Sunday, March 25, 2012

Al Pacino's "The Verdict"

I haven't seen all of Paul Newman's 1982 film The Verdict, but I do know two things: 1) he does play pinball in it, and 2) the trial ultimately ends up convicting the entire judicial system. So really, things don't change all that much... MAMET! I also know that when Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson put their pens together, magic happens. Toys happens, and 1979's ...And Justice For All. happened. Finally watched all of it tonight. The only thing I vaguely remembered was Jeffrey Tambor going to a party with a shaved head. What a stir it caused back then! Well, it was easier to be a groundbreaker back then, but maybe we should go back to those days. Just think of a man's bald head as guy cleavage: it's just not sociable to show too much.
...where was I? Oh, right. In this post-internet era of snap judgments of a director's entire career, I'm starting to second guess Norman Jewison. The Onion's working on degrading Fiddler on the Roof as we speak, and In the Heat of the Night is just blatant South-baiting, frankly. And I begin to question any film where the wheels of justice turn on what's in one guy's pocket. In the Heat of the Night has a scene like that. Billy Bathgate has a scene at the end like that... help me out here, people. What else? I won't, however, question A Soldier's Story's credentials, but in the similar vein of The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming!, we've got And Justice for All. Is the film a comedy? Is it a tragedy? Frankly, it wants to be both, but doesn't go about it in a good way. Jack Warden was delightful as the Good Judge, however... that's about it. My viewing companion would probably be a lot harder on this than I, but it's already pretty late, and my cat is sitting on me as I type, so it's probably time to hit the hay here. I probably won't be seeking out the Blu-Ray of this one. It was on the Sony HD Movie Channel, and while the print looked crisp enough, there seemed to be a lot of greens missing. Maybe some film lab geek could check in with me on that. What's the deal? Pacino seemed to get some of his Dog Day Afternoon and Godfather II cast and crew together again, but only Jewison would dare sit in the director's chair on this one. I gotta go...............
...but now that it's Sunday morning, I would like to mention this one part I suddenly recalled. Jack Warden's presiding over the case of a man accused of assault and battery, and foul language... something like that. The defendant says he did what he did because he's a diabetic. Warden says "I fail to see the connection between diabetes and assault." The defendant tells Warden "That's because you're a douchebag." Laughter in the court. Ripped from last week's Daily Show, was it not?... damn! Not everything's on YouTube. If nothing else, hopefully ...And Justice For All reformed the Baltimore area judicial system, or at least made it become a little less like incompetence on steroids.

Good Double bill with: Author! Author!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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