#253-12 Angry Men

Quick recap: 12 guys ( some angrier than others) must decide whether a kid murdered his father.

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Fun (?) fact: To increase tension, the first third of the movie is shot above eye level, the second eye level, and the third below eye level.

My thoughts: Although I hadn’t seen 12 Angry Men until a few nights back, the movie ran through my mind constantly when I sat on a jury a few years ago. More than anything else, I was terrified I would end up in the Henry Fonda role and have to defend my verdict against everyone else. I know some people are born into that role, but I’m definitely not. Luckily, the trial was about hazardous waste that leaked out of some expensive bags so I didn’t have to decide whether or not someone was murdered.

Cinema-wise (totally a word. Shut up.), this movie is amazing, maybe even one of the best. The acting is phenomenal, which it has to be because people talking is the only action that takes place. On the surface, it sounds like the most boring premise ever- two hours of men deliberating. But director Sidney Lumet managed to pull out off so well that even though I knew the ending, I was still on the edge of my seat.The camera angles mentioned above really brought out the claustrophobia and by the climax  it felt like the walls were moving in on everyone.

12 Angry Men is lauded as the perfect movie to showcase that the justice system can work. But to me, it was terrifying to imagine how many juries are without a Henry Fonda.And how, even though there were some very angry men, most of them were at least a little open to hearing the opposite side. It’s a nice fantasy, but real life is much more messy. I try to be somewhat optimistic about humanity, but nothing squashes that quicker than sitting in a pool of jurors and listening to person after person give bullshit excuses as to why they can’t serve. I know that’s the whole point of jury selection, to actually choose people who will listen and make a good judgement, but it’s disheartening to know how many people don’t take the responsibility seriously. On an even more terrifying aside, it occurred to me halfway through the film that what if the kid was actually guilty and Henry Fonda is about to convince a group of people to let a murderer free? It goes both ways, I suppose.

Final review: 4/5. It was a little schmaltzy at times, but overall very well done and about as exciting as 12 men arguing can get.

Up next: The Jerk

 

 

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#229- Pulp Fiction

Quick recap: Told out of order, Pulp Fiction interweaves stories about hit men, a boxer and a couple about to rob a diner.

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Fun (?) fact: To prepare for the role, John Travolta researched what it was like to be on heroin and was told to down a bottle of Tequila and then get in a hot tub. The more you know, kids!

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My thoughts: Let me tell you, this has probably been the hardest review I’ve ever written. Not because the movie is bad or anything, but because what could I possibly add to something so perfect? Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece and I have yet to run into anyone who doesn’t like it. It’s Tarantino’s best, hands down and every moment is gold.

I had the opportunity to watch Pulp Fiction on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse and I’m so glad I did because that’s how it’s meant to be seen. It was a Quote Along, which I was initially hesitant about but then warmed up to the idea once I was given a cap gun and a syringe pen. It’s been awhile since I had last seen the movie so I wasn’t sure I would be able to remember many of the ‘quotable’ lines, but once it began, it didn’t matter. There’s just something wonderfully cathartic about saying ‘motherfucker’ with about 100 other people.

Yes, there is a lot of violence and language but I’m not really sure what you were expecting from a Tarantino film, if that sort of thing bothers you. I wouldn’t use the word ‘gratuitous’ to describe the killing, especially compared to his newest, Hateful Eight. I think I was most surprised by how perfectly everything fit together. Every line said, every gun fired was necessary. Pulp Fiction has a lot of ‘rambling’ anecdotes but somehow it just works. I loved this film when I first saw it years ago and I think I’m even more in love now.

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Final review: 5/5

Up Next: Pan’s Labyrinth

#185- 2001: A Space Odyssey

Quick recap: A group of scientists find a monolith buried on the moon and set off toward Jupiter in order to learn more about who might have placed it there. Oh, and there’s a crazy computer that wreaks havoc.

I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference

I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference

Fun (?) fact: Conspiracy theorists (AKA nutjobs) claim that 2001: A Space Odyssey being released so closely to the moon landing is not a coincidence. They (the nutjobs) think that Kubrick directed the landing and used leftover props from his movie.

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My thoughts: As I have come to learn with Kubrick films, they are infinitely more enjoyable on the big screen. I had the opportunity to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Drafthouse and it was every bit as awe inspiring as I expected it to be. The Drafthouse played the entire thing-from overture, to intermission, to ending credits so that we, the audience, would have the full effect of the movie. It is a classic for sure, and yet I have no idea what the hell it is all about.

In writing that, though, I am fulfilling what Kubrick wanted. He said in interviews that he never meant ambiguity but he also said that he doesn’t expect anyone to fully ‘get’ it because it is open to interpretation. As pretentious as that sounds, I like that idea. My personal belief is that the movie is about evolution and the monolith represents the next step. Maybe it was set up by aliens? I don’t know. When Dave passes through all the light and ends up in the neoclassical room, I think it’s because he has seen the inside of the monolith, evidently all of time and space. As he progresses in age and finally back to fetus, he represents the ‘birth’ of a new age for Earth, something even more exciting to come. I have no idea if I am right and I don’t really care because that’s just not the point.

A guy next to me evidently hated the whole movie and when he left, scoffed and said that Star Wars was much better, in terms of special effects. I didn’t punch him, although I don’t think anyone would have stopped me. Aside from that guy (who also called the ‘intermission’, the ‘intervention’), I think most people would agree how amazing the whole movie looked. It’s so hard to believe it was shot in the ’60s and I was most impressed by how realistic space travel was portrayed. This is a very visual movie, which sounds redundant, but it’s not. There is very little dialogue throughout the whole thing, but there is so much too look at. It’s almost too much at times and I can see why so many people devote their lives to trying and figuring out all the symbolism.

The main reason the Drafthouse showed 2001: A Space Odyssey was because it is part of their ‘soundtrack’ series, which showcases movies with great soundtracks. So it’s a no brainer to include this film. Every note was put in place perfectly and set the mood for each scene in a way no other film I have seen does. The music heard when the monolith is first seen on the moon is terrifying and for good reason. It sounded like angry bee people or something and I actually felt an uneasiness throughout the entire scene. What also impressed me was how the absence of sound or music could be as equally terrifying. When HAL cuts the oxygen cord from the astronaut and sends him hurtling into space, that scene scared me as much as any other scene in a horror movie could have done.

Final review: 5/5. Go see it if you haven’t yet, but only watch it if you have chance to see it in a theater. I don’t see how a television could do it justice.

Up next: Fantastic Planet

#151- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Quick recap: A teen, one month shy of graduation comes down with a severe illness and must miss a day of school. The entire town rallies around him to show their support in this heartwarming tale.

Actually, it's about a kid who skips school and has the best day ever. What did you think this was going to be about?

Actually, it’s about a kid who skips school and has the best day ever. What did you think this was going to be about?

Fun (?) fact: John Hughes offered the role of the car attendant to Bill Paxton, but he turned it down because it was too small. As a result, Hughes never offered him a role again, making him my hero.

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My thoughts: This is one of my favorite movies, and getting to watch it at the Alamo Drafthouse made me love it even more. This particular showing was a Quote-Along, which made me realize I quote this movie more often than I thought. I know how popular Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is,but getting to watch it with other die hard fans made me glad to see so many people with good taste. I’ve always* said that you can judge a person based on their favorite John Hughs film and that of course rings especially true for me.

* always meaning the other night before falling asleep because that's when I have my most profound thoughts

* always meaning the other night before falling asleep because that’s when I have my most profound thoughts

Ferris Bueller is as hilarious as it was when I watched it back in high school. I think the moments between Grace and Rooney are my favorites but every scene makes me laugh. Matthew Broderick as Ferris is wonderful on his own, but it’s his interactions with Cameron (played by Alan Ruck) that I love the most. Even though Ruck was like, 30, he plays the part of ‘awkward teen’ perfectly. He and Ferris are every guy friend I had back in school, proof that Hughes is the king of all things ‘American teen’.

I love this movie not just as a comedy, but also as a guide to the kind of life I want to live. It’s easy to get bogged down in all the daily stress I have, but watching Ferris Bueller reminds me not to take it so seriously all of the time. Live a little. Get out there and have an adventure. Talk your best friend into taking his dad’s Ferrari and then spend a day doing everything you have ever wanted. Sounds like perfect advice to me.

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Final review: 5/5. I may or may not be calling in sick to work soon.

 Up next: The Life of Emile Zola