Day 361: The Birdcage (1996)

1402191132_4After today, there is only five days left in the year which means there will only be five movies left to watch so making the right choices is very important. I wanted to watch a film that featured the late, great Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting) and so I chose to watch The Birdcage. Armand Goldman (Williams) is a gay owner of a cabaret club called The Birdcage who gets a visit from his only son Val (Dan Futterman). Val tells him that he is getting married, but there is one problem. He is getting married to a girl whose father is a very conservative senator and so he wants them to pretend for a night that they are not gay, but a normal family. Armand agrees to do it, but there is only one problem and it’s his drag queen boyfriend Albert (Nathan Lane). The film also stars Gene Hackman (Enemy Of The State) as Sen. Kevin Keeley, Dianne Wiest (The Lost Boys) as Louise Keeley, Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal) as Barbara Keeley, Hank Azaria (Grosse Pointe Blank) as Agador, Christine Baranski (Trolls) as Katherine Archer, Tom McGowan (Heavy Weights) as Harry Radman, Grant Heslov (True Lies) as National Enquirer Photographer, James Lally (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) as Cyril, and the film was directed by Mike Nichols (The Graduate). 

296williamsl-20010630-10812-jpgFirst off, I want to start the article by saying how inconsiderate the character of Val is throughout the whole film. He is so inconsiderate to his father and Albert and just about anyone at The Birdcage that he forces them to change who they are. I understand why Robin Williams character Armand did it, but it’s frustrating to watch because you’re like I would’ve told this kid where to go if I was in his situation. That right there is a sign of great writing where you get emotionally involved in the story. So, I am definitely giving kudos to that department as well as the acting which was superb. Williams, Lane, and Azaria absolutely steal the show in the film with their comedic wit and over the top performances. When they are on camera, they make the film that much more enjoyable. What’s up with Calista Flockhart in this film? There is this one scene where she puts on a lot of makeup and she looks like a corpse being drained of all its blood. It’s just that scary looking, but her slim figure is her trademark. The film is just fantastic from beginning to end as you wait to see if they’ll pull it off, but there is a redeeming moment at the end of the film for Val. After that, you will definitely forgive him. I loved everything about the film, this is a classic and one that a fellow co-worker recommended to me and I am glad I watched. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.

Day 183: Jaws 2 (1978)

jaws 2Including today there are only three more days left of Shark Week and we are definitely still going strong and we made a great choice for today. So, it is some time later and things seem to finally be coming back to order in the summer vacation resort island of Amity in the film Jaws 2. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is kind of looked at like a hero in this small community, but the chief begins to have suspicions once again after they find a ship with no crew. Accidents start happening on the beaches of Amity again and Chief thinks that it’s another great white that has come to extract some revenge. Despite all the skeptics that are on the island, the chief will have to set out to protect the island once again from the killer shark. The film also stars Lorraine Gary (Jaws) as Ellen Brody, Murray Hamilton (The Graduate) as Mayor Larry Vaughn, Joseph Mascolo (Shafts Big Score!) as Len Petersen, Jeffrey Kramer (Jaws) as Deputy Jeff Hendricks, Collin Wilcox Paxton (To Kill A Mockingbird) as Dr. Lureen Elkins, Ann Dusenberry (Basic Training) as Tina Wilcox, Mark Gruner (A Little Game) as Mike Brody, Donna Wilkes (Angel) as Jackie Peters, Keith Gordon (The Legend Of Billie Jean) as Doug Fettermen, and the film was directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Supergirl).

Jaws 2 1There is always this stigma around Hollywood that no matter what, sequels are never better or as good as the originals. That is kind of true when it comes to this film because Jaws had a magic of it’s own that made it iconic in the first place. While the sequel is a very good film on it’s own, it is not however better than the original. The original had a mystery to it where because the shark wasn’t working properly, they depended on the suspense. This film had it’s own kind of suspense to it, it just had a lot more shark in it than the original and that sort of took away from that mystery. This Jaws however had more personality than the original because it looked as if he was out for vengeance. He looked like he had a purpose to him and he was a little more diabolical than the original. It was just the way he continuously stalked the same boats for a while and if anyone tried to save them, he stepped in and intervened. There was really nothing else really wrong for the film because the acting was great, the cinematography was great, and it featured Roy Scheider again. What more could you possibly ask for? It’s films like this one that made me happy to dedicate a whole week to Shark Week, but not all of them can be as good as this. That is why I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 179: Jaws (1975)

jawsWe are once again continuing our theme of Shark Week here on our blog and we are proud to bring you a review of a classic. For today’s film, we are exploring the godfather of all shark movies, the one that made sharks a big hit, the film Jaws. It’s just another summer on the tourist summer island of Amity, but this one isn’t exactly like the rest of the ones in the past as the town is about to find out. One night, a girl is eaten by a shark and the new sheriff in town Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close down the beach before it gets too out of hand. The only problem is that the mayor of the town doesn’t want to close the beach cause they’ll lose money, but too many deaths and close class leave them no choice but to hire the shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). The film also stars Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus) as Hooper, Lorraine Gary (1941) as Ellen Brody, Murray Hamilton (The Graduate) as Vaughn, Carl Gottlieb (The Jerk) as Meadows, Jeffrey Kramer (Halloween II) as Hendricks, Susan Backlinie (The Great Muppet Caper) as Chrissie, and the film was directed by Stephen Spielberg (E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial).

jaws 2It was crazy to watch this movie and realize that I had never really seen this film because I didn’t recognize a lot of it. Then again, it was back in the 80’s, I was a little kid, and probably didn’t pay attention to most of it. I can definitely see why people hold this film in such high regard because it is that awesome of a film. Even though for most of the film, the robotic shark they had didn’t work it didn’t take away from the film because the suspense is amazing. You’re kind of seeing the action like a beach goer would and what I mean by that is you don’t see the shark, but you see people go under and lots of blood. That would scare the crap out of anyone not being able to see what is going on. The film has some iconic scenes in it like the sequence where the dog goes missing to the scene where Brody is dumping the chum and the shark pops out of nowhere, but my favorite is the scene where they’re sitting around. They’re getting drunk and they are telling war stories to each other, showing off each other’s scars too. The thing I love about the scene is that it seems so natural that it doesn’t look fake or rehearsed. It just seems natural to see these guys finally bond while on the hunt. Robert Shaw to me is an absolute highlight of the film, he is the bad ass shark hunter who kind of laughs at the town when they finally come to him. The battle sequence alone between the three and the shark alone is worth watching the film so I suggest checking this one out for sure. I am going to give the film an A+ for a final grade.

Day 64: Midnight Cowboy (1969)

images (1)I figured since I watched a film that had an Oscar winner in it yesterday, I would do the same for today. The film I chose for today, Midnight Cowboy, won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay in the 1970 Oscars. The film stars Jon Voight (Mission: Impossible) as Texan Joe Buck and Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate) as New Yorker Ratso. For Joe Buck, he has this idea that he’s too big in the hustling game for Texas and so he decides to move to New York to better his hustling game. For Ratso, things can’t get any worse for this New Yorker and he’s had enough of the big city so all he wants to do is move to Florida. Together, the two of them will form a very unlikely bond as they try to survive the streets of New York. The film also stars Sylvia Miles (Wall Street) as Cass, John McGiver (Breakfast At Tiffany’s) as O’Daniel, Brenda Vaccaro (Zorro: The Gay Blade) as Shirley, Jennifer Salt (American Horror Story) as Annie, Barnard Hughes (TRON) as Towny, Viva (The Man Without A Face) as Gretel McAlbertson, and the film was directed by John Schlesinger (The Falcon And The Snowman).

1969, MIDNIGHT COWBOY

The first thing that should sell you on the film is the fact that Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight star in the film. The second thing about this film that should sell you is that for 1969, it definitely pushed the boundaries of what was seen on film. Jon Voight has a sexual act performed on him by a man in the film and is the most unluckiest hustler or the worst. Both Voight and Hoffman lost the Oscar for Best Leading Actor to the duke John Wayne even though they deserved it after watching this. Dustin Hoffman has one of the best performances I have seen in a long time and his transformation was Oscar worthy. First of all, he sells that he’s this low down in the dumps New Yorker and he looks like he hasn’t showered in months. What more could you possibly want from the man? We are always led to believe that is what you have to do if you want to win an Oscar. Meanwhile, Jon Voight plays this clean cut cowboy in the big city who is a little naive because he’s not used to the hustle and bustle of the big city. I am not going to give away the ending of the film, but it’s kind of sad and bittersweet. I totally didn’t see it coming, but that is what I loved about it too. The film is gritty and it features a cool segment where they are at a Warhol party. This is classic cinema at it’s best and definitely a film worth watching if you are trying to be a cinephile. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.