3 November 2006 | Steve-on-LI
Daniel is my favorite movie ever
Daniel, dear fellow movie lovers, is my favorite movie of all time.
I can barely list all the reasons why I love this movie. I have recommended it to many people, and frankly no one has basically reacted to it as enthusiastically as i have.
But guess what, I don't care. This movie resonates with me. Thanks to E.L. Doctorow, Lumet provides us -- specifically -- with a devastating examination of the nature of political martyrdom and its effect on the martyr's family. We look at the critical intersection between family and ideology.
Beyond the scorching power of the plot and the highly ambitious story line, the Daniel cast is superb and they play their roles to tremendous effect, with a couple of minor exceptions. I don't remember how Paul Isaacson was portrayed in Doctorow's novel, but the casting of the powerful and macho Mandy Patinkin as the Pauly character directly modeled on Julius Rosenberg (who at least from his photos appeared to be nebish-y and not projecting any degree of the virility Patinkin offers) was perfect. What a wonderful liberty Lumet took.
First-rate acting also comes from the tortured siblings Timothy Hutton and Amanda Plummer, plus Ed Asner, Lindsay Crouse, Tovah Feldshuh, Ellen Barkin and numerous supporting players.
The target audience for Daniel, perhaps, is the person who (like me) at some time(s) in their life has allowed political action to become more important than ostensible self-interest or family interest. Unless you have personally had this experience, I am guessing you will relate less to this movie.
But please don't let that stop you! This is a martyr movie I am sure many non-martyrs can enjoy.
I can rattle off no less than a half dozen scenes that I consider timeless and priceless. Don't get me started.
OK, I relent. I will say that the Peekskill riot scene is memorable and special. Every time I am on a bus, and it makes a turn or goes through the woods or whatever or whatever, I think of this scene. The scene's intense crucifixion/climax is excruciating to watch.
And the kids' return to the shuttered Bronx apartment -- and attorney Ed Asner explaining to the befuddled aunt that, 'Lady, these people are in trouble!' -- and the Union Square rally -- and the Sing Sing scene -- and omigod the Paul Robeson score -- and and and and...
When Lumet got his special Oscar a yr or so ago i thought, oh good, finally, the world will hear about Daniel, my #1 movie. But I was deflated when it got mentioned maybe not at all or at best in passing. Some newspaper movie critics covering the award, alluded to the 'underrated' Daniel. Sigh ****.
Well, dear friends, lemme just say that 'underrated' is a gross exaggeration. In my mind, I cannot overrate this movie.
Thus -- I exhort all IMDb people to watch this movie, get past the early Patinkin Russian folk dance scene in the apartment, and stay with it! I hope you will begin to appreciate Daniel just half as much as I do.
And thank you, Sidney Lumet.