Saturday, January 12, 2008

Moments of '07

In conjunction with my favorite films of the year list, I offer up some moments out of 2007 films that made an indelible impression on me. Older online buddies will recognize this as a recurring event. This list is a collection of film dialogue, gestures, camera movements, moods or looks and ideas within a given scene. This list is inspired by Roger Ebert's list of movie moments as well as the once great (now dead) yearly wrap up in Film Comment.

1. After a lengthy explanation of where she believes babies comes from, the reaction of a mother (Leslie Mann) to her daughter's story with an affirmative, "that's exactly right." Knocked Up
2. Sitting under a tree together, the quiet desperation in the voice of Constance (Marina Hands) as she asks her gamekeeper lover if he will come for her once he gets settled, and then a cut to black in Pascale Feran's Lady Chatterley.
3. Looking through a surveillance camera, its viewer gets distracted by a familiar face as a young girl is knifed by a group of kids in the lower right hand corner.... Red Road
3. The slow-motion run directly towards the camera as a man is surrounded by a village of old enemies.. and then they recognize him in The Hunting Party.
4. The first appearance of the creature and a long tracking shot as it rampages along the concrete banks of the Han river. The Host
5. Where to begin in one of the most sublime film in years.... a man rides ahead of Jesse James (Brad Pitt) in the dark as James slowly falls out of view and the shot lingers in deafening quiet for what feels like minutes.. then a gunshot pierces the silence. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
6. Probably the most uncomfortable scene of the year- a young man is forced to sing in front of a roomful of drunk/high men because they think he's someone else- Superbad
7. A whisper in the ear of a female agent (Jennifer Garner) that comes full circle in surprising and emotional ways in Peter Berg's The Kingdom.
8. Those long legs of Christina Ricci- Black Snake Moan
9. The long tracking shot as Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) runs, holding his injured boy covered in oil, and the completely enveloping soundtrack of Jonny Greenwood. There Will Be Blood.
10. The sounds and texture of a crummy New York apartment where people are working in silence, carefully mixing drugs... and the sweat that glistens on the forehead of Joaquin Phoenix in James Gray's We Own the Night.
11. A man (Mathieu Amalric) catches a reflection of himself in a glass window next to a multi-colored lamp of the Virgin Mary as Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle's "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye" plays. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
12. The almost unbearable tension that builds up between Gadget (Andrew Ellis) and Combo (Stephen Graham) as racial hatred boils to the surface as they smoke pot together in Shane Meadows masterpiece, This Is England.
13. A figure standing against a cold winter sky, echoing the final images in 30 Days of Night
14. The quick flashes of youth as two soldiers are torn apart by bullets Lions For Lambs
15. The shot of the year- a five minute tracking shot that observes the absurdity of war when there's no one left to kill- a soldier wanders around a beach as men fight, drink, sing, shoot horses and hang their heads- Atonement
16. The reaction of Benecio Del Toro when his best friend (David Duchovney) leaves behind a sack of groceries. Things We Lost In the Fire
17. The sound of spitballs- Paris Je Atme
18. The scene that made me gasp with anticipation- a young girl with a bomb strapped to her back finally settles on a crowded Times Square corner with the detonator in her hand... and the film grows silent for several minutes observing the small quirks of everyone else's hands around her.. then the sound is brought back in full audio. Day Night Day Night
19. The way Chris (Emile Hirsch) politely turns down the advances of Tracey (Kristen Stewart) as she lies on her bed. Into the Wild
20. Coupled with its chromatic black and white cinematography, the dream-like quality that a 6 minute long stationary shot weaves as it slowly pans back and forth, observing the actions of a group of protesters behind a wall of smoke and flames in Phillip Garrel's Regular Lovers
21. The different shades of sky that take on an otherworldly feel- The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
22. The only real moment that I remember from David Lynch's preposterous 3 hour experiment Inland Empire- a woman's face morphing into something nightmarish as it comes into focus head long into the camera.
23. The tracking shot from the passenger side of a slow moving vehicle as it keeps the houses, fireworks and depth in perfect focus- Zodiac
24. The frenetic chase through a grass field in 28 Weeks Later.
25. Flames catching fire inside an enclosed garden, and the tortured screams of Michelle Yeoh watching her paradise blacken- Sunshine
27. "Look at those assholes!" and then the signature whip pan of Wes Anderson in The Darjeeling Limited
28. The wrinkles on Tommy Lee Jones' face on prominent display, full of.... something...... "and then I woke up" No Country For Old Men
29. As a music technician sits with his feet up on the desk, reading a magazine, the interested glance he gives towards a group of rag-tag musicians in the recording booth in front of him as they start to play... the power of music to transform- Once
30. The handheld camera shots of Keira Knightley as she fixes herself up in a large mirror, a white feather perched just on the edge of the frame. Atonement
31. In I'm Not There, A visual metaphor worthy of Godard when Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett) unleashes electricity on the crowd at the Newport Jazz Festival, expressed as her band shooting machine guns into the crowd.
32. The anguished long take as a group of Irish men are lined up against a barn wall, questioned by intruders... and one of them doesn't speak English as a cacophony of friendly voices tries to explain what's happening.... then he's lead into the barn- The Wind That Shakes the Barley
33. The slow dissolve from one scene to the next that feels almost revolutionary in its classicism as Mark Whalburg walks to his car... violence waiting to erupt in We Own the Night
34. The long medium shot as a woman stands, head down, in front of a masked man, as he repetitively quizzes her on a name, address, birthday, social security number from a fake drivers license he's holding.... one of the most stark examples of brainwashing ever presented on film in Julia Loktev's Day Night Day Night.
35. In No Country For Old Men, the inflection in the voice of a young boy as he looks over the damaged body of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) with, "look at that fuckin' bone..."
36. George Clooney's face filling the left side of the screen in silence as the end credits roll.... Michael Clayton.
37. The body of Marisa Tomei in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead- reason enough to pay to see the movie.
38. "By the power of Grayskull". Hott Fuzz
39. Those eyes of Imogen Poots in 28 Weeks Later.
40. In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the shot of a woman's brown hair blowing violently in the wind as the crisp blue sky looms around the edges.
41. There could probably be a hundred moments of Philip Seymour Hoffman on this list, but his entire performance in Charlie Wilson's War and they way he murmurs out humorous line after line in that monotone voice and the way he directs Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) to open the bottle of wine elsewhere.
42. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) directing a British reporter (Paddy Considine) through a train station full of technology. The Bourne Ultimatum
43. A female police officer (Charlize Theron) recognizing that under the yellow light where a car may have been parked, the witness could've easily mistaken a green car for blue... just one of the many smart observations in a very smart film- In the Valley of Elah
44. The vampires in 30 Days of Night... a nightmarish bastard child of Nosferatu and everything unholy.
45. A baby reaching up to grab the moustache of the man holding him, and the way Daniel Day Lewis slumps to accept the infant's touch- one of the very few moments of tenderness in There Will Be Blood.

4 comments:

Eric James said...

Regarding "The Assassination of Jesse James...", the family of Jesse James have posted their own 5 page review of this movie on their family web site, together with stories about the James family’s former experiences with Hollywood and Jesse James movies.

http://www.ericjames.org/Reviews/AssassinationofJesseJames/index.html

Joseph B. said...

Eric,

I appreciate the link. Very illuminating site! I commend what you and the rest of your family have done to track the various theatrical incarnations of Jesse James.

Thanks, Again.

Adam Ross said...

Great list Joseph, just like last year. Even though I didn't enjoy "Inland Empire" much at all, there are a couple scenes that would make my list as well, especially the "do we have any paper towels?" line made by a man splattered with about a gallon of ketchup.

Joseph B. said...

Adam,

I don't regret seeing "Inland Empire", but it was a tough 3 hour watch. Individual moments felt stronger than the whole thing put together.