Category: Uncategorized

Top 100 Movies (2014 Edition): Scenes from Numbers 70, 100, 37, 94, and 89

2011_take_shelter_002

Hmm, here’s a problem. I don’t have a number 100 movie yet. I started this whole project before I actually finalized my list, so as it stands this moment I only have 99 movies on the list. So, I guess today’s post will only have 4 scenes. Everything else remains the same: the movie titles will link to a full review if I have one. See entries one, two, and three for more scenes, and my full list for full listiness.

70. Take Shelter – Blow up at dinner

This scene is a pretty big spoiler, so if you haven’t seen Take Shelter yet, stop now and go watch it. While this scene isn’t the climax of the film, it does contain the turning point of the film. For the majority of the movie, the audience is privy to Michael Shannon’s growing paranoia but he hides it from his family. Here they see his fury for the first time, and it’s quite a sight. But the more important part is what Jessica Chastain does after he explodes. She looks at him, shocked, but slowly realizes that she still loves him, and that he’s having issues. The hug is not a healing one, exactly, but one of acceptance.

37. Paths of Glory – No Man’s Land.

 

With Paths of Glory, Stanley Kubrick expertly creates one of the most intense war movies of all time. World War I was full of terrible ideas, trench warfare being only one of its great travesties. Here, Kubrick captures just how horrible a situation the grunts were in. Kirk Douglas first walks through the trenches, but he offers no words of encouragement. In fact, the only words in the scene are a countdown to the push into No Man’s Land. And there pretty much everybody dies. War is chaos.

94. Fargo – Cooperating

If there’s one thing the Coen brothers do amazingly throughout their career, it’s document the way we talk. Theirs is not usually a very realistic milieu, but rather a heightened one. The people of Fargo (or, more accurately, the North Dakota area, since only one scene actually takes place in Fargo) probably don’t really talk exactly like this, but the Coens and their performers have taken the peculiarities of their speech and twisted it, enhanced it, “you betcha”ed it up some more, so that it becomes one of the defining characteristics of the movie, the contrast between the “Minnesota nice” way of speaking and the horrific violence that the characters bring into the world. 

89. 7th Heaven – Climbing to Heaven

Frank Borzage isn’t often a subtle filmmaker. He likes to paint with large brushstrokes, and in the vibrant colors of love, loss, suffering, and life, even if he does so mostly in black and white. Here, just after Chico rescues Diane from killing herself on the street, he brings her up to his apartment in the sky. The long, slow climb up the stairs in one long tracking shot is technically marvelous for 1927, but it’s the visual metaphor that draws me in. Look at the light at the bottom of the stairs as compared to the top. He’s literally bringing her up into Heaven. This opens the door for the final scene of the film and builds Borzage’s beautiful visual palette.

That’s all for now. Like anything you see here? Let me know. Like any other scenes better than the ones I picked? Ditto.  

Top 100 Movies (2014 Edition): Scenes from Numbers 31, 58, 48, 19, and 73

Night-of-the-Hunter-Direction2

I went on a mini-vacation but now I’m back with more scenes from movies randomly selected from my new top 100 list. See entry one and two for more fun. Movie titles will be linked to full reviews if I have one.

31. The Thing – Blood Test (WARNING! Not for the squeamish)

The Thing is one of the most macho films on my list. There’s not a woman in sight, and the men become more and more paranoid as the movie progresses until it reaches its zenith in this tense scene. It’s the paranoia running just barely under the surface here that makes everyone in the first half of the scene utterly still. The bursts of fire from the flamethrowers are the only real movement, echoing their pulses, maybe, or their anxiety. So they sit their as each sample of blood gets tested until one of the people starts shaking and transforming. Then one of the best practical effects movies starts showing off again and there’s blood and grossness and everything you ever wanted in a movie.

58. City Lights – Drunk at a Restaurant

This scene takes place after The Tramp rescues a rich man from an attempted suicide. As thanks, the rich man stuffs The Tramp full of alcohol and takes him out on the town. What follows is maybe the funniest I’ve seen Chaplin be. His faux-gentility gets amplified by the alcohol and the frou-frou setting and the absurdities of it all. We go from questioning why a person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between eating spaghetti and a coiled streamer to laughing at just how long he eats that streamer. And when the music takes over his body and he charges onto the dance floor we can see just how great a performer Charlie Chaplin was.

48. The Night of the Hunter – “The Devil Wins Sometimes”

How insidious a character is Robert Mitchum’s Mr. Powell in The Night of the Hunter? Here is a con man, a thief, a murderer whose false religiosity combines with his powerful charisma to fool nearly everybody he meets throughout the course of the film. The husband and wife who run the local ice cream shop are probably the worst part of the whole movie, and yet this scene, in which Mr. Powell explains his new wife’s transgressions, still works thanks to Mitchum’s amazing pull on screen. Of course, it’s all just a build up to one of the best visuals in all of cinema, his wife floating in their car at the bottom of a river. The floating plants mirror her flowing hair, and the whole scene takes on an eerie beauty. That beauty is only increased when viewed from above and then from the side, allowing us to appreciate her naïveté and the power Mr. Powell had over her from the start. Amazing.

19. Hoop Dreams – Graduation

If you’ve been around the block with me a few times in this whole top 100 thing, you probably already knew the scene I was going to pick for Hoop Dreams. I teared up again when I watched it for this post. When Roger Ebert reviewed the film he started with these words: “It takes us, shakes us, and make us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself.” The scene that exemplifies this power is suprisingly one in which the two stars of the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, take a back seat in favor of Shelia Agee, who finds out that she’s graduating from a Nursing Assistant’s program at the top of her class. It’s her joy that makes you realize just how powerful achievement can be. She is, as she says, at the beginning of her journey, but it’s an important first step and an example for her son, Arthur, who will have his own ups and downs in his life. Shelia is the center of the movie.

73. Repulsion – Cracks, clay, and creatures

What tricks will our minds play on us when we are alone? Do you run up the stairs when you turn out the light with visions of hands grasping at your legs? Are you brave enough to turn around after that quick ascension to see if there really was anything there? There isn’t much dialogue in Repulsion but there is a lot of noise. Flies buzz around a rotting rabbit corpse left out of the refrigerator, clocks tick away the seconds minutes hours and days, and walls moan and crack under the pressure. While the specifics are never clarified, Catherine Deneuve’s character is clearly messed up, and her weekend alone is bad news for her and the unfortunate people that come into contact with her over the course of it.

Those five will do it for today. Any thoughts or other favorite scenes from these movies to share? Leave a comment and let’s talk a bit.

List-mas Time Is Here

This kaiju is excited about 2013 lists.

Happiness and cheer! It’s the end of 2013 and that means it’s time to start making lists of things that I watched and read and listened to in the year that was. Gonna do a few lists for your reading pleasure, though I have no real timetable for completing them (you saw how I got through 16 of the 25 Things of Christmas). Here, now, I’ll just tell you what’s coming up and in what general order you can expect them.

Movie Discoveries of the Year

This is a new-ish list for me this year. Thanks to Letterboxd’s easy to use interface I’ve been keeping rigorous track of all the movies I’ve watched this year. So for the first time I can officially make a list of the best things I watched this year that weren’t made in 2013. You can probably guess what’ll top the list. I’ve watched 64 non-2013 movies this year, but I won’t go into all of them in this upcoming post.

Books Read in 2013

Unlike the movies, I’ll mash together the books I’ve read in 2013 that were released in the year and those that were released earlier. I read 53 books this year though I’ll group a lot of them into series (comics, mostly) so it gets down to a reasonable number. It was a good year for reading.

TV of 2013

While some have declared this particular golden age of television over, I disagree. It was a great year for returning shows and new ones alike. Will Hannibal melt my heart and then pour it over some nice fava beans? Did New Girl continue its streak of excellence? Find out soon-ish!

Music of 2013

This is probably the most hipster-y of my lists. I like what I like in music, and you will see just how narrow that is. But still, fun!

Movies of 2013

So far I have watched 53 movies released in 2013, but that’s nowhere near what I’d like to end up with. I’ve still got to catch up with Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, All is Lost, Leviathan, The Kings of Summer, Captain Phillips, Philomena, Frozen, Blue is the Warmest Color, Blue Jasmine, and like a billion other movies. So I’ll hold off on this list for at least a month. Gotta finish cramming.

Movie Awards of 2013

Why should the professionals have all the fun. I’ll be giving out awards and junk in all the usual categories plus some fun ones. But again, gotta wait so I can see more things.

I think that’ll be enough lists to last you at least a year until it’s time to do it all again for 2014. So stay tuned for countdown fun. I’ll also link to all of the lists on this page if you want to bookmark it or something. That’d be a little weird, though. Well, do what you want, it’s your computer.