2011 was probably the biggest year for me and movies. I saw my first films from directors who are now among my favourites, such as Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Jean-Luc Godard. I learned a lot from them, and they helped me shape my love of cinema today. Recently, Stevee at Cinematic Paradox wrote a […]
One might be surprised to discover that my two favourite scenes of all time from movies are both from films directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. About two months ago, I revealed my favourite scene of all time and promised to try and work on a list of great scenes. Well now I’ve finished compiling the list, and here it is, unleashed. They’re in no particular order, as it would be too hard to rank them, but I’ll start off with my second favourite scene of all time.
1: The Drug Deal Scene, Boogie Nights (1997)
Everything in this scene is pitch perfect. The tension works brilliantly, with the firecrackers and nervous tics. And the soundtrack… unbelieveable. You’ve got to hand it to P.T.A., he can pick the right music for any movie and it suits perfectly. There’s also a 45-second closeup of Mark Wahlberg (6:30-7:15) that is perhaps my favourite shot in the movie. Not because I like Mark Wahlberg, but just because it’s a perfect little piece of Anderson, and it reveals so much about Dirk Diggler without saying a word. Fantastic.
2: The Goy’s Teeth, A Serious Man (2009)
A perfect example of what makes the Coen brothers so unique. They can have a long, rambling, incredibly interesting monologue with virtually no meaning and it makes sense. The scene is both fun to watch and full of anticipation. Sure, it might be a let down to discover there’s no point in the whole thing, but it’s part of life. A lot of what we go through is long, tedious and has no real affect or reason, and yet, we live through it. The truth is, some questions weren’t made to be answered, and this scene sums it up perfectly.
3: The Street Shootout, Heat (1995)
Michael Mann’s visually daring 1995 heist movie features one of my personal favourite sequences of extended violence and warfare. Imagine a gritty shootout between many men, placed in the middle of a bustling street. Might not sound like the most original idea now, but back in 1995, it sizzled.
4: The Briefcase, The Killing (1956)
Though I sadly cannot find a video for this fantastic final scene to Stanley Kubrick’s heist movie, I can assure you it is brilliant. When two thieves are getting on to a plane escaping with millions in a briefcase, the unexpected happens, the briefcase opens, and all Hell breaks loose. A visually stunning shot, that in some ways anticipated Kubrick’s whole career.
5: Gutterballs, The Big Lebowski (1998)
A perfect combination of stylistic music and sexual innuendo combined with the Dude’s love of bowling, this priceless sequence makes the entire movie worth watching and symbolises (like #2) the uniqueness of the Coen brothers. No other director/s could have pulled this off.
6: “Hello, Dimitri?”, Dr. Strangelove (1964)
If there was a top prize for awkward, subtle humour in film, Dr. Strangelove would be a definite contender for top spot, and this scene explains exactly why. It makes me laugh every single time I watch it, and the first time I saw it, I was in tears by the time it ended. Fantastic. If you like to think you have anything resembling a sense of humour, you must see this movie.
7: Alice’s Monologue, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
This is not actually the whole scene, but it’s enough of it to get the point across. Nicole Kidman is absolutely fucking fantastic in this scene, spitting out each line perfectly in character and in a manner that almost puts the viewer into the same drug-induced trance as her. A fantastic look at the effects of marriage and human relationships, this is definitely the film’s highlight.
8: Mr. Blonde, Reservoir Dogs (1992)
There are a lot of scenes which deserve a spot on here from QT’s breakthrough debut and it was really tough making a decision, but no other scene has the raw impact and masochistic beauty of this brilliantly filmed violence overblow. QT laughs in our faces and left me gaping when Mr. Blonde exited the warehouse and everything changed for those brief few seconds. He’s a genius, and this scene is a testament to his ability.
9: The German Girl, Paths of Glory (1957)
I hope you have a box of Kleenex, because you may be about to cry. The following is technically two scenes, one in which Kirk Douglas tells his boss where to stick his promotion (my favourite line in the film occurs at 0:59, listen for that one), and in the second part, in a scene that really is a testament to the heartlessness and cruelty of war, a German girl is forced to sing by a bunch of rowdy, drunken, ogling American soldiers, but the unexpected happens. Seriously, this scene… I cannot express my love for it enough, and it is one of the main reasons it’s placed so high among my favourite movies of all time. The best scene Kubrick ever directed. Ever.
10: Perfect Day, Trainspotting (1996)
Apparently, embedding is disabled so you can watch it here if it doesn’t work. What follows is an example of Danny Boyle’s great talent. He hear combines a scene where we see the protagonist Renton (Ewan MacGregor) take a “final” hit of heroin, and uses the best possible music to ironically describe the hellish levels to which he has sunk. Spectacularly depressing.
11: The End, Dogville (2003)
I warn you now, do NOT watch this scene if you have not already seen the movie. It contains spoilers that should NEVER be spoiled. It is the almost perfect, sadistic ending to Lars von Trier’s amazing stage-play filmed Dogville. It’s definitely in my Top 5 for jaw-dropping scenes. You will be stunned.
12: The Club Silencio, Mulholland Dr. (2001)
A beautiful, artistic, memorable scene from David Lynch’s amazing movie, this is a really well-done look at the thin line between dreams and reality, and how easily we can be tricked.
13: Don’t Leave, Magnolia (1999)
I know I’ve mentioned and shown this scene all over Southern Vision a few times, but if you haven’t seen it, it really is worth it. In general, I dislike Tom Cruise as an actor. But in this scene… wow, he really packs a punch that’s difficult to shake. Amazing portrayal of grief and loss.
14: Plastic Bag in the Wind, American Beauty (1999)
The scene has such emotion, and beauty, that there’s really nothing much left to say that Wes Bentley doesn’t say himself. Great background score from Thomas Newman, one of my favourite musical score composers of all time.
15: The Pool Scene, Let the Right One In (2008)
Almost poetic in its use of strewn body parts, sudden deaths, and great audio, this scene forces the audience to use their imagination which produces much more horrific results than any scary imagery. A beautiful, terrifying scene.
16: The Boardwalk Scene, A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The perfect combination of sickening violence and amazing classical music, Stanley Kubrick’s controversial masterpiece features countless great scenes of amazing direction, but this one tops them all.
17: Standing In Line for a Movie, Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen’s famous comedy works more like a series of hilarious sketches, and it’s difficult to pick just one, but when I watched it the first time, this scene really struck me as very funny, and has been parodied often in pop culture.
18: Lovefool, Hot Fuzz (2007)
This list would go uncomplete without a reference to the funniest of all the hilarious scenes in this Edgar Wright classic. The look on Simon Pegg’s face is hysterical.
19: The Copacabana Shot, Goodfellas (1991)
You’ll have to skip to two minutes before the actual shot starts, but it is a brilliant one. One of the most famous and influential tracking shots in all of cinema, this really pumps up the class in this Scorsese classic and is one of the many reasons it is as brilliant as it is.
20: Dreams, No Country for Old Men (2007)
A fitting way to finish off this list is with the disquieting, eerie, brilliant final scene that tops off an amazingly fantastic movie. Tommy Lee Jones leads the Coen brothers’ western-style classic to an awesome conclusion.
There, that’s my list. There’s plenty more I could add, but this is enough for now. So, what do you think? Anything you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.
Stanley Kubrick was a master of many things when making movies — direction, cinematography, set direction — but one of the top choices he consistently made was musical. From Dr. Strangelove right down to Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick made musical choices that were insanely memorable. Here are perhaps the five most memorable:
1: We’ll Meet Again, Dr. Strangelove (1964)
The image of countless bombs exploding as this calming music plays is a simply magic use of contrast. If the world were to end as abruptly and annoyingly as it does in Strangelove, this music playing would make it a damn sight more comfortable – and funnier!
2: The Blue Danube Waltz, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)
The beautiful outer space has never looked so stunning as when Kubrick portrayed it alongside the amazing music of Strauss. Classical music made a memorable debut for SK as he mixed memorable imagery with insanely calming tunes.
3: The Thieving Magpie, A Clockwork Orange (1971)
That fantastic scene as Alex and his droogs walk down the riveria, frozen in thought, as this classical piece plays and violence breaks out will be forever ingrained in my mind. A scene which uses violence in a manner which makes Tarantino look like butter.
4: Sarabande, Barry Lyndon (1975)
Kubrick’s three hour biopic based on the novel is one of his best, most ingenious films, a sadly underrated film that glows with excellence every time you watch it. And this haunting theme… I never get tired of it.
5: Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
It’s a little bit inventive, a little bit haunting and a little bit cheeky. One of my favourite classical waltzes (beaten only by #2 on this list), and one which always brings to mind the shocking opening shot of Kubrick’s final film.
Any music from Kubrick I missed? What music (from any director or movie) do you think was particularly memorable or well-chosen? Leave a comment below.
Welcome to The Weekly Movie Challenge. Last week, I asked you to watch Lars von Trier’s controversial and widely disputed Dogville, and rate it out of ten. I got four responses, and three ratings, much more positive than I expected. Two people gave it 9/10, and the other gave it a perfect 10! I myself give it a 9, and I thank everyone who watched and rated. If you didn’t rate, then here’s your chance. This week’s movie is:
Ah. The controversy continues. Once again I’ve picked a film that a lot of people like, and a lot of others loathe. So what’s your opinion? If you’ve seen it, be completely honest with what you thought of it and leave a comment down below. If you haven’t seen it, give it a go. If you can find the time, Netflix it or whatever. You might hate it, you might enjoy it. Either way, I ask you to see it and RATE IT OUT OF TEN. This time, I’m giving you two weeks to watch the movie, so don’t feel pressured.
Thanks for reading, watching and rating.
When I watch movies, I often look for great opening shots. These are the first things we see when the camera fades in from black and the film begins. A good director will often make a good opening shot to hook the viewer into the film, and here are five of my favourites, in no particular order:
The film opens with a deceptively simple stationary shot of the house of a wealthy French couple and their son. We soon release, in a perfectly Michael Haneke manner, that this is a videotape of their house recorded by an unknown person/s, who have then mailed the recording to the couple. A fantastic film which opens in an excellent manner.
Sofia Coppola’s newest film, and undoubtedly her best, is the excellent indie drama Somewhere. It opens with one of my favourite shots of all time, a shot quite similar to the opening of The Brown Bunny, except this shot is stationary and unmoving, a wise decision. If you find this boring and meaningless, then I suggest you watch the whole movie. If, after that, you still find it boring and meaningless… I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Oh, wow. Who could forget that awesome movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey? Obviously, a lot of people, as I was the only one in my family who didn’t doze off while the movie played on when I watched it when I was twelve after Stanley Kubrick died. From this magnificently epic opening shot and onwards, it catapulted my life into a realm of film and cinema. It’s so simplistic, yet so beautiful:
Boogie Nights (1997)
Steadicam, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Boogie Nights is easily number one. The opening shot actually really made me feel like I was cruising around the disco, checking out all the funky characters. Everything about it is perfect; the timing, the way it moves so rhythmically, and how awesome the seventies looked through the eyes of Paul Thomas Anderson.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video for this, which is sad, because the music is absolutely perfect in this scene, but let me cut it down to the bare basics. This is Stanley Kubrick being cheeky, which is something we very rarely get from the director, and is what makes the opening so unique. No one knew how to get an audience’s attention like Kubrick:
Now it’s time for…
Leave a comment with what you thought of my five choices, and name some of your own.
Thanks for reading.
I am a heavy believer in the power of ‘rewatching’ movies. I do it all the time, and with most of the good movies I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it changes nothing, but more often than not you are looking at the film from a different angle and you can pull things out of it that completely flew over your head the first time. Here are ten examples of films that completely changed for me when I watched them a second (or 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) time:
The Brown Bunny
I thought I’d start out with this one first because it was really the inspiration for this post. Back in December when I first watched this, I gave it 4/10. Now it’s 7/10, edging on 8. Knowing the final end twist, the atmosphere of the film is completely different and scarily dark the second time round. Read my review here.
Of all the films I’ve rewatched, I’ve never gained so much from each respective viewing as I have from David Lynch’s Inland Empire. If you can make it through the whole three hours, it’s definitely worth it. One of the greatest acting performances of the decade, as well as sweeping direction and a scary mood that is unbeatable. First Viewing Rating: 7/10. Second Viewing Rating: 10/10
Just like David Lynch, all of Michael Haneke’s movies deserved to be seen more than once, but none moreso than this Cannes smash-hit, which is one of the creepiest and most shocking movies I’ve ever seen. You will not believe how good Haneke is with a camera. He does it to the point where you’re unsure whether what you’re watching is an actual scene or taped footage. First Time Rating: 9/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10
Eyes Wide Shut
The problem most people face with this film is the same as The Brown Bunny issue. They find it boring, the sex gratuitous and unneccessary, and the plot going nowhere. It’s very prejudicial and insulting to bring it down to those levels. This is a highly intelligent, scarily accurate and shockingly referential film. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10
2001: A Space Odyssey
Like Lynch and Haneke, all of Kubrick’s films deserve a good rewatch, but none moreso than the above one and this, a stunningly beautiful, futuristically accurate (well, almost) and unbelievably brilliant motion picture. This is one of the lucky few pictures where everything is perfect, but of course that comes at a price: its complete inaccessibility to the average moviegoer. However, that’s nothing a rewatch can’t fix! First Time Rating: 9/10. Second Time: 10/10
A Serious Man
I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this movie at the theatre when it came out, and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. Then a friend told me I needed to see it again, so I bought the DVD and rewatched it and wow, just like with The Brown Bunny, that second watch has made all the difference. A spectacular film on a level of greatness halfway between insanity and truth. First Time Rating: 6/10. Second Time Rating: 9/10
This was the scene in A Serious Man when I finally realized, whilst watching it a second time, that I had completely underestimated it the first time:
The Godfather: Part II
This is a personal one for me, because when I first saw it, the night after watching its predecessor, I thought it was very good, but nowhere near Part I. I bought the DVD and chucked it on the shelf, knowing one day I’d have to rewatch it. The second time round, something happened. Something clicked, and it’s now one of my favourite motion pictures ever. Have you ever felt the click? It’s a marvellous thing. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10
(Spoiler Alert) The great thing about rewatching this movie is that, when you see it the first time, you’re not as focused on the humour but more on how they’re going to stop their planes from bombing Russia. The second time, you know they’re going to fail so you focus more on them, rather than their situation. It makes the subtle humour much more visible and highly enhances the laugh factor. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time: 10/10
Like with the above, knowing the end twist beforehand makes it easier to focus on the filming and the style, which is something very well done, indeed. Mind you, this is a film you don’t really have any other choice but to rewatch as it’s so goddamn confusing. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time: 9/10
Any of the films of Edgar Wright
It’s hard just to pick one, so I’m going to class his entire filmography as one big movie, just this once. There is so much humour happening so quickly that it’s easy to miss some of the tiny jokes and even some of the great movie tributes that inspired them. SOTD View Count: 5. Hot Fuzz View Count: 6 Scott Pilgrim View Count: 3
So… what films changed for you the second time round? What films do you want to watch a second time? What did you think of my choices? Leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading.
The following list is ten movies that ‘define me.’ These are movies that changed the way I looked at cinema, and helped to craft my perspective on film in general. These are not necessarily my Top Ten favourite films, but one or two from that ten will be present.
In no particular order:
There Will Be Blood
From the moment I first saw Daniel Day-Lewis in In The Name of the Father, I knew I was looking at one talented man. Then I saw this movie, and I was blown away. This is one of the few movies that actually caused my jaw to drop at its aching perfectness. A masterpiece.
Proclaimed repetitively the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane may not be that, but it is breathtaking in its painfully honest portrayal of greed and heartlessness, the carelessness and ignorance of the human soul. It was the first film ever to touch upon issues such as this in the manner which it did, and coming from a twenty-something man, that was something rare indeed.
A Serious Man
Admittedly not my favourite Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man is nevertheless a vitally important reason why they are so great. Though I’m not a Jew, this movie spoke to my inner emotions and frustrations. I think of myself as a very different man to Larry Gopnik, though his distraught plight and repressed dislike of his own selfish situation is brutally honest and without mercy.
Dancer in the Dark
From its unique opening of various collaborations of beautiful art pieces as a fantastic score plays in the opening, to the depressing ending which I’m not ashamed to say is the ONLY film ending that has ever made me cry, Lars von Trier’s dogme-influenced musical masterpiece is a unique event that manages to capture something more than a camera could convey.
You probably know that this is my favourite film of all time. It’s an achingly hard decision to make, but all things considered, I’ve NEVER felt the way I felt while watching this movie. Every single tiny aspect of the way it was made was life-changing for me, and helped to confirm the suspicion that I was destined to watch and love movies.
A lot of movies have changed the way I look at films, but Persona changed the way I looked at “cinema.” There is a difference. Bergman reminds us we’re watching a film, and the film itself features some stunning acting and breathtaking cinematography, all thanks to Bergman, Sven Nykvist, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, as well as everyone else involved. No one had the brains of Bergman, and it’s due to his creative vision that films are made like they are today.
Eyes Wide Shut
An often ignored and hated Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut is actually a feast for the senses, and contains important messages about society, living, marriage, jealousy, hatred and discovery. Whether its Nicole Kidman’s brilliant (no, fantastic) adulterous monologue or Gyorgy Ligeti’s creepy piano theme whose notes play with a striking tune like a slap in the face, this slow-paced masterpiece which seems to go nowhere is actually a film to be re-examined and thought about.
Lynch’s most famous and probably his best film, this strangely scary and atmospherically surreal 150-minute masterwork is a strange, puzzling riddle with disturbing thematic echoes of the heartless mouth of Hollywood, rejection, sexuality and emotion. It’s a real ride.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Often mistakenly filed away as ‘long’ and ‘boring,’ Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi is in reality a beautiful analysis of human evolution, the creation and existence of life, and possibilities for the daunting spectre of the future, as well as alien existence and extraterrestrial intelligence. Embrace your inner Star Child.
Paths of Glory
If I had to pick a war movie that ‘defined me,’ I would scan through all the possibilites, but they all lead to Paths of Glory. It is a moving, determined and no holds barred awesomely truthful analysis of war and the tumultuous toll it has on its survivors, as well as the people who watch and run it all. Very powerful.
There you go. Ten Movies that Define Me. Some interesting picks there, I’m sure you’re thinking. Please, leave a comment with your thoughts and tell me what your ‘defining’ movies are.
Thanks for reading.
Constantly, I see people giving Stanley Kubrick’s final film a hard time. Some words that have been used to describe it: boring, slow-paced, uneventful, and off-putting. I describe it as a dark, risque nighttime thriller that changes the way we look at society and ourselves. Tom Cruise, just prior to his career-best role in Magnolia, stars alongside then-wife Nicole Kidman, whose performance contains moments that outshine that of her great acting in the Oscar-winning The Hours.
Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut, is undeniably one of his top five, beaten only by 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove and Paths of Glory. It tells of a wealthy doctor (Cruise) who, upon learning of his wife’s (Kidman) sensual contemplations of adultery, embarks on a dangerous night journey to seek revenge. He intends to have an affair and laugh in her face, but he bites of far more than he can chew. His plans for some sexual mischief do not work out, as a date with a prostitute is rudely interrupted and he is caught out when he sneaks into a mansion wherein a disturbing sexual ritual is taking place. That is the first half of the movie. The second half is a series of slightly shocking events which begin to awaken Cruise’s character to the dangers of his curiosity and brutally inform him the consequences which it has earned him.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first: yes, it is slow-paced, yes it is uneventful, but these are in no way bad things. The film is not about what happens, or plot, but rather about the dreamlike imagery and razor-sharp truths. Cruise’s Dr. Bill Harford is a naive man, a jealous man, and his wife is undeniably smarter than him. His idiocy and naivety is really the film’s subject, as well as the scathing indictment it presents of social secrecy and proverbial feline murder following querulous investigation.
And as usual, Kubrick’s presentation is fantastic. The lighting in some scenes is reminiscent of that of Barry Lyndon, and the aforementioned dreamlike imagery is spot on and creepily unnerving. His cinematography… it is a wonder he’s never won a Best Director Oscar! The camera sweeps through each scene with unfathomable grace and the presence of Kubrick is always there, a shadow echoing each frame.
Also worth noting, and something that many people never bother to mention when writing reviews, is the music. The film opens to the sound of a beautiful waltz as the characters are introduced, and the music is classical and extremely well chosen, as is all of Kubrick’s delightful tunes. In the film’s second half, their is the notable presence of a benevolent track of music, Gyorgy Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata II, a striking piano piece which still manages to send a chill down my spine each time it is played.
The screenplay, too, is well-written, based on a French novel called Traumnovelle, by an author whose name slips my mind. Kubrick is used to adapting films from books; in fact almost all of his films are adaptations of some sort, and it is an acquired skill which he shows off and employs to his advantage, right up to the striking final ‘fuck’ delivered by Kidman.
All these and more are reasons to embrace this classic drama from Stanley Kubrick. Many people disliked it when it first came out, but I employ you to give it another chance. Perhaps you will change your mind, perhaps you will be surprised, who knows? This is just one of many films that it seems society has sadly overlooked.
My Rating: 9/10
Thanks for reading.