Blast from the past

I watched The Birdcage for pride weekend… again


Pride weekend happened this past weekend. Weekend of celebrating and honoring LGBT community and while it was observed all around the world with parades and rainbow flags, the country in which I live in sadly doesn’t recognize the rights of the LGBT people.

The gay marriage (as a basic human right) is not allowed where I live (South –Eastern Europe), but as a small tribute for Pride weekend (from this straight white Euro chick) i watched yet again…. one the greatest movies that feature LGBT themes, and one of the greatest movies ever. Mike Nichol’s The Birdcage.

Adapted by Jean Poiret’s La Cage aux Folles farce (and subsequent movie), The Birdcage is probably one of the few films that still makes my crack up every time I watch it. Trust me, it never gets old, boring and familiar. With every new watching, there is something new to discover, and I thought it would be perfect for Pride weekend.

First of all, there were 3 Academy Award winners (well 4 if you count director Mike Nichols) on the roster and one of the most talented actors besides them in the supporting cast. Do I really need to remind you that the wonderful Christine Baranski, Hank Azaria, Calista Flockhart are in the movie, and also is my childhood crush Dan Futterman?

Futterman (since The Birdcage) has proven to be one of the most talented screenwriters and 2 time Academy Award nominee but to me he’ll always be Vincent Gray, Amy’s little brother (from Judging Amy).
Now I should mention that Futterman also starred with Robin Williams in The Fisher King some years before, but  was credited as „Second Punk“ in that role and was fairly unknown to the general public.

But what makes The Birdcage timeless classic? Well besides, the brilliant direction from Nichols, outstanding cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki and the unforgettable cast, one cannot forget the humor depicted in the movie, the eclectic and vibrant characters, and the themes that were part of the plot.

And most importantly, they all complemented each other in one wonderful piece of art that has stood the test of time. For more than 2 decades, The Birdcage was been a comedy classic, and movie frequently added to the best comedies list not just by the media, but by the fans also.

If you’re not familiar with the premise: Val Goldman (Futterman) is young man raised in South beach Florida by Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and his longtime partner Albert Goldman (Nathan Lane). Armand and Albert run The Birdcage, a gay club frequented by everyone (gay or straight) and Albert also performs there under the stage name of Starina. The problems will arise when Val informs his parents that is engaged to be married to conservative senator’s daughter Barbara Keeley (Flokhart) and they need to meet the future in-laws during a very bad period for the Keeleys.

It’s not just the presence of  talented Williams and Lane or that of Hank Azaria in one of the most iconic characters (Agador Spartacus). It’s the themes that rise from beneath the surface. The lifestyle, public image and expectations from both sides of the political spectrum, the gay stereotypes portrayed in everyday life (men smeaaar scene is hilarious) but most importantly the movie portrayed a well-balanced, smart and adjusted grown man that was raised by two gay people. And it wasn’t a big deal to anyone (Vall too) except to his conservative in-laws.

The Birdcage is and I quote: one of two films “that without fail or question will make Paul Thomas Anderson stop dead in his tracks and watch all the way to the very end, no matter what else is happening or needs to get done.” The other film is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980).

I can only imagine how hilarious the production of the movie was because it’s been reported that Director Mike Nichols had to be covered by a sound blanket during the toast scene because he was laughing too loud. Oh and  let’s not forget… The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praised the film for “going beyond the stereotypes to see the character’s depth and humanity. How cool right?

The Birdcage was great fun last night. Perfect movie for a Sunday night and perfect movie for honoring the Pride weekend.



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