Fifty Favorite Film Scenes (Day 4)

After a long delay from my previous set of scenes, I’m back to add five more to the pile. There will be spoilers…without further ado:

What’s This?: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Leave it to Tim Burton to take the spookiness of Halloween and mate it with the zany cheer of Christmas. Although there are many terrific moments in the Henry Selick directed Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington’s introduction to Christmas Town is a moment that stands out. Watching the macabrely thin Jack Skellington discover the magic of Christmas amidst Danny Elfman’s wonderous music is pretty fucking sweet. With stop motion animation that is impeccably fluid and unbelievably designed, it’s easy for someone like me to match the scene’s buoyant energy with a giddy smile.

A Calm Drive in the Woods: Children of Men

The entire run-time for Children of Men is an emotional sucker punch. Filled with terrific performances and stunning production value, Children of Men is an inspiring look at humanity rising above political and social strife. The inspiring aspects of the film don’t come to fruition until the end, but leading up to it, director Alfonso Cuaron stuns us with scenes that are ravishingly unpredictable. In the scene below, Cuaron kills off a perceived main character and ratchets up the intensity with a violent mob in one majestic shot. It’s absolutely brutal in its execution. Cuaron lulls us into a false sense of security, only to take a sledgehammer to our gut.

Head Hunting: The Departed

Near the end of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, my hands were shaking and sweating. The level of intensity that Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan reached was only surpassed by an ending that viciously comes out of nowhere.  Sure, it may be a bit over the top, but my god is it shocking in its brutality and duration. What gives the scene a little more bite is that fact that good almost trounces evil. For a few seconds, we believe a game of cat and mouse has finally come to an end in favor of our tragic hero. Unfortunately, things end with a spray of blood and bullet casings hitting the ground. He was so close.

Boy Lovin: Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is a film that doesn’t operate around its plot. Instead, its charm and hilarity stems from the actor’s performances and their ways of twisting common knowledge and phrases. Of course many will remember the gross out gags that made the Farrelly brothers comedic gods in the nineties, but it’s the stunted dialogue that spews from Carrey and Daniel’s mouth that is memorable. My obvious choice from the film would be the throwaway scene where Carrey talks to two random guys about big gulps, but I’ll settle for Carrey’s admission to loving school boys. Never has a botched sentence about pedophilia been so rewarding.

Nature’s Dance: Adaptation

In Adaptation we’re lead to believe that a writer from The New Yorker, Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), falls desperately in love with her affable subject, John Laroche (an enigmatic Chris Cooper). Love is often about opposites attracting, but Laroche is a country bumpkin that can be found sweating it out in search of rare flowers, while Orlean is a high-class woman with pretensions. Despite their differences and initial condescending tones, Orlean and Laroche share a profound moment where the romantic plight of a bee exploits their empty lives. Through the bee’s instinctive mating ritual, we come to understand the unguided path of love and devotion that drives Orlean and Laroche into each other’s arms.


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