12 Angry Men

I’ve been selected for jury duty once in my life. While I shan’t reveal any details here, mainly because most of them elude me at this point, I do remember feeling the weight of responsibility in making my decision. If the parties involved decided that they wanted me to sit in on their jury, I felt that I owed it to them to carefully consider all the arguments and ensure that I had my facts straight. Plus they gave me free food. What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain?

So imagine my surprise during my first viewing of 12 Angry Men when a young man will be sentenced to die if the jury reaches a guilty verdict, and yet some of the jurors just want to hurry up and vote so they can get out of there. If Henry Fonda’s juror was as shocked as I was, he hid it well, merely suggesting that it’s worth talking about the trial because he has “reasonable doubt.” A few of these other men are annoyed and don’t see the point in discussing anything. The kid is guilty and that’s that. Fonda remains steadfast in his belief and the jurors have no choice but to reluctantly oblige him. The seeds have been planted for 90+ plus minutes of required viewing for anyone curious about the filmmaking process, and the importance of dialogue, camerawork and body language.

And I suppose I should mention we’re going to get into some spoilers here, so if you are lucky enough to have the chance to see 12 Angry Men for the first time, do yourself a huge favor and go check it out before you read this. I promise you won’t regret it.

Continue reading

Spielberg Introduces “The BFG” to the Next Generation

I remember being in second grade and listening intently as The BFG was read aloud to our class. This was somewhat of a trend, you see, as our teacher had already shared several classic Roald Dahl tales with us: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, you name it. While those readings have faded from my memory, for whatever reason I can clearly picture hearing about Sophie and her Big Friendly Giant for the first time.

To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long for BFG to receive the big screen treatment. Nonetheless, I was admittedly nervous when I heard that it was finally happening, despite the fact that Steven Spielberg was chosen to helm the voyage into giant country. Adapting children’s novels into a feature length film is tricky. There is rarely enough material for a complete screenplay, which usually means that a lot of new scenes have to be added to get us from Point A to Point B. Sometimes this enhances the story and makes for a wonderful experience and other times you wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just leave well enough alone.

So did Spielberg pull it off? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading