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Pick a Juror, Any Juror.
Runaway Jury (DVD)
Member Name: ryanando
Runaway Jury (DVD)
Advantages: John Cusack, great film
Disadvantages: If you've read the book, it might be crap.
When trying to find a film to watch, there are a few important things I like to take into consideration. Firstly, I would prefer a cast of actors I like. Obviously. Secondly, I would prefer said actors to be naked. If I can't get that then I suppose I will watch it anyway.
Once upon a time when I was going through my "must have everything with John Cusack in it" phase, I stumbled in a drunken manner across a film I'd never heard of. Apparently it's a John Grisham adaptation which means a grand total of nothing to me, but it does make me think lovingly of the ugly old guy from CSI: Vegas (the only decent CSI).
Being one of the films I watched Con Bloke (mangling Spanish is fun), I got about half way through before turning off. Don't worry though, I didn't turn off because it was crap. Runaway Jury (the film in question) is actually quite fabby. I know, I watched it later.
We begin in an office in America. Not surprisingly, everyone gets shot. Well it is in a bbfc 15 rated vision of America, what did you expect? The random shooting of our American buddies leads to the beginnings of a court case. Dustin Hoffman (or Dustpan Hoffbin as I shall be calling him for no reason other than boredom) is the kind hearted (ish) lawyer who is on the side of the people who are dead. Gene Hackman (or Janine Pac-man, for the same reasons stated previously) would be on the side of the gun company having its sweet ass sued. I guess that makes him evil?
Now that we have established our good camps and bad camps, we get the task of choosing the jurors for the case. Nicholas Easter is to be one of them. That's Cusack by the way. While Pac-Man and Hoffbin are trying their best to win the jury over, with Pac-man doing a little more to sway them than present the facts (see "bribery") Cusack is playing the inside. We have a camp in the middle. And this camp kicks ass.
Easter seems like a nice guy who just wants an easy life. Soon enough we start to realise that Easter has his own agenda. Fortunately we aren't entirely sure what his agenda is. I say fortunately because we wouldn't have a very good movie otherwise.
Helped along by the lovely Weisz, whose name is strange enough without boredom taking over, Easter starts manipulating the jury to do exactly what he wants them to. Well you can't offer the greedy lawyers the verdict they want if you can't prove you own the jury for them now can you?
This gem is filled to the brim with atmosphere as tense as Cher's freshly botoxed cheeks, creating a great space for Cusack to play around in. And this is where I stop telling you what's going to happen. As much as I would love to let you know what the motives of the middle camp are and what way they eventually swing or even if they make it to the end... I'm a bugger and you'll just have to watch it.
I will however comment a little more on the performances of the actors. As much as they don't get as naked as I would like (and I'm only talking about Cusack because the others are old/female) everyone puts in an amazing performance. There was not one person who screwed the film up for me. Not one of them felt the wrath of the bored homo's sarcastic, cynical side. Not even the dumb rednecks on trial had an insult thrown at them by my mind. Well done all of you!!
I will also point out that there must be some subliminal horn inducing messages laced through the film. My evidence? I just got horny at around the exact same point I had to stop viewing while my man was over. Coinkydink? I think not! Evil film makers trying to horn you all up? Maybe. Me being an oversexed 21 year old gay man....Definitely. I blame Pavlov's Dog.
By the end of this amazing piece of film shaped joy (approximately 122 minutes from when it started) you'll be sitting on the edge of whatever you are sitting on. Unless it's the floor. I can't imagine how you would sit on the edge of that. You could possibly be sitting in the corner, fearing that this cinematic loveliness will come to an end. Don't worry though. As much as the earth shattering performances may be coming to an end... This is a DVD! THERE ARE EXTRAS!!!!
Audio Commentaries are plentiful in the extras section. I, as usual, won't be writing diddly squat about that because people who talk over movies need a kick in the face. Even you.
Two fun little glimpses into some of the other ideas they were going to put into the film. Personally, I don't see the point in giving us the deleted scenes in movies like this. It adds nothing. If anything it just goes to show us that the writers did have some crap ideas which, lucky for us, they took out. The quality of the scenes aren't too great since they are just the rough cuts.
----Selected Scene Commentary----
This is slightly different from a full movie commentary (as you may have guessed). We get two scenes where the actors get to tell us about how they felt about the scene. A bit of an oddity on this one, however, is that rather than just having the actors talk over the scene, we get a picture in picture thing going on. The scene becomes tiny and we get a shot of the actor prattling on in the top half of the screen. Still not a huge fan of people talking over the scene, but I shall forgive these two selected scenes, mainly because it is not a whole film full of people talking over the top.
----Exploring the scene----
Basically a little behind the scenes focusing on the same scene as one of the commentaries did. I hate this. I mean its all fair and well. It's a good look into how the scene works. Again. And that's what I don't like. Repetition is the Mother of stupidity. Give me something new please. Give me something NEW PLEASE. Give ME something NEW, PLEASE!!!! Not to mention it's a 15 minute look into... One scene. So what if it was the first scene ever between Pac-man and Hoffbin?? Maybe I'm just not appreciative of all of this extra stuff. In saying that, it does get ok after about 8 minutes. You become numb to it and just start listening to what they are saying.
----Off The Cuff----
Another 8 Minute piece of Pac-Man And HoffBin yapping about how they know each other. Is it just me or has this already been covered? Can I please see John Cusack talk about his penis for a while? What do you MEAN I have to put up with these two old men?? If I wanted this, I could take my granddad and his mate to the pub! The only thing that this has taught me is that Hoffbin swears a lot and it really doesn't suit him. Ok, so he doesn't swear half as much as I do. But I look cooler when doing it.
Oh wow! An Extra that's not about the same scene!??! YAY! CUSACK IS ON MY SCREEN! As is Weisz. I'm loving this just because it gets Pac and bin off my screen. And you get to hear Weisz's real accent, which is always funny after watching a film where she's 'Merkin. Weisz talks about seducing Pacman while Cusack tells us about how everyone he works with is great. A nice, short look into something different, this one gets my thumbs up. No, not like that. You disgust me.
----The Making Of----
I'm sure you all know how "making of" segments work. They flip between the actors, lots of shots from the film and (not surprisingly) making of the film, and give us a quick run down of what the film is about. Even though this is near the end of the extras, it manages to avoid most of the footage that's been used so far, giving us a different angle on the film. It also gives us interviews with people who actually DO pick juries for a living. As if that's not enough, we get to see Pacman dancing to bongos in a court room. I wish I was kidding. Despite this, I give this extra another digit in the upwards direction.
----Shadow and light----
This extra focuses on the cinematography. We get to see a lot of cameras moving round the set, with a little bit more swearing, this time from people we don't know all to well (how dare they) while they tell us that the actors had a great relationship with the camera. I'm sure that's illegal in some places. We are then told from some more strangers how great the camera men are. Not a bad extra at all, but then I'm an arty farty type. I can imagine a lot of people I know not really giving two craps how bright John Cusack's face was in scene 12.
----A Vision Of New Orleans----
Hosted by the production designer, this extra talks about the set and design. Which means its 5 minutes about the court room. He shows us all the bits that move out of the way for the cameras and points out some of the details you won't really notice unless some production nut comes into your DVD and points them out....hmm. Its all very pretty and well done mind you. I think I might fancy the production designer... Onto the next extra.
Talking about the editing of the film now. We get to see some of the editors talking about how they love their job and each other. They then talk about some of the scenes they didn't like till they done their job and edited them. An interesting little extra, but its bloody hard to make it sound good. It's half two in the morning, what do you expect?? I like it. That will be all.
Nope, not another extra. This review is now complete. This is usually the part where I tell you its totally worth the £10 I paid for it. Instead I will grumble that you can now pick this up for £3.99 from Play.com and be jealous of all of you that can now buy this great film and some decent extras on the cheap. Oh and for the record, No, I haven't read the book. It's probably a million times better, but I am but a man in a cave with shadows and play dough. I'm going to bed.
Summary: A John Grisham Adaptation with some very good actors.