Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sidney Lumet

Just wanted to point out here that, while I didn't care for the nihilism of Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, and the title seems to have no relevance to the actual movie, Sidney Lumet is Eighty-freaking-three years old!

He might never top his first feature (12 Angry Men) but he's done some kickass work along the way and doesn't appear to be slowing down.

We should all be so lucky.


  1. Sidney Lumet is one of the last examples of a truly liberal director who can actually tell a story. He doesn't the preaching overtake the plotting. I think the movie of his that I enjoy the most is Q&A since I know the Nick Nolte character personally. If you come to New York we can go to Cody's and five of those guys will be sitting on barstools. I used to work out with Edwin Torres who wrote the book as the Judge, my uncle and me were among the few who would hit the heavy bag in the '80's at the McBurney YMCA while everyone else was using the fancy machines. Judge Torres always said that Mr. Lumet was crazy but very talented. He could do nuance. Maybe he can give Clooney a few pointers. You can be a bleeding heart commie and still be entertaining.

  2. We just installed a heavy bag here. Nothing like it.

    You know, Myrna Loy was, basically, a communist. I still fall in love every time I see her.

    Lumet may have a message to preach but, as you say, he doesn't let it get out of hand. The frustrating thing for me this season is that the artistic pretensions are getting out of hand, even when the message is non-political.

    It's fine to--occasionally--eschew traditionally satisfying narrative structures. But let's not be impressed by it just because someone did it.

    It takes a lot more skill to challenge the traditional narrative and take it in new directions, as with Juno. (Review coming shortly.)

  3. Hey communists can be lovable. I hear that Mao loved to tell fart jokes. And you have to love Susan Sarandon's slutiness, it's just so endearing. But they can tone down the preachiness. A perfect example was last night's ER (plebian TV, I know). They had a subplot about two married soldiers, a man who was a Marine stationed in country and his wife who was in Iraq. She turns up eight weeks pregnant when she had only been home for two weeks. Instead of it just being an affair, they had to set it up so her sergeant had raped her. They just had to show the guys in the military as rapists. After some back and forth bullshit the husband agrees to support his wife. But she doesn't want an abortion. Not for religious reason, but because it would stop her from going back to Iraq. Every choice was changed from a normal reasonable everyday one to an anti-war, anti-military, anti-US-involvement in Iraq moment. It was typical over the top liberal claptrap. It's ok to be a commie, bleeding heart liberal pussy but do you have to hit us over the head in every episode. I had to watch two episodes of Deadwood just to clean my palate. But good news, the Wire starts Sunday. That's the real deal.

  4. Yeah, I stopped watching ER a few years ago because of that. And it's not just liberal--well, it is just liberal because that's who works in Hollywood--but it's not about the liberal-ness, it's about killing a good story with a stupid message.

    The first nail in the coffin (for me) was years and years ago when they had a family bring in their kids with, I dunno, a fatal case of mumps or something. The parents hadn't vaccinated because they were afraid of autism.

    Now, I think the latest stats from Japan put to bed the idea that the MMR vaccination is the driving cause of autism, but the the subject is of interest to me. (I remember reading that populations of South Pacific islands had been wiped out by being vaccinated.)

    They gave it one line and killed the kids. (They love killing kids on that show.)

    That's not writing, that's an urban legend.

  5. The problem that these over the air shows help spread these urban myths. Although lots of people have cable, not everyone does on every TV in the house. So a lot of people still watch "regular" network TV. Not to mention how the repeats on cable keep pounding this stuff. Law and Order is another show that I can't watch anymore. But it is on somewhere almost every hour of every day. Thank God the Wire starts Sunday.

  6. I consider it a privilege to be able to watch the monoculture crumble.

    The Boy is very right wing, which I find amusing for someone that age, but I get it: He hates the kind of tree-hugging hippie crap (as Cartman would call it) that gets shoveled at him as a kid, and technology gives him access to other viewpoints.

    It'll be another thing that dies with the Boomers, I hope.


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