12 Angry Men


Viewed – 30 July 2016  Netflix

Throughout my movie viewing life, from time to time I have wanted to have seen some of the ‘greats’ of cinema.  Movies that continue to be talked about, influential and be regarded as masterpieces, those titles any self-respecting movie fanatic should say they’ve seen.  So I began trawling the celebrated IMDB Top 250 for movies and found there were many I didn’t recall having seen either partially or at all, much to my embarrassment.

12-angry-men

Now let’s go back a few years to when I watched a movie called Glengarry Glen Ross, a movie that at the time was highly acclaimed and said to be a spiritual successor to this 1957 classic.  So I’d always wondered if I’d like that movie’s supposed inspiration as I had Glen Ross itself.  This tells the story of a jury who need to make a decision regarding the case of an eighteen year old guy who is accused of murdering his father.  Their decision would mean the difference between this lad walked free, or facing the electric chair.  Twelve men, all strangers to one another adjourn into a single room to discuss their verdicts and that is where the majority of the movie plays out.  With the backdrop of a very hot summer’s day and the claustrophobia of the room, soon tensions are burning as these very different men spar it out and way up facts verses their own beliefs and the testimonies of witnesses.  It proved thoroughly gripping, surprisingly so and with a cast of occasionally familiar looking actors (was that Quincy?) headed by the late Henry Fonda … I enjoyed watching it all play out.

At times some of the acting is a bit on the theatrical side, and it kind of ends abruptly … but for it’s time this must have been ground-breaking, free of much of the trappings of typical Hollywood fair.  It made me feel like I was weighing up the facts and trying to come to a decision as much as these men were.  I certainly get why this movie has endured and still gets talked about as it tackles a relevant subject, with the death penalty still around in certain American states.  Also Sidney Lumet’s direction is like a study of human preconceptions and prejudices, bringing out subtle nuances of every character.  I was left suitably impressed.

Verdict:  4 /5

Movies I haven’t seen


Taking the celebrated IMDB Top 250 as a basis, here is a list of movies I have never watched.  There’s many more on the 250 but the list below are titles that at least interest me or have interested me at some stage.

  • 12 Angry Men
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Seven Samurai
  • City of God
  • Life Is Beautiful
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • The Pianist
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • The Lives of Others
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Citizen Kane
  • North by Northwest
  • Vertigo
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Amadeus
  • The Sting
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • For a Few Dollars More
  • The Apartment
  • All About Eve
  • The Third Man
  • Downfall
  • The Great Escape
  • Room
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Secret in Their Eyes
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Into the Wild
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • Spotlight
  • Network
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Before Sunrise
  • Memories of Murder
  • La Haine
  • Prisoners
  • Barry Lyndon
  • The Imitation Game
  • A Fistful of Dollars
  • High Noon
  • Dial M for Murder

The Bourne Ultimatum


Viewed – 26 July 2016  Blu-ray

So we come to the third movie in this popular franchise and this is where several plot threads begin to get tied off as deadly former assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) searches for the answers he needs to his identity.  Along for the ride this time around in the form of a new ally is Julia Stiles who tries to help Bourne piece together the final details whilst the CIA, headed by Joan Allen try to cover everything up.

The-Bourne-Ultimatum

Paul Greengrass once again takes directing duties and much like the last movie has a flair for shaky camera rapid-fire editing, but unlike Supremacy the plot is at times less coherent and the confusion that blighted that movie’s final act seems to be in full force here.  It’s certainly fun watching Bourne out smart various CIA surveillance teams and uncover skeletons in various closets, but it also means this is probably the most repetitive of the franchise, with the run time mostly dedicated to watching, sneaking, getting into a fight, then more watching and sneaking.

The-Bourne-Ultimatum-This does bring together the storyline of all three movies well and the viewer is given some closure about Bourne even if questions still remain unanswered.  Yet thrilling car, bike and on-foot chases and plenty of action meant I was far from bored.  The movie just needed to have more character moments and a bit more downtime between scenes to catch one’s breath (simple office scenes are filmed like they take place in the middle of an earthquake).  However, this was still entertaining despite struggling to forge it’s own, er…identity and therefore by default is the weakest entry so far.

The Blu-ray is again impressive and is packed with extras including a director commentary and wealth of behind the scenes footage and interviews.  The image is perhaps the best of the franchise up to this point and even though the shaky camera approach causes issues with focus, it’s still pops off the screen.  The same can also be said for the sound which envelopes the viewer in a wall of sound and atmosphere throughout.  A treatment somewhat undeserving but welcome all the same.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

The Bourne Supremacy


Viewed – 19 July 2016  Blu-ray

I don’t know why, as someone who enjoyed the first movie in this franchise, I didn’t get around to seeing this sequel until the other day.  Matt Damon is once again hard-as-nails CIA assassin Jason Bourne who lives a life of leisure with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) until he gets set up for the theft of some top secret files.  Soon his former employees are out to get him as he struggles to stay one step ahead and unmask the real culprit.

bourne_supremacy

Taking over directing duties this time from Doug Liman is Paul Greengrass, who despite lacking some of the subtlety and finesse of Liman has made a tighter, albeit rapidly edited but more exciting movie.  Support comes in the shape of Joan Allen as a CIA chief out to apprehend Bourne and Brian Cox also returns as Bourne’s former boss.   I felt the stakes seemed a lot higher this time and although the finer details on certain plot threads connecting certain sequences seemed to get muddled as the action kicked in (including possibly one of the best car chases I’ve seen) … I was still gripped from beginning to end.

JoanAllenUnlike the last movie, there’s nobody to really touch Damon’s performance that is once again complex, emotional and bad-ass.  Allen seems particularly under-developed.  A superior sequel in the adrenaline stakes then, which suffers a couple of coherence issues.  Yet as it stands, this remains a thrilling follow-up that left this viewer thirsty for more.

The Blu-ray is very pleasing.  The image looks great (a little dark but a clear step up from Identity) and the audio packs a hefty punch and is clear and atmospheric.  The extras are again plentiful with several featurettes, behind the scenes footage, interviews and an invaluable commentary from the director.  A great treatment to what is possibly the most underrated movie in the series.

Verdict:

(the movie)  4 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

Ghostbusters


Viewed – 16 July 2016  Cinema

(Updated: 18/07/2016) Possibly one of the most heavily criticised movies for a long time before anyone actually saw it.  Now that it’s out however, although public opinion hasn’t completely reversed it seems the movie might actually be worth your time … and I’ll say straight away that it certainly is.

ghostbusters

Is it OK to say I have a crush on Kristina Wiig?   The Bridesmaids star heads an all new female cast who join together to rid the city of New York from a supernatural phenomenon, despite government and the media struggling to take them seriously.  So far so very much the original plot, and this movie bares a very close resemblance to what came before along with many in-jokes and (a slight overkill) of cameo appearances from the original actors.  That being said this also has it’s own flavour – in the form of a great cast all doing a fine job bringing their individual personalities into the action.  Melissa McCarthy whose brand of often slapstick humour I feared might have been misplaced, is very good as are a somewhat unhinged Kate McKinnon and a fun Leslie Jones.  The effects for the various ghosts and creatures are above average and the ghost busting action itself is often thrilling, funny and utterly entertaining.

Inevitably comparing this to the original, I’ll admit the movie doesn’t hold up as well, replacing creepy atmosphere and characterisation with at times corny humour and an overdose of CGI (and gunge).  Yet taken on it’s own merits I enjoyed several fun encounters (slimer and mrs slimer?), it made me chuckle often and it was seriously feel good in places, making this more than a simple cash-in … and for a new audience it possibly works even better.  So I say give this a chance.  It does a lot right and everyone involved (including a dopey Chris Hemsworth) look like they are having a blast, which came across strong enough to this viewer to leave him with a big, satisfied grin.

Verdict:  3 /5