Thursday, August 09, 2007

Attica! Attica! Attica!

One of Strasbourg’s many attractions is the bewildering number of theatres they have here. There are four on the island alone and a megaplex twenty minutes away. The joy of this is that there is almost always something playing, either a new release or something older in one of the two repertory cinemas (two! Montreal, with ten times the population only had two that I was aware of).

Anyway, the other night Amynah and I went out to see Dog Day Afternoon, a classic from 1975 with Al Pacino. It was based on a true story of a New York bank robbery that went wrong, turning into a hostage situation.

What struck me, (and I’m sure I’m not the only person to make this observation) was the near total lack of music. Were this movie made today, every scene would have music cues telling the audience when to be tense, when to be uplifted, when to be amused.

Here, the suspense was kept up only by the actors and the audience’s understanding of the inevitable: you know they can’t get away with it, you know they know they can’t get away with it. The actors are sweaty, stumbling over their words, never say anything tough or witty sounding or Hollywood. Jangling, overloud telephones, long shots of chattering helicopters, blaring sirens and megaphones – those are the only sound cues, and it works.

* Amynah’s observation as we left the theatre: “People don’t really rob banks anymore, do they? Where are the Bonnie and Clydes today? It shows a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the criminal class.”


Travis said...

Oddly enough, I have both seen this movie AND thought it was good.

Mark Reynolds said...

Yeah, it makes you pine for the days when Pacino was capable of acting without screaming his lungs out. And also for the days when bank robbers were seen as anti-heroes, sticking it to the man on behalf of the little guy.

Travis said...

Unfortunately a comment in a review I read years after watching the movie has always stuck in my head:that although enjoyable, in the end it's not ABOUT much of anything. Sometimes I think this was perceptive - there's not much character arc, and when the story finishes nothing has changed - but other times I think it missed the point: the movie was about recreating an afternoon's worth of overblown, tawdry events that had no inherent meaning. It just HAPPENED, man.

Steve Dinn said...

I think that people still rob banks, they just don't go into a physical branch, and go "Stick 'em up." They do it over the internet, from their living room, routed through China, Russia, Brazil, and a dozen other connected countries in order to disguise their whereabouts. Then they have the remainders from interest calculations dumped into an account that they opened -- only fractions of a penny, but they do it a couple of million times. It's kind of like Superman III.

On a side note, it would suck to be named "Rob Banks".

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Amynah. I think the dip in bank robbery (if there has been one) proves the entrepreneurial spirit of the criminal class. C'mon, there are easier ways to make money. I hear scrap metal thievery is popular.

Mark Reynolds said...

I'm starting to think Amynah should get her own blog... I think her point was that bank robbers have a certain elan and independance that computer-fraudsters and scrap metal thieves lack (by the way - was that a Wire reference, anon?)
More disturbing to me that she appeared to think that the decline of classic bank robbers was a bad thing. I shudder to think of what her back-up career plans are if this whole science thing doesn't work out.