The Sci-Fi Slob's Movie Reviews

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12 Angry Men

Directed by Sidney Lumet







Year Of Release
1957

Director/s
Sidney Lumet

Writer/s
Reginald Rose

Cast
Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fieldler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G.Marshall, Jack Kluman, Edward Burns, Jack Warden, Robert Webber, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec



I'd been meaning to watch 12 Angry Men for a very long time but never got around to it till now. It's one of those films you always see on 'the best films ever made' lists. Now, the word masterpiece gets thrown around a lot these days and most of the time it's not justified, but in the case of 12 Angry Men, it is, very justified. I can say that without a doubt it's one the greatest films I've ever seen. It's perfect in every creative aspect: script, direction, performances, and setting.

The 12 Men lock horns in a sweltering jury room to decide the fate of a young man accused of murdering his father. Henry Fonda plays the knight in shining armor, trying to convince the jury of the boys innocents. The film is ultimately a character study of different personalties from different walks of life - and, whilst locked up in the sweltering jury room, the tension between the characters becomes immense. They argue for hours, during which time they exchange opinion, racial bigotry, class stereotypes, bias and insults. The last half hour is edge of your seat stuff, as slowly but surely the jurors change their verdicts to not guilty.

The performances were amazing, and I especially liked Jack Klugman. The most powerful and moving parts of the film were the face-offs between the characters, which were brilliantly filmed: the camera zooms right in on them both as they speak their pieces, which created bucket loads of tension. The film is an emotional roller coaster for the audience, and for a film only 90 minutes long set almost entirely in a single room, that is quite a feat. I suppose the message behind the film is that no matter what your background or age, there is something that transcends those differences: the search for truth.



Care for some gopher?
Didn't you think that
WARNING: "12 Angry Men" spoilers below
the two hardliners "fell" too easy at the end?
That's the only thing that bugs me about the movie.



12 Angry Men is one of my favorite movies. Great review of a great movie.


Didn't you think that
WARNING: "12 Angry Men" spoilers below
the two hardliners "fell" too easy at the end?
That's the only thing that bugs me about the movie.

WARNING: "SPOILERS ABOUT 12 ANGRT MEN!!!" spoilers below
No, they don't. The whole point of the movie is that there's only one holdout, and one-by-one he has to change people's minds, and he has to do that by proving to each of them why the "evidence" is wrong. The hardliners hold out as long as they can, until they just have no choice but to admit that they're wrong.



Care for some gopher?
WARNING: "12 Angry Men" spoilers below
I got the point of the movie () but considering how heavy they (the last two) try to convict him (their motives aren't just the evidences but also of personal nature) i didn't find it completely convincing.

And, by the way, the last one doesn't give up because he's convinced the boy is innocent but because he's exhausted and tired of arguing.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Imitation Game, Inherent Vice and Birdman are three movies I've very eager to watch and reading your reviews have only enhanced that eagerness.

Blade Runner IS a movie to see on the big screen. I remember being pretty swept away by it, back in the day.



Stalker

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky







Year Of Release
1979

Director/s
Andrei Tarkovsky

Writer/s
Arkadiy Strugatskiy, Boris Strugatskiy, Andrei Tarkovsky

Starring
Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko



Stalker is a very complex film, however, its plot is very simple: a man living in a desolate and miserable industrial Russian town, promises two men (a writer and a professor), that he will guide them to the center of a forbidden area known as 'The Zone' to find a room which can apparently grant wishes. The films power is in its symbolism and it's breathtaking cinematography. The train journey of the three men near the start of the film is a perfect example. You would think that with the foreboding and surreal atmosphere created, the men were aboard a spaceship on their way to a distant and unknown world. The change in picture color between the men's home and the mysterious 'Zone', reflects both their hopes and expectations about what they might find, and the relief of having escaped their dreary and depressing lives.

Much like Persona, Stalker has more emphasis on characterization and has a more minimalist style. The film is a visually dazzling masterpiece. My two favourite scenes are the dream sequence and the scene near the end of the film in which the Stalker's daughter is sitting on his shoulders. Both obviously very symbolic and ambiguous scenes, made all the more powerful by the haunting music. From start to finish the film had me asking questions. It's the kind of film that requires audience participation to work, that's it power, the ability to make people think about things.

Stalker
isn't for everyone (it is high-art after all). It's also three hours long, which I wasn't expecting (maybe a little too long if I'm perfectly honest). However, after the first viewing, the film becomes infinitively re-watchable because of it's mystique - defiantly one of those films that you must watch before you die.



Wow, full score! Nice! I'm so happy you liked it and Persona.



Is Stalker your first Tarkovsky? I'm surprised at the high score because I consider it a tough place to start, but it's no doubt great.



Finished here. It's been fun.
Is Stalker your first Tarkovsky? I'm surprised at the high score because I consider it a tough place to start, but it's no doubt great.
I'd say any Tarkovsky is a tough place to start, with the exception of maybe Ivan's Childhood.



Ex Machina

Directed by Alex Garland







Year Of Release
2015

Director/s
Alex Garland

Writer/s
Alex Garland

Starring
Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno



Ex Machina
is a beautifully crafted, subtle and mesmerizing sci-fi gem. Where recent sci-fi films like Transcendence, The Signal and The Machine went wrong, director Alex Garland got everything right. The plot follows young computer programmer Caleb, who is asked by his eccentric boss Nathan (a billionaire search engine CEO) to join him at his country retreat to perform some tests on, Ava, the revolutionary A.I. that he has recently created.

The music and cinematography are sensational. Ava is introduced during a beautifully subtle scene in which I was expecting to hear the words: "I'm Rachael..Deckard". I can't help but draw comparisons between the narrative of Ex Machina and Blade Runner. It's like Ava is Rachael, Caleb is Deckard, and Nathan is Dr Tyrell (If Dr Tyrell was an alcoholic mad man.) Ex Machina also asks the same fundamental questions that Blade Runner does: what makes us human, and will A.I. be a good or bad thing for mankind etc.

The production design was spot on. All the sets looked very convincing and the CGI on Ava looked amazing. I thought the plot twists were delivered well enough (if a little predictable); and, not that I didn't like it, but the ending came as a bit of a surprise. Having produced some classics of sci-fi and horror in the past, Alex Garland's transition into the directors chair has been a seamless one. Ex Machina is the best indie sci-fi I've seen since Duncan Jones' Moon (2009), and would easily make my top twenty greatest sci-fi films of all-time. I look forward to seeing more from Alex Garland in the future.



I've been itching to see Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, and I think I'll finally be getting to both this week! Very excited. Glad to hear you like it, Slob.



Now, whenever a film like this comes along, sci-fi geeks like myself will ask the same question: is it as good as 2001? Well, this is the only film that has come close - so close in fact - that I may have answered yes to that question...maybe.
As a fellow sci fi geek, I also loved it though I wouldn't put it in the same pedestal as 2001, but its perhaps the best hollywood sci fi film for quite some time, like a decade perhaps. Its main problem is perhaps that it suffers to much of "Chrisnolanisms", what I mean it is that Nolan's films have a certain taste of pseudo cool which hurts the movie for me and which also is the reason for Nolan's popularity since that flavor resonates with most people in a better way than it does to me.

I will certainly include it into my science fiction canon list that I plan to make in a few months.



Whiplash

Directed by Damien Chazelle







Year Of Release
2014

Director/s
Damien Chazelle

Writer/s
Damien Chazelle

Starring
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Fletcher, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell


Whiplash is an intense and engrossing story of determination, sacrifice and madness. After Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the terrifying and imposing music teacher first appears, I was just waiting for him to go off the handle again. He was like a coiled spring throughout the film, as he embarked on his campaign of mind games and abuse against his pupils.

One such pupil Andrew Neiman, a first-year jazz drummer at the prestigious Shaffer music school, catches the attention of the unstable music teacher, and is taken under is wing and given a chance to prove himself. Nieman is the odd one out in his family, with parents obviously favoring his football playing brothers. And you get the feeling that his fathers support his career choice is not entirely wholehearted. He is a times motivated, and at times pushed over the edge by his teachers antics (the hilarious "not quite my tempo" scene for example). This is what creates the intensity and tension: the question of whether Neiman is in Fletcher's good books or not. Nieman's character develops from a nervous, unsure first year student, into a driven, talented musician who knows what he wants to do. He has a few ups and downs with his nutcase teacher along the way, but in the end his tutelage, however unorthodox, proves worthwhile.

The final scene is amazing. After his teacher's failed attempt to humiliate in front of hundreds of people, Nieman sits down a plays the solo to beat all solos. Seeing that his investment in the young man is coming to fruition, Fletcher eventually aids Nieman in his solo efforts. And his father finally realizes is son's true talent as he stares in awe at the stage through an auditorium door.

Whiplash is a brilliant, well-made drama with superb performances throughout. One of the best films of 2014.



Mad Max: Fury Road

Directed by George Miller







Year Of Release
2015

Director/s
George Miller

Writer/s
George Miller

Starring
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones


A crazy, unrelenting, suicide machine of a film! Yet another colorful and stark post apocalyptic wasteland has been created by George Miller. Taking less then 15 minutes to set the basis for the plot, the film kicks off right into action as Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron thunder across the wastelands in a "war rig" 18 wheeler, pursued by the hordes of petrol head nutcases led by the enigmatic Immortan Joe.

The film showcases practical special effects and proves that they can still make the same impact as the CGI-laden blockbusters. CGI was still used in the places to sharpen things up, but the majority was good old fashion stunt driving and real explosions. The Max character was the same mysterious hero as he was in The Road Warrior, and Tom Hardy did a great job. Charlize Theron was also brilliant - one of the most bad ass female characters ever! I just loved the over the top eccentricity of the film - from flamethrowing guitars to monster trucks and tribal face paint.

Fury Road is just pure non-stop action from start to finish. It's easily one of the best sci-fi action films ever made (though The Road Warrior will always take a place in my heart). I hope that George Miller makes it a new trilogy.