Wednesday, April 25, 2012

25 Moments in Cinema

This is a little ditty I saw over at Cinematic Paradox a while ago. That post was titled "25 Moments of Cinematic Awesomeness" and it sounded like something that would be very fun to do. I've changed the title a bit to show that all things listed below are 25 random moments in cinema - a line of dialogue, an entire scene, or just one shot - that I like for whatever reason. It could be cool cinematography, something that makes me laugh or makes me cry - whatever it is about this particular moment, it's awesome to me.

These include both horror and non-horror films, AND THEY ARE NOT IN ANY PARTICULAR ORDER! No countdown. Here we go!

1. Stranger Than Fiction - Harold brings Ana "flours."

She's a baker so he brings her "flours" instead of "flowers," geddit? This moment is so sweet (and also so clever) it almost makes me cry.

2. American History X - Dinner scene.

Actually, both dinner scenes in American History X are very poignant and important to the film but this one (with the mother's Jewish boyfriend, played by Elliot Gould) where they're talking about the Rodney King trial is almost hypnotizing. Fantastic performances all around, and a really, really stellar film.

3. Dirty Dancing - The final dance.

Don't judge. I grew up with this movie. The music, the perfect choreography, and the whole feeling of this final dance between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze is that feel-good thing that every chick flick strives for. It's still awesome to this day, and always puts a smile on my face.

4. Child's Play - Burned up Chucky goes after Andy in the hallway.

I swear to goodness, you guys, this is the scariest 2 seconds of film EVER. Burned up Chucky taking that one step toward Andy in the hallway with a knife... it freaks me the fuck out. I think it's mostly about the camera angle and how real Chucky looks in this shot that always scares me. 

5. Ghostbusters - "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

Best line from the movie. 'Nuff said.

6. Seven Days - Father finds daughter's dead body.

This whole movie is a serious emotion-drainer, but the scene near the beginning where Bruno finds his daughter Jasmine's dead body in a ditch is incredibly heartbreaking and horrifying. The closeup shot of Jasmine's frozen, blue face was so horrible that I had to look away.

7. Little Miss Sunshine - Olive comforts Dwayne.

When self-induced mute Dwayne finds out that he is colorblind and probably won't be able to get into the Air Force, he flips out and runs from the family. The one able to bring him back is little Olive (most likely the only member of his family that Dwayne likes), who only has to lay her head on his shoulder and silently let him know that it's going to be okay. Perfect little scene.

8. Rope - Brandon hides the evidence.

This bit from my favorite Hitchcock movie is wonderful for its timing. As Brandon goes into the kitchen to put away the rope used to kill his classmate, the door of the kitchen swings open to reveal this perfect shot of Brandon dropping the rope into a drawer, with a ghoulish smile on his face. Love it!

9. The Fly - Brundlefly shows Ronnie how he eats.

As probably the grossest movie I have ever seen, it's weird that the part that really makes me want to throw up is one that you never even get to see. Seth explains it, then the scene cuts away. The sound effects and your imagination do the rest.
"How does Brundlefly eat? Well, he found out the hard and painful way that he eats very much the way a fly eats. His teeth are now useless, because although he can chew up solid food, he can't digest them. Solid food hurts. So like a fly, Brundlefly breaks down solids with a corrosive enzyme, playfully called 'vomit drop.' He regurgitates on his food, it liquifies, and then he sucks it back up. Ready for a demonstration, kids? Here goes..."

10. Cape Fear - Robert Mitchum is the scariest person in the world.

Robert Mitchum's Max Cady from Cape Fear is the best villain in cinema history to me. This shot of him right before he attacks the drifter girl is enough to show just how evil and dangerous he is. The look on his face, the way he slowly balls his hand into a fist... it gives me the shudders. I wouldn't want to ever see someone look at me like that. So, so scary.

11. Pay It Forward - I cannot stop crying.

Pretty much from the moment Helen Hunt falls to the floor in the hospital after her son dies to the last shot of the movie, I cry uncontrollably. I'm not ashamed to admit it. You could show me that scene right now, and I guarantee that the waterworks would start on cue. Never fails.

12. The Descent - Cave in. 

So not that I would have ever gone spelunking in the first place, but after watching The Descent, and especially the cave in sequence, I'm thinking that the probability of me going anywhere near a cave in the future is rather slim. When the girls are crawling - no, scooting - through a tunnel no bigger around than their own bodies, all I could think was "Nuh-uh!" No way could I ever something like that without severely freaking out. This scene is the best example of the movie's exploration of extreme claustrophobia. 

13. Arachnophobia - Spider jumps on girl's face in the shower.


14. The Devil's Rejects - "And this bird you cannot change..."

I don't care what you think of the movie or what you think of me for liking The Devil's Rejects, but I do. Love it. Especially love the use of one of the greatest songs ever in the final scene - "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think the shots flow really well with the song, and the song itself (sort of?) matches who our characters are. I really think this scene is kind of beautiful and I always watch it all the way through when I watch the movie.

15. Chicago - The Cell Block Tango.

Speaking of music, sometimes you need a good musical movie to put you in an awesome mood. And the "Cell Block Tango" musical number from Chicago is probably my favorite of all of them. It's hot, sexy and mean and all the dancers here are fantastic. I love the choreography and the way the scene builds up to the epic dance number at the end. Awesome!

16. Hard Candy - These two shots are pretty.

Well, not these two exact shots because I couldn't find the ones I wanted and the second one looks shitty, but whatever. I like this little bit because of how the shot goes from a red background to match Hayley's sweatshirt and then cuts to a different angle where the yellow background matches the orange juice she is holding. Shows that the filmmakers at least put some thought into how the movie looked.

17. Casino - "In Vegas, everybody's gotta watch everybody else."

Casino is a movie that never gets old to me and for some reason, I've always loved this little bit that DeNiro says about how everybody in the casino has got an eye on somebody else.

18. Leon: The Professional - Mathilda and Leon say goodbye.

The relationship between Leon and Mathilda in The Professional is one of my favorite love relationships in film. No, it's not an icky love relationship because that's just wrong, it's two people who have a genuine bond - a love and acceptance of one another and the determination to make the other person's life better. Leon beautifully captures what Mathilda has done for him when he says (as he is helping her escape the firefight) "You've given me a taste for life. I want to be happy, sleep in a bed, have roots." It doesn't sound like much, but to him it is everything.

19. The Omen - Decapitation of David Warner.

The original, accept-no-substitutes best decapitation ever. It's unexpected, it's graphic, and it's got the heading spinning around in slow motion. It's perfect.

20. Life is Beautiful - Guido stares at Dora in the theater.

Roberto Benigni was hot shit for a while there around Oscar time when his movie Life is Beautiful won the award and stole everybody's hearts. I love the movie and even though Roberto's performance seems like he's trying way too hard to be all lovable and stuff, I gotta admit that this scene where Guido is staring at Dora in the theater, his head completely turned to the side, is so sweet and makes me smile.

21. Martyrs - Revelation of Anna's flayed body.

Lots of things about Martyrs are very unsettling, but this scene that shows what those nutso people did to Anna shocked me to the core. I couldn't believe it. Left me totally speechless. Like I am right now as I'm thinking about it...

22. Pulp Fiction - The Wolf takes care of business.

One thing that always annoyed me about this scene was why Jules and Vincent needed help with the situation when it was pretty obvious to me how to handle it - clean up and get rid of the body. But Harvey Keitel's role in Pulp Fiction was to get in there and get things done. And this whole sequence has lots of funny little bits in it so I love it.

23. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The singing Sirens.

Representing the mythical Sirens from The Odyssey, who stray sailors from their path with song, these three chicks in O Brother, Where Art Thou? give us a great scene from a great movie. The locale on the water is beautiful - as is the rest of the movie, of course - and I loved how different each of these girls looked and the harmony of the singing. 

24. Revolutionary Road - Michael Shannon comes to visit.

All the performances in this fantastic movie are stand-outs, but Michael Shannon absolutely steals the show. He is a most underused actor and his two scenes in Revolutionary Road not only let his talent shine through, but also really hit home the message of the film.

25. Robin Hood: Men in Tights - Abe Lincoln.

Here's a funny one to (FINALLY) finish things off. This is the best exchange in the movie:
"Hey, Blinkin."
"Did you say 'Abe Lincoln'?"
"No, I didn't say 'Abe Lincoln,' I said 'HEY BLINKIN!'"

Obviously, there are tons of other random things in movies that I love, and these are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Whatcha think?


  1. only one reaction to your last post:

    "HEY ABBOT!"
    "Hate that guy..."

  2. I've got thoughts on a LOT of this, but in order to avoid killing an hour of my time, I'll be brief and restrict my comments to the following:

    (1) Anyone who likes horror movies but doesn't love "The Devil's Rejects" can blow me. And then go find seventeen other dudes and blow them, too. And you're right: that final scene is awesome.

    (2) Michael Shannon is awesome, and would make an excellent Roland in a Dark Tower movie.

    (3) I could probably make a list of 25 moments from "Pulp Fiction" alone. And then another one from "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Both are as close to perfect as movies get, as far as I'm concerned.

    Finally, I'll just list one of my own great movie moments:

    I found myself thinking earlier about the scene in "American Graffiti" -- spoilers ahoy if you've not seen it -- when Richard Dreyfuss goes to the radio station to try and get Wolfman Jack to play something for him. Wolfman Jack isn't there; it's just the dude's assistant, who tells him he can try to get in touch with the man himself and get the dedication on the air ... but no promises. So Dreyfuss leaves, dejectedly, but as he's leaving he hears Wolfman Jack going into a bit on the broadcast, and turns and looks, and it's the guy he'd just been talking to.

    The reason the scene works so well has a lot to do with the subtext the movie's been building up through Dreyfuss's character. He's trying to decide whether to leave and go to college, or stay in town for another year. You get the sense that he learns more about the world in those two seconds of seeing the real Wolfman Jack in action than he has learned in his entire life up to that point.

    Pure magic. One of the best scenes in a movie that is another one on the list of as-close-to-perfect-as-it-gets films.

  3. What a great idea. I loved your list, but do me a favor. When you're going to make a post like this one. Can you at least warn me that you mentioned Child's Play and you posted a picture of Chucky?! ;) I about shit my pants!

  4. Fantastic post - and I love every one of your choices. I also really like Bryant's moment from American Grafitti. I also love horror films and I quite enjoyed The Devil's Rejects. So there you go.

  5. Sorry for the late replies, dudes! I'm horrible!

    @Kaijinu: That line is also pretty good, but the Abe Lincoln one kills me every time.

    @Bryant: The thing with The Devil's Rejects, and Rob Zombie movies in general, is that it seems to me that most horror fans either love him or hate everything he touches. I love him so I sometimes get automatically defensive whenever I talk about him!
    Agreed on your number 3! I haven't actually watched O Brother Where Art Thou in so long but after perusing my shelf to pick out movies for this, I was like, oh my gosh I need to watch this again! It is almost perfect.
    I haven't seen American Graffiti but I totally get the meaning behind the scene you mentioned. I think that's a movie I need to look up, as well.

    @Spooky: Thanks! Nice to see you around again!

    @Jenny: LOL, I did it to you again, didn't I? I'll be sure to warn you in the future!
    But doesn't that picture make you have to shit your pants even more??? It's so freaking scary!

    @Craig: Thanks, dude, this was kind of an easy and a hard post at the same time! So many awesome things to choose from!

    1. Well, just to be different - I like House of 1000 Corpses, I really liked The Devil's Rejects - and I HATED WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING Halloween and Halloween II.

  6. Great list Michele, particularly like the Ghostbusters quote, also one of my favourites. I started doing a favourite cinematic scenes segment earlier in the year, but haven't for a while, I should really get back to it.

    One more thing: "Do not seek the Treasure!" Too long since I've seen that film.

  7. Cool list, you just reminded me of how much I need to see the original Cape Fear. I've only seen Scorcese's remake (which I love!)

    That moment in The Descent is amazing, I got claustrophobic, the scene just makes anybody who watches it immediately uncomfortable. I showed it to some friends of mine and they all went haywire with that scene.

    That last scene in The Devils Rejects elevates the whole film for me, agree, the song, and the images all gel very well. It's one of my favorite moments on any of Zombies films, by the way, really excited for his new witch movie, looks like it will be cool.

  8. These are some great pics. I will be sure to tell others of this blog.