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. We were a little busy in early July so we decided to combine that list with our picks from August. Here are our favourite scenes from the months of July and August.
Warning: Of course, spoilers are in full effect here!
The Dark Knight Rises – Opening Scene
The opening sequence of The Dark Knight Rises and arguably the best and biggest set piece of the film, rises to the level of any scene from the previous instalment of the series. This gravity-defying skyjacking is a tour de force and without a doubt the best sequence of any film so far this year. Shot with Imax cameras, this aerial extraction, void of any CGI, is a remarkable feat in filmmaking.Enough said.
The Expendables 2 – Jason Statham and his kniv
Simon West has taken over the director’s chair from Sylvester Stallone and somehow managed to amp up the violence. The action scenes are better staged and more competently presented and the action is fast and brutal. But beyond the bombs, bullets and bad guys exploding, Jason Statham’s first of two key action sequences in which he uses his killer knives, remains the best hand to hand combat sequence of the year.
The Queen of Versailles – I Helped Elect George W. Bush…
Functioning on an almost Shakespearean level, The Queen of Versailles blends a huge dose of comedy within its tragedy about the fall of one of America’s richest families. It is difficult to pick out a single scene or moment from the film, however there is little doubt that one particular sequence has sparked a lot of controversy and inspired our imaginations to run wild. In a sit down interview, David Siegel boasts of having helped get George W. Bush elected. We see him campaigning for the presidential hopeful and photographs with him are taken. More than once over the course of the film, he mentions this fact, until the documentarians ask him exactly what he means, to which he answers cryptically that he’d like to say how, but it wasn’t quite legal. It seems as Siegel’s empire begins to crumble around him, this act seems to haunt him, and he speaks with regret about the actions of the administration in regards to the War in Iraq, perhaps feeling culpable himself.
Paranorman – A Walk through Town
One of the most charming films of the year, Paranorman is bursting with creativity. Seemingly expanding upon the Sixth Sense premise of “I See Dead People”, the film reveals early on that the spirits that Norman is seeing are very much real. This is really hit home as Norman walks down the street, encountering one ghost after another. Not only ranging in ages and eras, we also have ghosts from different species populating this little town. Rather than being frightening, there is an almost feels like home atmosphere to these proceedings, suggesting that the fact that we are never really alone is not a point of terror but rather one of comfort.
Beasts of Southern Wild – Alligator Bomb
In their attempt to break the levees and save “the bathtub” from the salt water that is killing all life, the group of misfit adults attempt to blow it up using a stuffed alligator packed with explosives. The evolution of the scene is comic and outrageous, and yet does not feel out of place in the film’s emotive stream of consciousness. Revelling in small details and iconic imagery, it is one of the best scenes of the film.
Excision – The ending
Writer-director Richard Bates. Jr. draws on years of movie-watching for his audacious feature debut Excision. The most obvious influences for Excision is possibly Brian DePalma’s Carrie, Todd Solondz’s Welcome To The Dollhouse and Michael Lehmann’s Heathers. But the standout sequence, an ending reminiscent of Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers – that is not only the most distrubring but most unforgetable. Traci Lords gives a bravura performance as Pauline’s fanatic mother while Robin McCord finds ways to make Pauline unlikeable and likeable in equal measure. Their final on-screen moment together is a combination of pathos and shocks – a grand guignol nightmare orchestrated with the creepy elegance and jaw-dropping precision of Dario Argento finest moments. Only unlike Argento’s work, the dark climax is carried by the performances, and not the visual terror on display.
Dragon (Wu Xia) – Two on one fight scene
Director Peter Ho-sun Chan has succeeded in fusing together a classic detective story amidst some of the best martial arts action sequences since Donnie Yen’s previous Ip Man films. Under his assured direction, this stylish homage to One-Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh’s classic from 1967), is wildly imaginative, thoroughly compelling and entirely entertaining. Perhaps the stand-out scene in Dragon features veteran actress Wai Ying-hung in a small but crucial role as a brutal warrior battling Donnie Yen with the help from her friend.
Lawless: The sinner in church
For a movie full of gunfire and general mayhem, John Hillcoat’s Lawless tends to shine brightest when it throws in a little levity. That’s best illustrated in a hilarious, and almost Coens-esque, sequence in which Jack Bondurant (Shia Laboeuf) goes to a church meeting in order to try and get the attention of the preacher’s daughter (Mia Wasikowska). Unfortunately, he also happens to be very drunk on moonshine. And he doesn’t take well to chanting. Or the ritualistic washing of feet. It’s a difficult sequence to describe, but the sound mix and Laboeuf’s nervy drunkenness help to make it equal parts hilarious and almost skin-crawlingly awkward.