Catching the Classics: Serpico

Serpico PosterSince 1998, I have been maintaining a list of movies that I wanted to see. Sometimes these are all-time classics that passed me by, sometimes they’re genre classics that interest me. The list grows regularly and is currently more than 1800 movies long. Fogs has gone through and hand-picked several classic films for me to “fast-track” and review here. This is one of those films.

For a few years, Serpico kept showing up on my radar. Nothing big, just little blips here and there. A couple spots on a few of AFI’s more minor lists (Cheers and Heroes). Discussions on just what films Al Pacino should have won an Academy Award for, and whether his award for Scent of a Woman was a “make it up to him” award for not getting it for this film. (I should note I still can’t participate in those discussions myself, having not seen the latter film.) Discussions on the filmography of Sidney Lumet, who also directed the terrific Dog Day Afternoon (also starring Pacino) and Network, one of my all time favorite films. But there was little pointing me directly to Serpico itself; it was always just a tangential part of some other discussion. But it kept coming up, and so it worked its way onto my watch list. Sometimes the best films are the ones that people don’t make a big to-do over. Continue reading

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Movies That Everyone Should See: “Network”

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

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Under the Radar?: “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

“May you be in heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”

“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a 2007 film about a pair of brothers who decide to rob their parents’ Jewelry Store, to disastrous consequences.

It stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marissa Tormei and Albert Finney.

Hoffman stars as an accounting executive with a drug problem who has been embezzling money from the company he works for. In anticipation of an upcoming audit, he proposes the robbery to his brother, who is also financially strapped. Their plan is to go at a time when they know the part time help will be working the counter, and not their parents. They won’t even have to use a real gun. Their parents have insurance, so they’ll be compensated for their losses. No one loses….

At least in theory.

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