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Panic Room (2002)
First rule of Panic Room, don't go to Panic Room
It is usually the movies that had the potential to be good that make the worst movies. Panic Room is just such a film. David Finchner, with the exception of his first film Alien 3, has up to this point been making exemplary films. They are suspenseful when they mean to be and thought provoking as well. Panic Room is not. While Finchner has been known for his original cinematography here, with the exception of the establishing shot of the Alten's apartment, a lot of it is superfulous and quite distracting. The other major problem here is that David Koepp's script makes two of the three robbers quite likeable and sympathetic. Worst of all is the resolution, very incomplete and illogical. A lot of ingredients for a good if not great film were here, just someone left the oven on for too long.
Bye Bye Birdie (1995)
I would strongly recommend this film for any musical fan whose been dying to see a musical make a faithful transition from stage to screen. Sure it's long, but it's length is a testimony to how true to the original musical script the film is being. The sets and cast really make Sweet Apple, Ohio the place to be. Fosse protege Anne Reinking also does a splendid job with choreography giving the dances a nice small town, period feel.
The casting at a glance may look strange to some but they really are qute marvelous(reading "annonymous"'s comments on Jason Alexander's performance made me sick). In fact, his perforamnce literally steals the show. As Albert, he mixes his own unique blend of manic nervousness with Dick Van Dyke-esque charm to create a new and improved Albert. The fact that he can dance and sing like nobody's business doeesn't hurt either. George Wendt is another stand out, who improves upon Paul Lynde's take on Harry McAffe by making him less manic and more down to Earth and strict. His whole character and body language scream "over my dead body". Marc Kudisch takes the Elvis aspect of Conrad Birdie to new heights with his subtle insertion of a "thank you very much" in "Honestly Sincere". His physicality though harkens back more to young Elvis then the bloated, stubly Conrad of the original film. The fact is that this movie differs so greatly from the original film (which added drawn in happpy faces, turtles on speed and the Russian ballet!!!) what did any of taht have to do with Bye, Bye Birdie, I wonder? The only possible advantage the original version has over this one is Ann Margret. Otherwise the update is better in every possible way. Where the old version cut many songs and increased dance breaks nwhere there was no need for them (and for all intents and purposes ended the movie in the middle of the play), the new version has restored the original music score and has added some great new stuff as well ("A Giant Step" being the standout in that category). We know live in trying times but if you want to get your mind off your troubles and put on a happy face then this is one worth checking out.
The Producers (1967)
I wanna be a Producer
One of the most clever films ever made. No need for political correctness, the film that is now the King of Broadway relies on solid linear storytelling, ingenious characters and fun dialogue. Brooks' work here is not that of the broad satire found in "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein" and "Spaceballs" but rather inahbits an environment that is just realistic enough that one starts to wonder if Biyalstock and Bloom's scheme could indeed work, that their reality is that of our own. Indeed, Brooks has admitted that Max Biyalstock was based on a real producer he knew at a young age. And what a character to know. Zero Mostel gives one of his most charming and yet at the same time sleazy performances. You love this character, his manic obsessiveness coupled with Gene Wilder's Bloom's anatagonizing over everything makes for an incredibly enjoyable on-screen duo. But it's not just the dialogue and great songs (if you want more go, if you can, to the outstandingly, mind-numbingly great musical), or wild characters but it's the little things that set this film high above shlock like the "Brady Bunch" movie. For me this means the genuinely charming moments where Bloom decides he'll "do it" and water shoots from the fountain behind him as he will now be free of his accounting job. When he realizes he's having fun in the park with Max also always brings a smile to my face. Lastly my big laugh out loud momet is right at the start of the film, as Max lunges for Lick Me, Bite Me only to make a grand fallthrough a table. Standard for a comedy I know, but Mostel's reaction is just so perfect that one can't help but laugh. If you thought fallling through tables was the domain of Chris Farley your wrong. Haben sie gehort das deutchen band.