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I Never Sang for My Father (1970)
I find myself recommending this movie to people all the time. It is such a clear picture of the challenges faced by anyone trying to help an aging parent.
But there is another aspect to it that I love. It is one of the few serious films I've seen that shows the effect of a character being viewed as the salt of the earth, heroic and charming by outsiders, but who is nasty, judgmental and selfish with his own family. Whatever has happened due to Douglas' character aging and beginning to lose his mental faculties, you know that this particular pain has been part of his children's lives forever.
Such a relationship is always difficult -- it is especially so with an older relative who has truly done heroic things, and who is respected and loved even by those he abuses. It puts everyone who knows his darker side in a bizarre and awkward position, seeming like villains for ever saying a word against a much-admired person.
This movie captures the agony and poignancy of such a relationship perfectly, and shows the various levels of maturity with which one's family can choose to respond. The character's daughter needs to stay away, his son takes it with a grain of salt, as evidenced by his wry smile and mild answer when his fiancée finds his father "charming." This is a must-see film, for more reasons than I can list here.
The Producers (2005)
Hold me, touch me, watch me!
It is a very difficult task to make me laugh out loud -- this film did it, several times.
Is it perfect? Nope -- but what is? It hurts me to say this, but the biggest disappointment for me was Matthew Broderick's acting. When he was singing, dancing, or hysterical he was great, but the spoken moments that should have made us like Leo fell flat for me. It's like he never found a film version of his stage Leo.
I am a big fan of the original film, and I liked the choices of what was left out or changed to make it a musical. Expanding the role of Roger Debris was especially effective. Will Ferrell is hysterical, Uma Thurman is funny and likable as well as being the Official Sexpot, the pigeons are a riot (I did miss the "concierge," though). And Nathan Lane manages to include lots of homage to Zero as well as making Max his own.
There are wonderful musical parody moments in this film, touching on everything from Fred and Ginger to Jerry Herman to Judy Garland to every-show-that-has-a-spotlighted-soliloquy-number to Chicago. Watch carefully - some are surprisingly subtle. Yeah, you read that right -- Mel Brooks, subtle!
Watch for visual jokes in the background -- the sets and costumes are part of the fun here. And there are a few fun "hey, look who that is!" cameos.
The friend with whom I went to see it was looking for a tribute to Anne Bancroft in the credits. I told her that the tribute was the casting of Uma as Ulla!
Speaking of the credits, stay until the end of them -- trust me! They contain some of the funniest things in the film, especially if, like me, you gag at some of the theme songs written (gotta try for that Oscar nomination!) for movies.
Go, laugh -- you won't be in pain, you won't be wet, but you may be hysterical!