Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Favorite movie scenes

'ello 'ello. I thought I'd start posting here again. Not that I'll be able to keep it up, but it’ll be a good place for keeping my thoughts about movies and the movie business. Instead of just yelling them at the computer like I normally do.

First up, /Film has an interesting post on favorite movie scenes. The author picks Tiny Dancer from Almost Famous, which is a classic. So… what is my favorite movie scene?

I love musical numbers, and they are easily separated out as discrete scenes. Mein Herr from Cabaret is one of my all time favorites, as is the time warp in Rocky Horror. The ballet from an American in Paris is brilliant, and I tend to rewatch just that scene, rather than the whole movie. Other great ones? The tango in Moulin Rouge. Make ‘em laugh from Singing in the Rain. The rave at the end of Groove. Sugarhigh in Empire Records. The absolutely incredible, totally silly ballet in Center Stage (oh my god - go watch it. It has a MOTORCYCLE).

I like moments that make me cry. I love the scene in Shakespeare in Love where Viola and Will leave each other – the “you shall never age for me, nor fade, nor die”. But that’s kinda short (starts about 3:00 here). Same with the scene in gaol at the end of the Wind that Shakes the Barley when Damien writes home before his death (starts at 3:30).

I love great action scenes; the lobby scene in the Matrix, parliament blowing up to the 1812 overture in V for Vendetta. The sword fights at the end of the Scarlet Pimpernel and Stardust, respectively, and the one on the cliff in Princess Bride. The car chase from Bullitt and the fight in the house in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The fight between the bride and O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill vol 1. The T-Rex escape in Jurassic Park.

I love Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia. But that’s kind of a cop out, because it is more of a short film than a scene within a larger whole.

Comedy? I love when Wadsworth explains the mystery in Clue, because it is so delightfully madcap, but that’s a bit long. I like Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell discussing how to shoot at each other in In Bruges. Kevin Kline beating and apologizing to John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda.

I love big reveals, or twist endings (when done well). One of my all time favorites is the coffee cup scene in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (so brilliant). The bowler hat scene in the Thomas Crown Affair is definitely up there.

I like cool or beautiful cinematography, like the long panning shots of the car in Children of Men (spoiler), or the beach in Atonement. The scene of John Smith in the forest in the New World has always stuck with me, in part for the beautiful scenery and Terrence Malick’s dreamy direction. I like the scene with the nightwalker and the kodama in the treetops in Princess Mononoke – it’s so painterly and lush. And I love the opening of Dead Poets’ Society because it showcases someplace I was lucky enough to live for four years. The opening of 28 Days later in deserted London is fantastic and creepy.

Good monologues, like the USS Indianapolis in Jaws or Prior’s speech about the Angel Bathesda in Angels in America, stand out. I like Kevin Spacey’s monologue as he dies at the end of American Beauty and his telling of the legend of Kaiser Soze in the Usual Suspects. The Hip to be Square monologue in American Psycho is brilliant. The closing argument in To Kill a Mockingbird. The final lines in Out of Africa (“If I have a dream of Africa”). O for a muse of fire from Henry V and Flute’s scene at the end of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Funeral Blues in Four Weddings and a Funeral. (Ooh – La Belle Dame sans merci in Bright Star, also for poetry recitation). Tommy Lee Jones at the end of No Country for Old Men.

But finally, the first scene I thought of, my immediate gut reaction (heh) to this question, was a scene in Lawn Dogs, when Trent and Devon show each other their scars. It sounds obvious and cliché, but it is done so perfectly, it has always stuck with me. Plus, the scene starts with an absolutely gorgeous setup of a pickup truck, off center under a wide blue sky. It’s such a perfect image. So I think that wins for my favorite scene. At least for today.

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