By George Rose
May 26, 2009
I have come across skeptics who question my ability to be a critic. I have also come across people who think my work is wonderful and accessible to a broad audience. I... feel... conflicted. System... cannot... compute... KABOOM (head explodes)! This, my friends, is what I assume the new half-man, half-machine Terminator feels like in Terminator Salvation. My half-critic, half-marketer mentality is enough to drive me crazy, but unlike a machine, I cannot explode from the confusion. Instead, I handle it the way any other whole-human would: lots of complaining and the occasional cocktail.
Instead of choosing a side, I will do what many movie-goers do. I will ignore the wide variety of critics that I've come across and go with my gut instinct, which is to remain as I am until the higher powers above (no, not God, but rather my employers at BOP) intervene and demand I change. Much like the newest Terminator model in T4, I will follow the path that has been laid out before me and wait to decide my fate until the final action sequence. At that point I'll either sell my soul and become a critic, or sell some products and become a marketer. Until then, I hope you continue to enjoy (or not) the recommendations I think of. Yes, some are better than others, but you'd be acting like a pretentious critic yourself if you didn't admit to at least a few cheesy, poorly reviewed titles in your own DVD collection.
Because of this question that conflicts me so much, and in honor of Terminator Salvation (which I thought was better than Wolverine but definitely not Star Trek quality), I have selected five films that revolve around conflicts or unanswered questions of sorts. These are films that leave you wondering throughout the entire film what the answer to the mystery/question is. Are they all Academy Award winning films that would make Roger Ebert want to take me on as his apprentice? No. Are they all the kinds of mainstream blockbusters that would suggest I only know what Hollywood has forced down my throat? No. They are somewhere in between and, much like my suggestions, I expect the reaction from my readers to be mixed.
12 Angry Men (1957)
While I have admitted to preferring star-studded and effects-laden pictures over black and white features, this recommendation is for everyone who questions my ability to enjoy films made prior to my birth year (1985). It is also an amazing movie (critics agree!). I have mentioned it in a previous article but it shows its face again here, as the first film with some major mental tug-of-war.
The film has one location: inside a jury room. It has only 12 actors (plus less than a handful who appear for no more than ten seconds). It is the most simple sort of film that ever was and has been since its release, yet it captivates and leaves the audience wondering, "How will he convince them?!" After a trial has ended, it is up to 12 white men (not all of whom are actually "angry") to determine the fate of a Spanish-American boy accused of murdering his father. The film starts with only one juror (Henry Fonda) defending the young man, under the pretenses that you cannot convict someone if there is reasonable doubt, which there seems to be. Because all 12 jurors must agree on the outcome for the judge to make his final decision, it is up to the lone juror to sway the others' opinion. You can probably guess how the film ends based on the plot but getting there will keep you on the edge of your seat.