Hank Azaria


Year: 1995
Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: Michael Mann


When Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight this was the movie he turned to for inspiration, the bank robbery scenes anyway.  That was a big part of why The Dark Knight was so awesome and it says something about how awesome this movie is in its own right.  Movies about cops and robbers are always popular and this is one of the best ever made regarding the two.  It was made by a great filmmaker, it had an outstanding cast, and it doesn’t fail to deliver on the action.

In 1972 Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were both part of the same movie, The Godfather: Part IIAlthough they played characters living in completely different time periods and never shared any screen time together.  For the next 23 years both of their careers ballooned and they were the go to guys for mobster parts.  Yet in all that time they both made many mobster movies but never collaborated.  After all that time it became a really big deal that they were in this movie together and their first collaboration did not disappoint.  In fact I happen to think the scene in which they meet for the first time is one of the coolest I have ever seen.  There is so much build up, the music is just right, and then they are finally face to face and everything seems so natural and perfect.  I happen to think they did really well working together but they are both grade A professionals when it comes to acting and know how to do their jobs. This movie was almost twenty years ago now and these two men have continued their careers throughout that time.  Not with quite so much success mind you but they still wield a certain level of power in their industry.

I read that this was a movie Michael Mann spent over ten years trying to get made.  When you put that much time into something you really have to make sure you have the right people and I don’t know that a finer cast was ever put together.  The good guys and the bad guys alike could not have been better cast in any part.  I really like Mykelti Williamson and Wes Studi as Al Pacino’s main guys on his side.  Ted Levine has always creeped the hell out of me but he manages to play a convincing good guy in this one.  Val Kilmer plays one of his best roles in this movie. He is a total badass as De Niro’s right hand man. When you are casting bad guys I don’t know that you could have done much better in 1995 than Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo.  Sizemore is one of the most intimidating guys ever.  He has an absolute look of insanity in his eyes; he fits into this movie nicely. There is one scene where a guy takes notice of the crew and Sizemore just stares him down and the guy quickly looks away. Sizemore wasn’t who the witness wanted having a good look at him.  I am a big fan of Danny Trejo; I have really enjoyed his rise to fame in recent years.  Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, and William Fichter are all great as well and bring a lot to the film.  There is a really young Natalie Portman here proving that she was always an exceptional actor.  Ashley Judd is smoking hot in this one and that served her well during the late 90s. I do not like the part that Hank Azaria played in this one but I am a big fan of his and love how often he pops up in different types of movies. He shot his scenes for this movie during his days off while filming The Birdcage, one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

In preparation for this movie Michael Mann did a lot of research.  The story is somewhat loosely based on a real relationship between a high profile cop and criminal that took place in the 70s.  I don’t know much about the real story but it was one that Mann was always personally interested in.  When prepping his actors for their roles he actually arranged for the good guy actors to have dinner and interact with real police officers and also had the bad guy actors meet with real life criminals. This kind of preparation went a long way as we can clearly see by the performances of the actors.

This was a really awesome movie that I always enjoy.  It’s a long movie and has slow points here and there but the action makes up for any boredom that might be incurred. I would recommend this movie to anybody and it is definitely worth your time to see it.


Ryan makes me watch this movie all the time. Well, not really…but since it is so freaking long it feels like forever every time we watch it. It’s a great movie with a good storyline and amazing actors. It takes forever to finally get there, but it can be worth it to sit through the movie. If you like movies like this, go for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Heist (2001)

The Birdcage

Year: 1996
Directed By: Mike Nichols
Written By: Jean Poiret and Elaine May


When I was 12 years old I went to work with my dad one night at the theater.  This was something I did often, while he worked I would go from theater to theater and watch movies.  Well one night when I was 12 I wondered into The Birdcage not knowing anything about the film or what it was about.  I might have made it four minutes into it before getting up and leaving.  As soon as I realized those women dancing on stage were men dressed as women I had seen enough.  I went on to tell the story of me getting up and walking out of that theater for another eight years until I was in college. I had a roommate who owned the movie and suggested I watch it, I had no idea what I was in for.  Today I consider this one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and I love it.

This movie isn’t for everyone.  There are a lot of small-minded people out there with very strong feelings about homosexuals.  Nevertheless I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not laugh. While the characters are most definitely gay they are not doing anything offensive by any means. These are funny people put together in an outrageous scenario and what they made was a very funny film. Gene Hackman is great as Senator Keeley and Dianne Wiest is great as the joyful Republican wife. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are hilarious as two gay men trying to act straight.  Hank Azaria should not go unmentioned here either, he is a very talented entertainer who has shown a lot of versatility in his career.  I wouldn’t call myself a Mike Nichols fan but I have liked many of his films, like The Graduate and What Planet Are You From? Of all his films, I think this was his best, but it does have steep competition and there is a lot of room for argument there.

I fully support gay rights and equal treatment but I did not always feel that way.  In a weird kind of way this movie helped me to be a more open-minded person and more accepting of other types of lifestyles. I was in college when I saw it for the first time and it was during that time that I learned to think for myself.  In a psychology class I learned that homosexuality is not just a lifestyle people chose but that genetics played a part.  I believe it is wrong to judge or hate someone for being who they were born to be. The way I see it whatever or whoever anybody out there chooses to be is none of my business or concern anyway.  I do not see the point in getting angry or malicious about something that you cannot control and will never change anyway. The bigots and homophobes out there are wasting their time and energy on hate. Homosexuality is not a fad, it’s been part of society from the beginning of time and always will be.

I don’t know that this movie would teach everybody to be open-minded but it will definitely have even the most uncomfortable guy laughing.  I consider this movie one of the funniest I have ever seen and it is one of my all time favorites.  I hope you will give it a chance if you have never seen it, it is worth your time.


In college, when Ryan told me that he had never seen this movie, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that he had never seen it, when I had seen it a couple hundred times, I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it or like it. I fell asleep during the movie at some point, and while I was peacfully dreaming away I was all of a sudden awoken with laughter and the words that I will never forget…””Baby! (that’s what we call each other) Baby! Wake Up! LOOK WHAT HE IS DOING!” Those words will live on forever in our relationship. He was so shocked by the outcome of the dinner that he was urged to wake me up.

I thoroughly love this film. i really like Robin Williams in this role. I think he does an incredible job and Nathan Lane is priceless as his lover. I think this is a great movie. I don’t know if it is qualified as a movie for everyone, but if you are open-minded (which I feel everyone should be) then you would most likely like this movie and probably benefit from having watched it.

NEXT MOVIE: Black Sheep (1996)