Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day AfternoonThis performance is why Al Pacino is great.

After years and years of hearing about it, I finally was able to watch the legendary "Dog Day Afternoon" starring Al Pacino. Don rented it on Netflix and I can now see why it was always mentioned whenever the classics would come up. I'll tell you this much - the movie had it all... a great story, A GREAT performance by Pacino, a great cast and my favorite...low-down, gritty RAWNESS!

Made in 1975, this movie has to be one of the most organic movies ever made. By that, I mean the setting, the realism, the improvisation, the dialogue, the performances and the directing was subtle, calm, smooth and hit like a sledgehammer!

The Story
Without giving away too much (in case you're the 1 person left on Earth who hasn't seen it. Oh wait...that was me.) the story is based on a real life incident about an unstable man who robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation. From the first five minutes of the movie, the realism sets in as it was perfectly portrayed by the actors and the authenticity of capturing the unfolding of life scenarios, interaction and mannerisms on film. Don and I both agree that this has to be the best bank heist movie ever made.

The Performances
From Charles Durning's portrayal of Detective Moretti to Pacino's unstable Sonny Wortzik, the authenticity of interaction between the cast is captured beautifully and most of all, honestly. Pacino carried the weight of the film on his shoulders and pulled it off from beginning to end - which is no easy feat considering that the entire movie relies upon the layers of struggle that Pacino's character must convey not only consistently - but constantly - always worried, always thoughtful while sprinkling it all with bits of satisfaction here and there.

The Direction
This is the first Sidney Lumet movie I've ever seen. And he gave me a treat from the first establishing shots to the last minutes of the movie. His style was patient, calm and was able to make me feel as if I was experiencing the same anxiety both from the hostages AND from Pacino's character. His sense of establishing a realism and authentic, organic vibe in the film was the best I've ever seen from a major studio movie. I was blown away.

If you haven't already seen it, cheat yourself no longer and make it a point to see it. My brain is crammed with movies from throughout the years and I thought I'd seen it all. Then I saw Dog Day Afternoon.