July 29th: The Future Past

anderson_tapes

157. The Anderson Tapes (Sidney Lumet, 1971)

Trading heavily on Sean Connery’s sex appeal this is a heist movie with a ‘modern’ twist. Or at least it was when it came out. Nothing dates quite as quickly as technology and it makes a film like this, a smidge off 40 years old, look very dated indeed. Duke Anderson is a safecracker who is released from prison after a 10 stretch and moves straight back in with his old flame. He likes the apartment building she lives in so much he decides to rob each of the inhabitants in one giant heist prix du viagra en pharmacie quebec. All the while Duke is being recorded. That’s the central conceit of the film, Duke is being recorded by various agencies and concerned parties. Giant reel to reel magnetic tape devices will have looked the part in 1971 but now they are a curio. To modern children they will look positively alien.

The Anderson Tapes isn’t a particularly exciting film, which is unfortunate for a heist movie. It’s sporadically funny, sometimes tense, Dyan Cannon and Connery lend it a kind of lazy sex appeal but it is unfortunate that Quincy Jones’ soundtrack completely obliterates everything in its path. It’s a confused bleeping, electronic mess that stamps all over every other part of the film to the point of annoyance. Finally, I can’t quite comprehend why the surveillance angle of the story is never developed, instead it is thrown away for a joke at the end of the film. Much like the film itself it seems that the Anderson Tapes aren’t that important.

It was perhaps worth watching for the major debut of Christopher Walken though, I like him quite a lot…

May 16th: 11 angry, 1 less so…

12

106. 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957) #9 in IMDB top 250

12 Jurors convene in a room to decide the verdict in a 1st degree murder case. Eleven of the men immediately vote the boy on trial, guilty. One juror claims that the case isn’t as open and shut as the others would believe and so the conversation to decide whether or not this eighteen year old boy lives or dies begins. This is watertight film-making of the highest order. For 90 minutes there is tension and drama and only one setting (aside from a small section in the courtroom at the start and outside the room at the end). It overcomes the biggest challenge of any play that is transferred to the screen, it is cinematic. More so than many films with more extravagant settings. Sidney Lumet shows an expert hand in manipulating the camera to keep the whole piece interesting and the project is aided by some excellent performances all round – particularly from the headliners Lee J. Cobb and producer Henry Fonda.

There is a pretty heavy liberal ideology in the film which I couldn’t help but be charmed by, especially in the current climate of American politics where the battle lines have never been more clearly drawn. This is a classic work of great American drama which is never dull, not for a second. Oh, cheers to Richard for the lend of the DVD too.