Saturday, August 9, 2014

Plaza Classic Film Festival: Just for Men, Jest for Women


Sadly, I won't be able to go every day to the Plaza Classic Film Festival.  It's a combination of work and baseball.  Yep, that's right: next week the EP Baseball Team is having games at the same time.  Two great loves clashing. 

Now, I plan to go to certain movies thanks to Eric Pearson, El Paso Community Foundation President.  He kindly issued me tickets to all the screenings I listed as a member of the Online Film Critics Society.  As such, I don't have to worry about not having a ticket.  However, there may be screenings I might want to go to at the last-minute, and perhaps one that I still won't be able to go.  That's still up in the air.

In any case, this brief note is to discuss the second full day of the PCFF.  Technically, the first day was when we saw Field of Dreams, and I may write a review later on.  Last night I had a dental appointment (no problems), but after the dentist one really isn't up for a film.

Today I went to see two films.  I had debated whether to see Oklahoma! with Shirley Jones introducing it, but seeing that it would end at 10:30 I decided that since I go into work at 9 a.m. Saturday (and that I had been there since 1 p.m.) it would be too taxing for me. 

On this day the two films I saw had a very curious similarity: they both featured a cast entirely made up of one sex.  The titles say it all: 12 Angry MEN and The WOMEN (emphasis mine).  More formal reviews of both films will be forthcoming, but for now just some brief impressions.

The PCFF shows films in two main venues: the main theater (called the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall) and the smaller side theater (the Philanthropy).  The first film shown at the Philanthropy, The Sandlot, was sold out.  I am not surprised it was (though a mother and son that I encountered outside the main theater were).  The Sandlot, though not on the level of either 12 Angry Men or The Women, is still a classic.  Few films can be a genuine love letter not just to baseball but to the joy of the game, particularly among youth, to where we can imagine ourselves as playing in our own 'sandlots'.  I imagine that this situation will plague the festival: selling out the Philanthropy.  I can recall only one sell-out at the Kendle Kidd Hall: The Wizard of Oz, which is showing again this year.

In any case, I imagine that having films with an all-male and all-female cast back to back was a mere coincidence, but it is quite amusing.  You really couldn't have two different films coming one right after the other.

12 Angry Men is a strict, tense drama where its as gritty as can be.  Dealing with the issue of life and death and justice, the film is a true actor's showcase and a brilliant film not just in performance but in logic.  It's an extraordinary thing to see how your own view of the case changes along with the other jurors.

The Women is its total opposite, a bitchfest if ever there was one.  We laugh at not just how catty these women are to each other, but in the wit and wisdom they share.  Oh, they are horrible to each other, but they also had friendships that helped them get through the tough times.  Interestingly, Joan Fontaine, the last living castmember, died just last year. 

The Women is bright and light, 12 Angry Men dark and gritty.  The Women was full of open, lavish spaces, 12 Angry Men claustrophobic with two sets (the courtroom and the jury room).  You couldn't have two wildly different films that showcase just how good a film can be when you get a collection of great actors and crisp dialogue.

Is The Women sexist?  Perhaps, but it is still funny and clever (Joan Crawford's kiss-off to the ladies who lunch still eliciting gasps from the audience).  As for 12 Angry Men, after an unfortunate technical glitch that kept the first fifteen some-odd minutes silent we got to hear how powerful the dialogue is in a film where reasonable doubt is a key.  Both are brilliant films.

We close out this day of the Plaza Classic Film Festival exhausted but happy, and looking forward to seeing more new films and maybe one old favorite.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Views are always welcome, but I would ask that no vulgarity be used. Any posts that contain foul language or are bigoted in any way will not be posted.
Thank you.