Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Criterion Critiques w/ Alex DeLarge

What follows is part of a regular series of reviews on the always wonderful, and quite indispensable Criterion Collection, written by our special guest reviewer Alex DeLarge of the Korova Theatre.

12 ANGRY MEN (Sidney Lumet, 1957)
Released on Criterion Blu-ray 11/22/2011; Spine #591

Sidney Lumet makes a stunning directorial debut with this gritty, sweaty, emotionally charged drama about 12 jurors deciding the fate of an eighteen year old defendant charged with 1st degree murder. They carry the legal burden of deciding guilt or innocence but also understand a conviction would surely lead to the death sentence.

An exceptional cast of now legendary actors fall into character (we never even know their names, only juror number) and don’t miss a beat of dialogue or a camera cue…this film is nearly perfect in its direction. Most of the film takes place in the cramped juror’s quarters, 12 men held prisoner by their own passions and corrupt moralities. Lumet is able to focus his camera into these tight spaces to create immediacy and intimacy, to feel their intellectual and emotional turmoil as they debate the facts and presentation of the trial. This important duty is influenced by their deep-rooted prejudices and convictions, while Henry Fonda advocates for Justice and Reason and for all to consider not only evidence presented at trial…but their own set of facts!

I work in the local District Attorney’s Office and have experience in many trials including homicide cases so consider this: a jury is only supposed to consider evidence (both circumstantial and direct) and veracity of testimony presented at trial, not their own research and sympathies. Essentially, this group of disparate and desperate men voted for a jury nullification. Did they violate the Rule of Law and let a guilty man walk? Think about it.

Final Grade: (A+)


About Alex: "To state things plainly is the function of journalism; Alex writes fugitive reviews, allusive, symbolic, full of imagery and allegory, and by leaving things out, he allows the reader the privilege of creating along with him." Alex can be found hidden deep within the dark confines of his home theatre watching films, organizing his blu-ray and dvd collection and updating his blogs. Please visit the Korova Theatre and Hammer & Thongs to see what’s on his mind.


Chip Lary said...

A truly great film. I gave it one of my somewhat rare 5 out of 5 ratings in my review.

Kevyn Knox said...

I saw the film (believe it or not) for the first time just earlier this year. Spectacular. I love Lee J. Cobb and Jack Klugman especially.

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