Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Take 34: 12 Angry Men

Tuesday: My "take" on a film.

12 Angry Men (1957)

"Life is in their hands--death is on their minds!"

An 18-year old boy is accused of murdering his father. The trial is over, the jury sent to deliberate. A "guilty" verdict would sentence him to death.

The initial vote: 11 (guilty) to 1 (not guilty). That one vote weighs heavily since the verdict must be unanimous. Thus proceeds arguments and re-hashed evidence as the jurors uncover (sometimes unwittingly) flaws in the prosecution's supposed open-shut case. 

Almost the entire film takes place in the juror's room, but you put 12 men in a hot stuffy room and add personality clashes, prejudices, differing backgrounds, and you get plenty of conflict. 

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) does not claim the defendant is innocent, but insists there is reasonable doubt to his guilt. One person giving someone the benefit of the doubt can go a long way. I want him in my corner!

Notes on content:
  • Infrequent mild swearing
  • No nudity or sexual situations
  • Heated debate, arguments, contention

(Roger Ebert listed this film in 33 Movies To Restore Your Faith in Humanity. I posted about the book here.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goodness of characters and people.

Disappointment and frustration with the film industry made it difficult to post anything on this blog for the past several months, but I recently purchased Ebert's Essentials: 33 Movies to Restore Your Faith in Humanity, and feel hope again.

In the introduction to his book, Roger Ebert states that he rarely cries at the movies, but when he does, "it's almost always because of the goodness of a character."

All of the films listed in the book "have one thing in common--the goodness of people."
"They are very different people and good in many different ways, but all of them, whatever the place in life that fate has led them to, try to do the best they can with their opportunities. Yes, that can restore your faith in humanity. We need more of these films and fewer weekend blockbusters entertaining young people with the slaughter and suffering of anonymous victims in action pictures."
More goodness of people and less slaughter... I wholeheartedly agree!

Of the 33 movies listed in the book, I've seen eight:
Apollo 13 (1995)
Casablanca (1942)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The King's Speech (2010)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
October Sky (1999)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Up (2009)

The remaining 25 have been added to my list of films I want to see.

He writes about movies that can restore faith in humanity, but his book also restored my faith in filmmakers. Thank you Roger Ebert.