DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)

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Elizabeth

I had always wanted to see Dog Day Afternoon, but after seeing a little bit of it on TV when I was young, I was also a little scared to see it. The idea of a bank robbery-hostage situation was just really scary, plus I thought Al Pacino and John Cazale were really freaky looking.

Seeing it now, though, as an adult, I see how really not scary it is, at least not in the way I thought it was. The robbery itself isn’t all that scary, especially when Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Cazale) seem more intimidated by the hostages than they do of the robbers. What’s scary is seeing New York in the 70’s, hot and grimy and full of police that no one seems to trust. New Yorkers end up rallying around Sonny, and it’s not totally clear if it’s just because he’s suddenly become famous or if there’s just a mutual hatred of cops, but I think it’s probably a bit of both, which is freaky. Sonny’s feeling of having nowhere to turn is scary, too: we find out about halfway through that although Sonny is legally married to a woman, he’s also unofficially married to a man, Leon (Chris Sarandon) whom he considers to be his true wife, as Leon is trying to get a sex change operation. And that’s why Sonny is robbing the bank to begin with, to pay for Leon’s operation. I wish I could say I know things are better now, but as someone who was without health insurance for about 2 years when I was unemployed I know that when it comes to money and medical treatment, things have not gotten better.

I’m not a diehard Pacino fan or anything, but he’s really good here. And really, the whole movie is just so great, especially the way it’s shot and the feeling that we get inside the bank as opposed to outside. When the robbers and hostages are finally transported out of the bank and taken to an airport, it makes you really uneasy that they’re out of the familiar bank surroundings, even though the goal the whole time was to get out.

Dog Day Afternoon is just great overall in the way it portrays feelings, whether it’s the realistic feelings of love in a homosexual relationship (which seemed to be handled pretty gracefully considering it was 1975) or the feeling of heat and anxiety of being held hostage inside a bank. It’s just . . . great.

Christopher

I was obsessed with this film when I first saw it in high school. I loved pretty much everything about it, even the opening sequence which has my favorite Elton John song. I also really liked Al Pacino at the time.

This movie is also one of my earliest memories of coming across a homosexual character. For whatever reason homosexuality was never something I really thought about until college. I think movies are what really formed my view of it before then though, in a good way. Largely from this movie and My Own Private Idaho, another film I remember watching on multiple occasions both by myself and with friends, and no one was ever weird about it which was great.

A Dog Day Afternoon is a film I think I’ve seen around ten times or so, so when Elizabeth said she had never seen it I was very excited to watch it for her first time. I think the dialogue is great, and I think it keeps you very invested, even though it pretty much takes place in one room and the street outside.

If you have not seen this movie watch it right now!

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LA MOUSTACHE (2005)

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Christopher

I saw this movie trailer a while back, I guess when it came out but Elizabeth recently mentioned it and we happened to come across it at a local library. It’s so weird but I found it to be kind of relatable. If I saw this as a kid it would have completely freaked me out. Now, this movie doesn’t really have an ending, a lot of it is kind of up to you to figure out but I liked that since the movie was about going crazy.

Since the movie is about a guy cutting his mustache and no one noticing, I decided to cut mine off too. I was thinking about it anyway but this seemed like the right time to do it. I used to look one way and now I look another but unlike the movie pretty much everyone mentioned it. I’m glad though because if people didn’t feel comfortable talking to me about it at work I would have been a little disappointed.

This movie was fun but I don’t think I would watch it again; I might read what other people thought about the ending though.

Elizabeth

Ever since I saw Tree of Life, I always thought it was a perfect example of what a pretentious art house movie was. Anytime I’ve seen an exaggerated parody of an art house movie, it’s been strangely similar to Tree of Life, which is just an example of why I think it’s an awful movie. La Moustache is similar, I think, because it seems like a stereotypical French art house movie. But it’s still better than Tree of Life.

La Moustache is weirdly stressful given the pretty simple plot: Marc (Vincent Lindon) has always had a mustache and then, on a whim, decides to shave it off. But once he does, his wife Agnès (Emmanuelle Devos) never notices, and neither do their close friends or Marc’s co-workers. When Marc confronts Agnès, she tells him he’s never had a mustache, which everyone around him agrees with, and then the stress begins.

At the start, La Moustache is pretty great because there are times when it seems clear that Marc is going crazy and times when it seems clear that Agnès is going crazy. Old pictures of Marc prove that he did have a mustache, and strangers on the street confirm this in pictures. But things begin to unravel further when we find out that Agnès has no idea who Marc is talking about when he mentions their old friends, and Agnès tells Marc that, unbeknown to him, his father had died years ago. The further along La Moustache goes, though, the looser it gets with the plot, I guess so it becomes more and more open to interpretation. But by the time the movie ends, you really don’t know what happened, who went crazy, or if any of it happened at all. I’m all for ambiguity in a movie, but on this level it seems like it’s ambiguous because the filmmakers aren’t sure what happened, either.

I think La Moustache is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than it’s pretty unique. Just know that once you start to get antsy about what’s going on, that feeling isn’t really going to go away.

I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF (2009)

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Elizabeth

We really have a habit of watching movies about awful people whom we are not supposed to think are awful. Case in point: I Can Do Bad All By Myself, another horror from Tyler Perry. But because the character of Madea is such an awful person, this isn’t really uncommon for Tyler Perry. But what makes I Can Do Bad All By Myself particularly stand out in awfulness is the fact that it’s a musical.

“I didn’t know it was a musical!” You might be thinking to yourself. Well, that’s because it’s not a musical in the traditional sense, where songs are integrated into the story and, ideally, help the story along. I Can Do Bad All By Myself is just a regular movie that happens to include 7 full-length songs performed within it. It’s not an accident that Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight are randomly in the movie for no real reason. These song sequences are so fucking boring that it’s hard to watch. I’m not the biggest ever fan of musicals, but a good musical is good. A shitty movie with awful full-length songs is just a really really really shitty movie.

And, once again, Tyler Perry displays here the conflicting idea of having superior black actors (in this case, it’s Taraji P. Henson) in terribly written, terribly shot, terribly produced movies. Henson is not bad in this movie because she’s a really good actor. But she falls into the same trap that Idris Elba found himself in in Daddy’s Little Girls, along with Kathy Bates in The Family That Preys, Blair Underwood in Madea’s Family Reunion, Angela Bassett in Meet the Browns, and most of the cast of For Colored Girls: how much good can even a good actor do in such a terrible movie? The answer: not much.

Although I Can Do Bad All By Myself is often unbearable, it still has the violence-without-consequences, child-abuse-by-Madea, random rape, melodrama, sexism, and racism that we all know and love about Tyler Perry movies. So, there’s that!

Christopher

Since it was not only my birthday but also Elizabeth’s and my anniversary, we decided to revisit the holy entity that brought us together in the first place. Tyler Perry. I Can Do Bad All By Myself is one of his films I had yet to watch but Elizabeth and our friend Ben have always mentioned it as one of the craziest (For Colored Girls is still my favorite though) and they were absolutely right, it’s insane.

The one negative I would give it is the main negative I have about TP’s plays, there are so many fucking songs, in full length. And you really don’t have to know too much to guess that he really is an awful songwriter.  Every song sounds the same and they all deal with people just yelling. So this movie had 7 full songs, probably 40 minutes of the movie.

Great movie to watch but have a cup of coffee to help you through the singing.