THE BIRDCAGE (1996)

Directed By Mike Nichols 
Written By: Elaine May 
Based on An Earlier Screenplay By: Francis Veber, Edouard Molinaro, Marcello Danon & Jean Poiret
Based in the play La Cage Aux Folles by: Jean Poiret
Cinematography: Enrique Lubezki
Editor: Arthur Schmidt 

Cast: Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, Christine Baranski, Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Tom McGowan, Grant Heslov, Kirby Mitchell, Ann Cusack, Trina McGee-Davis

A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s right-wing moralistic parents.


this film at the time was a little daring or a bit of a gamble for a mainstream audience. Though it was also self-assured because of the popular cast. Though behind the scenes you had a bunch of heavy hitters. Who managed to raise the bar on a familiar tale and still knock it out of the park. 

Which shockingly had some actors playing against type. Where we have a fun yet more restrained Robin Williams while playing more of a funny conservative grouch. Seeing gene hackman in drag is certainly different and new.

The film also tries to put in some satire of the political culture at the time and while camping up gay culture at least offers a glimpse inside of it and offers representation.

This film also is really the big screen introduction of Nathan Lane as Albert the drag queen lover who has been practically a mother to robin Williams son in the film. Playing a role that was abandoned by Steve Martin last minute due to scheduling problems. Thilough broadway star Nathan lane took it and made it a star-making Role.

Hank Azaria also makes his presence felt in his supporting role as the couples maid, assistant and cook. Who is also part of the slapstick laughs later in the film.

This is one of those films that came around at the right place and right time. As the film and play was already a hit In France and waiting for an American remake for years that never got made which might have been out of fear in the 1989’s to portray a gay relationship. non chalantly with mainstream big name actors. So that when it did come along the culture was a bit more relaxed and if made today might not even bat too many eyelashes.

Luckily it is still hilarious to watch even on this day and age. Even when the Jokes are a little more obvious they still make you laugh. As there is wit on display as well as physical comedy and just plain old slapstick in the third act.

Out of the cast if anyone is flat It’s the young couple looking to get married played by Claista Flockhart and Dan Futterman though in a film filled with flamboyant and over the top characters you need some to be more quiet and seemingly normal to even it out a little. though they come off a little dull and Futterman Looks way older than Flockhart 

While the film is a laugh riot from beginning to the end it also has character moments that come off more serious and dramatic. As even after the so called Macho lesson the scene where lane tries to act like a straight male in a suit is a thing of beauty and partial pain.

You can feel its theatrical roots throughout it truly strongly in The theirs act where everything comes to a head. What truly is amazing is that while it was dating at its time it plays off so cute that now it feels like a more modern comedic classic that the whole family can enjoy. Even if there are times when it feels overloaded with stereotypes. 

It is so styled yet feels so haywire. That while it might seem like it is filling turbulence it’s always smooth sailing. 

Though there is an overwhelming comedic quality with heart and care that had me going to see it in theaters more than once or twice. 

Grade: A-

FOXCATCHER (2014)

Directed By: Bennett Miller 
Written By: E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman 
 Cinematography By: Greg Fraser 
Editor: Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy and Conor O’Neill 

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice


The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

The film sets a brooding tone from the beginning, Which feels like the air has been let out of the room throughout the film.

Seeing the humiliation and what life is like in his brothers’ shadow. it seems is already its own tragedy of sorts. The story is told stilted yet matter-of-factly. While it seems each gesture even in behavior is presented almost under a microscope as its own action, As far as detail. Proving that in this film everything means something no matter how minor or even if dealt with in an off-handed way. So that the film feels more like a clinical behavioral study with precision angles.

I give the director Bennett Miller accolades for sticking with his singular vision for the film. His style helps not only define the film but showcases his style as well. Which seems to be more clinical and observational.

In this film, it is the deepest we have seen Channing Tatum ever and not quite surprisingly as good as 21 JUMP STREET. Where he proved he could be intentionally funny in a star-making turn. Here he plays the type of character you would expect, but rather than a general type of character here the film gives him nuances and a certain depth. Not letting him fall and not letting him avoid and go into his bag of tricks as an actor. You feel him really being open and raw in this performance. Having to truly work more than ever before in this role.

At first, Steve Carell seems like a stunt casting in his role. He seems to be trying to break out of strictly comedic roles here. Unfortunately, he seems to become more of a slave to the prosthetics used on him. It could also be that they were so distracting it’s hard to pay particular attention to the complexities of his performance. Though as with many comedic actors he plays well in the confines of drama as serious, disturbed, and strange. Almost feels like a Real-Life Version of the strange comedic character Dan Ackroyd played in NOTHING BUT TROUBLE only not as loud.

Just as in DAN IN REAL LIFE and SEEKING A FRIEND AT THE END OF THE WORLD playing a vulnerable character suits him and he attacks the role with more relish. He tries harder. Taking it as a challenge and running with it. More than he does with comedy, which is his natural talent, and more in his training. Not seeking to be one thing or play one note. Showing his range.

Mark Ruffalo is good though his character is already set up as a saint and martyr and he might be playing the person as he actually was. Good-hearted and that is what makes what happens so heartbreaking. Here he gives the character shades and is obviously important to the story. He seems to be the only character who has sense and is a sobering presence to the lunacy of the other main characters dementia of sorts. 

Before filming a particularly dark scene, Bennett Miller made Steve Carell write on a piece of paper the thing that he hates the most about himself and then put it in his pocket. Miller told Carell, “Just have it right there, and know that it’s in a place where, if I was a dick, I could just grab it.” According to Miller, the result is the favorite thing that he has put on film.

Because the project took so many years to get off the ground, many actors were considered for the lead roles. Heath Ledger, Ryan Gosling, and Bill Nighy were strongly considered for the lead roles in the early stages of production.

More is said in silence and behavior throughout the film. It’s like a tragic buddy film. As soon as the main character’s relationship is close but ambiguous and never quite fully explained but suggestions are made silently as to the lengths of it.

The film never seems to drop its air of impending doom and tragedy. Setting a chilly mood and tone that never lets up and leaves things implied rather than explained.

Both characters are in a struggle to define themselves and impress family and others by standing on their own and defining themselves separate from how others might see them. Most of all they seem desperate to prove to themselves that they are more than the roles they have been offered in life. Then living up to it. Though one brings it about himself and the person, he is trying to prove himself to is more himself than his brother who is already proud of him. The other seems lost in his own mind to define himself not by actual talent but by what he finds interest in. As he has been given mostly what he has ever wanted and seems not to be that successful at it. But he has a passion it seems to showcase actual work and/or talent.

Eventually, the film leads to strained relations that seem to revolve between the characters at different intervals that keep seeming to mount more and more that you can feel that it is going to surface and bubble over at some point.

When it does it does rather simply and more out of the blue rather than. A showcase or a spectacular scene. I guess it’s like the facts just random and ordinary.

According to Bennett Miller’s comments at screening, a rough cut of the film was more than four hours long.

Steve Carell claimed that according to director Bennett Miller’s wishes there was no joking between takes, and he did not socialize with the co-stars after work.

According to Steve Carell, the real John DuPont was known for even more outlandish behavior than what is shown in the film, but he and director Bennett Miller wanted his madness to be gradually revealed to the audience.

The third act of deep resentment festering until a final act that you know is coming. Though still feels surprising when it happens and is just as senseless in the act as in the reasons.

The film feels downtrodden. It is based on a true story and real events. Though it keeps the story singular. It also makes the film feel barren and an island in of itself.

Too much of the people who love the good life. Go to extremes to feel something new and different. That registers and that they grant in control of to feel accomplishment in themselves. Here no one gets what they set out for, and their grand plan seems to doom them all to places that might have been inevitable but none planned to end up that way.

It’s a tragedy that feels like a boom as it sets the mood. It seems to be more about what is written between the lines though tells you the story fully as it happens. Nothing feels hidden.

The film ultimately comes off as a bit disappointing as we wallow but are given hints yet no definitive answers. The film immerses us in the drama and relationships yet still keeps them in the shadows a bit.

Grade: B

FOXCATCHER (2014)

FOXCATCHER

Directed By: Bennett Miller
Written By: E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman
Cinematography By: Greg Fraser
Editor: Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy and Conor O’Neill 

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice
The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

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