Monthly Archives: July 2014

12 Angry Men on Screen and Stage

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Would you stand alone?  Without a strong reason, just a feeling, would you refuse to go with the crowd?

On a hot afternoon, twelve people are locked in a room, tasked with determining the fate of a 16-year-old accused murderer. Can one juror make a difference?

12 Angry Men (1957 NR) is an excellent movie starring Henry Fonda as Juror #8, and the only juror who believes there is reasonable doubt for the kid’s guilt.  Other writers have give better explanations than I about the characters, and what we can learn from this show.  Be sure to follow some of the links at the end of this post.

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This is a great movie for pointing out how groups work, how prejudices can distort, how strong personalities dominate, how conclusions should not be jumped to quickly.

Teenagers can learn from this, too!  And if they aren’t sitting to watch this old movie (and they should), they can act in the stage version!

12 Angry Men becomes Twelve Angry Jurors when played at American high schools.  Still set in the 1950’s, yet including girls, this is a one-set show that gives quality teenage actors a chance to shine.

Compare the set of the movie, with one of a recent high school production:

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Watch this movie.  Or catch the play at your local high school.  And be convicted.  How would you act in the same situation?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-jurys-trials/201202/what-we-can-learn-twelve-angry-men

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451f6f769e2011572535895970b

http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1995-10-things-i-learned-12-angry-men

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Edge of Tomorrow: Fun Video Game Viewing

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014 PG-13) has been compared to Groundhog Day (1993 PG), the Bill Murray comedy in which a news reporter repeats the same day until he learns a valuable life lesson.  Funny movie!

But Edge of Tomorrow is more like Source Code (2011 PG-13), the Jake Gyllenhaal action thriller in which an army specialist repeats the same terrorist train crash until he learns how to stop it.  Good movie!

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Edge of Tomorrow has the same premise.  An army guy (Tom Cruise) wakes up every day at the same English base right before the final battle with alien invaders on the beaches of France.  He dies, and repeats the same day, each time trying something a bit different to survive.

The thing is, Captain Cage is not a fighter, but an advertising man who travels to England to promote the latest fighting gear.  The British commander (Brendan Gleeson) decides that Cage would be the best man to prove the merits of this fighting gear.  Demoted for trying to run away, Private Cage is unceremoniously dropped into an infantry unit led by Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton).

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After the set up, the movie continues through three parts.

1.  Fish out of water

Cage is terrified and unprepared to fight with the infantry, even in the same battle gear he promotes for a living.  He doesn’t even know how to use it!  Cage is forced to listen to the same speech by Master Sergeant Farell, endure the same taunts from the other soldiers, and drop into the same disastrous alien battlefield over and over.  It’s fun to see Tom Cruise as an inept weakling!

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2.  Video game tactics

Here is the bulk of the movie.  Cage realizes there is no true consequence to making a mistake, since when he gets killed, he just repeats the day again.  So, he tries to figure out how to survive.  Sometimes that means running away.  Sometimes that means hiding.  But mostly that means figuring out why the aliens always win, so that in the next life he can help destroy them.

Kinda like playing a video game!  Early on he determines that Specialist Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who has had success fighting the aliens, is the key to winning.  She has to train him.  Remember, he is a wimp who has many lives to become a fighting machine.  And when he fails, she can just shoot him, and he can try again another day.  Clever!

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3.  Beat the alien and survive

Cage has become the ultimate fighting machine.  He has advanced through his video-game-style life to the point of advancing together through the countryside of France.  Can they beat the aliens?

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Fun movie!

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Chef: Why Rated R?

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Chef (2014 R) is all Jon Favreau.  If you want to make a movie with fewer people telling you what to do, you write, direct and star in it yourself.

But Favreau also had no one telling him to cut out the profanity.

This is a nice movie that could have a wide audience.  It has many things going for it.  But the R rating limits this film.

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1. Well rounded story

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a chef who does not feel he can express his talent working for someone else.  Working long hours, he mostly pushes aside his young son Percy (Emjay Anthony) during his visits.  He gets fired after launching an insulting twitter fight with a food critic (funny!).  His ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) suggests he starts his dream job working for himself in a food truck.  We see as he starts to bond with his son over Cuban sandwiches.  Casper keeps his language clean around his son (mostly, and I cringe when he doesn’t), but lets loose the rest of the movie.

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2.  Food

Food shows are everywhere.  Food trucks are popular.  Pinterest is filled with food photos.  In the movie, Casper shows love by cooking.  It is enjoyable watching him put so much care into his meals.  Yet we have to hear unpleasant words, which isn’t enjoyable.

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3.  Cute kid

Percy wants his dad to pay attention to him.   He wants to know his dad loves him.  Eleven-year-old Emjay Anthony does a terrific job showing the struggles Percy internalizes as a child of busy, divorced parents.  Other kids would like this movie, if the language was cleaned up for a more friendly rating.

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4.  Great guest appearances

Favreau has given actors wonderful parts to play with.  Sofia Vergara is not a stereotype Latina, but a successful businesswoman who loves her son.  John Leguzamo mostly just plays straight man as the assistant cook. Scarlett Johansson holds the restaurant together as Casper melts down.  Dustin Hoffman is the stick-in-the-mud restaurant owner. Robert Downey Jr has one hilarious scene as the ex-husband.  It feels like these actors were given dialogue outlines, then allowed to improvise.  Unfortunately,  some of them improvise with the type of language that gives a movie an R rating.

Bottom line

About the profanity, IMDb says Chef contains, “About 45 F-words and its derivatives, 3 sexual references, 51 scatological terms, 22 anatomical terms, 11 mild obscenities and 3 religious exclamations (e.g. Christ, Oh My God).”

About the profanity, Favreau says, “Kitchens are not PG places…. But I’m very comfortable with my kids seeing this. This is how people speak, and I think it’s a responsible film.”

What do you think?

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