Yet another post inspired by channel hopping to films on TV. Back in October I told you about my Top 5 fight scenes, but today I want to get you thinking more generally about those moments that are just great pieces of cinema. The ones where the direction, the acting, the score, the cinematography, everything just comes together for a scene that makes you think “wow.” When I was thinking about what I’d put down, I realised that for a lot of these scenes, it’s the combination of the action and the music that really makes it a perfect scene for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a great score can really make a movie.
Although I’ve called it Top 5, these aren’t necessarily in ascending order. It’s more 5 great moments.
1.Where does my allegiance lie if not here?
This is the scene that got me thinking. Now, we all know that I can rave about LOTR until the Orcs come home, but before you start rolling your eyes hear me out. This scene really is pure magic.
Howard Shore’s score is so perfectly matched it’s scary, building the drama and then breaking away for Billy Boyd’s (self-penned) haunting melody. What I think really makes this scene though is the foley work. As the score takes over, we lose some of the sound. The commands of the men and Orcs are silent screams, but the creaking of the bows remains, really hammering home the suicidal misson that faces the brave riders. It’s just epic. Add to that the juxtaposition of Denethor almost frantically eating while he tries to ignore what’s happening, with blood running down his chin, and you end up with an awesome movie moment that is just melodramatic enough without over doing it.
2. At the Moulin Rouge you’ll have fun!
I have written about this scene before but I just couldn’t exclude it when talking about my favourite cinematic moments.
Energy and colour are what Baz Luhrmann does best, so when it comes to Moulin Rouge that first scene when you’re taken on a rollercoaster ride through the dance hall is just mindblowing! In one 3 minute scene we get a mash up of no less than 6 songs culminating in a supercharged Can-Can. The best thing about the scene is that we’re seeing it from the same position as Christian, so we too are bewildered and enthralled by all the flashing colours (and flashing flesh!)
3. Welcome to Port Royal Mr Smith
Best. Entrance. Ever.
Before he even says one word we know eveything we need to know about Captian Jack Sparrow from his incredible entrance to Port Royal. Who else would stand so proudly on the top mast of a ship which was more than three quarters sunk? The best part is it doesn’t even seem to faze him.
As soon as he set foot on that board walk I knew I was going to love this film
4. He is The One.
Another great moment for movie music. This scene is slightly marred by all the crazy superman stuff we see Neo do in the two Matrix sequels, but when he first stands up and stops those bullets I always want to jump up and cheer! I love how effortless it all becomes for him, he just turns and says “No.” He even fights with one hand behind his back! It’s a great turn around having just watched him have the crap kicked out of him. The music is perfect here too, that great strings slide that runs through the film really captures the idea of being in a dream while still sounding artificial, but the addition of a choir brings back the human element, mirroring what’s going on on screen.
5. Oh Captain my Captain
I know it is incredibly cheesy. And I know that it is orchestrated to be a heart wrenching moment. But cynicism aside it’s still a great scene. Ethan Hawke makes it for me. It’s not so much the getting up on the desks that has the magic but the obvious guilt and pain of Hawke as everything he has been taught not to believe in is once more forced down his throat. And Robin Williams is a better actor than he lets on…(may have to come back to a post on that later)
Those are mine, what are your stand out moments of cinema?
**Disclaimer: thank you to all the YouTubers whose clips I’m borrowing.**Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )
If you haven’t been paying attention, like me, you may have missed all the fun that’s been going on in the movie blogging world over the last week or so.
It all started with Andy over at Fandango Groovers, who thought it might be an idea to play Desert Island Discs with DVDs. For those of you not from the UK, the game works like this: if you were stranded on an island for an indeterminate length of time, what 8 films would you take with you to keep you sane while you waited for the rescue boat?
You might have noticed that making decisions is not my strong point. Trying to list my favourite films is an impossible task as far as I’m concerned, so I’m taking a slightly different tack here. Yes, all the films I pick will be firm favourites, but, fickle as I am, I reckon if I was stuck on an island I’d need variety to keep me going.
Right, here goes.
My first choice isn’t going to shock anybody. I am, of course, going to pick a Lord of the Rings film. However, cruel fate means I can only pick one, and that’s a harder decision to make. I get asked a lot which is my favourite of the trilogy and I honestly don’t have an answer. I have a particularly soft spot for Fellowship because when I first saw it I had no idea what Middle Earth was or how I would react to the film. In this case though, I’m going to pick Return of the King, for two reasons. First of all, value for money! It’s the longest (and if I take the extended addition, it’s over 4 hours) so it would keep me more than occupied while I sat on my beach; and secondly, it’s got everything in there. Almighty battle scenes, heartbreak and laughter. And of course, I’m never going to get tired of watching it over and over.
Onto number 2. I’m going to need a guns-blazing action flick while I’m stranded and when it comes to action there’s only ever one real choice. Die Hard. Bruce Willis, British actors playing German terrorists, Enough C4 explosive to blow a hole in the world, what more could you ask for?
Round 3. This one has proved a popular choice, which I’m picking for much the same reasons as Ross McD. This is a movie I can (and have) start watching again straight away as soon as it’s done. It’s full of energy, colour, great music, humour and heart. It’s a story about Truth, Freedom, Beauty and above all things Love. It’s Moulin Rouge.
Halfway through now, time for pick number 4. At some point during my time in isolation I’m going to get a craving for some Disney magic. It was a tough battle between this next film and Toy Story, but in the end I had to go for The Lion King. The score alone is enough to make me want to take it with me and it’s probably the last truly great Disney film before Pixar came along.
It’s getting a bit harder now. I’m trying not to over think my choices and just go on instinct.
So pick number 5. Well, I couldn’t have a list that didn’t have some Johnny Depp in now could I? I’ve got to take Pirates of the Caribbean with me (the original and the best) if only to remind me that being stranded on a desert island might not be the end of the world. Unless the Rum is gone.
Time for a sweeping score, wide angle landscape shots and some patriotic passion. If only I was Scottish. Braveheart is my 6th choice mainly because I never seem to get around to watching it. I love the film, but it does make me hate the English and try and claim a larger proportion of Celtic heritage than I’m due, but if I’m stuck on an island I might as well have something that reminds me of home (sort of)
Number 7 I think is going to have to be Billy Elliot. It’s my go to film when I’m feeling down. Full of great British actors and even better British music, it’s a beautiful story that reminds you that even when things look hopeless they can still turn out OK. Think that might come in handy.
Right. The last one. This is really tricky…
I think what this list is missing is a comic book movie, and if I’ve got to pick my favourite, I think it will have to be X2. Close run thing with Wolverine, but I think the former just has the edge.
And that’s it. I think with those 8 to keep me company I’d be quite happy on my island for a while.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 21 so far )
Following up on my Ramble about the genius of Tim Burton, I wanted to write another post about a director with an equally distinctive style, namely Baz Luhrmann. Over the last month I’ve watched 3 out of 4 of his major hit movies, all of them linked by his trademark fast pace cinematography and hyper energetic story telling.
Luhrmann is best known for the Red Curtain Trilogy AKA Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge. All three begin with a red curtain rising, and the rules state that the end of the movie must be given away in the first scenes. On top of this they’re all linked by some unusual form of expression, for Strictly its the dancing, Romeo and Juliet has Shakespeare’s words and Moulin Rouge, of course, has the music.
All three are great movies, but Strictly is slightly overshadowed by the other two, understandable since it was his directorial debut. It’s another one on the list of films I need to see again, but its a genuinely funny film following a slightly obvious but still fun plotline about a national dance competition. Made in 1992, it does show its age a bit when compared to the other films, but while it may not be the best film ever made, if you’re a fan of Baz you’ll definitely like it. (Calling a film made in 1992 old makes me feel ancient…) Like many of his other films, Luhrmann shows his Aussie patriotism and both sets and casts the film in his home country.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how good the other two parts of the trilogy are. Romeo and Juliet is an absolute masterpiece. Every scene of that film has been planned as meticulously as Shakespeare’s play, from the costumes at the ball (Romeo is a knight, while Tybalt is the Devil and Juliet is an Angel) to the overall design, which puts the Montagues in bright Hawaiin shirts while the Capulets (bar Juliet) dress almost exclusively in black and red. It’s one of my all time favourite films, partly because as I’ve said before, I love Romeo and Juliet as a play, but more because I love what Luhrmann has done with it. Keeping Shakespeare’s original text and placing it in a modern setting is brilliant, and the conversion of the scripted swordplay into stylistic gun play is a master stroke. There’s a reason most kids have to study this film for GCSE; each scene is dripping with symbolism, as Luhrmann plays close attention to Shakespeare’s metaphors and combines them with his own to make the film visually stunning. My only minor quarrel is the directorial license at the end, which sees Juliet waking up before Romeo dies, mainly because it’s crueler to the audience than Shakespeare would allow, but we’ll let him off.
On to Moulin Rouge (I’m ignoring the superfluous exclamaton point in the title) another of my top ten movies. My first reaction to this film was, “Oh my God Ewan McGregor can sing!” My second was, rewind and watch again (I’ve since upgraded to DVD). The rescoring of modern music is so perfect you’d think it had been written for the film, especially the epic Show Must Go On. Music is something Luhrmann truly understands, with the score of Romeo and Juliet a perfect backdrop to the action. In Moulin Rouge, it takes centre stage, with some knock-out performances from actors we never knew could sing. The best part of the film, in my opinion, is the first whirlwind ride through the Moulin Rouge. This scene exemplifies everything that makes Baz Luhrmann great, the camera twists and spins to capture the energy of the dance hall and every second is filled with vivid colours and flashes of the underworld (including a mermaid in a fish tank). The music of this scene is also faultless, combining the FatBoy Slim remix Because We Can with Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lady Marmalade, Children of The Revolution and some original music for Jim Broadbent. It’s dizzying and a complete assault on the senses, just as that first experience must have been for the naive Christian.
I could rave about the Red Curtain Trilogy for days, but what about Luhrmann’s latest offering, which steps outside his well known framework? Austrailia may not quite hold up in comparison, but I think it perhaps needs a fairer chance than it’s been given. It’s difficult to follow the two amazing films that have gone before, and perhaps the step away from his established format is what upset some critics, but Austrailia is a beautiful epic, with a realtively simple but still engaging stroyline. The feel of the film is different to the Red Curtain, although there are enough Luhrmann quirks to let you know who directed the film, and the stunning scenery of the Austrailian outback could easily stand up against the words/music/dance that have gone before as the main device for this story. Luhrmann recasts two of his Moulin Rouge stars (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) rounding off the predominantly Aussie cast with Hugh Jackman. Jackman seems to be the Marmite of Hollywood at the moment, but I think he’s good in the role, not that its much of a stretch for him (as he quipped at the Oscars). Luhrmann, like many directors, definitely has favourite actors who turn up repeatedly in his films, with John Leguizamo also making repeat appearances as Tybalt in R+J and Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge. Austrailia is long, and it does seems to be two films joined together, but it kept my interest and filled a rainy Sunday afternoon pretty well. It might not match the standard of its predecessors, but this is Luhrmann’s first step away from very insular and tightly controlled settings into a historical epic in the real world. It’s not nearly as easy to manipulate, yet he still manages to put his instantly recognisable stamp on it. Again, music is a big part of it, with The Wizard of Oz making a repeat appearance.
Of course the one thing I haven’t mentioned is what exactly I’m on about in the title. If you’re the same generation as me, I doubt it passed you by. If it did, take a look. Sometime after Romeo and Juliet, Luhrmann stumbled on the famous speech and remixed it with Everybody’s Free (written for the movie). You may not agree with everything I’ve said, but I hope if you haven’t yet you’ll give Luhrmann a go. But trust me on the sunscreen.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )