Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lost in Translation

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who suffers from this particular phenomenon- because it feels, to me, like I am all alone in this one. Tell me if you ever experience this: You sit down to watch a unanimously loved and widely respected classic film, you don't like it for one reason or another, and then you end up feeling guilty and inferior as a result of said opinion. It's irrational, really-- no one truly judges you on the way you feel about old movies (in fact, no one really cares about our opinions at all). So why do I feel like a stupid, ignorant teenager every time I can't get into a movie I'm "supposed" to like? It's an interesting conundrum...

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) is a prime example of the aforementioned affliction. It's got rave reviews, solidified classic status, and a cult following to boot- and it couldn't keep me interested. I even found myself pawing through my backpack to find my homework just so I'd have something to do besides watch this drawn-out drama...and you know something must be seriously wrong if I'm voluntarily hitting the books.

I tried to start this one last night, but kept getting distracted...maybe I should have let those distractions keep my attention. Afternoon spends its entirety depicting a singular event- a botched bank robbery- from all angles of perception. I guess I understand what director Stanley Lumet was aiming for with his incredibly narrow scope of focus...perhaps he wanted to capture the claustrophobic, even timeless feel of the perpetuated heist...and this, he certainly achieves. I just found myself growing tired of the constant dialogue and monotonous scenery (come on, Stan, not even a costume change?? Throw us shallow kids a bone). And while I'm sure that Lumet intended to convey some sort of esoteric anti-Vietnam-pro-gay-rights-power-to-the-people hidden meaning sort of thing, the message got lost in translation for me when I couldn't invest in the story or characters (get it?? invest?? bank puns...)

Despite starring in an uncomfortably boring picture, Al Pacino still manages to rock. His skillfully faceted Sonny is puzzling and inviting-- quite a feat considering the fact that we're talking about actually liking an angry gay bank robber. Sadly, Pacino lost out to Jack Nicholson for Best Actor at the 1975 Academy Awards...but just because he's a loser doesn't mean we love him any less.

I think the main point I need to stress here is that Dog Day Afternoon is not a bad movie. Brilliantly fashioned, quirky, borderline ridiculous at times (and riddled with gifted performances, to top it off), the film is sure to please (and has pleased) a whole spectrum of viewers looking for a different kind of statement. It may not have piqued my interest...but I represent a very thin slice of the movie-going population (the high school girl...not exactly the bank-robbin type) and therefore my opinion should hold little to no weight (as should most of the opinions of high school girls). Though I do consider myself to be a slightly more discerning viewer than the average aimless teenager, I realize that some movies (like this one) are just going to be beyond me and you should realize that in no way am I trying to disparage the great pictures of the past.


  1. Just follow the films you love and forget everyone else.

  2. i am totally with you on some universally loved movies (like City of God and Children of Men, for instance). but i LOVE Dog Day Afternoon. Al Pacino is great in it.

  3. Kid in the Front Row...you're totally right, I should just stick to what I like :) though I'm not completely sure if I know what exactly that is yet...

    and Candice...I'm glad someone understands!! and while I didn't exactly love the movie, you're totally right that Al Pacino rocked.


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