Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Top Ten Movie Moments

I originally posted this way-back-when on the Empire Online forums, but I've had about three separate conversations recently in which I mentioned my list, so thought I'd track it down and post it here. Spoiler warning! These films are all at least two years old now, but if you haven't seen 'em look away now.

I hereby present, edited for my current tastes, my Top Ten Greatest Movie Moments:

10. Die Hard
Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.

Best Christmas film ever.
If I need to explain any further, you and I can't really be friends, 'kay?

9. Kill Bill Vol. 1 
For obvious I-love-a-great-fight-scene reasons. This is one kick-ass fight scene: The Bride taking on the Crazy 88, and then the moment when Go-Go steps up and starts swinging... 

8. The Avengers
Essentially I could put in every scene from this film, because I love it so much it was perfect eeeeeeeeeeecantwaitforavengerstwoeeeeeeeeescarletwitch. Ahem, anyway, narrowing it down to one favourite scene: "Thank you for your cooperation."

I just adore the way this scene plays with expectations: Black Widow goes to interrogate the recently-captured Loki, who seems to be totally destroying her with his knowledge of her bloody and violent past. And then whammy; the reveal that Natasha just cold does not give a shit and has been playing along to get Loki to unintentionally reveal his Super Villain plot. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Honorable Mention goes to the final end-boss scene with the Chitauri. All of it; although I draw the discerning audience's attention to the following:

"You got the lightening. Light the bastards up."
Thor using the Chrysler Building as a lightening conductor. YES PLEASE.

7. Fight Club  
I have to confess to some self-division over which scene to select as the best from this movie. Now, admittedly, hearing the opening bars to The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" while the skyscrapers explode on-screen is pretty fucking cool, and one of the best endings ever, but I think what really takes the cake for me is when we first learn the real identity of Tyler Durden.
"Please return seats to the locked and upright position." I did not see it coming at all -  it was stunning, suddenly after to review and re-evaluate every scene in the film, having your perspective on characters knocked out of orbit - I LOVED it. 

"You met me at a very strange time in my life."

6. The Usual Suspects Well, it has to be added, doesn't it? Specifically, the unveiling of Keyser Soze. As with Fight Club, I did not suspect a thing - I love the slow-motion of the detective dropping his cup of coffee, each flash revealing all the details Verbal used to craft his lie, and the way his walk changes as he leaves the station... Hats off, round of applause, masterpiece theatre. 

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

5. The Dark Knight
There are so many scenes from this film that I could choose - it blows me away every time I watch it - but strong as the opening scene is, what really, really gets me is the scene they closed a Chicago block to film: Joker hitting the police line, the surprise reveal of Jim Gordon, and then this:

"And here. We. Go."
I could watch that scene on repeat for the rest of time. Beautiful.

4. The Shawshank Redemption Do I even need to explain? After years of physical and psychological abuse, which (we think) Andy takes without complaint... After gang-rapes, the shooting of his young protégé, Warden Norton's refusal to act on evidence that Andy really is innocent, all the other horrors he endures - he crawls through the length of three football fields, rips off his soiled shirt and holds his arms up to freedom. The music swells, you feel the triumph of Andy's will and determination over adversity and it brings a tear to my eye every. Single. Time. I always feel like applauding this scene - simply magnificent. 

"You remember the name of the town, don't you?"

3. Jaws 
Nope, not the first attack and the first time we hear that theme music; not even the final "Smile, you son of a bitch!" What really makes this movie for me, what elevates it beyond a horror or a by-the-numbers early example of the summer blockbuster - what really raises the bar on this movie is Captain Quint. 

"Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women."
To be precise, when the three guys are on board the Orca bonding and joking around over drinks in the evening, and we get around to this: 
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named "The Battle of Waterloo" and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us... he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened... waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."

Give that man an Oscar. Just reading it and I get goosebumps and my eyes tear up. Why I insist on making people watch Jaws if they haven't already.

2. Jurassic Park 

I was eleven years old when I saw this at the cinema - and it was probably one of the single greatest moments of my lifeEVER. God I love this film, almost more than I can put into words (I was a dinosaur geek when younger, had read and loved the book, and then I saw actual dinosaurs and nearly lost my tiny young mind). And this is the moment that makes it for me - the cars stop, the power goes off, and you just know something's going to go wrong.
Then it starts.
The slow, menacing thump, the water ripples in the cup on the dashboard, Genarro's desperate "Maybe it's the power trying to come back on", Lex asking where the goat's gone... And it all kicks off. 

"It can't see you if you don't move!"
The goat leg drops onto the roof of the car and, with Tim, we get that long pan from ground-level up to our first look at the T-Rex. And it's fucking spectacular. Its claws brushing down the sign warning about high voltage, the scream of metal under stress as the Rex begins to rip its way through the fence, and that roar. That roar. Every single damn time I watch this movie I have the surround-sound on full volume, and I don't know about you guys but for me even 20* years' of viewing hasn't made it any less cool and downright impressive. 
The whole attack is so brilliantly well done - the effects are superb (and still held up when I watched it on re-release in the cinema last year), the Rex still looks real and very, very present, you really get involved. It's total edge-of-your-seat thrills; it still gets me. Every time Jurassic Park is on TV, despite the fact I own it (wore out my VHS copy, had to buy it again on DVD) I still have to change channel to watch the Rex attack. This is what cinema is all about. 

1. Aliens
 The thud of the loader's steps. The noise of the arms moving. The hissing breath of the xenomorph queen. And then:

"Get away from her you bitch!" 

"You know how to work one of those?"

Gives me chills with every viewing. The moment those bay doors open, the clomp-clomp of the loader as Ripley steps forward, and then one of my favourite movie fight scenes in the showdown with the alien queen. A real punch-the-air experience. Aliens is an excellent film in all respects and this scene is just the icing on the cake. Plus, Ripley; badass female action hero. To paraphrase a musical favourite of mine, there goes my hero.