Be Original

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Winter Cab Ride, Istanbul

What to do when you're trapped in the notoriously bad Istanbul jam? Why, take photos of course!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Attica! Attica! Attica! A Salute To Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

One of my favourite directors died last Friday.
Sidney Lumet's films always appealed to my righteous self, starting from the time I saw 12 Angry Men as a kid (thanks to RTM1 and my mum, I was already familiar with Lumet, Douglas Sirk, Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Terence Malick and they even showed THX1138 [nerds, pay attention] and Taxi Driver albeit with major cuts. Whoever was in charge of programming then, you're my hero).

12 Angry Men. This was a film with no blood, no gore, no car chase--just 12 men at the table. Talking. For the entire duration of the movie. And yet, it grabbed me. As an adult, I would come to learn that it was the way he shot the movie that made a difference--the increasingly wide angle lens pans out gradually, isolating the jury and intensifying their decision. There's also a play-like quality and arrangement to the scene below that I enjoy to this day.

The Verdict. Would you believe I saw this when I was 9?! I didn't understand much of it but the same intensity from 12 Angry Men is here. Didn't even know it was directed by the same man until I was an adult. It made me a fan of Paul Newman. I was a strange child.

Dog Day Afternoon. I loved that Sidney literally turned the air-conditioning off. I loved the extreme close-ups so one could just about count the beads of sweat on Al Pacino's face. Great dialogue--of course, this was edited by Dede Allen (there's a tribute of her somewhere in this blog) and her signature style--dialogue spoken but frame locked on the recipient--is put to great effect here. Also the movie preceeds Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing (watch it and you'll see what I mean). I can't embed some of the best scenes. But herewith, the most famous of all:

Running On Empty. Oh my god, you can't imagine how this movie affected me as a teen especially when the final scene reprises the family singing to Fire and Rain while River Phoenix watches them drive away.

Mostly, I loved the way Sidney shot New York, always a love letter to his native city. Watch the opening scene of day-time Brooklyn in Dog Day Afternoon--wonderful. His recent Before The Devil Knows You're Dead captures a marvelous mise-en-scene too (the pawnbroker bit, if I'm not mistaken), coming right after Ridley Scott's affected American Gangster where New York (110th st, no less) was shot with no soul. Even one of his worst movies, Night Falls On Manhattan, which I rushed to watch on big screen only to come out thoroughly disappointed, pays loving tribute to the city.

I'm gushing.

Sidney Lumet deserves a movie marathon salute tonight.