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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Movie: From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler (1995) - Starring Lauren Bacall

The adaptation of E.L. Koinsburg's book of the same name, From the the mixed up files of Basil .E. Frankweiler, is an entertaining story of two precocious children running away from home and getting a new look at life. The movie is directed by Marcus Cole and stars Lauren Bacall as Mrs Frankweiler, Jean Marie Barnwell as Claudia and Jesse Lee Soffer as Jamie. The movie made for television was released in 1995 and also had a older version which released in 1973 staring Ingrid Bergman. The book penned by the great E.L Koinsburg is the winner of the Newbury medal for the best in children's literature.
Claudia, a spunky 11 year old feels neglected in a family of three and decides to run away. After weighing options she settles on the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as the destination. She also enlists the support and savings of Jamie, her younger brother. Now Jamie has a steady head and is renowned for his frugality / money management practices. So all set, the pair draw out well etched plans and “escape” from home. They reach the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and soon blend in with the endless stream of visitors and make the bath room their hideaway.



Soon the routine sets in as Claudia and Jamie mixing in with the museum crowd never giving out any suspicions to the caretakers. Claudia also vets her interest in art and passes time studying the exhibits. Soon a sculpture of an Angel fascinates her. Transfixed by its beauty she wants to check out whether the angel was sculpted by Michelangelo. By checking the records they find that the piece of art was sold to the museum at an absurdly low price by Mrs Basil. E .Frankweiler
So the adventure continues as the duo goes in search of Mrs Frankweiler. She being a kind lady takes them under her wing. Mrs Frankweiler, Claudia and Jamie undertake the journey of getting the identity of the sculpture creator established. They have small troubles but make lot of friends and enjoy life anew. Claudia starts appreciating her family and Jamie sick of their separation calls up Mom and Dad. A grand reunion is achieved bringing the curtains down.
The movie may be a tad too slow for the young viewers and many nuances of the books are not properly experienced. In fact this movie considerably deviates from the book to satisfy current technology changes like the telephone which was not so ubiquitous when the book was written. Some of the characters have been given a bye which might cause some heartburn to Koinsburg's fans. Lauren Bacall is well cast as the eccentric but lovable Mrs. Frankweiler. The kids, Jean Marie and Jesse Lee perform admirably and end up winning the maximum accolades. But still the book is more enjoyable. Just watch the movie first and then definitely reach for the book. You may end up having the best of both worlds or else the movie may not satisfy your senses.

Movie From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler (1995) - Starring Lauren Bacall

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Movie: Pret A Porter or Ready To Wear (released in 1994) – Directed by Robert Altman

Pret A Porter is a movie which takes a satirical look at the chaotic fashion industry. It follows almost forty odd famous faces including top actors, designers, models and their supporting crew for the fashion show in Paris. Directed by Robert Altmann, it stars Lauren Bacall (Slim Chrysler), Kim Basinger (Kitty Potter), Linda Hunt (Regina Krumm), Sally Kellerman (Sissy Wanamaker), Sophia Loren (Isabella de la Fontaine), Marcello Mastroianni (Sergei), Stephen Rea (Milo O'Brannagan), Tim Robbins (Joe Flynn), Julia Roberts (Anne Eisenhower), Danny Aiello (Major Hamilton), Anouk Aimee (Simone Lowenthal), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Olivier de la Fontaine), Teri Garr (Louise Hamilton), Richard E. Grant (Cort Romney), Tracey Ullman (Nina Scant) and Forest Whitaker (Cy Bianco).
With these number of stars the film is like a all flavored cake which does not impart any taste. As far as I could identify there are three plots running through the film. The first being that of two American Journalists, Joe Flynn and Anne Eisenhower, who lose their luggage in the flight and are forced by circumstances to share a hotel room. So with no clothes on and twin beds there is much more happening than news mongering. Another happenings include Isabella De La Fontaine is a widow who has inherited a great fashion label and hardly misses her philandering husband.



He is more mourned by his mistress Simone Lowenthal. Sophia is followed by Sergei who is in-fact her one true love. Simone on the other hand tries hard to keep her company from being pirated away. Another group like Regina Krumm, Nina Scant and Sissy Wanamaker are all rival fashion Magazine editors trying to get ace photographer Milo O'Brannagan on their side. Milo specializes in baring the celebrities to their ineptitude self and catches many a socialite at their most vulnerable self.
So among these unconnected story lines each of which can be a film in itself, other characters weave in and out. This meandering of actors through the plots gives the viewer severe migraines. So you have the color blind socialite Slim Chrysler, cross dressing buyer Danny Hamilton and his wife along with a melange of real life designers, like Issay Miayake Gianfranco Ferre, and Sonia Rykiel and models looking equally flabbergasted as the others. The only saving grace is news reporter Kitty Porter who is a ditsy journalist who nails the industry with some sly one liners.
This movie could have been a scorching satire, but is reduced to a also ran as the vicious zing is missing. The all bared attack and the real realities of the obsequious and coquettish industry is not presented robbing the film of its meat. The screenplay brings confusing plots together to stitch a garment which neither fits nor floats. This ill fitting presentation deprives Pret a Porter the greatness it could have attained. The film also has lot of sex scenes and full frontal nudity during a catwalk scene. In fact being a film about Fashion there is nothing much to look forward to about fashion or models, even the clothes horses and the clothes featured are insipid and the fashion shows, a rip off from fashion TV. As the film mentions “it is all about looking good”, but this one advice the movie itself never takes. Nothing much to recommend as its confusing and boring.

Movie: Pret A Porter or Ready To Wear (released in 1994) – Directed by Robert Altman

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baby Mama (released in 2008) - A comedy film starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sigourney Weaver, Greg Kinnear, and Dax Shepard

Surrogacy is a hot topic for a serious drawn out docudrama, but Baby Mama turns all that notions upside down. All the complications of surrogacy is not fully presented, but it is a romantic comedy which pulls out to your heart strings. In a male dominated story lines of Hollywood this movie gives the bonding between two women belonging to different worlds the premium space. Directed by Micheal McCullers, this 2008 movie stars Tina Fey, Amanda Poehler, Greg Kinnear and Steve Martin.
Kate Holbrook is a Wharton Grad and a hard nosed career women. In her late thirties she feels time slipping from her hands and wants to satisfy the urges of motherhood. But to her horror she comes to know that her uterus is T-shaped which makes her chances of pregnancy very remote. Kate approaches this problem in a true business sense and zeroes on the technique of surrogacy. She chooses a spoilt Angie to carry her baby to term.



Angie is a con on her own right with her head in the air and lands up at Kate's door step with no place to live in. She plans to make a run with the compensation money and knows that the in-vitro fertilization has not succeeded.
A a driven Kate approaches impending motherhood in her own methodical way, she learns the hard knocks early by tending to a childish Angie. Slowly a bond develops between the two women and Angie begins to regret the lie she is forced to live. But she keeps putting off the confession. A routine ultra sound confirms her pregnancy, and to her shock Angie realizes the baby to be is her own with her husband Carl. Angie is forced to confess the lie at Kate's baby shower. A horrified Kate insists that the baby could be hers as the pregnancy test could be done only after two weeks. A distance develops between the two women and the law steps in for the custody battle.
At the hearing Angie makes an heart felt apology and the DNA tests confirms that the baby is hers. A crest fallen Kate storms out to the courtroom and is confronted by Angie. Angie's water breaks and Kate is forced to rush her to the hospital and assist in the delivery. Kate faints during the delivery and a routine examination confirms her pregnancy. An ecstatic Kate and her boyfriend Rob make preparation for their baby to come home. Angie gives birth to a daughter whom she names after Gwen Stefani and she tries to involve her common-law husband in the child rearing process.
As a year passes a great bond develops between the two women. They become like sisters and bring up their children together. Kate and Rob get married and Carl tries to get involved with his daughter and all ends well. This film might be a very simplistic take on surrogacy but one has to keep in mind that this is a romantic comedy meant to entertain. Do not rush in looking for answers to the strong emotional problems. This movie was like by critics and the audience and was one of the top grosser of 2008. A fast paced script and some splendid acting by the leading ladies like Tina Fey and Amanda Poehler makes this movie a good watch.

Baby Mama (released in 2008) - A comedy film starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sigourney Weaver, Greg Kinnear, and Dax Shepard

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mixed Nuts (released in 1994) - starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Anthony LaPaglia, Garry Shandling and Adam Sandler

Mixed Nuts is a comedy film directed by Norah Ephron, starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Anthony LaPaglia, Garry Shandling and Adam Sandler.
The story revolves around a suicide hot-line operating out of the rented premises by a crazy but nice guy called Phillip. Phillip tries hard to keep the hot-line alive inspite of repeated warnings by the landlord for eviction. He even tries keep the eviction notice a secret from the other staffers like, the nice Catherine, a pregnant Gracie and the crabby Mrs. Munchnik. Despite the expectation for a large number of calls from lonely souls on Christmas eve, the hot-line only receives certain frightened calls from the victims of the serial killer dubbed as the “Seaside Strangler”. They also receive threatening calls also from the serial killer.
Phillip trying to get a loan asks for help from his loan officer girl friend who unceremoniously dumps him in favor of her psychiatrist. Meanwhile Gracie is heavily pregnant and her temper is on a short leash. She fights with her slacker boyfriend Felix who runs away with a Santa suit.



Meanwhile Mrs. Munchnik gets caught in the elevator on the way to the Christmas dinner with her sister. Her frantic calls to Louie, her clueless song writer neighbor, does not help her and she is trapped for a long time. Meanwhile Gracie finds Felix who returns with Catherine and Phillip to apologize to her. She locks herself in the bathroom and whacks him with Munchnik's cookie tin. So Felix leaves to the vets office where he overdoses with tranquilizers and has to be sent to the emergency wing to be revived.
Meanwhile Chris, a troubled transvestite, tired of the the abuse calls in for help and Phillip inadvertently gives him their address. Chris arrives at the door when Gracie and Munchnik are alone. Scared of the serial killer, a tussle happens and Munchnik is knocked unconscious. Gracie leaves Chris and Munchnik alone to find Phillip to confront him about the eviction notice. Phillip meanwhile arrives to find Chris with the unconscious Munchnik and subtly suggests him to leave. But Chris takes it as an invitation for dancing and they do the slow dancing together. This is one of the craziest part of this clueless movie.
As the clueless movie moves, Gracie, Catherine and co arrive along with Felix and a gun shoot out happens after an altercation. Gracie wildly shoots killing the landlord across the door. Then they try to stuff the body as a Christmas tree and after some weird stuff the body is discovered by the police. Every body tries to save each other, but as luck could have it the landlord turns to be the serial killer. Gracie gets the reward for killing him and she rescues the hot-line. Phillip and Catherine discover each other during a hot bath and fall in love. And the movie ends to the relief of the audience.
Mixed nuts is one of the nuttiest movie which masquerades as a Christmas comedy. In fact the story goes hay wire and all the weird acting in the name of comedy actually tests your patience. This movie was pilloried by the critics and the audience and did not even recover its cost. I would not recommend this viewing even if you are stranded on an lonely island with the mixed nuts for company.

Mixed Nuts (released in 1994) - starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Anthony LaPaglia, Garry Shandling and Adam Sandler

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Simple twist of fate (released in 1994) - Starring Steve Martin and Alana Austin

This 1994 movie directed by Gilles Mackann is loosely based on the George Elliot Classic “Silas Marner”. Steve Martin turns script writer for this film which he also stars with Alana Austin.
Steve Martin stars as Micheal Mackann, a high school music teacher who is cheated upon by his wife. A heart broken Micheal retires to rural Virginia as a maker of finely crafted furniture. A sad and morose man Micheal lives life clutching his savings in the form of gold coins. Meanwhile this small ray of happiness is also taken away from him by Danny Newland, the wayward brother of politician John Newland. He crashes the car and steals Michaels gold coins to pay for the damage. Micheal is completely devastated and retreats in to solitude.
Soon the golden rays of goodness arrive in the the form of a blonde toddler who stumbles in to his house on a foggy morning. Her drug addict mother is found dead on the grounds and Micheal presents the baby to John Newland.



After seeing the mother's dead body, John understands that the baby is his, but he conceals the fact to protect his career. He undertakes the investigation and allows Micheal to adopt the toddler. Micheal christens her Mathilda, and with the help of April Simon raises the child who grows up in to a precocious teenager. Mean while Micheal is transformed in to a doting dad interested in community activities.
John Newland in the meantime along with his wife Nancy suffers miscarriages and yearns for a baby. He takes Mathilda under his wing. He even gives her riding lessons and gifts a pony of her own. Nancy also understands that Mathilda is his baby, gives her tacit consent. As time passes by John Newland feels the need for a child and confesses Mathilda's birth secret. Nancy urges him to seek custody of his daughter who has grown very close to Micheal.
As John Newland files the custody suit, Micheal is devastated and he resolves to fight for Matilda. The Newland lawyer insinuates unsavory incidents in Micheal's earlier marriage and also urges the judge to consider the financial implications about Mathilda's future. Considering Micheal's penury and the economic advantages for Mathilda even the judge is inclined towards the Newland's, in-spite of the girl's repeated cries for being with Micheal. Then the case blows wide open with the discovery of Danny Newland's body under a desilted tank. Danny's corpse is found clutching the bag of gold coins belonging to Micheal. This sudden riches equalizes Micheal's station in life with that of the Newland's. The Judge also implies the killing of Danny to be that of murder by the Newland's and gives Mathilda's custody to Micheal. Mathilda devoted to her adoptive father accepts her mother and visits her grave for redemption.
This movie was panned by majority of the critics who disliked a Victorian theme which had no relevance in the twentieth century. But the film proves to be a box office darling and had decent collections. Alana Austin was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of twelve-year-old Mathilda. Her younger sister Alyssa was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress Under Ten in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of the character at the age of five.
The movie is not recommended as a must watch and sometimes Steve Martin disappoints with this sad acts. If one has limited choices then this movie can be seen.

A Simple twist of fate (released in 1994) - Starring Steve Martin and Alana Austin

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spanish prisoner (released in 1997) - A suspense film, starring Campbell Scott, Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ben Gazzara and Ricky Jay

Directed by David Mamet, Spanish Prosoner is a suspense movie which tells the story about a confidence game to undertake a corporate heist. The film stars Steve martin, Campbell Scott and Rebeca Pidgeon.
A the plot goes, Joe Ross is a geeky engineer who develops a highly efficient industrial process which would revolutionize the manufacturing world. As he scouts for probable buyers he meets the wealthy Jimmy Bell and his secretary Susan at an island resort. Jimmy befriends Joe and asks him out to his house to introduce him to his sister. Simple Joe feels this kind of attention to be very flattering. Susan and Jimmy also keep insinuating that Joe's boss was trying to embezzle the plans and processes all for himself and in the end Joe believes them.
Jimmy convinces him to take his legal counsel and meet him with the plans. But soon Joe understands Jimmy to be a fraud and enlists the support of the FBI agent Pat McCune. But Pat turns out to be hand in glove with the con men and poor Joe is thoroughly robed of his plans. And to add salt to his wounds it appears as though he has sold his plans to Japanese industrialists.



This alienates his boss and other members of his family. Joe is also framed for the murder of his co-developer George Lang. While running from the law Joe meets up with Susan who appears to believe him and keeps professing her love for him. A desperate Joe believes her and the duo formulate a plan to prove his innocence. Joe remembers the cross circuit television camera's in the island retreat where the meeting was held. He plans to take the tapes which would prove his innocence and Jimmy's presence. But Susan too is proved to be the fraud and Jimmy arrives at the island to kill him. In the ferry Jimmy and Susan are surrounded by a gaggle of Japanese tourists who shoot at Joe. Joe is hit by a dart and falls unconscious. The Japanese tourists turn out to be American marines who were tailing Jimmy. All ends well as Joe gets his plans and is proved innocent. Jimmy and Susan are taken to jail.
This movie is a well paced comedy and really involves the audience. Steve Martin as the evil Jimmy Dell is one of the suave and finest villain act of the time. His menacing act evokes laughter and curiosity. Apart from the typical Martin mannerisms this movie offers the audience more insight to the talents of this fine actor. Campbell Scott as the simple Joe is apt and Rebeca Pidgeon as the wily Susan is a class apart.
This movie was a critics favorite and the top grosser of 1997. The film was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. A perfect cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday evening is the best back drop to see this movie. It is worth your time and money.

Spanish prisoner (released in 1997) - A suspense film, starring Campbell Scott, Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ben Gazzara and Ricky Jay

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baby Mama (released in 2008) - a comedy movie starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sigourney Weaver, Greg Kinnear, and Dax Shepard

Surrogacy is a hot topic for a serious drawn out docudrama, but Baby Mama turns all that notions upside down. All the complications of surrogacy is not fully presented, but it is a romantic comedy which pulls out to your heart strings. In a male dominated story lines of Hollywood this movie gives the bonding between two women belonging to different worlds the premium space. Directed by Micheal McCullers, this 2008 movie stars Tina fey. Amanda Poehler, Greg Kinnear and Steve Martin.
Kate Holbrook is a Wharton Grad and a hard nosed career women. In her late thirties she feels time slipping from her hands and wants to satisfy the urges of motherhood. But to her horror she comes to know that her uterus is T-shaped which makes her chances of pregnancy very remote. Kate approaches this problem in a true business sense and zeroes on the technique of surrogacy. She chooses a spoilt Angie to carry her baby to term. Angie is a con on her own right with her head in the air and lands up at Kate's door step with no place to live in. She plans to make a run with the compensation money and knows that the in-vitro fertilization has not succeeded.
A a driven Kate approaches impending motherhood in her own methodical way, she learns the hard knocks early by tending to a childish Angie. Slowly a bond develops between the two women and Angie begins to regret the lie she is forced to live. But she keeps putting off the confession. But a routine ultra sound confirms her pregnancy, and to her shock Angie realizes the baby to be her own with her husband Carl.



Angie is forced to confess the lie at Kate's baby shower. A horrified Kate insists that the baby could be hers as the pregnancy test could be done only after two weeks. A distance develops between the two women and the law steps in for the custody battle.
At the hearing Angie makes an heart felt apology and the DNA tests confirms that the baby is hers. A crest fallen Kate storms out to the courtroom and is confronted by Angie. Angie's water breaks and Kate is forced to rush her to the hospital and assist in the delivery. Kate faints during the delivery and a routine examination confirms her pregnancy. An ecstatic Kate and her boyfriend Rob make preparation for their baby to come home. Angie gives birth to a daughter whom she names after Gwen Stefani and she tries to involve her common-law husband in the child rearing process.
As a year passes a great bond develops between the two women. They become like sisters and bring up their children together. Kate and Rob get married and Carl tries to get involved with his daughter and all ends well. This film might be a very simplistic take on surrogacy but one has to keep in mind that this is a romantic comedy meant to entertain. Do not rush in looking for answer's to the strong emotional problems. This movie was like by critics and the audience and was one of the top grosser of 2008. A fast paced script and some splendid acting by the leading ladies like Tina Fey and Amanda Poehler makes this movie a good watch.

Baby Mama (released in 2008) - a comedy movie starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sigourney Weaver, Greg Kinnear, and Dax Shepard

Friday, February 18, 2011

HouseSitter (released in 1992) - A romantic comedy starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn

Directed by Frank Oz, House sitter is a romantic comedy which released in 1992, staring Steve Martin, Goldi Hawn and Dana Delany.
Steve Martin plays the beleaguered architect Newton Davis who builds a grand house for his girl friend Becky who refuses to marry him. Newton is crest fallen and, deeply in debt, he leaves the town and abandons the house to its fate. During a drunken evening at the bar, Newton spills the beans to Gwen Phillips, the waitress who comforts him. They end up spending the night together and Newton coming to his senses in the middle of the night leaves abruptly. He unintentionally leaves the blueprints of the plans at Gwen's place. Piqued by his sudden departure Gwen travels to see the dream house for herself and is charmed by the architecture. She takes up residence at the house and slowly involves herself with the community.
Gwen is a compulsive liar who changes her identity as and when she pleases. Upon buying groceries she is forced to convince the store keeper that she is Newton's wife. Soon a chain of reactions happen with Becky confronting her. To awe Becky Gwen spins a romantic tale about her meeting Newton and buys her off. Newton's heartbroken parents are also bought over by her charms and yarn.



As the town folks settle down, Newton travels to town and is surprised to find his house lived in. At first he is angry and tries to kick Gwen off the premises. But as he gets in to the groove of things he finds that the presence of Gwen to be pretty helpful. He soon hires her to make Becky jealous and to repair his relationship with his parents. Soon Newton and Gwen masquerade as a couple so as to win over Becky, upon which Gwen would get all the furniture as the price.
Newton slowly relies upon Gwen for everything and she in turn feels attached to their “marriage”. Instead of making Becky jealous, Gwen starts resenting her presence in Newton's life. She reveals that because of her inadequacies she has been forced to live a life full of lies and wants to put an end to it. At a family reception Gwen confronts Becky accusing her for trying to win over Newton and storms off. Newton thinking this to be the part of the act, praises her and follows her out. Gwen reveals her love for him and her need to work this relationship leaving Newton perplexed. Soon it dawns on everybody about the double life of Gwen and Becky comforts Newton. But Newton realizes his feelings for her and reunites with Gwen. All is well and they live happily ever after in the beautiful house.
This movie was a moderate success and not a critics favorite. It is sort of a rehashed love story which does not warm the cockles of the heart. Steve Martin plays the bumbling architect and Goldie Hawn plays his love interest pretty well. But the crackling chemistry of the duo is missing. The real star of the movie is the house which is simply beautiful. There are no high points in this predictable romantic comedy and would recommend if only you are hard pressed for choices.

HouseSitter (released in 1992) - A romantic comedy starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Leap of Faith (released in 1992) - A movie about a faith healer, starring Steve Martin and Debra Winger

This American comedy Drama is directed by Richard Pearce and stars Steve Martin, Debra Winger, Liam Neeson and Lolita Davidovich in the lead roles. This hard hitting drama focuses on the faith healer who cons innocents in the name of god and takes from where earlier docu-drama like Elmer Gantry and Jarjoe left off.
Steve Martin stars as Jonas Nightengale who is a con-man faith healer. He holds revival meetings and defrauds the congregation with the promise of miracles. Helping him is his back stage manager, Jane who studies the floor plan convincingly and transmits the information via a small ear-piece. So all the technological marvels are used to convey where the healer could find a crippled man, or a pregnant teenager. Jonas pounces on them with his hallelujahs and with his intuition forces them to blab more about their condition. The effect is so smooth a transition from a believer to a miracle seeker.
As this faith healer show rumbles around the American small town with its special effects, technological jamboree and a gospel choir, the bus breaks down in a small town of Kansas. This impoverished town has nothing going for it as no rains have blessed the parched landscape. As the bus waits for the spare parts Jonas and Jane plan to hold a revival meeting to kill time. So the show is all set to begin if only for the small hitch in the form the local sheriff, Will Braverman. Will does not believe in all the this bunkum of miracles and sees Jonas and his troops for what they are, crooks. He wants to protect the town money from flowing in to their hands and tries his best to stop their show.



Jonas deputes Jane to seduce Braverman and Jane ends up falling for him. Jonas also falls for a pretty local waitress, Marva, who has a crippled brother, Boyd. Marva does not have faith in all the hocus pocus and Jonas takes her up as a conquest. Boyd believes in miracles and feels that Jonas can help him walk. Initially taking a caustic view, Jonas calls Boyd “Tiny Tim” and tries to palm him off. But as the movie progresses he tries to warn off Boyd as Jonas can see himself only as a crook. But a crook can also deliver hope and faith promises to be a powerful instrument for healing. In the end the crooks and the believers are forced to examine themselves.
This is one of the powerful movies of the 80's which examines faith as an instrument of influence. The first half of the movie has Steve Martin prancing about in his silver suits among dazzling lights mouthing biblical quotations and hallelujahs all the time listening to the back stage instructions. The toppling wheelchairs, the back stage plans, the market research, the listened in conversations and all the tricks of the trade of faith healing is laid bare. Steve Martin does a fantastic job of the conman with his inimical wit and cynicism. Anther notable performance is of Debra Winger as Jane who does all the back stage operations. Although her romance with the local sheriff is a bit contrived, it gives a little deviation for the story. The movie forces one to examine the process of belief and the show of believing. As Steve quotes in the movie “if I get the job done What difference does it make?” and he himself receives the answer as “It makes all the difference in the world”.
This movie received decent box office returns and also critical acclaim. It was also adapted a Broadway musical and opened successfully. Last but not the least the musical score is wonderful with the real-life singers like La Chanze, Delores Hall and Albertina Walker who do a beautiful job of playing Jonas's gospel choir. A good movie which entertains and informs.

Leap of Faith (released in 1992) - A movie about a faith healer, starring Steve Martin and Debra Winger

Monday, February 14, 2011

Parenthood (released in 1989) - A comedy and drama film starring Steve Martin, Dianne Wiest, Mary Steenburgen

Every family has its dysfunctional moments. There are not Brady Bunch families where everything is hunky dory and is solved with unity and courage. In reality parents and children are individuals who make choices for their self preservation and in the process find happiness to conjoin with others with the same sensibilities.
Steve Martin stars as Gil Buckman, a highly strung sales executive who is facing extreme pressures at work. His hard driving boss forces him to spend more time in shoring up the profits for the company. Gil despises him for this extra work which keeps him away from his family and simple pleasures of life. He also draws a parallel to his father's workaholic nature which led to an estrangement. Gil wants to be an hands down dad and feels a failure when his son Kevin is diagnosed with emotional problems entailing therapy by the school psychologist. Gil's other daughter and son also have minor issues and the biggest shock comes to him when his wife Mary announces that she is pregnant with their fourth child. Gil is scared about the financial burdens the family will be put through by the arrival of his fourth child.
As Gil questions his abilities as a father, Frank searches out him to ask him about Larry, his second but wayward son. Gil is surprised when Frank tell him that he considers him to be a great father and needs his advice. His fathers trust quells Gil's heart and mends their relationship.



Meanwhile Gil's sister Helen has her own problems as her dentist husband deserts the family. Her young son Gary begins to have dysfunctional problems as his father literally disowns him. Her once brilliant daughter Julie marries a slacker Tod and gets pregnant and they live out of Helen's house. In her desperation Helen asks Tod to take Gary under his wing and a strong bond develops between the two. Helen starts respecting Tod to that extent that when Julie wants to break up with him she asks her to face her fears by supporting Tod.
Another sister of Gil's, Susan faces an over indulgent father as an husband. Her husband is excessively obsessed with his precocious daughter, Patty that he has no time for Susan. Susan craves for his attentions and longs for another child. As it becomes clear that her husband is interested in developing Patty, Susan leaves the house. With her departure the well oiled mechanism stumbles and even Patty struggles in her studies. Her husband begs her to come back and Susan asks him to consider her feelings as well.
Gil's younger brother Larry reaches Franks house with his biracial son Cool and thugs in his tow. He tries to borrow money from Frank who obliges as along as he takes over the family business. But as time passes he realizes that Larry would never be responsible and lets him go out of his life leaving Cool behind. The family is again reunited when Helen gives birth to a baby. A semblance of normality is restored as she marries Gary's biology teacher who gives Gary the emotional anchor. Julie and Tod stay together and Susan reunites with her family. Gil and Mary become parents and Frank enjoys a second chance at fatherhood with Cool. All is well that ends well.
This movie had a decent box office run and also is a critics favorite. I just feel that it is an easy take on the challenges of parenthood with problems getting solved easily. But still its a compelling story directed by Ron Howard. It has two academy award nominations to its credit with Diane West as the best supporting actress and for the best song. All the actors are lovable and identifiable in their roles and a special mention does go for Keanu Reaves's performance as a fun loving slacker who learns to be a parent. A good feel good movie.

Parenthood (released in 1989) - A comedy and drama film starring Steve Martin, Dianne Wiest, Mary Steenburgen

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grand Canyon (released in 1991) - A drama film starring Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline

Grand Canyon may have great actors in the pivotal roles but the movie is essentially a Lawrence Kasdan movie, philosophical and introspective. This 1991 drama has Kevin Kline, Mary MacDonnel, Steve Martin, Mary Louise-Parker and Alfre Woodard as a part of an ensemble cast. This movie tries to understands the guilt, excuses, actions and incidents which shapes a life-time.
Mac is an immigration lawyer, played by Kevin Kline, is a victim of a holdup when his car breaks down at an unsavory location. But help arrives in the form of Simon, a tow truck driver who reasons out with the mugger to let Mac go unharmed. I found this exchange one of the compelling dialogues in the movie where the young thief asks Simon whether he is respecting him because he has a gun – you can almost feel the helplessness of a person raised on violence in this statement. A relieved Mac goes home and tries to think about ways to help his guardian angel Simon. He even feels guilty of his affluent status and also the racial divide separating them. As he makes the first step he is treading on glass, but this quest does change his outlook on racial equations which makes inequality passe.
Meanwhile at Mac's house his wife is also struggling with her mundane life. But everything changes the day when she comes across an abandoned baby while jogging and decides to bring it home. Struck by the fact that somebody could abandon a human life so callously she decides to adopt it and faces lot of resistance. Mac and Claire are faced with a choice, the easier one being letting the baby go to the state and carrying on with their life. But the choice they would make would change their life completely.



Mac's best friend David, is a B-grade film maker who specializes in violent films. In-fact he berates one of his assistants (played by Lawrence Kasdan, himself) for not taking a close up of a “money shot” where the brain splatters on the window. David played by Steve Martin is nothing comparable to his funny self. His brooding face with a grey beard does not even compare to his clown persona in earlier movies. But David has his epiphany when he is shot in the leg by an assailant. During the whole process he begins to question whether his violent movies contribute to the gun culture in the society. He does the turn around, by promising himself not to make the gory film, but to devote himself for eliminating violence from cinema.
As these people turn their life around, the people associated with them also experience the change, triggering a chain of events. Kasdan captures the change beautifully which actually draws you in to the movie. Towards the ending there are no perfect answer's for life's dilemma's as all of them gather around the majestic Grand canyon for a shared vacation trip. Claire and Mac find answers by adopting the baby and coming closer to Simon, but Davis just dismisses his revelations as something temporary.
Grand Canyon is not a regular movie which has all the answers to the characters problems and everything does not end well. It is a beautifully made drama chronicling everyday life where some get the grip of it and some don't. There is no black and white pictures, but only grey foggy areas where one has to make the best of it. The camera angles and the cinematography is very alluring and it does not give the brooding dark movie sensibility which is actually attractive. One needs to just understand it with an open mind and it will soon bind you for life.

Grand Canyon (released in 1991) - A drama film starring Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Blue Heaven (released in 1990) - A comedy starring Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, and Joan Cusack

This Steve Martin movie is light hearted and fun. It is a romantic comedy where the romance is of less importance because the chemistry between the male and female co-stars pale in front of the chemistry between the male ones. Directed by Herbert Ross and scripted by Nora Ephron this movie is based on the life of Henry Hill.
Steve Martin plays Vinnie Antonelli an Ex-Mafia don who is going to squeal on his murderous ex-buddies. So he joins the witness protection program and moves to a suburb in San-Diego to keep his detractors away. Vinnie is protected by Barney Coopersmith a stiff uptight policeman whose attention to detail gets on everybody's nerves. Vinnie's wife leaves him earlier on as she is not charmed by the domestic life of the suburbs. Same happens for Coopersmith whose wife finds his tiny habits annoying, it seems that he is so methodic that he gets equal amounts of butter on to the two halves of his waffle.
Vinnie soon settles in to the witness protection program, but you cannot keep the crime out of a mobster too long. He starts petty thieving which goes on to bigger times and frenetic night clubbing. Poor Barney Coppersmith is simply aghast and tries hard to reason with him.



Vinnie even meets up with his old pals to start a new syndicate. Hannah Stubs played by Joan Cusack is the district Attorney who tries to prosecute Vinnie for his crimes, but her actions come to a cropper because he is part of the witness protection program. At first Barney and Hannah hate each other but are thrown together a lot. So the ice melts and to Vinnie's delight, they start liking each other. Vinnie takes Barney under his wing and helps him to dress better, dance better and woo Hannah.
Meanwhile Vinnie's old pals in crime try their best to prevent him from testifying. So Vinnie does all the wonder work for Barney and together they outwit the murderous gangs of Manhattan. This laugh riot is one of the funniest movies of all times. It was a critics delight but did not exactly set the box office on fire. Just as good wine, it slowly acquired a fan following and is considered as one of the cult comic capers of the century. The story may not be an Oscar winner but the script is great, suitably interlaced with one liners which evokes laughter. The best part of it is the bonding between Vinnie and Barney and the chemistry between the two actors just raises the film to a new level. It was so that Steve Martin was to play the role of Barney and Schwarzenegger that of Vinnie. But Schwarzenegger opted out and the role was taken up by Steve Martin. Rick Moranis was brought in for Barney. No complaints there for they rock the show.
Not the least, a great hurrah for the songs in the movie. The great numbers like “New York, new york”, “Take me out to a ball game”, “the boy from New york city” and “My blue heaven” are absolute delights. You can watch this movie anytime, in any mood as it is bound to evoke the loud guffaws. Only trouble may be your neighbor's objection to your loud laughter.

My Blue Heaven (released in 1990) - A comedy starring Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, and Joan Cusack

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

LA Story (released in 1991) - Starring Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant and Sarah Jessica Parker

LA Story is a romantic comedy film released in 1991 staring Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant and Sarah Jessica Parker. It was scripted by Steve Martin who also donned the role of the executive producer. Directed by Mick Johnson it has a cult following as it celebrates the real LA way of life.
Steve Martin stars as Haris. K. Telemacher, who is a news meteorologist in a meaningless relationship with his girlfriend Trudi. He soon gets tired of his monotonous routine and craves for that magic and excitement. At a luncheon he meets Sara, a journalist from London and is instantly attracted towards her. Shackled by his own relationship a tired Haris looses control of his car which careens off the road on to the pavement, crashing on to a street sign.
After the initial shock Haris soon realizes that the street sign he crashed in to is actually flashing messages for him. He soon takes the cue and tries to kindle a relationship with Sara. Sara too feels the attraction but feels a duty towards her ex-husband Rowland. She had pledged to rekindle her relationship with her ex-husband and feels burdened by it.



Haris, going, with the advice from the sign board decides to charter his own path. Afraid about the impossibility of an relationship with Sara he goes out with a ditzy blonde SandDEe. SandDEe a wannabe model is a perfect airhead but still Haris moves along with her. During their dates he comes to know that Trudi is cheating on him with his agent and this information sets him free. He, geting hold of his life, tries once again with Sara. But this time the road block is because of Sandra and the sign board again helps him. He does get his wish and the right thing in his life.
This movie was the 20th best film of the last century as voted by the LA Times. It wowed the critics and the audience being one of the top grosser for 1991. This comedy also being a satire is a look in to the city of Los Angeles and its people. It has all the ingredients of the LA life, with Hollywood coming in with frequent references. Apart from the lead actors, there are also uncredited appearances from Chevy Chase, Woody Harrelson, Paula Abdul, Martin Lawrence, Rick Moranis and Terry Jones. The soundtrack and the music of this movie has a great fan following. Three songs from Enya, “Exile”, “on your shore” and “Epona” can also be heard in the movie.
Steve Martin as usual excels in his role superbly assisted by Victoria Tennant. The one liners and the conversations between them never fail to evoke the chuckle and at the same time says something about the love unattained. SandDEe played by Sarah Jessica Parker is another amazing actress and plays the airhead to perfection. According to the movie she is a “spokesmodel” which actually is a model who speaks and to top it all she is taking a course for it. More than the story, I really liked the movie for its quotable quotes and to have them on your repertoire would spice up any conversation. Just as Steve Martin's character Haris says in the movie "Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." but still the laughter goes on.

LA Story (released in 1991) - Starring Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant and Sarah Jessica Parker

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bringing down the House (released in 2003) - Starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah

How can you wipe away years of stereotypical notions and distrust about the other side of the line? Bringing Down the House, is a comical look into the racial stereotypes ingrained in to the American psyche where color decides the quality of life you lead. Directed by Adam Shankman, the movie stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, and is about the coming together of two radically different people and understanding life better.
Peter Sanderson is an uptight successful lawyer whose work compulsions has driven a wedge in his marital life. Peter and his wife Jean are separated and he tries hard to connect with his children. But work pressures, competitive partners and bosses keep him away from home. He tries to date the mysterious “Lawyer Girl” to improve his love life and becomes besotted by the picture she sends him. But soon it is revealed that the photo had Charlene Morton, an over-weight African American convict who was trying to get Peter to fight her case. Charlene lands up at stunned Peter's doorstep pleading for him to take up her case as she had been wrongfully incarcerated. When Peter refuses she blackmails him by threatening to make their conversations public. So after a lot of hiccups he agrees to look in to her case and asks her to masquerade as the children's nanny for the while.



On the work front Peter and his partner Howie try hard to impress Mrs Virgine Arness, an eccentric billionairess to get her to transfer some of her business. Mrs Harness is very condescending to the black community and Peter tries hard to placate Charlene who explodes after her insensitive actions. It is extremely hilarious when Charlene's trick of spiking Mrs. Arness's food comes a cropper with Peter consuming the whole concoction subsequently spending the whole evening hopping to the bathroom. Amidst all controversies, Howie takes a shine to Charlene and even the Sanderson kids get to like her. Charlene teaches Peter to loosen up and slowly brings him closer to Jean, his wife.
Peter regrets his earlier actions and agrees to fight Charlene's conviction. He gathers evidence about her boyfriend who had framed her and overturns the verdict. Charlene and Howie get hitched and Peter reconciles with his wife. Mrs. Arness after a mind-boggling night out with fellow black Americans gets to renew her outlook on life and start life afresh. Her business helps Peter to start on his own, away from his catty competitive colleagues.
This movie is a refreshing look at the underlying racial inequities in American society. The perceived notions about the colored people by the white upper class is laid bare and also the movie offers a insight in to the black societies. It is a feel good movie where the triumph of human sensibilities over narrow walls of race and wealth. It sure tickles your funny bone in-spite of tackling such a weighty issue. The movie was both a critical and box office success. Steve Martin was nominated for the MTV award for the best dance sequence. Queen Latifah for her zesty portrayal won the Teen choice awards and the NACCP awards for the best actress. Her fight with Jean's sister Allison also garnered her the eyeballs.
A great movie for shooing away boring weekends.

Bringing down the House (released in 2003) - Starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bowfinger (released in 1999) - Starring Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and Heather Graham

Bowfinger is a comedy film starring Steve Martin, Heather Graham and Eddie Murphy in pivotal roles. Directed by Frank Oz and scripted by Steve Martin himself, this movie is a spoof about the the film making business in Hollywood and also the church of Scientology. Over the years it has acquired a cult following and is considered one of the leading comedies of the time.
Bobby Bowfinger is an out of luck director who wants to direct a movie on his own, the only problem being “cash”. His entire savings of 2184 dollars would not even come close to encourage his desire. His film “Chubby rain” is penned by an accountant friend. With another friend as the cameraman he pitches his case to a studio executive. The studio agrees to finance the movie only if he could get the current heartthrob Kit Ramsey to star in it. So Bowfinger formulates this entire plan of getting Kit on board without even having him know about it.
Kit Ramsey played delightfully by Eddie Murphy is a pompous, neurotic actor and he refuses Bowfinger's offer. Kit is an avid follower of the cult Mindhead which believes in Aliens and other supernatural things. After their indoctrination Kit's personality often borders along psychotic to plain wacky crazy. Bowfinger selects out of luck and work actors who do not have a clue about Kit's refusal. They all give their best actions believing him to be a part of the movie.



So you have delightful scenes of Heather Graham giving her lines to a zapped Murphy whose dazed expression is captured on camera. But soon all the sci-fi dialogue of Chubby Rain makes Ramsey crazy enough to believe that Aliens are after him and he goes in to hiding. The shoot gets stalled and the actors and crew have to think up new solutions.
They soon come across Jiff who is a splitting image of Kit Ramsey and Bowfinger hires him to get the rest of the scenes on camera. Jiff is amiable and nice but clueless with no acting talent. But it is soon revealed that he is the real life brother of Ramsey and the crew makes him feel great about this one talent of his - to look like Kit Ramsey. Meanwhile the Mindhead organization soon finds out that the aliens Ramsey is scared about is not in his imagination. They track down Bowfinger and shut the shoot down. When the chips are down, luck favors the crew as they watch a canned candid camera moments where Ramsey exposes to a cheerleader squad. Armed with evidence Bowfinger blackmails Mindhead Church and the elders persuades Ramsey to be a part of the movie. So the movie is completed and at the premiere Kit Ramsey attends with the suitable arm candy in the form of Heather Graham. Bowfinger gets further movie offers and Jiff gets to be a part of it with his brother.
This delightful comedy was a critics and audience favorite. It remained one of the top grosser of 1998 only to be bested by Sixth sense. The comic timing and the acting for all the cast members are just above par. Highly recommended to lift the moods.

Bowfinger (released in 1999) - Starring Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and Heather Graham

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Father of the Bride Part II (released in 1995) - A sequel to the 1991 version, starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton

This movie is the sequel to the hugely successful Father of the Bride which was originally released in 1991. Directed by Robert Townsend, this movie was released in 1995 and once again stars, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short and Kimberly Paisley in pivotal roles with Eugene Levy as Dr. Habib. This movie is also the remake of the 1950 film, Father's little dividend starring Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. The story and plot has many similarities but the original version is still not in the public domain.
George Banks after the wedding goes back to his life, and is currently going through a mid life crisis. He wishes to fight the world which makes him old and too set in his ways. He surprises his wife with wacky opinions and a crazy youthful outlook. Nina as usual is nice and understanding but glosses over the “lets be crazy again fluff”. This youthful image is shattered when Annie announces that she is about to be a mother which would ultimately make George a grandparent. George, just as he was not ready to share his daughter, cannot give away his youth. So what does George do, he rebels, goes on a rampage to drink from the fountain of youth, only to realize its gone.
A series of accidents forces George and Nina out of their house and their one night of madness makes Nina pregnant. Nina is ecstatic, but George is shattered, when visions of feeding times and tantrums fill up his mind. Even Annie rebels against her mother for stealing her thunder. But the family rally around a hurt Nina and George once again gets ready for a celebration. But his neuroses is not helped by the arrival of the wacky, zany Franck who promises a grand baby shower for the mothers to be.



So its back to coughing up the moolah to please the girls in his life. A grand baby shower with pelicans and bows followed by double deliveries with the help of crazy Dr. Habib, its classic Steve Martin revelry.
Father of the Bride II does not live up to its predecessor as the characters are too stereotyped. The lives are too amazing to be believed even for a romantic comedy. The antics of Steve Martin is the sole saving grace as he shoulders the entire film on his shoulders. All the other actors chip in with good performances, but they have nothing much to do. The notable feature again is the back ground music by Alan Silvestri which has some great tunes.
This movie was a moderate success but not a critics favorite. It is a feel good movie for the family, but has nothing much to offer. Steve Martin was nominated for American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture and also for the golden globes that year for this picture. If you have nothing much to do, and you are a Steve martin Fan, one can catch up with this movie, but do not expect the sparks to fly.

Father of the Bride Part II (released in 1995) - A sequel to the 1991 version, starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton

Monday, January 31, 2011

Father of the Bride (released in 1991) - Starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Father of the Bride is a Musical Comedy movie starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Martin Short in the pivotal roles. This is a remake of the 1950 movie which had the same name and is directed by Charles Shyer. This feel good movie has inspired many Hallmark Commercials and is considered as the epitome of good peerless fun.
Steve Martin stars as George Banks, a neurotic upmarket Shoe entrepreneur who lives a pretty grand life in the suburbs with his family. His happy family consists of Wife-Nina, Daughter-Annie and Son (Matty). George's idyllic life is shattered when Annie announces her plans to get married to Bryan Mackenzie whom she has known only for few months. Bryan belongs to a well-to- do family in Bel-Air and plans a wedding in 3 months. George considers it a sacrilege to rush in to the wedding but has to agree because of Annie's insistence. Slowly his neurosis and tension about the suitability of Bryan drives George totally insane. The final straw which breaks the camels back come from Franck, a crazy weird wedding planner with a claustrophobic accent who informs him the cost of the wedding i.e 250 dollars per head. George wows to sabotage Bryan and save his Annie and his money.
Nina, the mother of the bride to be becomes super excited and soon delves in with Franck matching ribbons and choosing dresses. She fails to recognize the emotional agony George is going through as the D-day nears by. One of the most hilarious scenes is the one where George, Nina and Annie look through the wedding planners catalog and George goes bananas looking at the cakes, ribbons, flowers and venues. Frank in his customary drawl makes his point sidestepping all the objections to get himself the ultimate expensive wedding.



George cannot bear the fact that Annie will soon be gone from his life. He considers her his little girl whom Bryan is trying to steal. Soon he goes snooping all over Bryan's place looking for clues to get the wedding canceled. But as his snooping succeeds he faces the undeniable fact that Annie, his little girl has grown up and can build a life on her own. He understands that he will never come home to see her in the kitchen with her pajamas and socks. This realization makes him bring about a reconciliation with Bryan and the wedding goes full steam ahead.
In the most touching moments, George sees Annie as she is, a woman ready to take on life on her own. In fact she is the one who steadies George during the long walk on the aisle to give away the bride. George lets go off Annie and looks forward to an empty nest with Nina.
Father of the Bride is one of the most successful movies of the the year and was rightfully the critics favorite. It is number 92 on Bravo's “100 funniest movies of all times”. A great movie for the family it has a great sound track which inspires the senses. Steve Martin as usual gives a great comic performance, but the surprise package is Diane Keaton who flawlessly portrays the level headed Nina. So get ready with all your tissues to enjoy this movie about a father growing up to let go off his beautiful daughter.

Father of the Bride (released in 1991) - Starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (released in 1988) - a comedy starring greats such as Michael Caine and Steve Martin

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels stars Michael Caine, Steve Martin and Glenne Headley in the lead roles. Directed by Frank Oz this comedy film is loosely adapted from the 1964 movie, Bed Time Story.
Lawrence Jamieson is a suave con artist who preys on wealthy women on the French Riviera under the benevolent protection of the inspector Andre, who takes a cut from the spoils. But soon their trade suffers loses due to the activities of another con called The Jackal. Lawrence assumes another small time crook Freddy to be The Jackal and offers to tutor him. Freddy soon finds himself as the sidekick who does not achieve anything from the con. Soon irritated by Lawrence's behavior Freddy plans to strike out on his own and Lawrence proposes the wager. Lawrence informs him that the town was too small to hold both of them and thus the first one to con 50000 dollars off their victim would get the opportunity to stay and Freddy agrees to the wager.
Fredy and Lawrence zero in on Janet Colgate, an airhead heiress. Freddy disguises himself as a paraplegic sailor on a wheel chair who desperately needs 50000 dollars for his treatment. Janet falls for this line and assures him of that amount. Lawrence enters the plot as the psychiatrist who can provide this wonder cure. Soon begins the game of one one-upmanship between Freddy and Lawrence to get one up on Janet's sympathies.



I find these to be one of the real comic tracks of all times, the scenes of the cure. You have the uptight Lawrence playing the psychiatrist who almost tortures Freddy who tries hard to swallow the pain. Its hard keep yourself from laughing hard as Lawrence stamps and prods and hits the supposedly unfeeling legs of Freddy. Anytime you feel low just go to these priceless scenes to give you the instant upliftment.
Lawrence discovers that Janet is not wealthy and she in-fact has to pool all her resources to pay for the treatment. Impressed by her good heart, the gallant Lawrence calls of the bet. Freddy cheekily agrees and wagers a change. He proposes that whoever manages to bed Janet first will remain in the town and Lawrence reluctantly agrees to it. Freddy then manipulates some English sailors to capture Lawrence and goes to Janet and informs her about the miracle cure of love. But Lawrence frees himself from the sailors, and informs them of Freddy's intentions and they capture Freddy for their unruly party. Freddy again reaches Janet and they kiss and undress to make love. Lawrence accepts his defeat with grace and waits for Freddy in his house, but is soon confronted by the tearful Janet who informs him that Freddy had robbed her of 50000 dollars. A gallant Lawrence gives her the money and puts her on the plane and informs Andre who soon captures Freddy. As Lawrence admonishes Fredy of his behavior, he is informed by the raving ranting Freddy that they have been taken by a ride by Janet who is really the Jackal intent on conning them.
As they assess their loss at Lawrence's villa, Janet makes in an appearance as Paula the Realtor, leading a pack of wealthy retirees and they all join hands to find new prey. This movie is one of the funniest movies of the century, sure to lift you mood. All the three actors blow the socks of your feet with their flawless performances and are the favorite of the critics. The audience also gave them their thumbs up as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels became one of the highest grosser of 1988.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (released in 1988) - a comedy starring greats such as Michael Caine and Steve Martin

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Amigos (released in 1986) - A musical comedy starring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short

Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Micheal Short star in this Musical comedy of 1986 and is directed by John Landis. The movie is co-scripted by Steve Martin who provides the ultimate comic touch, the real “Steve Martin” touch.
The movie opens with a raid in Santo Poco, a small village in Mexico by the Ruthless bandit El Guapo and his men. Carmen the daughter of the village head prays for a hero to save them and on one of her visits to the church sees the American silent movie featuring the three Amigos. Taking them to be real super heroes, she sends a telegram for help. But the clerk at the telegraph office whittles down her message as she does not have enough to pay.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Neerlander star as the three Amigos in the movie series. They demand a price hike from the studio head who fires them for their temerity and evict them from their houses. Down in luck and out in the streets they receive Carmen's telegram and mistaking her appeal as an invitation for making a movie with El Guapo, they break in to the studios costume room, steal the costumes and flee across the border to Mexico.



They reach a “cantina” near the village and are mistaken as associates of a sharp shooting German Pilot who has wreaked havoc at the bar. I really like this sequence when the three amigos actually belt out the song “my Little Buttercup” to the mean scraggy crowd at the bar. Its hard to keep a straight face through out the sequences and I wonder how the actors did it. They are found by the German and in the mix up that follows they are put up at the best houses and are flown to the village. Carmen soon arrives to bring them home. At the village they are feted and treated and soon some minor bandits arrive to get their protection money. Mistaking them to be talent scouts, the Amigos put up a show which scares the wits out of the bandits and they ride away. The ecstatic villagers celebrate and keep them in style.
El Guapo swears to find the Amigos and kill them by morning and rides into the village. As the truth dawns, the Amigo's are scared witless and beg forgiveness from El Guapo. El Guapo punishes the villagers and loots them, as the Amigos leave in disgrace. He kidnaps Carmen and intends to make her his bride to punish her for her involvement. As the Amigos trudge their way back home, Ned reminds them that they have none waiting for them. He exhorts them to go back and at least try to save Carmen and be real heroes. After many disagreements they come together to find Guapo's hide out and soon follow the German plane which delivers ammunition for the gang. Amidst the celebrations of the bandits wedding the Amigos sneak in to the hideout only to be caught. The German Pilot gets in to a shooting match with Ned and he wins to give them enough time to escape. As the Amigos reach the village they exhorts the villagers to fight the evil bandit. El Guapo in his last raid is brought down by the combined might and the Amigos ride in the the sun set as real heroes.
This movie was well received by critics and audience alike and is well crafted. I feel the funny quotient diminishes as the movie progresses, but still is eminently watchable.

Three Amigos (released in 1986) - A musical comedy starring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All of Me (released in 1984) - a fantasy comedy starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin

This romantic comedy stars Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin along with Victoria Tennant in the lead roles. This film is based on the book “Me Too” by Edwin Davis. Directed by Carl Reiner, All Of Me is considered to be one of the best works of Steve Martin.
Martin plays Roger Cobb, an upmarket New York attorney who moon lights as a Jazz Musician. He has a well to do law practice and is dating his boss's daughter. Roger wants more out of his life but his girlfriend and his boss keep him on a tight leash. His uneventful life changes when he is summoned to an eccentric, spoilt millionairess, Edwina Cutwater's house. Edwina is terminally ill and requests Roger to make her last will and testament.
Edwina plans to transfer her spirit on to the youthful body of Terry, her stableman's daughter with the help of Prahka Lakha, an eastern swami who specializes in tantra. But all the planning fails as Roger comes during the transference ceremony and Edwina ends up in Roger's body. So with two spirits vying for control, Roger on the left and Edwina on the right, a laugh riot ensues.



With two crazy ditsy spirits in one body things become complicated, it is definitely hilarious to watch Roger and Edwina trying to walk out the body, Edwina trying to control the courtroom when Roger's spirit sleeps, when Roger is with his abrasive girlfriend and the most hilarious one is Roger trying to relieve himself in the mens bath room. These scenes are vintage Steve Martin and needs to be kept alive for future generations to come.
As Edwina and Roger fight for control, Roger's life go downhill. He looses his job and his girl friend leaves him. With that comes a sense of liberation and he is free to be the Jazz musician he wants to be. Soon a truce is signed and slowly Edwina also finds that she likes him. This “like” turns to love, but things get murkier as Terry the waif turns out to be Terry the gold digger. Never believing the soul transference business Terry soon tries to usurp Edwina's fortune and it is up to the split up duo to put an end to her evil designs.
Roger unmasks Terry's intentions and faced with the prospect of jail, Terry decides to move in to a near by horse's body and enables Edwina to get in to hers. Roger and Edwina get married to enjoy her limitless fortune for days to come.
This movie was a box office success and opened to rave reviews. The performances are top notch and Steve Martin outstrips all actors by a mile. Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin were nominated for the Golden Globes for her role as Edwina Cutwater and Roger Cobb. Steve Also won the best actor award from the National society of film critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. The humor may be little far fetched towards the end, but the split personality scenes itself make the movie worth while.

All of Me (released in 1984) - a fantasy comedy starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roxanne (released in 1987) - a comedy in a small town, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah

Roxanne, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah in the lead was released in 1987. This comedy is adapted from the verse play Cyrano de Bergerac by the French Author Edmond Rostand. The screen play was written by Steve Martin and is directed by Fred Shepisi.
Napoleon had once famously remarked that he preferred men with long noses, but CD Bales the Fire chief of Pacific North west would beg to differ. Steve Martin stars as Bales, the acrobatic do gooder fire chief who has a humongous nose. This fleshy accessory on his face makes his life miserable and his love life bitter. Bales is very sensitive about his nose matters and people who know him never mention this twitchy subject. The object of his affection is Roxanne, an astronomer, beautiful as a star she watches. Roxanne is in love with Chris, a dim witted fireman whom Bales cannot stand.
But the gallant Bales does not come in between Roxanne's love and suppresses his feelings. His only outlet being the poems he writes which he allows Chris to submit before his lady love as his own. Another person in this loop is Dixie, Bale's sister who keeps this secret. Life moves on with Roxanne watching comets, and Bale's trying to move on with his life with another woman.



Roxanne soon finds herself dumped by Chris, who falls for another woman in another town. He leaves town after writing her a long letter. Dixie tells her the truth about the poems and a devastated Roxanne confronts Bales. She accuses him of leading her on with a doomed relationship with an incompatible guy. A cornered Bales hits back telling Roxanne, that her quest for a perfect handsome guy was the root cause for her condition. As they argue and part but somewhere a spark is lit. In the end they discover the true love for each other and are soon engaged. Roxanne tells her besotted lover that his long nose gives him character and now would consider a flat nose too bland and boring. As the nosy angst ends for C.D. Bales, curtain draws on this happy ending.
Steve Martin was widely appreciated for his role as CD Bales and this won him a Golden Globe nomination for the Best Actor. He also won the National Society of Film Critics Award, Writers Guild of America Award and Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actor. This delightful romantic comedy also finds its place among Bravo's “100 funniest movies of the century”. Steve Martin who essays the role of CD Bales pays homage to the original by taking the name of Cyreno de Bergerac (CD) and considered this as a watershed movie of his career.
This movie has many slapstick comedy moments which tickles your funny bone. Just do not go looking for high brow satire for you will be sorely disappointed. Enjoy the show and see the funny nosy man win his love and I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Roxanne (released in 1987) - a comedy in a small town, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Man with Two Brains (released in 1983) - A comedy film starring Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner

This American comic caper stars Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner and is directed by Carl Reiner. The story is about the adventures of a brain surgeon with a gold digger wife.
Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr is a widowed brain Surgeon worth millions known for his pioneering cranial screw top surgery. Dolores Benedict is the femme fatale who sends her latest husband to the grave through her evil machinations. The two meet when Micheal saves Dolores's life and the inevitable follows. Dolores ensnares him in her love and the two get married.
Michael after the wedding discovers that his wife is a gold digging slut and a nagging hag. He soon gets frustrated by Dolores frigidness and is tormented by the fact that their marriage becomes a sham. Michael becomes friends with mad scientist Dr. Alfred Necessiter who has developed a method to store brains alive in a jar filled with liquids. With all this mad nerds, an elevator killer who kills women by injecting window cleaner completes the story.
Michael in one of his visits to Necessiter falls in love with a brain of Anne Uumellmahaye stored in the lab. He discuses with the doctor the means of bringing Anne a body. So brainstorming sessions throw up suggestions like transplanting the brain to a barrel or to a gorilla. All these suggestions are shot down as sex would be a great stumbling block. At last the doctor suggests transplanting Anne to a recently deceased female using Micheal's cranial screw top surgery. So begins the quest for the female.



Meanwhile a jealous Dolores finds out about the romance between the Brain and Michael and attempts to kill Anne. Michael is totally enraged and throws her out of his money and life. He immediately resolves to make a kill for Anne and finds that he is unable to do it. He even tries to kill to pass on the blame to the Elevator killer and still returns empty handed. On one such occasion he returns to find Dolores Killed by the serial killer and he rushes to the lab with her body. The police pursue them, but Micheal and Necessiter successfully transplant Anne brain to bring her alive. Micheal but is electrocuted during the chase and falls in to a coma. When he awakes after six month he is overjoyed with the new Dolores who unfortunately has a overeating disorder. But in-spite of the weighty issues Micheal and Anne live happily ever after.
This movie was considered one of the best comedies of the century by Today magazine. The high point of the movie is its engaging pace and the crackling one liners. Steve Martin as usual is in top form with his over the edge, neurotic doctor act and Kathleen Turner turns the heat on with her scheming vamp portrayal. Everything right from the names to the serial killer is covered with the thick coat of comedy, so much that clutching your stomach due to uncontrollable mirth is the only thing left to do. If you have had a tiring day and need to rest those brains, get in to the brain surgery room with Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr.

The Man with Two Brains (released in 1983) - A comedy film starring Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (released in 1982) - A homage to the film noir concept, starring Steve Martin

If you take scenes from the pulp detective movies of the 1940's and 50's and create a story based on those, you would get “Dead men don't wear plaid”. Directed by Carl Reiner, this 1982 musical comedy stars Steve Martin and Rachel Ward. The many characters are original actors from yesteryear films like the Exterminator, The killers, Big sleep etc. The footages used involve actors like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant etc. The editor Bud Collins does deserve credit for linking the yesteryear classics with the current footage.
When John Hayward, noted Scientist and cheese maker dies, his daughter Juliet hires the famous detective Rigby to investigate his death. Rigby has his own psychological demons, as he flows in to a rage on hearing the word cleaning lady as his father had run away with one. He almost throttles one in Juliet's house. This one gem of a scene itself is a warning enough for the laughs that may follow. On the crime scene Rigby finds a list named as friends of Carlota and Enemies of Carlotta, and an autographed picture of singer Kitty Collins. Rigby is shot but Juliet saves him by sucking out the bullet (yes thats what happens). Rigby follows Kitty Collins (Ava gardener from killers) who leaves her brooch with the information of Enemies of Carlotta (EOC) in the soup. From Juliet's uncle Sam who had been entrusted with a dollar bill he gets information of Friends of Carlotta (FOC). Soon Rigby is entrenched in a game of deceit and trouble, but with the help of Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart in his masterpiece The Big Sleep) he manages to outwit them all and solves the puzzle.



He finds the scientist father and Juliet in a remote island with their butler who introduces himself as field Marshall Wilfried Von Kluck. John Hayward has invented a cheese whose mold could corrode even the metals and the regrouping Neo Nazis were planning to sink American vessels using this mold. So the FOC were all Nazi Agents and before John could call in the FBI he is abducted and his death faked. So after a lot of hilarious moments the bad guys are vanquished with their hideout.
This movie pays homage to the countless masterpieces of the 40's and 50's and each of those movie scenes are perfectly interlaced with the film. Steve Martin is his usual brilliant self and one can treat this movie as a big laugh riot. He performs with his dead pan comic face which is just amazing. One of my favorite scene is Steve making Java for the hapless Alan Ladd (from movie Sleepless). You feel the giggle forming to a big guffaw with the continuous pouring of coffee and ends with the sucking out of the bullet by Juliet, splendid comedy !
This movie released to full fledged critical and box office acclaim. It may not be a land mark movie like Citizen Kane, but in the annals of movie making it will stand out as a crowd favorite.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (released in 1982) - A homage to the film noir concept, starring Steve Martin

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pennies from Heaven (released in 1981) - A musical film starring Steve Martin

Pennies from Heaven is a 1981 Holly wood musical adapted from the BBC drama series of the the same name by Dennis Porter. Porter was nominated for the Oscar for the “best adapted Screenplay category” eventually loosing to the acclaimed “Golden Pond”. Directed by Herbert Ross it stars Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in the title roles.
This depression era story is about Arthur Parker, a music sheet salesman who is down in the dumps with his relationships and finances. His relationship with his wife hits rock bottom as she frigidly resists his sexual advances. Frustrated by her lack of interest he moves out to sell his music. Joan, Arthur's wife is also un-supportive of his venture to open his own record store. Arthur leaves home threatening never to return.
That fateful day he meets Eileen, a plain school teacher with whom he falls in love at first sight. Eileen leaves with out paying any attention but becomes interested when he follows her to the farm. Soon Arthur and Eileen are engaged in a relationship and he lies to her about his wife. He plays on Eileen's sympathies for a sexual relationship. But soon Arthur returns home to Joan leaving her stranded. Joan and Arthur try to make their marriage work but are frustrated about their different outlook about relationships. Arthur and Eileen on the other hand are sexually compatible with Eileen enjoying his fantasies. Joan reluctantly finances his record store venture, but even that business languishes as customers are scarce. Eileen meanwhile gets pregnant and is fired from her job. She never finds Arthur as all his addresses turns out to be a fake one.



A desperate Eileen is forced to have an abortion and soon is drawn in to prostitution by a pimp, Tom. Arthur and Joan come to terms with their incompatibility and Arthur seeks out Eileen. He finds her as a prostitute and proposition her. Soon they decide to run away to start life anew. But as luck could have it Arthur is framed for the murder of a blind girl whom he helps across a bridge and Eileen runs out on him. Arthur is sentenced to the gallows where he sings out the song “Pennies from Heaven” to underscore the shortness of life. The audience is treated to a dream ending where Arthur and Eileen wind up together.
This movie was a box office disaster even though critical acclaim was more forth coming. The elaborate song and dance routine's sort of bored the audience in-spite of credible acting performances. Steve Martin as a music salesman was appreciated, but the audiences could never accept him in a serious role especially after the success of the comic caper like “Jerk”. It was nominated for 3 Academy awards and Golden Globes. Bernadette Peters won the golden Globe for her portrayal of Eileen. The song and dance numbers are still popular and are lip synced. But still the film lacks a soul to make the audience feel an empathy for the poor sexually starved characters.
I would never recommend watching this movie, better depression era saga's are made for movie lovers.

Pennies from Heaven (released in 1981) - A musical film starring Steve Martin