30: Moonrise Kingdom – Beach Scene
Director Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom has had mixed reviews here at Sound On Sight. But just about every one of us agrees that the goofy dance sequence to Francoise Hardy’s “Le Temps De L’amour” – which leads to an uncomfortable first kiss/first arousal, is by far the highlight of the pic. Moonrise Kingdom is tender, sweet, smart, low-key and yes sometimes awkward. And hey, the scene works just as well in French. See the clip below.
29: Looper – Torture
One of the major plot points in Looper is the matter of the “Loopers” having to assassinate themselves 30 years into the future – but in the present day – or past? The highlight of the film shows what happens to a “looper” if they break their contract and let their future selves escape. The torture sequence in Rian Johnson’s sci-fi/fantasy is one of the most frightening images from any movie this year. Paul Dano’s Seth is taken captive and tortured beyond belief – his limbs cut off one at a time along with his nose. As hard as his older self tries to escape, it quickly becomes clear there is no hope as he is directly effected by the torture as well.
28: Dredd – Car Chase
The first 30 or so minutes of Dredd is an electrifyingly kinetic and insanely frenetic action flick stacked with a need for speed car chase. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, a key player in contemporary digital aesthetics, adds a slightly artistic edge to the proceedings and the throbbing score helps elevate the action.
27: The Master: The Beach
The opening beach sequence of The Master introduces us to the demented mind of Freddie Quell. He and his colleagues act like boys in a schoolyard, horsing around in the strangest of ways while dealing with post-war stress. The scene is reminiscent of Beau Travail and Billy Budd – with exquisite cinematography, shot in 65mm). Johnny Greenwood’s masterfully eerie score wastes no time driving home the film’s overarching themes and it becomes clear right away, that you are about to watch an incredible cinematic experience.
26: Kill List: The climax
Ben Wheatly’s genre mash-up aptly blends gothic horror, black comedy, domestic drama and the buddy-hit-man movie element into a seamless whole. The film is presented in three distinct but smart connected tissues: Act I is a strange, stressful dinner party between two couples who have far too may skeletons in the closet. Act II is an offbeat thriller that involves the mysterious “kill list,” and follows two hit-man as they go about executing the people named on the list – and the third act is a an effective horror flick that delves into dark twisted themes. Each act has at least one memorable moment but it’s the climax (one perhaps indebted to The Wicker Man), that is heart-stopping. The finale leaves this uniquely cerebral, rich horror movie, to be dissected and appraised long after its theatrical run is over.
25: Cabin In The Woods – All Hell Breaks Loose
The Cabin in the Woods is a film that works best if left unspoiled simply because it is crammed with small unanticipated and unexpected incidents along with a number of surprising comical twists: There is the phone call in which the “voice of doom” is put on speaker – the motorbike daredevil jump – the chaos the ensues in the bureau while placing bets on who will live or die – and the final 20 minutes when all Hell breaks loose. The brilliant orgy of gruesome gore might not be as grotesque as the ending on Brian Yuzna’s Society but it can still match it in terms of awesomeness. It is bloody and fearsome and gives the audience what they’ve all been waiting for – a fucken psychotic Merman.
24: The Avengers – Extended Long Take
There is no shortage of super-powered action-set pieces in the last act of The Avengers. The final battle through and over midtown Manhattan lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel movies to come with an extended long continuous shot showcasing our heroes doing what they do best: Kick Ass. Whedon’s unexpected knack for action choreography turns this into a spectacle in the grandest sense, a slickly packaged, effects-driven extravaganza that is alone, worth the price of admission.
23: 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.
22: 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.
21: Haywire: Carano vs. Fassbender
At it’s roots, Haywire is the kind of low-budget, straight-to-video action thriller that airs on late-night basic cable. Make no mistake about it, Steven Soderbergh purposely keeps the picture true to its low-rent B-movie principles – and while on paper, nothing about Haywire sounds notable, there are several scenes which elevate the film to well above-average: For my money, the best moment in Haywire is when Gina Carano, the amazonian brunette (in her cocktail dress), takes part in an extended hand-to-hand fight scene with Michael Fassbender (here playing a coldly lethal assassin). As the two tangle, they completely destroy a luxury suite in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel – ending with Fassbender’s head squeezed between her thighs so hard, she takes him out.
20: Magic Mike – Channing Tatum takes the floor
Every and any scene involving Channing Tatum busting a move on the stage is worth noting. Tatum is impressive and mesmerizing on the dance floor – for reasons other than his physique, and whatever his character and performance lack in terms of depth, he compensates for in sheer charisma, likability and dance skills.