The Birdcage

“We are family….”

The Birdcage is a remake of the French classic, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, and hopefully will be become a comedy classic all its own. Armand and Albert are a gay couple running a night club in Miami, and Armand finds out his son is getting married. It just so happens he is getting married to an ultra-conservative Senator’s daughter. The Senator is in search of some good PR as his political companion was found dead with a minor prostitute. A wholesome family wedding seems to be the Senators answer for the media, and Val, the straight son, is worried about the Senator meeting his gay parents. Hence the attempt at a transformation to be a straight couple, complete with redecorating their home and changing the way they act…and finally the dinner with the parents.

I have heard a few complaints that all the characters are stereotypical and over the top. Yes, they are. But this film works for that very reason. It is not a film that is begging to be taken to seriously. Even though over the top, the characters are well-developed and likable. Robin Williams (Best supporting Actor Good Will Hunting, The Night Listener, One Hour Photo) give s a spot on performance as Armand and Nathan Lane (The Lion King, Nicholas Nickleby) is perfect as Armand’s mate and star of the Birdcage nightly drag queen show, Starina! Gene Hackman (Best Actor The French Connection, Unforgiven) is a nice casting choice for the conservative senator. The final scene with Gene Hackman dressed in drag and attempting to sing We Are Family, is worth the price of a ticket, or a rental in this case. Ok, since we are talking about performances, by the show stealer is Hank Azaria (Run Fatboy Run, Along Came Polly) who plays the very feminine butler Agador. He nails his performance right on the head. If he is in the scene, he is stealing it! Just a wonderfully funny performance!

Overall, I would highly recommend this film. It has many laugh out loud moments and truly priceless scenes. Mike Nichols (Charlie Wilson’s War, Closer) does a wonderful job of directing this talented cast and keeps this a very colorful and bright film. Visually and emotionally. If you haven’t seen it, do so! As for me, I’ll watch it again, probably for the 15th time.

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The Narrow Margin

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If you thought Narrow Margin was simply a Gene Hackman film, you are missing the original and the better of the two films. The original is a B movie film noir classic. Charles McGraw plays on edge cop Walter Brown who travels to Chicago to escort a key witness back to California to testify against the mob. McGraw is escorting Mrs. Frankie Neall played boldly by Marie Windsor (Support Your Local Gunfighter). Boarding the train for California, the plot thickens as the mob is attempting to find out who the witness is and have her “bumped off.” Along the way Detective Brown meets another woman and after several communications and run ins with her on the train he feels she may be in danger being seen with him. Not to give any more away here…if your curious check it out.

Charles McGraw’s role is really nothing new for him, playing a hard nosed cop, although he does it very well. The outstanding performance of the film has to be Marie Windsor, she is very outspoken and has a very strong character, especially for a woman in film in this era.  She has some great dialog and doesn’t mind standing toe to toe with the guys. One of the great lines is when McGraw informs her that she makes in sick at his stomach, and her quick reply is “Well, use your own sink.”

Hats off to director Richard Fleisher (Soylent Green, Tora, Tora, Tora) who does a wonderful job making a suspenseful film with practically no budget. Something a few directors these days should pay attention to, actually making a film that is story and performance driven rather than inserting massive special effects to cover up the fact that there isn’t much plot to work with. If you enjoy Hitchcock films, this is one you are sure to enjoy as it has plenty of suspense, drama, and a plot twist here and there. At a mere 71 minutes in running time, you can afford to put this on your watch list. I highly recommend this film, a film noir classic!

Superman The Movie

Superman - The MovieGrowing up on this movie, it is refreshing to see this one on bluray. It was almost like seeing it for the first time again. The one sad thing about the disc is that it only contains the director’s cut. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two, but I still prefer the original cut of the movie.

To me, this is the best Superman movie out there and holds true to a lot of the original ideas in the comic stories. Richard Donnor (Lethal Weapon) does a great job directing this ground breaking film. This is the film that first made you say “Wow, a man can fly.” Also, my hats off to the director for actually setting up the story and history of Superman. Many would want to jump right into the action. The history is what made Superman what he is and having that understanding makes this movie.

As far as acting, to me Christopher Reeve is, and will always be Superman. He does a good job as Superman, and an even better job playing the bumbling reporter Clark Kent. He also carries a bit of truthful humor to both roles, especially the interview scene with Lois Lane.

The other actors, well this film is full of Hollywood greats and legends. Marlon Brando (Best Actor for The Godfather), who received an astronomical amount for his 10 minutes of work. Gene Hackman (Best Actor for The French Connection) makes the perfect Lex Luthor with his sidekick Ned Beatty (Network). Other great include Glenn Ford (Midway) as Jonathan Kent, Jackie Cooper (The Little Rascals) as Perry White,  Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder and Terence Stamp. A wonderful cast that has great performances overall!

Other than Star Wars, this is the movie I remember most fondly as a kid. It is one of my favorites, and will always have a special place on my movie list. Anyone who hasn’t seen this film should do so. It is Hollywood film making and storytelling at it’s best.