Sunday, 24 August 2014

Where do I start.

Whenever I go to an interview I make sure to tell them that I've watched a lot of films. And to my amusement it has always worked. They ask questions and often than not like what follows. That's about movies - they're out-of-body experiences from which everybody has learned - one way or another.

“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”
-Roger Ebert
For some time after I decided to blog about movies I didn't know where to begin. So much had been written already and specially about the ones on my list. Moreover, everybody seemed to know all about them. So I tried to find something in between. Realising that my movie watching is sort of dispersed and that I tend to pick discreet scenes and engage with them more than with the rest of the movie, writing about scenes and genres made sense. And so here's this first post, briefly mentioning significant movie parts that aren't lit up well. All of these sequences have had me rape the replay button and forget about getting through the movie. Let's see if I can think of them with genres.

The best directors work on detail and bury so much in every scene that I miss a lot in the first viewing. The trade off is that if a detail is salient it seems deliberate and doesn't produce the same effect which I call grace - when details work themselves out and uplift the scene - like in these Coppola and Malick clips.

1. The Godfather III dance scene
Didn't find it on YouTube so had to record and upload myself. I think this is one of the best directed scenes ever. Shows so much - the godfather's vulnerability and his longing for family, his children who just don't get it, the whole complicated social set up, Kay's character. It's magical how details work the scene and I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks it's an epic scene. In fact, Coppola has used dance sequences to anchor the central theme throughout the movie, with one in reminiscence at the end as well. Can't think of what went with the academy awards that year.

Michael and Marie's dance

2. Days of Heaven - This farmer
Terrence Malick's movies are more visual poems than screenplays and every frame stands out. This simple scene from Days of Heaven floors me with everything - the farm's geographical details, comprehensive country set up, natural sounds trumped with adolescent Linda's innocent voiceover. Again - couldn't find on YouTube so here's a recording.

'This farmer' from Days of Heaven

Most movies deploy the shock technique to create horror in the big hall. Every other scene builds with small, dark frames with slow movement and a suspense soundtrack. Then suddenly there's a sharp change in the visual with a crashing sound, which, by the way, the audience already expects every 3 minutes. Here are a few departures from the fashion:

1. Eraserhead - Oh you are sick
Although you must watch the movie to get the full thing, here is a one line context for now - Eraserhead is a metaphorical midnight movie by David Lynch featuring a man who has a weird baby in a dark setting.
spencer's baby

2. The Omen - nanny's tragic suicide
This 1976 classic's got story plus horror. Here's Damien's first strike - when his first nanny kills herself. I also liked the menacing character of Mrs. Baylock.

Damien. look at me, it's all for you

3. Shutter
From the contemporary ghost horror movies I'd rate Shutter or The Conjuring better than all others. Couple of scenes from Shutter..

Scenes from Shutter

The theme you'd associate with Into the wild, The naked prey, Alive, Walkabout etc. They're all fascinating movies but a brilliant movie by Michael Apted trumps them all. Read on and watch.

Nell: Jodie Foster plays Nell who's been raised as a hermit away from civilisation. She has no sense of social norms and has a mangled wild language.

Speaking Nell

Sci Fi
The bests like Space Odyssey, Interstellar, Avatar have already been covered extensively on the web so I'll just mention Ariadne's training in Inception:

Adriane leans to build dreams

Cry Scenes
Meant to induce sobs in theatres. Ladies love 'em. On a serious note, a lot of movies have emotion packed sequences and they work if you're indulged before you know it. Now I'm pretty tough audience but I find myself in deep waters with children scenes. Here are my best ones:

1. Kramer Vs Kramer - a hug like that with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep
You'd probably remember this - yet I couldn't find a video on YouTube. Billy runs to his mom when he sees her after a while.

Billy's run

2. Frodo and Samwise Gamjee: the drowning scene
Sam's always been wet for Frodo. The I cannot carry it for you but I can carry you scene is good too, and Sam is one of my favourite movie character.

Sam's promise

3. Once upon a time in America, when Bugsy shoots Dominic
Now this one has everything - it's by Sergio Leone and Morricone, has De Niro and James Woods, the friendship theme and the scene which follows has the children angle too. Game Over.

Noodles, I slipped scene

Slice of life
These are scenes mastered with deep character dilemma, showing us how the world looks from eyes of people we'd never be

1. Brooks was institutionalised - Shawshank Redemption
He'd come to terms with Shawshank in the time of his stay. Prison had become a rather sweet life and home over the years. People knew him, not as a crook, and liked him. He had Jake and could sleep every night, assured of tomorrow. Taking away prison was taking away life from him.

Brooks was here

Haha, the celebrated scenes in movie halls - vanity doesn't forbid people to share laughs unlike sobs which they prefer to keep down. Steve Carell and Will Farrel are my top choices. Unless Fire Marshall Bill comes to rescue.

1. 40 year old virgin: Steve carell is hilarious. Here's the scene when he talks to the store girl beth

Go Plant that seed with your finger

2. Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy
I'll suggest you rather watch the movie than these excerpts but nonetheless, here are the best parts.

Stay Classy with Ron

Although it's fantasy for entertainment but the rush when Goldfinger says "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." makes me lean in and keep watching and often rewind and watch again. If you're someone who's also replayed the Achilles - Hector fight, scenes from The Matrix, The Dark Knight, 300 and Inception, I'm appending some of my favourites here:

1. Sin City
Actually when it comes to action there's Sin City and then the rest. I'm so infatuated by the movie and Marv in particular that I'ma post three Marv clips (full volume, awesome lines):

First - when the unrelenting Marv swats the SWAT teams and gets out thinking about Goldy's killer
I'll be right out

Second, the cold end to the cool Kevin - his kind of a kill
Marv Vs Kevin

And third, when Marv levels the black bulldozer in part 2
Trespassing hallowed ground

2. Avatar: Toruk Makto
James Cameron's Avatar is a classic in animated science fiction movies. My favourite action scene is when Sully becomes Toruk Makto. Couldn't find the scene on YouTube so here it is:

Toruk Makto

3. Troy: The epic Achilles - Hector fight
Troy was among the first Hollywood films that swayed me. Amazing storytelling with brilliant scenes. And of course Brad Pitt kills Hector in the legendary duel.

Won't let a stone take my glory

4. Karate Kid: the last fight
Jaden Smith totally rocks with fight seqences in KK. But the final krane kick was just bonkers
Cheng gets kraned

5. And here's a 300 fight scene
The film, again, has Frank Miller's plot but it has less elements and detail than Sin City, so mentioning in the end. Still, the one sided death obsessed last stand makes for a solid action packed experience.


By fantasy I mean the imaginary worlds of movies like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. I'm a huge fan of both series and here are a couple of my pet scenes.

1. Bilbo meets Gollum - Joe Letteri and Andy Serkis are gods. Gollum's the best animated character WETA labs or anyone's ever created. Here's an insightful piece on what goes in the making of such perfection. And now, the riddles scene from The Hobbit

Bagginses, what's a bagginses precious?

2. Gandalf fighting the bad guys
LOTR is a lot like Star Wars showing the good-bad grind. I get Yoda's feel in Gandalf, together with graceful action packed in his fight with Balrog and with Nazguls.

Follow the white ranger

3. Lady Galadriel and Mithrandir
Elves, Orcs, Ents, Goblins are all cool but elf women are class apart.

Gandalf and Lady of Lorien

4. Han shoots Greedo (Star Wars)
Aren't their languages superb.. I love Greedo

Going somewhere, Solo?

5. All about Jar Jar Binks in StarWars: Here's Jar Jar's first appearance in Phantom Menace.

exqueeese me, mesa stay

These are the home runs we'd never forget. The shine, the edge the finesse of the whole experience. Movies which don't have these spikes pass like ships at night.

1. Mullholland Drive - There's sometimes a buggy
This mysterious cowboy is truly dashing. He'll see Adam once if he does good and twice if does bad. Gets him thinking finally.

no, you're not thinking - you're being a smart alec

2. The Last Samurai - When I took this you were my enemy
Samurai Katsumoto's hospitality is heartwarming. And his Charisma continuously enthrals as the movie progresses. Here's how he sends Aldrin back, as a friend.

When I took these, you were my enemy

3. Rocknrolla - In the domain of Style - Guy Ritchie stands out.
The dialectic style works super with razor sharp lines and dashing sequences - remember London's fast moving property magician and his handshake? and his line - 'There's no school like old school, and I'm the fucking headmaster'

watch out for kenny's killer handshake

Thandie Newton is fast. And slick. Watch the dance.
same time same place same money

4. Gladiator - The time for honouring yourself will soon be at an end. Highness.
The movie won 5 oscars due to Zimmer's music, Ridley Scott's name, Russel Crowe's integrity as the character. This scene shows everything. Specially Zimmer's part.

here comes the oscar

5. Snatch - eh you like dags?
Guy Ritchie again. Snatch has extra halo due to Brad Pitt who's like king in accents.


6. Pulp Fiction
Mia Wallace takes in a couple of shots and gets in character. And Vincent Vega's like split between fear and desire. QT's humorous spin to situational dialogue give Pulp Fiction the edge like nothing else.

Right here

7. Gia - I have an appointment
A moving film sparked with Angelina's style. She plays the absolutely innocent, anchorless dame with the energy of a firecracker.

now tell the bitch i'm here

8. Megamind - hey random citizen
So Brad Pitt again (voice) and the others are cool too - Minion, Roxanne, Hal and of course MM.
It's just like if Joker killed Batman in The Dark Knight and changed sides out of boredom. Only more hilarious.

and I love you random citizen

9. Dark knight - joker
His words hit hard. RIP Heath Ledger. Couldn't be better.

Evening, commissioner

10. Despicable me - Gru in style - Freeze ray!
Another favourite animated film - Gru is like Megamind, criminal mastermind - with style. Evil is cool.

Steamrolling whatever I see

I know it's again a non recognised genre, but I can't get these films out of my head. Maybe children make it more real than big actors because they don't have that much reality on them to obstruct the character's world. Here's my favourite, so far - Sergio Leone's, Ennio Morricone's, Robert De Niro and James Wood's..

1. Once upon a time in America
It shows friendship - and how it grows. As Noodles recollects - The two things he couldn't take out of his mind - Deborah's song and Dominic's last words. Well, here's how the friendship began.

my uncle

2. Children of heaven -
Majid Majidi is the Writer and Director of this soulful film about a close knit,  caring, poor family dependent on each member. Ali Mandegar's care for his little sister..

I'll be third for sure

These are scenes sealed by method actors like Jack Nicholson and Christoph Waltz. Characters who'll live longer than the movies themselves.

1. Shining - Maybe you're concerned about Danny...
Kubrick's film couldn't be just about stimulating our primal fears. Jack Nicholson methodically scares the shit out of Wendy.

i'm not gonna hurt you, i'm just gonna bash your brains in

2. Inglorious basterds beginning
Christoph Waltz is soo steely, sharp and cold.
monsieur lapadite, may i smoke my pipe as well? 

3. Network - faye dunaway, as dead as TV
Diana is swayed by victory. She's on her way to the top, just like Max in Once upon a time in America. Her speed makes her a humanoid of the TV world.

the fastest dunaway

Metaphorical scenes
The best way to show the moon is to point the finger. These scenes pursue a much larger vision than they show. 

1. The tree of life
Terrence Malick shows life itself and the two biggest forces at work - Nature and Grace.

the way of grace never comes to a bad end

2. Requiem for a dream
Aronofsky is known for making Dark Films - showing the abyss's depth. The film speaks even further than drug effects. The gap between reality and their world keeps increasing for somnolent impassioned addicts.

juice by sarah

Hitchcock is the artist when it comes to thrillers. Here's my favuorite Hitchcock character - Norman Bates in Psycho 1960

1. Bates talks to Marion about his mother.

People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, oh, so very delicately!

2. Psycho - Face to face

I'm Norma Bates!

This post is still incomplete. I'll be back with more scenes and genres - Urban, Romance, Eloquence, Adventure, Crime, Erotic, Fiction, Satire, Philosophical, Realistic etc.