29 Apr 2011 @ 11:00 PM 

Friday Minute
Entr’acte |
April 29, 2011

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  Sidney Lumet is one of the quintessential New York directors.  All but one of his films below are primarily set in the New York metropolitan area.  Which one is not?

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Bye Bye Braverman (1968)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Garbo Talks (1984)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Prince of the City (1981)
Q&A (1990)
Serpico (1973)
That Kind of Woman (1959)
12 Angry Men (1957)

2.  Each of these nine films directed by Lumet received multiple nominations for Academy Awards.  Which received the most Oscar nods?

12 Angry Men (1957)
Serpico (1973)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Network (1976)
Equus (1977)
The Wiz (1978)
The Verdict (1982)
Running on Empty (1988)

3.  Six Oscars have been awarded for work in films directed by Lumet, four for acting and two for writing.  Pick the Academy Award winners from the list below.

Lauren Bacall (Best Supporting Actress), Murder on the Orient Express
Ingrid Bergman (Best Supporting Actress), Murder on the Orient Express
John Cazale (Best Supporting Actor), Dog Day Afternoon
Paddy Chayefsky (Original Screenplay), Network
Faye Dunaway (Best Actress), Network
Peter Finch (Best Actor), Network
Kelly Masterson (Original Screenplay), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Paul Newman (Best Actor), The Verdict
Al Pacino (Best Actor), Serpico
Frank Pierson (Original Screenplay), Dog Day Afternoon
Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress), Network
William Holden (Best Supporting Actor), Network

4.  Lumet directed several films adapted from plays.  Match the Lumet film with the playwright.

The Fugitive Kind (1959)
A View from the Bridge (1961)
Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962)
The Sea Gull (1968)
Child’s Play (1972)
Equus (1977)
Deathtrap (1982)

Anton Chekhov
Ira Levin
Robert Marasco
Arthur Miller
Eugene O’Neill
Peter Shaffer
Tennessee Williams

5.  Each of the actors below starred in multiple films directed by Lumet.  Which one appeared in more Lumet films than any of the others (excluding documentaries and television work)?

Martin Balsam
Sean Connery
Albert Finney
Henry Fonda
James Mason
Anthony Perkins

Answers here.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 01 Jan 2012 @ 07:04 AM

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 21 Apr 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Thursday Minute
Entr’acte | April 21, 2011

A Bit of Fry & Laurie

A few more words about words.

A Discussion of Language
“A Bit of Fry & Laurie”
BBC Television
Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 19 Apr 2011 @ 06:44 PM

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 19 Apr 2011 @ 6:40 PM 

Tuesday Minute
Entr’acte | April 19, 2011

A Bit of Fry

More to come next week.  Meanwhile, a few words about words.

Kinetic Typography
Stephen Fry


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 19 Apr 2011 @ 06:39 PM

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Categories: Language, Other

 14 Apr 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Thursday Minute
No. 234 | April 14, 2011

Sidney Lumet, R.I.P.

Over the weekend I was in Utah (surviving, it turned out), and saddened to learn of Sidney Lumet’s death.  I had the itch to see one of his films, and when I made it home I put on The Verdict.  No particular reason, except maybe that I hadn’t seen it in a while.  It’s a film I had admired but it was even better than I remembered.  Paul Newman was brilliant, as good as he ever was, and the film allowed itself a darkness unlike anything you’d see in any movie today.  Lumet made something truly special.  You get a taste in the clip below.

For more of Lumet, check out this conversation with Charlie Rose from 2006.  I recall seeing it the first time.  I’d been a fan of Lumet’s films, and I’d read his book a couple of times.  He was a guy I’d stop and listen to anytime.  It’s a good interview, and after an engaging discussion about movies, Lumet got to talking about another of my interests, crossword puzzles.  Turns out he was a daily solver of the New York Times puzzle, “In ink!” he was proud to note.  “Except Thursday,” he added with a smile.  “Thursday has been getting tougher.”  That was sweet to hear at the time.  I was just getting started as a constructor, with a puzzle that had run in the Times that month, on a Thursday, a tricky number with a theme on squares.  It was a kick to think that the director whose work had given me many thrills over the years may have had a few minutes of pleasure with something I had done.  Yet if that’s the case, I still got the better end of the exchange.  I owe you, Sidney.  We all do.

Finally, a link to the N.Y. Times retrospective “The Last Word,” on the films and life of Sidney Lumet, with reporter Tim Weiner.

Our theme this week
Director Sidney Lumet

The Verdict

the verdict

Sidney Lumet, in his own words:

The Verdict, Andrzej Bartkowiak, photographer.  The movie was about a man’s salvation, his fight to rid himself of his past.

I wanted as “old” a look as possible.  Art direction had a lot to contribute, and we’ll deal with that later.  But light mattered enormously.

One day I brought a beautiful edition of Caravaggio’s paintings to my meeting with Andrzej.  I said, “Andrzej, there’s the feeling I’m after.  There’s something ancient here, something from a long time ago.  What is it?”  Andrzej studied the pictures.  Then, with his charming Polish accent, he pinpointed it.  “It’s chiaroscuro,” he said.  “A very strong light source, almost always from the side, not above.  And on the other side, no soft fill light, only shadows.  Once in a while he’ll use the reflective light of a metal source on the dark side.”  He pointed to a young boy holding a golden salver.  On the shadow side of the boy’s face, one could discern a slight golden hue.  And that’s what Andrzej carried out in the lighting of the movie.

Making Movies, 1995 

The Verdict (1982)
Sidney Lumet, director
Barry Reed (novel); David Mamet (screenplay); writers
Andrzej Bartkowiak, cinematographer
Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason

Quote of note
:  Frank, what would you and your client take—right now, this very minute—to walk out of here, let this damn thing drop?
Galvin:  My client can’t walk, your honor.
Hoyle:  I know full well she can’t, Frank.  You see the padre on your way out.  He’ll punch your ticket.  You follow me?
—Judge Hoyle (Milo O’Shea), Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), The Verdict (1982)


 12 Apr 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Tuesday Minute
No. 233 | April 12, 2011

Sidney Lumet, R.I.P.

sidney lumet_3

One of the greats died over the weekend.  Sidney Lumet was a brilliant director and a favorite of mine.  He’s one of the reasons I fell in love with movies.

I regret to say my schedule gives me little time to say much now.  Instead, you can find many worthy tributes around the Net.  Here’s one from Betsy Sharkey in Monday’s paper that does a good job of getting at what made Lumet tick—the moral angle, the slice of New York, the fascination with crime and the legal system.  He’s been called an actor’s director, and that is certainly true, but you could just as well call him an audience’s director.  He made movies about people for people—grown-up people, no less—and that, as simple as it may sound, is more and more a rare thing in the “product” that Hollywood turns out.  Lumet was making movies before I was born and was still going strong in his 80s.  Thankfully, he had a long career and made many films, among them some of the greatest of our time (though, like others, he never received due respect at Oscar time).  On the short list of his best work I’d put the following:  Network, Dog Day AfternoonThe Verdict, 12 Angry Men, and Serpico.  Those you probably know.  Certainly check out The Pawnbroker and Prince of the City, if you haven’t yet.  His most recent, from 2007, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, deserved all the raves it received.  Lumet was 86.  He will be missed.

Our theme this week
Director Sidney Lumet

Prince of the City

prince of the city

Sidney Lumet, in his own words:

Let me vent my anger first, so it’s out of the way.  Critics talk about style as something apart from the movie because they need the style to be obvious.  The reason they need it to be obvious is that they don’t really see.  If the movie looks like a Ford or Coca-Cola commercial, they think that’s style.  And it is.  It’s trying to sell you something you don’t need and is stylistically geared to that goal.  As soon as a “long lens” appears, that’s “style.” … From the huzzahs that greeted Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman, one would’ve thought that another Jean Renoir had arrived.  A perfectly pleasant bit of romantic fluff was proclaimed “art,” because it was so easy to identify as something other than realism.  It’s not so hard to see the style in Murder on the Orient Express.  But almost no critic spotted the stylization in Prince of the City.  It’s one of the most stylized movies I’ve ever made.  Kurosawa spotted it, though.  In one of the most thrilling moments of my professional life, he talked to me about the “beauty” of the camera work as well as of the picture.  But he meant beauty in the sense of its organic connection to the material.  And this is the connection that, for me, separates true stylists from decorators.  The decorators are easy to recognize.  That’s why critics love them so.  There!  I’ve had my tantrum.

Making Movies, 1995 

Prince of the City (1981)
Sidney Lumet, director
Robert Daley (book); Sidney Lumet, Jay Presson Allen (screenplay); writers
Andrzej Bartkowiak, cinematographer
Treat Williams, Jerry Orbach, Richard Foronjy, Lindsey Crouse

Quote of note
“I know the law.  The law doesn’t know the streets.”
—Daniel Ciello (Treat Williams), Prince of the City (1981)


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 12 Apr 2011 @ 01:27 AM

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