48:02 Sam visits and snaps a photo of him for the Twitter page she created for him that morning. How can it have taken so long for the Birdman to tweet?

1:51:02 After taking off the bandages and seeing his new nose, Riggan opens a hospital window in what is a very high room (WTF worthy, as hospital windows are blocked shut for safety).

Birdman 24 SC Injured bird (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Give him a beak

1:52:14 Sam returns with a vase and panics to find her father isn’t there. After first checking the ground, she looks up to find him flying about with the pigeons, perhaps taking a crap on the people below. Which might just be a perfect metaphor for this film.

Birdman 26 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
How can you Lilac that to me?

Roll credits


Tally Ho’

  • WTF!?’s: 3 on the wing
  • When to Follow: When you enrol in film school and have to study the technical aspects of movie making.
  • Where’s This Found: Technically, this film is perfection. Alejandro González Iñárritu truly merited his Best Director Oscar. The style is engaging with only 16 cuts in the entire film – the longest scene being a full seven minutes – meaning the viewer is brought into the film as though we were following the characters about. Unfortunately, this extreme focus didn’t make it into the script. The film is like an acquaintance’s slide show of the Grand Canyon: it’s the story of uninteresting characters obsessed with their own trip. Out of a possible 10, I have 5 F’s to give

5 Fs

  • What To Feedback: How would you have voted if you were a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

All GIFs used in this review were created with the Imgflip online meme generator

Left Over WTF (Way Too Funny) Photos

Birdman 27 GIF Flying on the handle (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Flying on the handle
Birdman 28 GIF The case for magic (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
The case for magic
Birdman 29 GIF Throwing up (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Throwing up
Birdman 30 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“The film is Magical Realism, yet doesn’t have enough of either…” Oh that Saint Pauly!
Birdman 31 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“Someone is on my tail!”
Birdman 32 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Sam isn’t sick but her stockings have the runs
Birdman 33 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Riggan will walk but the Birdman will just wing it
Birdman 34 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“Seriously, is that your real hair or a Dr Suess hat?”
Birdman 35 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Thinks he hears a bird call
Birdman 36 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“I’ll be your Ben-Gay, without the gay.”
Birdman 37 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
“This costume is for the birds!”
Birdman 38 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
So sex is off the table?
Birdman 39 (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Bird of Pray
Birdman 40 SC Graveyard (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)
Opening card to the film and Ray Carver’s tombstone

Prints suitable for reposting!

WTF!? did they say?

Birdman 41 Say Without Me (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)

WTF!? do you meme?

Birdman 42 meme bird (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)

Birdman 43 Fight Club (Watch the Film WTF Saint Pauly)

What to Follow Up

WTF!? review of a better intellectual film
WTF!? review of Easy A
Oh Al! Bar None review of Magic in the Moonlight
If you liked Birdman, you should read the Fernby Films review

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4 thoughts on “WTF: Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

  1. St Pauly, once more you have been erudite in your examination of this edifice of an entertainment. And you made me giggle solidly more than once, which is not something many critics (ha! – I hear you, brother!) can achieve.

    Birdman’s either a film you love, or merely like (although some people say they hated it, but those people can go fuck themselves for being troglodytes) – I guess either way it’s a great film for prompting discussion about movies. Me, I love this kind of meta-referential shit, so Birdman flew that flag waaaay up high and I freakin’ saluted the shit out of it.


    1. You, Rodney, are once again far too kind for my own good. Thank you for your generous words. As for the film, I think we can agree that it’s a great film…to trigger a debate about film-making! Thanks once again for your visit!

      WTF, Rodney (Watch The Film)

      Saint Pauly


    1. My dear Bix,

      Well! I’d call you a ‘vulgar little troll’ but that would be labelling. Yet, wait, “lazy fucker” is quite the label, isn’t it? It would seem you’re just as guilty as I, though hypocritical to boot. The comment is also, ironically, proof that you’re even lazier than I am. My god, 16 words and none over two syllables?

      More to the point, I would expect someone who claimed I pay no attention to structure or intent to seize the opportunity to ‘school’ me by citing examples and demonstrating evidence to prove me wrong. Unfortunately, any point you have have been trying to make was lost the moment you chose to limit yourself to juvenile name calling.

      Please feel free to pay us a visit when you’re mature enough to carry on a discussion amongst adults who love cinema.

      WTF!? Bix (Watch The Film)

      Saint Pauly


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