Tag Archives: Al Pacino

It’s a man’s right to stop….

It’s nice to be able to sit at my newly repositioned pc (thanks to the female feng shui influence of my new flatmate) and get some words down on the blog. It’s been a nuts few weeks with a vast array of personal, professional and not so professional incidents and upheavals happening faster than a crowd fleeing the cinema halfway through the new Bond movie…. If they’ve managed to get that far.

On a Bond note, I’m not going to see the new picture. I didn’t enjoy the last one and have never really got what the fuss is about. Daniel Craig is a decent actor but I’ve always looked at Bond with a certain level of disdain, which kind of renders any trip to see the movie an inevitable disappointment.

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007: A load of old tosh

So, PLASTIC is finished, completed, done. It’s the longest (3 1/2 months) I’ve ever worked on one project which was great and I really think we nailed getting the atmosphere of the piece onto film. I’ve also just finished shooting a 3 minute experimental short of my own which goes by the working title SHADES OF REMORSE. This is my first crack at stop frame animation which is incredibly painstaking but wonderfully rewarding, it’s also the first time I’ve worked with an editor which is a strange experience. Handing over your tapes to someone and letting them get on with it is liberating but unsettling. Kind of like leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time, you just want to be calling every half hour to ask if everything’s fine…. is she sleeping ok….. Does she have a temperature??

From that lot it’s straight into pre production for the new Zach Rosenau picture THE INAUDIBLE CRIMES OF JASPER PIDGEON…. What a great title right? On this film I’m going to be his assistant director / producer which, considering we’re shooting the film on black and white 16mm on the tiny isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides over 2 weeks at the start of December, should present some interesting challenges and stunning results. I’m really looking forward to working with Zach; our views on cinema are very much aligned as is our passion for this project.

There’s been painfully little time for the consumption of pictures in the last 2 weeks, I feel like Christian Bale in the last third of RESCUE DAWN, all emaciated through a lack of movies. My new flatmate has been a terrible influence which has caused a tumbling off the wagon, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. The upside of that is her willingness to learn about and watch films. Last night we broke ourselves in gently.

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For all it’s predictability this is a great movie with some razor sharp dialogue, I particularly loved the way the stoner friends verbally rip up the character “Martin” (played brilliantly deadpan by Martin Starr) as he strives to win a bet that involves him not cutting his hair or shaving for a whole year, these relentless jibes really had me in stitches. From “The shoe bomber Richard Reid”, to “Scorsese on coke”, “Serpico”, “Cat Stevens” and “Late John Lennon”, the guy takes it from all angles. This movie is peppered with genuine laugh out loud moments and having not seen much of Apatow’s other stuff, I’m looking forward to checking out these films.

In honour of this film’s great dialogue, I’ve selected 3 of my favourite dialogue scenes in cinema. There could be many more of course but this is just to get the ball rolling. Feel free to chip in with your favourite scenes where the words are king…….

First up is the Return Of The Jedi scene from the Kevin Smith film CLERKS (1994). I just love the pace of the conversation and the blind logic of the reasoning. I read somewhere recently that Smith’s new film ZACH AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO was a rip off of the Judd Apatow approach to filmmaking. This is laughable as Smith was doing what Apatow is aiming for now a decade before he’d made a picture….. Enjoy.

From the comedic to the downright sharp, the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s visceral debut RESERVOIR DOGS (1992). There’s nothing that needs to be said about this scene other than it was the start of great things for Steve Buscemi, which in itself is reason enough to love it.

Last up is Dave’s leaving speech from the 1992 James Foley picture GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Ed Harris is fantastic here as is Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino. You just can’t take your eyes off this scene but it’s the verbal exchange that provides its power.

So let’s have it. The cinema dialogue scenes you never tire of seeing.

No Glamour Here.

The work of Sidney Lumet has become more and more of an obssession for me of late. The latest offering I’ve had the pleasure of looking at is DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975). This picture, like 12 ANGRY MEN and NETWORK is on the whole, set in one location, but follows a very complex set of circumstances and characters. The story of DOG DAY AFTERNOON is a true one, as the film poster and the title at the begining of the film inform us.

The year is 1972, August 22nd to be precise, the place is Brooklyn, New York. 3 guys walk into a bank with a view to holding the place up and getting out within a few minutes, it didn’t quite work out like that. The incident became a hostage situation covered by national news channels and watched by crowds of baying onlookers. Lumet captures the happening in a raw documentary style, the title sequence is real footage of 70’s New York life. Dirty sidewalks, bums lying sleeping and boats reversing into the Hudson gives the start of the picture a genuine feel that carries on throughout. You can have a look at it below, the music playing is an Elton John track, the first and last time music is heard in the film. no soundtrack, no incidental music. This absence is another powerful tool to heighten the realism of the piece, a realism both praised and criticised by John Wojtowicz, the real life robber, see a piece he wrote regarding the picture here.

Al Pacino plays Sonny Wortzik (Wojtowicz) with John Cazale playing the sidekick who doesn’t chicken out (One guy did a few minutes into the raid) and flee, Sal (Sal Naturale in real life). This is an interesting piece of casting as Naturale was only 18 at the time of the incident whereas Cazale was 40 when the picture was made. Cazale is fantastic here however as the underplayed, understated sidekick. Pacino does all the talking but you always get the feeling that Sal is the one most likely to do real human damage if the situation demands it.

This is only Cazale’s 4th feature and he was only to make one more due to having bone cancer, a disease he worked through on his final feature. No one could have hoped to have achieved more in a 5 picture career. He had notable parts in THE GODFATHER, THE CONVERSATION, THE GODFATHER pt. 2, DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE DEER HUNTER.
Sal’s journey in this movie is, of course, not the primary concern. The motivations of Sonny are infinately more interesting, as any preconceptions you have are blown out the water in the final 3rd of the movie forcing you to re-examine Sonny as a person. Lumet photographs and stages the various sections of this development wonderfully as the stills below show.





In Sidney Lumet’s book “MAKING MOVIES he says that DDA was one of the most difficult pictures he’d taken on due to a multitude of location problems and hundreds of extras to coordinate. The scene below gives a taster of both the feel of the movie and lends weight to what Lumet is talking about. There is a kinetic quality to the picture despite no one going anywhere. Seeing this movie as an introduction to Lumet will leave you wanting more, I guarantee it.