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12 Angry Men (1997)
12 Incredible Performances
I remember being a little kid, watching the original version of 12 Angry Men on TV thinking this is one of the best movies I'd ever seen.
Then I heard they were re-making it for TV and I thought, "no way, the magic of this movie just can't be replicated."
Of course it couldn't. Friedkin didn't even try, instead creating a different backdrop to the same story. It works incredibly well on every level and, of course, it doesn't hurt matters to have such an incredible cast at your disposal.
Honestly, Lee J Cobb/Henry Fonda OR George C Scott/Jack Lemmon? How could you possibly decide which of the two pairings is better? Both of them are perfect.
But, since we're on the subject of the second film, let's talk about Scott and Lemmon some more. They explode off the screen. Scott is one of my all-time favorite actors, yet throughout the course of this movie I continue to find myself physically hating him. I hate the man. THAT'S HOW GOOD HE IS. But, ultimately, juror #3 is exposed as a sad man who bears a heavy burden from the past.
The wonder of this movie is that not only does it manage to show such suspense and tear-jerking action within the confines of one jury room, but also that it shows so incredibly many facets. I mean, there's 12 jurors in that room and every single one of them's got a story to tell. This is perhaps one of the richest storylines I've ever seen in my life.
Add to that the fact that this movie featured Tony Danza in an unforgettable role and you've got exactly what the poor kid on trial got: A wonderful jury!
This movie gets my award for the greatest re-make of all time. Bar none. Without blinking an eye.
Robinson Crusoe (1997)
It's Crusoe, go check it out!
Pierce Brosnan is a tough man to watch these days. Wherever he goes you can't help but hear the chanting of "Bond...Bond...Bond..." in the back of your head. It's really a curse, as the man is really a great actor.
Which is what makes this movie better than I thought it would be, because for the duration of this film I never once thought of good ol' James. Here, Brosnan has the difficult task of portraying a character even more famous than Bond and it must be said he does so with elegance. A job well done!
The story is well known to everybody, therefore I will not dwell on it. I will say, however, that it was fun to see how the liberty was taken here, as the movie somewhat fantasizes about how Daniel Defoe might have come up with the story about Robinson Crusoe. He's presented with a travel journal of a wayward seaman (Crusoe), and upon reading it (which is the narrative of the film) decides that he wants to write a book about the whole thing.
What this does is this allows the filmmakers a little liberty in changing a few dots in the well-known story of Crusoe. It somewhat protects them from being blamed for any changes that might have been made, because they can say "look, this is what actually happened and if you've read otherwise it's because Defoe changed it!"
Which is of course bollocks, as it is Defoe's NOVEL, but it works like a charm here.
It's tough to nail down a flaw here. Sure, with a bit more money & time they could have done this movie better. And it was weird seeing William Takaga in the guise of Friday making a few simple errors (like saying 'food' the American-way while Brosnan's been saying it in Scottish accent all the time, as in 'fu-ud' and not 'food'). But on the whole the movie worked and you believed it, which is no small feat.
I'd recommend that anybody interested in seeing a movie adaptation of this world-known novel check this movie out. It's certainly worth seeing, even though it may be far from breathtaking. Surely one day somebody will come along and do the book more justice but until then, you can't go wrong with Brosnan...
12 Angry Men (1957)
This movie alone justifies there being a film-business.
Ah, I remember being a kid watching 12 Angry Men on TV for the first time. I was blown away, 13 years old and seeing Henry Fonda for the first time. Nah, forget that, I was seeing every one of these 12 actors for the first time. This was also the first film I watched by Sidney Lumet.
I didn't even know who these guys were until they crawled onto my screen and began rattling my brain. This story truly takes you deeper than almost any other story, the acting performances here are absolutely wonderful and seeing as you're getting not one or two memorable performances but TWELVE, this is one special movie.
Sure, it's black'n'white. Sure, the sound isn't as good in old movies as it is nowadays. But you know what? If you do not like this movie you do not like movies at all. Period.
It's the way Henry Fonda manages to be completely invisible, despite being the lead character, allowing the rest of the cast to completely shine when they're called upon!
It's the way the camera is not watching these twelve angry men from a distance, rather that it is AMONGST them, giving you the feeling that you are pretty much the 13th juror. Which prompts you to make up your own feelings on the given issue of the story as well as getting you so aroused and hot-blooded about the proceedings that you feel as if it were you on trial! Never before (or after) has a movie ever inspired such interaction on my behalf as a watcher...
It's the way the jurors remain anonymous until after they've reached a verdict and emerged from the room, each going their separate ways. I never would have thought a simple line like, "what's your name?" could possibly have such a strong effect on me in a film. But, as with most other things about this movie, seeing is believing.
But, enough of the hype already. There's a reason Sidney Lumet is legendary, as well as Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb and all the rest! There's a reason this movie is on every film-educated man's Top-whatever list of favorites. There's a reason it is such a praised piece.
Haven't seen it? Then you're in for a treat...one of the very best movies ever, and I say that without hesitating.
5/5 (same as the re-make)
Fight Club (1999)
Life-changing Fight Club
I am, unfortunately, not one of the faithful Chuck Palahniuk readers who had read the book BEFORE they saw the movie. I, however, couldn't wait to read the book after seeing this film. I've read the book 5 times since and seen the movie more times than I can remember.
Simply put, this movie changed my life. Not just on a personal level (on which I will not comment here except to say I'm now a major Palahniuk fan) but also as a movie-watcher. I view movies differently after seeing this movie, because it broke down doors.
This movie is literally the first time I ever came upon something that, at first sight seemed incredibly stylish, sophisticated and entertaining. The plot lured you in before turning you upside down, the acting was nothing short of perfect (has there ever been a more memorable character than Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden?), the music, the screenplay (based on what is now my all-time favorite book), the lighting, the pacing, the everything! Virtually everything about this movie took my by surprise, save for one man.
David Fincher, director, was probably the only reason I went to see this movie in the first place. His work on 'Seven' and 'The Game' had me excited to see what he would do next, but I came to this movie expecting a stylish flick that offered a good plot and hopefully some good acting but what I got was so much, much more.
Honestly, how many times have you seen a movie that, with every viewing, gets even more complicated yet so simple that you can't help but laugh. Every time I watch this movie I notice something new about it, such is the depth of what is on the screen. Then there's the tiny issue of the story of Fight Club, penned by Chuck Palahniuk (who has one of the most fertile imaginations around. Don't believe me? Read 'Survivor' and weep!) the story is nothing short of incredible, a pure shock-value social commentary on the state of the world at the end of the century. You'll cry, you'll laugh, you'll do all the clichés but most importantly you'll identify with every single thing on the screen.
This movie rates as one of my all-time favorite movies and, simply put, if you haven't seen it yet then quit wasting your time OnLine and get to the nearest videostore!
So good it even mentions Iceland...
I really didn't expect much when I saw this movie. I was in full knowledge of it being a self-proclaimed 'British/American romantic comedy with a twist', whatever that means, but I honestly took my seat at the theatre half-expecting to sleep the way through it.
Boy was I wrong!?!?
This is not a flawless movie, far from it. On the downside it felt a way bit simple and sometimes dangerously close to becoming a generic movie but it actually did a great job in walking the tightrope.
The pacing, it must be said, is brilliant as it does a great job of telling you full four stories and establishing multi-layered relationships between 3 best friends from Britain and a young woman from America with such ease that you feel like you've known them forever. The acting is spot on, although credit must be given to Rufus Sewell who owns this movie as the unfortunate Frank, whose "like me! like me!" plea warms my heart every time I see it!
The music is great, the lighting is terrific and somehow, over a period of 30 minutes, this movie manages to create and establish a scenario so perfect that every man and woman will emerge from the cinema wishing they were there. Of course, not all is gold that glitters and as such the scenario more or less crumbles throughout the story but the main theme in the movie is this; it's there and if you keep your eyes open it just might happen to you.
Of course, 'happen to you' is the easy part. What's hard is trying to make it work all the way, i.e. not just catching the ball but actually carrying it all the way into the end-zone. Which is where the story gets interesting.
I advise anyone who doesn't have any prejudice against romantic comedies to go see this one, as it will surprise you. No, it's not the movie to end all movies, nor is it a piece that will change your outlook on life, but for 90 minutes it will make you forget about all your worries and just enjoy yourself: laugh, smile, hold hands, wish you were holding hands, feel loved or love someone or both, and eventually walk out into the real world feeling like you've experienced a piece of bliss that has made your day a good one.
Give it a try, it's not big but it might bite you.