I am going to take a moment to reflect on the passing of Sydney Lumet. Last year, I watched a film called The Fugitive Kind as a part of a life long journey to discover the complete works of certain filmmakers; Lumet is on my list of artists whose work I will buy/rent/steal on sight. I hadn’t read anything about the film prior to viewing it and if memory serves, Lumet doesn’t go into detail about it in his book Making Movies (which is an absolute must read). After the screening, I was rocked to my core by the truly magnificent performances and the characteristic and unadorned cinematic style of the film. This is not to say that the film wasn’t playful in terms of style; one of Brando’s speeches features a bold moment where the set darkens as he recalls his past. It was the same feeling I had when I watched The Verdict, The Hill and Prince of the City. I was forced yet again to reconcile that Lumet is a master filmmaker and must be considered along with Wilder, Capra, Hitchcock in Andrew Sarris’ upper pantheon of directors.
Network. There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about this film. A staggering piece of work and daunting for any young filmmaker to watch. There’s more craft and power in the scene with Ned Beatty than in 90% of movies made today. How can a film that deals with mortality, moral decay and urban isolation be so funny? The cinematic style, the powerful performances, the unflinching desire to ask scary questions and the dark humour make this film more like a Bergman outing than a what we would consider a mainstream Hollywood film.
I don’t know what else to say. This is one of those instances where the subject and the possible threads of discussion are so vast that your mind draws a complete blank. As a fan and a filmmaker (not quite on your level), I will say this.
Thank you Sydney, you continue to astonish and inspire me.