Saturday, April 16, 2011
Film: Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)
I think most people want to see films that showcase their favorite actors and/or movie stars. Others see films based on the story or genre. I can fall into the above categories at times, but I tend to see films based on who directed the picture.
In film school, I was told (by a professor) that it was a good idea, when studying films, to pick a director I liked and backtrack: see their first film, then 2nd film and so on... and watch their work unfold in chronological order. It's an interesting exercise (which I have done for several directors and authors and musicians) and someone great to start out with is Sideny Lumet, who just passed away last week at 86 years of age. He directed his last (and one of his best) film titled, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, in 2007 at 82 years of age. SIDE NOTE: In earlier posts I mentioned studying John Cassavettes and Akira Kurosawa, who are also good, less obvious, choices.
You will learn a lot about filmmaking from Sideny Lumet. Sure, he made some bad films, but the majority of his work is great. In 1978 he even directed Michael Jackson, Diana Ross AND Nipsey Russell in The Wiz (title character played by Richard Pryor)! A box-office flop, but an interesting piece of film history.
Although he never won a Best Director Oscar, Sidney Lumet was still a master of cinema and considered an actor's director. Seventeen actors were nominated for Oscars under his direction; Pacino was nominated twice.
If you want to be a filmmaker see Lumet's work, but first read his book MAKING MOVIES. Also a technical master, he details his psychological approaches to selecting the right lens--priceless.
RIP, Sidney Lumet (1924-2011).
Pulsed by Matthew James Sheridan