Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Fistful of Moments Blogathon: 31 Perfect Moments

About a week and a half ago, Andrew at A Fistful of Films posted this list of Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments. It was then suggested that he turn this into a blogathon. He listened and gave us the A Fistful of Moments Blogathon. In his own words, Andrew tells us what he's looking for.

We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

Cool. Sounds like he's giving us a lot of leeway. If you know me, then you know that I think leeway is good. I can work with that. Even with leeway, there are rules. Sigh. Here they are...

1) Pick a number between 1 and 100 (any more than 100 is just gaudy)
2) Choose that many cinematic moments that are either your all time favorites or ones that could, on any given day, be your all time favorites
3) Post them on your blog (or Tumblr or whatever) with the above header (or one you create for yourself)
4) Send me the link by either posting it here in the comments or getting ahold of me on Twitter ( @fististhoughts )

Oh, wait. These aren't so bad. The leeway is still there. Great. How many should I do. I probably could do 100, but I might not ever get it posted. Takes a while to put that sort of thing together, ya know. I settled on 31. Why 31? Because I was going to go with 25, but just couldn't stop until I got to 30. Then after I got to 30, I thought of one more I just couldn't leave off. So there. Here they are, in no particular order. They're only numbered so I can keep track of how many I've done. Well, except that first one. That really is #1...


(but I'll try to keep them to a minimum)

1. "I am your father!"
The Empire Strikes Back
By now, everyone knows that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's daddy. Put yourself in my shoes, though. It was 1980, I was nine years old, and I had been waiting for the sequel to Star Wars since first seeing the original when I was seven. That's an eternity for a kid. There was no internet so no one was giving away tidbits about the film and it's production every day like what's going on with the upcoming Star Wars flick. Darth Vader was simply the bad guy. Then that moment happens. My entire world was thrown off-kilter. And I'm not exaggerating.

2. Seeing the hypnotist
While watching Oldboy for the first time, I had a lot of ideas on how it was going to end. Then it actually did and I sat in stunned silence for quite a while. Just couldn't believe what our hero did. I couldn't stop thinking about it for days.

3. Spinning Around Trinity
The Matrix
It's a moment that's been imitated and parodied endlessly. When I saw it happen in a theater on the movie's opening night, movie-making changed.

4. "You've got me? Who's got you?"
Superman: The Movie
What's lacking in a lot of superhero flicks is the absolute awe with which normal humans would surely react with when they see some of the fantastic feats pulled off. This scene gives us more of what there rightfully should be. It's the very first time Superman appears in Metropolis and it's to save Lois who is falling to her death during a helicopter accident taking off from the roof of The Daily Planet. When he catches her, Supes assures her by saying "Don't worry, I've got you." Her answer is perfect.

5. The Joker's Big Gun
I'll go to my grave saying that Heath Ledger's Joker is greater than Jack Nicholson's by a wide margin. However, Nicholson gives us my favorite Joker moment. It perfectly sums up everything I think the character should be in just a few seconds, a sinister, evil man with the sensibilities of a clown. Color me amazed the first time I saw it.

6. "What's in the box?"
This is the ultra-intense finale of one of my all-time favorite movies. The best part about it is that we never actually see what's in the box, but many years later, some people swear they did.

7. Teamwork
The Untouchables
Capone launches into this great speech about teamwork using baseball as an analogy for his organization, then bashes the skull in of one of his underlings. Ouch.

8. "It kills your brain cells, son. It kills your brain cells!"
Lean on Me
That moment summed up the type of tough love Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Joe Clark personified. One of his students is standing on the roof of the school after having been kicked out and Principal Clark knows that the kid smokes crack. The quote above is delivered with that tapping of the kid's head. Then he says "Now when you're destroying your brain cells, your doing the same thing as killing yourself. You just doing it slower! Now, I say, if wanna kill yourself, don't fuck around with it. Go on and do it expeditiously! Now go on and jump! JUMP!"

9. "How am I funny?"
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

Henry Hill: Just... you know, how you tell the story, what?

Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!

Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!

Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

10. "(cough)...ahem"
Inside Man
This is one most of you might not remember even if you've seen the movie. It actually happens several times. Denzel Washington plays a cop who does the hostage negotiations on a bank robbery and then later continues to investigate it as more and more facts pile up. Occasionally, he coughs right in the middle of delivering his dialogue. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything. In no way is it part of the plot or of any subplot. No other character reacts to it in any way. He's not even said to have a cold. It's just a cough. It's such an incredibly human thing to do yet always absent from movies in which it has no bearing on the proceedings. Kudos to Spike Lee for leaving it in when he could've easily shot another take where the lines were delivered smoothly.

11. The Incinerator Scene
Toy Story 3
I love, love, love, love, LOVE the Toy Story movies. Near the end, our heroes are about to meet their doom. Now, I never cry watching movies. Never. Damn if I wasn't really close during this scene. The lump in my throat was about the size of The Incredible Hulk's fist. Miraculously, I kept the tears at bay, though.

12. "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
The Wizard of Oz
When Dorothy leaves her black-and-white bedroom and steps into the full color of Oz might be the most magical moment in cinematic history.

13. The Shower Scene
The entire scene is iconic without question. A shadowy figure yanking open the curtain and stabbing us to death is still the stuff of nightmares. What seals the deal and makes this piece of film-making one that is still haunting is the final shot above. All the style and flair that went into choreographing the scene spirals down the drain with the last bits of Marion Crane. We're left with this cold shot of a dead woman's eye meeting our own.

14. "You stepped on my brand-new white Air Jordans..."
Do the Right Thing
This scene is built around a pair of sneakers, but is about so much more than that. In just a couple minutes of screen time, the feelings of those adversely affected by gentrification are made clear. It's also a character building moment that adds impact to the explosive finale. Buggin' Out is the character and is a driving force in inciting the riot that closes the film. Here, we see he's not someone prone to violence as he resists pressure from others that have gathered around him to beat the dude up, especially since it's a white guy. Having him do so would make every point he tries to make throughout the movie moot.

15. The Pee Bar
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I grew up on video games. They grew up with me, also. I mean, I had "Pong." Then I had an Atari 2600. So right from the beginning of this movie I was laughing. Just about every reference was perfect. Then something magical happened. Our hero had to pee. When he did, a meter popped up and well...you've played video games. Brilliant.

16. Closing Argument
A Time to Kill
The movie is about the trial of a black man who killed the two white men who raped and beat his little girl. The judge, both lawyers, all twelve jurors, the bailiff, and everyone except the defendant and his family are white. His lawyer knows that chances of him being acquitted due to it being justifiable homicide are slim and none. However, he has to make a closing argument. He does so by recounting the rape of the little girl. He finishes up with "Now imagine she's white." Everyone in the theater I saw it in was completely stunned.

17. Mufasa Dies
The Lion King
I've already told you that I'm a big bad dude who doesn't cry over movies. Still, my closest brushes have come from animated kiddie flicks. Watching Simba try to wake his deceased father is gut-wrenching. Almost had me, dammit. Almost had me.

18. Phoebe Cates Fantasy
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
It's only the most iconic topless moment in all of cinematic history. Need I say more?

19. Denzel's Oscar Moment
It's a moment that perfectly encapsulates the entire film. And it doesn't work without Denzel playing it precisely as he does.

20. Another Great Shower Scene
The guys have found a spot to spy on the girls taking a shower. And...well...the second best shower scene in movie history plays out.

21. Not All She's Cracked Up To Be
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
Makeup, wigs, fake lashes, implants, etc. Women have been using lots of things to make themselves look better for centuries. This scene demonstrates that by taking it to its most absurd extreme. After snagging a guy at a bar and getting him home, a woman reveals too much of her true self all at once when she removes all of those things I mentioned and then some. The kicker, bad pun, is when her prosthetic leg comes flying off.

22. "What's your favorite scary movie?"
That line began the greatest slasher movie of all time. Yup, better than that one. It also signaled the no-holds barred approach it was taking from this point forward. How many movies kill off the biggest name in the cast in the very first scene? (Click here for my Top 13 Slasher Flicks)

23. The Magic of Bruce Lee
The Chinese Connection
My absolute favorite scene of Bruce's is his battle with the guards in Enter the Dragon. I've blogged about this a number of times so I didn't want to go there again, but I had to include him. That got me to thinking about that one instant that best sums him up. This is it. The gif is not tampered with in any way. It plays out just like this in the movie. Fitting because the man was indeed magical.

24. Gage vs. the Semi
Pet Sematary
I was just shy of my 18th birthday when I went to see Pet Sematary. However, this moment provided me with the first time I actually felt an entire theater full of people physically react to something without making a sound. Actually, it was two moments. The little boy wanders onto the road to retrieve something and here comes this gigantic truck blaring its horn because it's already too close to stop safely. I felt every living soul in the theater lean forward and hold their breath all at once. It was an amazing movie moment that I'll never forget. The first time, dad rescued the little tyke at the last possible instant. The second time, well, not so much.

25. Opening Montage
This beginning of this movie is some of the most beautiful film-making ever done. Yup, I was really close to tears on this one, too. What is it with me and cartoons?

26. "I am Iron Man."
Iron Man
Part of being the hero in the comic book universe, even on screen, is that you fight tooth and nail to keep your secret identity secret. Sure, they all struggle with this. It's something that helps add some depth to characters who might not be so interesting...ahem...Superman...ahem. When Tony Stark stood at a podium and announced to the world that he is indeed Iron Man, the rules changed. Marvel had officially taken us into uncharted territory and used this character and this moment to do it.

27. One Degree of Kevin Bacon
Friday the 13th
This scene is here for a couple reasons. First, even though it was the quietest one, it's the nastiest and most intimate kill in the entire franchise. And I'm a huge fan of the franchise. This is far more cringe-worthy than watching just about anything else that happens over the course of so many movies. Second, it happened to none other than Kevin Bacon. No one knew at the time he would become who he is, so I guess it became greater in retrospect, after he became THE Kevin Bacon.

28. Magic Panties
TNT Jackson
I happen to be a big fan of Blaxploitation. This scene completely exemplifies the genre at its best/worst. Our heroine is accosted by some bad guys in her bedroom. She beats them down while flicking the lights on and off to maintain the element of surprise and wearing only those brown panties you see in the picture. Fun, but not particularly memorable, right? Well, during the climactic moment of this scene she leaps off of a dresser like it's the top rope in a wrestling ring and it's obviously at least two and probably three shots stitched together. How can I tell? When she starts her jump we see her in the brown panties. As she's flying through the air, her undies are suddenly frilly and white. When she lands on the bad guy, they're brown, once again.

29. Heeerrrrre's Johnny!
The Shining
Simply put, this is the moment that made me realize there could be a bit of humor injected into a terrifying moment.

30. "Say hello to my li'l friend!"
This is something that has crept into my personal life. I've never been a drug dealer, nor committed any crimes greater than speeding. I've never snorted any cocaine, let alone had my face buried in a pile deep as the Atlantic. My sister has never shot at me, thank goodness. Yet, I've taken advantage of multiple opportunities to utter that famous phrase. Isn't movie-making about transcending the screen?

31. The Death of Fredo
The Godfather, Part II
It takes a certain amount of guts to end your movie on a decidedly down note. To do so by making the protagonist into a monster takes even more. The first time I saw this, I knew that Michael Corleone said he would kill his brother Fredo. I also knew that by the code he was living by, he probably should do it. There was no way in hell I thought he actually would. When that shot is fired, we know that Michael didn't only kill his brother, but a large piece of himself as well.

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  1. With the exception of TNT Jackson (I've never seen it), this list is awesome... I thought about putting that moment in Scarface in my initial list of 100 but I realized I couldn't do it. That scene in I'm Gonna Get You Sucka! is hilarious. I miss the Wayan Brothers of the old days.

    1. There were a couple of Scarface moments I thought about, but settled on the most iconic one. And yeah, the Wayans Brothers of old...my, how the mighty have fallen.

  2. Well, coincidentally I have also chosen your N.9 and N.12! You've chosen some great ones though, I always feel with lists like there are always going to be good ones I miss and immediately remember when I see someone else's.

    1. Then you have obviously made some outstanding choices, lol. I'll swing by and check it out.

  3. OMG, so many to mentions! Matrix, yes. Star Wars, yes. Goodfellas, yes. Scream...OMG YES!!! I love the range here, man. You went for it, and I thank you for that. I love the rich variety of moments my fellow bloggers have been coming up with. I'm flattered that you guys have gone to such lengths to make this so rich and enjoyable! Thank you!

    1. Oh no, thank you! It's such a great idea, I couldn't help but run with it. I have also been enjoying all the posts for this. Lots of fun entries.

  4. Wasn't it Phoebe Cates in that scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

    1. Why yes it was. Let that be a lesson to you, don't blog sleepy! Fixed.

  5. LOVE. I chose some of these, too... and there are others that are making me rethink my whole list. And trust me, it's big enough as it is!

    1. Thanks. I rethought my list about 50 times, so don't feel bad.

  6. Awesome list! OMG, LOVE that you have the Superman rescue scene!! "You've got me? Who's got you?" That's such a fantastic line. It's one of my pick of Top 20 scenes I could watch over and over again, so I'm not picking it again for this blogathon, but I absolutely love it!

    Toy Story 3 is such a tearjerker, I was a ball of mess watching the incinerator scene!

    1. That Superman rescue is just a wonderful scene and that's a great, great line. As for TS3, yeah, that was a rough ride.

  7. Excellent list! I almost included the Box scene from Se7en in mine as well. I love that you put Gage's death from Pet Sematary in here. That's such an insane moment.

    1. Thanks! Gage's death was definitely crazy. The build-up to it made it even more intense than it would have been on it's own.

  8. I am insanely happy about #12. I was VERY close to including it on my list, too..

  9. Hooray! Another Scott Pilgrim moment :) Great list Wendell!

  10. This list is brilliant! Love the eclectic choices! The choice for #2 is such an emotional climax to a great movie.

    1. Thanks! That was a major "shake your world up" moment for me.

  11. Great list! Never really noticed that in Inside Man, good call!

    1. Thanks. It's something I picked up immediately and found it odd that it wasn't brought up by anyone.

  12. This is such a great list; I'm honestly not sure how I'll create my own list and keep it original! On the animated spectrum, I loved your incorporation of Toy Story 3 and Up :)

    1. Thanks! I'd say just go for it, you're bound to come up with a few none of us have.

  13. Terrific choices from the ones I've seen. I like the observation about Washington in Inside Man, I noticed the cough at least once but never really thought too much about it. I'm sure next time I watch it will jump right out at me.

    Also could not agree more about the sense of wonder in the Christopher Reeve Superman that is missing from so many of the superhero product that is put out now. That scene and quote are great and while the picture may not be perfect there is a feeling of discover and joy to it that hardly ever seen in newer films. There's never been a better Lois Lane than Margot Kidder.

    1. Thanks. The cough is just one of those things. It may not have had it been one of Spike's earlier films, but here he didn't have the budget constraints he did on those so shooting another take would've been easier. Kudos to him for leaving it in.

      We're so far along, it might be impossible to recapture that sense of wonder. Yes, Kidder is the one true Lois Lane.