Friday, February 12, 2016

Oscar Movie Review: "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)

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Movie"Dog Day Afternoon"
Year Nominated: 1976
Director: Sidney Lumet
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Two men, Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale), attempt to rob a bank in New York, but when the robbery goes wrong, it turns from a quick heist into a drawn out hostage situation. 

"Dog Day Afternoon" has become a well known classic from 1975 that reunites "The Godfather" co-stars Al Pacino and John Cazale in this crime drama. These two actors play Sonny and Sal, a pair friends who decide to rob a bank. The film is based on a true story and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It lost the Best Picture trophy to MiloŇ° Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (which we're totally okay with), but managed to nab the award for Best Original Screenplay, which was well deserved. One might think, based on the description, this is a simple crime thriller about bank robbers who got cocky and wound up getting stuck in a hostage standoff. However, "Dog Day Afternoon" has many underlying elements and layers that were not commonly touched upon in the era in which this film was released. It deals with what were at the time "taboo" subject matters like homosexual relationships and people who are transgender. It also touches upon America's obsession with criminals and the media circus that turns these criminals into celebrities, which is crazy considering how accurate this still is in 2016. We as a society tend to remember the names of killers and lawbreakers, but very rarely remember the victims of their sins.

Al Pacino puts on a stupendous performance as Sonny, the mastermind behind the robbery and the man who negotiates with the police. We watch as the weight of the situation bears down on Sonny as he desperately tries to figure a way out of the kerfuffle he put himself and his friend Sal in on that fateful, hot summer day. The performance earned Pacino a well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor and solidified him as one of the best actors of all time. John Cazale is also excellent as Sal, the far more subdued, not all that bright ex-con who joined Sonny on his heist. Sal is less than willing to go back to prison, so once sh*t hits the fan, needless to say, Sal is on edge, nervous, twitchy, and erratic with a gun. There manages to be some really wonderful tension throughout the film, and the drama that unfolds is enthralling to watch play out on screen. The surprising nature of Sonny's true intentions slowly begin to unravel slowly, and when coupled with the hostage situation, he thinks he's found a way for him and Sal to make it out alive. We remained engaged throughout the entirety of "Dog Day Afternoon," and we think this is one of Pacino's best performances in his entire career. Sidney Lumet does a bang-up job as director of this interesting, captivating story. This is definitely a movie you need to see at least once in your life.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Bugsy"

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