Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To Sid With Love

My brother loves running, movies, and beer. Well, he likes other things as well but we have in common our love for running, movies, and beer. He was the first one I called after I ran my first road race.

Anyway, we were discussing movies one day and he said that if he'll always watch a film made by Sidney Lumet and I had to agree with him. If you think about it, Sidney Lumet has made a ton of movies and not always in the same vein: Network, Long Day's Journey into Night, Family Business, Q & A, The Wiz (where did that come from?). Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

I "discovered" Sidney Lumet after watching Before the Devil Knows Your Dead which I loved. I say "discovered" because I had watched a bunch of Sidney Lumet films without knowing he had directed them. I'd watch a film because it had been recommended or mentioned in a review and then realize that Sidney Lumet had directed it. That happened with Q & A, it was mentioned in a review of Michael Clayton so I watched it and then found out that Mr. Lumet had directed. Great film by the way.

About a month ago, I started to read Sidney Lumet's book Making Movies. I didn't finish it because I got sidetracked by another novel (a Richard Russo book about a small town just south of Schulyer Springs, NY, a fictional stand-in for Saratoga Spring, NY). Anyway, Sidney Lumet writes so clearly and eloquently about the entire movie making process. He absolutely adores actors because of how they can completely and emotionally expose themselves for their roles. It was a nice reminder for me as a stage manager who can sometimes get fed up with them. Of course Sindey Lumet worked with the best of the best: Paul Newman, Katharine Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Henry Fonda, etc.

In the book he describes how he made his first film, 12 Angry Men. He used different camera angles to create the oppressive air of the jury room. As I watched the film the other night, I didn't notice the camera angles as much as I noticed the jurors becoming hotter and sweatier due to the summer heat outside. I was totally hooked.

My next film by Mr. Lumet will be Murder on the Orient Express but first I want to read the book by Agatha Christie. After that, probably Long Day's Journey. It'll be my own private Sidney Lumet retrospective. I am quick to follow actors from film to film but not as much directors. When I did my favorite movie characters a while back, Carl at Artistic Balance mentioned favorite directors. I don't have many, Sidney Lumet obviously, Hitchcock, Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral), oh probably Martin Scorsese. It's an interesting question, I think, do you follow actors or directors or both? Or Neither?

My brother (the beer-loving, movie fan runner) has a friend with which he exchanges movie quizzes. Here's a recent one he gave me: What three things do the movies Fail Safe, Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men have in common? Well, I guess you know one of the answers but do you know the other two?

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