2012′s Great Movie Moments: February

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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.

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A Separation – Opening scene

A Separation opens with a simple but wonderful stationary shot that quickly sets everything up. The scene features a couple speaking to a divorce councilor about their troubled relationship. In practically breaking the fourth wall the sequence prepares us for the mess of selfish bad decisions wrapped around good indentations that follows; these choices eventually leading to the cause for everything spiraling out of control.

– Ricky D

Chronicle – Space Needle

Chronicle will never be mistaken for an artistic breakthrough, but it is unquestionably endowed with the best special effects this low-budget shaky-cam movie could afford. The effects here (handled by Simon Hansen, second unit director on District 9) are terrific – both seamless and as realistic as can be. Most notable is the climax revolving around Seattle’s Space Needle, a remarkably economical urban view of widespread panic obviously done on a small budget yet rivalling that of any superhero movie of 2011. Shot for a reported $15 million, director Trank wisely strips down the pic – the compositions are visually clutter free, the shots usually static or steady – and the result is pure movie magic.

– Ricky D

Chronicle – The Spider

The fierce sympathy director Josh Trank extends to the films unfashionable central character puts the film a million miles above the generic Marvel flick. While the aforementioned “Space Needle sequence” is impressive, the best moment comes when Andrew uses his powers to vent his neurotic aggression – there’s a brilliantly staged moment of foreboding involving a spider. What happens next is pure poetry.

– Ricky D

Undefeated – After the final game.

The general critical response to the 2012 Academy Awards’ Best Documentary Feature category was that it must be fraudulent, since the fine films The Interrupters, Project Nim, and Senna were not even considered for nomination. The eventual winner Undefeated was also waved off as being the beneficiary of the same Harvey Weinstein campaigning that helped Best Picture winner The Artist.

However, while some sections of the film might be considered Friday Night Lights-lite or The Blind Side-inspired, one moment sells its status as an Oscar contender.

After the team’s final game, star lineman O.C. Brown and coach Bill Courtney embrace on the field, and Courtney whispers terms of encouragement to Brown as the camera swings around them. Both lose their battles to fight off tears, well aware that their lives are headed in different directions and that they may never see each other again. Undefeated has a moment or two where it struggles as a documentary, its teenage subjects performing for the camera instead of being observed by it, but this is not one of them.

– Mark Young

King Of Devil’s Island- On thin ice

Thanks to sturdy acting, direction and cinematography, King of Devil’s Island is surprisingly effective. Director Marius Holst employs thick moody atmospherics to enhance the conventional structure, and his army of young nonprofessional actors do a fine job of hitting their marks. It is the cast that makes King of Devil’s Island a picture of chilling dramatic power as seen in the final minutes of the film. Through crisp visuals and an oppressively wintry atmosphere, Holst saves the very best for last:  A tense action sequence sees two of the boys carefully attempting to escape the island across some very thin ice. Classical in its intense simplicity, this is certainly the films best scene, a moment in which thanks to the two admirable leads, we the audience realize just how much we care.

– Ricky D

The Innkeepers – I love you, I take it back

The Innkeepers doesn’t hold a candle to Ti West’s previous film, The House of the Devil, but it probably has the best scene in any of his films. In a small, intimate scene, our two lonely, jaded main characters discuss saving their doomed hotel and unfortunately for one of them, this moment of intimacy is instantly transformed into a moment of un-acknowledged embarrassment as he confesses his love only to “take it back” moments later.

– Justine Smith

The Snowtown Murders – Opening scene

First-time director Justin Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant, using pointers from the books The Snowtown Murders and Killing for Pleasure, tell the story of John Bunting, Australia’s most notorious serial killer, whose modus operandi led to his 1990s killing spree – dubbed the “bodies in the barrels” case. Snowtown is unrelentingly grim and terrifying – a strong directorial debut, showing great promise for a first time filmmaker. In a film with so many dark and twisted moments, the scene that stands out best is the opening sequence. The production values are solid across the board. The minimalist, pulsating score of Jed Kurzel really gets under your skin. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (who also lensed Animal Kingdom) does a wonderful job to convey the bleakness of the events in contrast to the beautiful landscape. Arkapaw really does have a unique eye for finding beauty in ugliness. This simple scene which basically features two men driving down a highway aptly sets the mood for the events that follow.

– Ricky D

The Turin Horse – The opening shot

I am on record several times over as a total non-fan of Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse, which I found to be turgid, pointlessly depressing, and unforgivably long. I’m not afraid to admit, though, that the film’s opening is incredibly striking. Following a brief, voiceover-only anecdote about Nietzche and the abused horse of the film’s title – who may or may not be the horse we spend so much of the film observing. we open with the first of the film’s 30 long takes, in this case focusing squarely on the equine character in motion. With Mihály Víg’s droning score plugging away grimly in the background (as, it turns out, it will wind up doing at various degrees of intensity for most of the next 140-odd minutes), Tarr sets up a compellingly bleak universe that even this frighteningly kinetic beast will never transcend. Shame about the rest of the movie.

– Simon Howell

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Click here to see January’s releases.

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