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Tuesday: 12 Angry Men

I can easily state that 12 Angry Men is one of the greatest films of all time.

12 Angry Men
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After being nominated for three Academy Awards, 12 Angry Men has become a timeless classic. While not all moviegoers have heard of this film, it deserves much more recognition than it currently possesses. As long as the court system is run the same way, this motion picture will continue to be relevant today as it was in 1957. There are some audiences who refuse to watch movies filmed in black and white. Many of the best films ever made were shot in black and white. 12 Angry Men is a fantastic piece of cinema that will continue to live on.

Knowing full well that a guilty verdict means death, a jury of 12 men must decide the fate of an 18-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing his father. Only one juror wants to take the time to coolly deliberate the case. Nowadays, the occurrences in court are broadcasted on television from some of the more famous trials. However, the jurors deliberate in private and audiences do not get to witness this on the screen. However, 12 Angry Men makes a tense piece of cinema out of it. The entire movie takes place in one single room and the actual trial isn't shown. The deliberation causes the audience to piece it together and observe the points presented by both sides to put together one's own opinion. The dialogue is exceptional and it never once drags. It managed to keep my attention from start to finish. Through the deliberation, we learn quite a bit about the characters simply through their opinions and views.

The talent displayed throughout this film is astounding. These aren't the performances were they are emotionally broken. They are normal people and the fact that they're so believable truly completes the characters. 12 Angry Men stars Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, and Robert Webber. All twelve of these men are absolutely exceptional. The dynamics of each character throughout this deliberation is great and the viewers truly get one hell of a show put on by these twelve actors.

I can easily state that 12 Angry Men is one of the greatest films of all time. Not only is the screenplay a masterpiece, but the acting is phenomenal. The film makes us question the strengths and weaknesses of the American legal system. Audiences are left to form their own opinion as each character's case is presented for why they believe the 18-year-old is guilty or not guilty. Those who are avoiding this movie due to the fact that it's from 1957 and in black and white are missing out on superb cinema. This movie reminds us all what makes great cinema so fantastic. 12 Angry Men is highly recommended on all levels. This is an absolute must see!

My Rating = Five Stars

Next movie: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Thursday: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan the Barbarian is for those interested in some special effects and an outstanding audio track, don't expect anything else from this movie.

Conan the Barbarian (2011)
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At this rate, there will be a remake or reboot for every single movie that received any sort of popularity or cult status. This reboot is certainly not meant to be taken seriously. Even from a glance, it's quite obvious that this film is meant to be solely a fun revenge flick. Along with trying to be entertaining, Conan the Barbarian ultimately becomes extremely goofy. The movie clearly rips off of every other revenge flick ever made in a very unsatisfying style. When a filmmaker is able to recreate an older motion picture for the new generation successfully, I approve of these remakes and reboots. Unfortunately, the majority of them are simply trite and disappointing.

A quest begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil. The first question audiences will be asking is whether or not this is a joke. Conan the Barbarian certainly feels like one. It's nearly impossible to take any of the storyline seriously. Every viewer should be easily able to predict each and every plot point this film possesses. As expected, the dialogue is lame. When all is said and done, I never felt any sympathy for any of the characters. I never learned enough about them to care very much about the characters. It's without a doubt that Conan the Barbarian was created for those who are searching for an action flick that contents a script without substance.

While the main performances are duds, Ron Perlman is enjoyable as a supporting character. The actors should have some fault lying with them, most of the blame should be placed on the screenplay. The dialogue is so silly that how can we expect even the best of actors to execute these characters well? We can't. Female audiences are sure to be drooling over Jason Momoa as Conan. Even though Rachel Nichols is cute, there isn't as much eye candy for male viewers. Be prepared to view some performances that some of these actors will want to forget they were in.

The sole reason for me giving Conan the Barbarian two stars is due to the visuals. However, good special effects don't make a good movie, although it's pretty much the only element I enjoyed in this flick. The battle sequences are unoriginal, but they're filmed well and look great on screen. The CGI sticks out like a sore thumb, but it works. This is a brutal movie that uses fast editing, which censors quite a bit of the bloodshed during the battle scenes. The true show-stopper is the audio. Conan the Barbarian may be a dud, but the audio mix is absolutely superb one every level. The ridiculous dialogue is always easy to hear, even with the aggressive and extreme amounts of bass. The surround channels are in use even during the quieter scenes presenting great detail. The visual department is the whole reason many viewers will even give this a shot.

I would enjoy seeing a well-made revenge film from Hollywood, but Conan the Barbarian certainly isn't it. Not only does it fall flat, but every cliché every used in this genre is present. There's nothing new brought to the table here. For male audiences looking for a movie to switch off the brain to, this shouldn't be it. There are plenty of other more impressive mindless action flicks that far surpass this one. Conan the Barbarian is for those interested in some special effects and an outstanding audio track, don't expect anything else from this movie.

My Rating = Two Stars

Next movie: The Devil's Double

Saturday: The Devil's Double

However, this should only be viewed by those with a strong stomach.

The Devil's Double
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The job of creating a piece of cinema that flows naturally lies upon the screenwriter and the actors. When even one of these parties fails to correctly do his or her job, the film often fails as a whole if the movie is attempting to be taken seriously. The Devil's Double may be odd, but at least it's something different from the constant remakes, prequels, and reboots. However, this should only be viewed by those with a strong stomach.

Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein's palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia is thrust into the highest portion of the "royal family" when he's ordered to become the body double to Saddam's son, Uday Hussein. He's a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his fame's lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk, and act like Uday. The plot itself is interesting and kept my attention from start to finish. Unfortunately, the script is hit and miss. The dialogue is decent, but the focus was placed in the wrong area. Uday isn't a very interesting character, as his actions become repetitive and quite predictable. Latif is a much more intriguing character. A large portion of the film shows Uday's evil actions and attempt to control Latif under his power. However, it would have been more engrossing to see more of Latif's character instead of him portraying Uday. Even so, The Devil's Double still manages to keep the pace moving as there's always something occurring.

There are three characters that this film primarily centers around, but only two actors. Dominic Cooper is absolutely phenomenal performing as both day Hussein and Latif Yahia. Even though these characters are opposites in every way imaginable, Cooper is able to truly capture both of them. The Academy should certainly recognize his performances by rewarding him with an Oscar nomination. Not only is he believable, but he delivers stunning dynamics through the range of many emotions. The rest of the cast, including Ludivine Sagnier, are decent as well. Dominic Cooper certainly steals the show and puts on two great performances.

Director Lee Tamahori takes advantage of utilizing the visuals to aid in telling the story. The style is extremely gritty, which describes the content. This isn't a tame film as it's full of brutality and sex. The violence is graphic and is shown as is, there isn't any sugar-coating. The camera work is good, as well. The audio is excellent. The dialogue is never difficult to hear and is always loud and clear. The surround channels are constantly active, but always sounds accurate and doesn't come across as gimmicky. Bass comes alive multiple times during The Devil's Double.

Once the Academy Award nominations are announced, I wouldn't be surprised to see Dominic Cooper receive an Oscar nomination. He is superb from start to finish as both characters. However, the film certainly has issues, primarily in the screenwriting department. The nonstop violence may be too much for some audiences, but it's worthwhile for those who can stomach the brutality and sexual content. The Devil's Double could have been much better, but it still is well worth watching for mature audiences.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: The Descendants