Monday, January 7, 2013

The Journey Begins: Episode One ((500) Days of Summer / 12 Angry Men)

And so begins the quest to watch every movie on the shelf and put a dent in that Instant Queue (working in a few trips to the theater as well). Just two quick notes before we get started.

1) The titles of the movies reviewed will be links to trailers where available, otherwise I will try to throw a clip in there.
2) I'm basically grading these on something of a curve. So keep in mind that an "average" score of 5/10 is still a movie that I enjoyed, given the fact that I don't seek out movies that I would expect to hate. So, take a 7 or higher as a definite recommendation, 4 through 6 are situational (depending on your genre preferences), and anything below... well, seek out at your own risk.

Let's go!

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Geoffrey Arend

Might be a tough pill to swallow for people who are turned off by indie 'quirkiness,' but I for one truly enjoyed the style of the film. The odometer tracking the story's chronology, the random musical number in the middle, the narration - it all worked for me. Zooey and JGL are great together and the side characters, while totally one-dimensional, are 'knowingly' one-dimensional. The film is obviously aware of the cliches it falls into as well as the ones that it sidesteps. This is another thing that people could find a bit grating; potentially making the movie come across as thinking itself a bit too clever for its own good. But, once again, I found the story was just genuine enough that none of these touches negatively affected my enjoyment of the film but rather enhanced the fun. Upper-tier romcom.

Score: 8 / 10

12 Angry Men (1957)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose (story)
Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam

One room, twelve men. Keeping this drama enthralling for an hour and a half is no small feat - it is well acted, tightly scripted and paced to perfection. Some of the men in that room are painfully slow on the uptake when it comes to a few of the plot points and the characters are necessarily fairly one-dimensional - but the acting and forward momentum save it in those rare places where the script slightly stumbles. Overall, a fantastic film and one that proves that you don't need 'action' to be exciting.

Score: 9 / 10


  1. LOVE 12 Angry Men.

    I actually thought 500 DoS was not quite "quirky" enough. To me it felt like a movie purposely made to try to appeal to the "quirky" set without actually hitting the mark. Now, it has been at least two years since I've seen it, so maybe my memory isn't doing it justice.

  2. 12 Angry Men is indeed great - hadn't got around to watching it until just now. Certainly glad that I made that blind buy.

    As to (500) Days of Summer, that's an interesting take. It definitely wears it's "indie" cred like a badge of honor (name dropping bands, etc.). But I have to say that, at least for me, it hits just the right balance. Too much "quirk" and the characters/story aren't real anymore, so why do I care? I felt there was enough to keep things fresh and fun while still maintaining the authenticity to allow me to engage with the characters.