40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director Sidney Lumet directed one of the tightest, most rapid-fire, suspenseful films ever made with a lead performance that will resonate with you. If I’m overhyping Dog Day Afternoon, it’s because I think it’s a picture-perfect feature.

In a story based on true events, the feature follows Sonny (Al Pacino) as he robs a local bank in order to secure the money for his lover to have a gender confirmation surgery. Yes, for a film made in 1975, it was at the forefront of discussing sexuality in a way that involves trans characters (though this is not to say the movie is spot-on in its representation, considering cis actor Chris Sarandon plays the role).

Almost told in real time, the audience watches Sonny go through the motions of robbing the bank, but a series of unplanned circumstances leave him and his partner, Sal (John Cazale) trapped in the bank with a group of hostages on one of the hottest days in New York. This is a movie where the tension is so oppressive and constant it’s mimicked in the weather, with the characters dripping sweat.

Pacino has never had a better performance than he does as the perpetually hot-headed Sonny, and he’s complemented wonderfully by John Cazale, who delivers a quiet performance and who unfortunately passed away just three years after this movie came out. The two are a lesson in contrasts, and the audience is left torn by whether they sympathize with these men or not. It all leads to a conclusion you have to see to believe.

Where to Watch It: Rent it now via Google Play, PlayStation, YouTube, Apple or Vudu.