At the end of each month, the Sound On Sight staff will band together to write an article about their favourite scenes in films released. Here are our favourite scenes from the month of February.
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia – Opening Scene
Nuri Bilge Ceylan is without a doubt one of the most exciting directors on the international scene. His sixth feature, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia won the Grand Prize at Cannes last year and it is easy to see why. This metaphysical road movie about life, death and the limits of knowledge opens with a brief prologue, a slow, steady out of focus zoom through a service station’s dirty window, eventually shifting into focus revealing a room where three guys eat, drink and converse. It seems like a simple setup but this is perhaps the best scene of 2012 thus far. As the camera pulls back we see the sights of lightning, hear the distant thunder and end with a train passing by. In these opening minutes the audience is fully aware they are about to experience something truly magnificent.
– Ricky D
Wanderlust – Rudd vs. the mirror
David Wain’s Wanderlust may not turn out to even be one of the 10 best comedies of 2012, but it sure goes a long way to re-establishing Paul Rudd’s comedic bona fides. In a stunningly funny scene, Rudd’s character, George, is about to break his marital vows (with his wife Jennifer Aniston’s blessing) with a beautiful, willing fellow commune resident (Malin Akerman) – but he’s awfully nervous. To work up the nerve, he gives himself a filthy, ultimately nonsensical pep talk that, in all seriousness, rivals the pivotal montage from 25th Hour as the best cinematic use of a self-addressed monologue in recent memory. The only downside: it’s not nearly long enough.
Footnote – Breaking the news
In an early comic highlight from the hard-to-pin-down Israeli export Footnote, Talmudic scholar Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi) is told by the committee behind the coveted Israel Prize bestowed the honor upon his long-ostracized father Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba) by accident – they had meant to give it to the much more mainstream-friendly Uriel instead. Uriel is now placed in an impossible position, since he knows that this is the plaudit his father has waited a lifetime for. It doesn’t help that the news is being broken to him in the tiniest office known to man, as he’;s surrounded by inscrutable figures, none of whom want to be there any more than he does. The result is a tense, stressful comic setpiece that’s worthy of a Coens flick.
The Raid: Redemption – The entire film
How does one choose their favourite scene from this high-speed, virtually nonstop adrenaline-packed martial arts masterpiece? Could it be the sequence in which a refrigerator is used to destroy an entire floor of an apartment complex; or perhaps the final showdown between two brothers and the the chief henchmen? Or maybe it could be the sequence in which a machete pierces back n forth through a thin wall – and let us not forget the repeated wall-head-bashing leading to a semi-decapitation. The truth is, The Raid: Redemption is a 101 minute highlight reel for actors Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian and Joe Taslim, and each and every scene could be viewed as one of the best of the year.
21 Jump Street – Fuck Science
Its Super Cop meets Superbad. 21 Jump Street may just end up the biggest surprise of 2012. This buddy-cop-action-comedy offers two memorable highlights. The first scene comes when Schmidt and Jenko are left with no choice but to swallow the HSM drug, leading to some triply-animated like sequences and culminating with Channing Tatum screaming “Fuck you, science!” He and Jonah Hill find a welcome freedom in their comedy routine, making fun of their expected personae while partnering nicely in some back-and-forth comedy. It’s all about chemistry folks, and these two have it.
21 Jump Street – Turkey Explosion
The second highlight from 21 Jump Street comes with the highway car chase. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller make clear their affections for action cinema, the tone adapted here is a proudly juvenile one, but it’s the little touches that make the biggest impression. When our officers wind up in a highway chase, they find themselves continually disappointed by the lack of big explosions; that is, until turkeys provide for some nice explosive material.
Silent House – Lights Out
The thriller Silent House had a rather poor advertising campaign which gave away the supernatural element of the story, when in reality the movie plays it straight for about two-thirds of its running time. The “people” who are tormenting Elizabeth Olsen are portrayed such that they could easily be real criminals instead of … whatever they are. So, right when the events of the film start trending away from reality and easy explanations, the house’s generators finally fail. Olsen finds herself in a pitch-black house with only a Polaroid camera and its flash to light her way. It’s an innovative, scary set-piece that uses the film’s setting and style to its advantage. Unfortunately the lights have to come back on, after which the film lurches into a train-wreck of a climax, but that one scene stuck with me for a while
Game Change – The Loss
Game Change is an uncomfortable watch. Julianne Moore’s Sarah Palin is almost too spot-on, soccer mom-lingo, plastered-on-smile and all. In the immediate wake of John McCain and Palin’s loss to Barack Obama there comes a much needed moment of catharsis. McCain’s strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) refuses to allow Palin to give the concession speech. For a man who’s been beaten down by this new woman on the block for the previous hour and a half, his restrained “no” is well deserved.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi – Fish Action
It’d be easy to say that the best scenes from Jiro Dreams of Sushi are those that feature the tantalizing sushi rolls up close. But if your cinematic pleasure is less food fascination than character study, there’s a beautifully shot sequence to whet that appetite. Jiro’s favored fish purveyor attends a fish auction. The buzzing crowd, the energy in the room, the quickly moving camera all contribute to a fascinating look at the lesser known world that plays an integral role in Jiro’s creations.
The Hunger Games – Let The Games Begin
After what has been described as a love fest in reviewing The Hunger Games back on episode 313 of the Sound On Sight podcast, I took it upon myself to go back and revisit the film and see if I would react as positively upon a second view. Admittedly the film did not hold up as strongly as I would have liked it to, and I would agree with the detractors that the build up is far more satisfying than the pay-off. Still, the first half of The Hunger Games offers some of the most memorable scenes of 2012 – starting with Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman, by far one of the more interesting characters in the film. Tucci is phenomenal in the role, playing the darkly funny talk show host, a cross between the Joker and a future Jay Leno. Tucci hams it up but still manages to find time to hold back, demonstrating the Caesar’s humanity before the cameras turn on. His exchange with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is perfectly played, providing more satire than the rest of the film all while communicating the falsity at work.
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Hunger Games – Watch out Rue!
Gary Ross might not have been the best choice when it came to directing the action in The Hunger Games but give the man credit for finding ways to maintain a strong surge of emotion from most of the cast, especially with the youngest tribute, a girl named Rue (played brilliantly by newcomer Amandla Stenberg). It could be easily argued that Rue, although a secondary character, is responsible for the film’s most iconic moment: Rue dies in the arms of Katniss who than proceeds to walk away and face the cameras, stopping for a minute to demonstrate to the viewers her district’s salute.
Polisse – Dance Sequence
Polisse is filled to the brim with memorable scenes that range from disturbing to hilarious to downright tragic. Perhaps the first that quickly comes to mind is a heartbreaking sequence where a young African boy is separated from his alien-immigrant mother who can’t provide him adequate shelter. When Fred (played by rapper Joey Starr) gets involved in the case rebelling against the bureaucracy, we feel that something has clicked deep down inside. The child breaks into hysterical tantrum, and all Fred can do is hold him close. But the best moment of the film comes when the group head out to a nightclub for some heavy drinking and wild dancing. The scene comes at just the right moment, a much needed break from the constant shouting, ranting, and bantering that fills much of the screen time. It is these moments that we realize the sheer beauty of Polisse, an emotional powerhouse of a film that feels truly authentic in every respect. We also get to witness rapper/actor Joey Starr’s dancing skills!
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