The Enduring Heat: A Summer Film Diary (03 July 2012)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon is a tense, dialogue driven thriller.  I love it.  Al Pacino plays a bank robber attempting a heist to get money for his boyfriend’s sex-change operation.  The underrated John Cazale plays his quiet partner in crime, whose motivations are unclear.  From start to finish, we are kept on the edge of our seats in suspense, not sure who to root for.  Admittedly, the film is dated; however through this nostalgia we are treated to a chronicle of the unrest of the 1970s.  The crowds laud the bank robbers as heroes and media celebrities.  Dog Day Afternoon is one of the best heist movies ever made, mostly because of the taught, no-nonsense screenplay (which won an Academy Award).

Scarface (1983)

More Pacino today, this time in Scarface, a long, violent crime epic about Cuban immigrant Tony Montana who works his way to the top of the crime world dealing (and snorting) cocaine.  This is an unpleasant, unnecessary film.  By trying to be the next Godfather, it succeeds in only being slightly more confusing.  There is way too much happening in too little time, and the fact that it’s almost impossible to understand what the characters are saying doesn’t help.  I finally turned the subtitles on.  The film is further spoiled by annoying and intrusive music, not to mention an excruciatingly gratuitous us of the “f-word”.  Far be it from me to balk at language in a movie, but Kyrie Eleison!  It beats you over the head with it.  It’s like listening to an obnoxious song over and over again.  Perhaps Scarface is just a big joke.  Maybe it was born by Oliver Stone losing a bet to write the longest, most unpleasant movie ever.  It is neither of these.  But it tries really hard to be.

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