Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moments of 2013

In conjunction with my favorite films of the year list, I offer up some moments out of 2013 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 defunct) yearly wrap up in Film Comment. Possible spoilers so beware!

 1. The lip curls and eye twitches of Sarah Polley, sequestered in a sound studio, listening to her father read the story of her mother…. The intimate moments where non fiction becomes unbridled emotions across her face in “Stories We Tell”.
2. A truck with its headlights on positioned in the center of the frame as two bodies writhe in pain on either side of it in what feels like the longest and most intimate shootout in recent film in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
3. A long crane shot, down the mouth of a river as a horde of people walk in line searching for bodies that will never be found… “Prisoners”
4. The burning embers of a letter illuminating the screen, then slowly burning out. “12 Years A Slave”
5. In a techno club, the camera holds on a man (Brady Corbet) and French girl as they dance to LCD Soundsystem‘s “Dance Yrself Clean”… the young man only delaying the inevitable in Antonio Campos’ strikingly deliberate “Simon Killer”
6. “All Is Lost”. Letting go of a pink strap, and his schooner slowly sinking into the water in front of The Man (Robert Redford).
7. The final scene in “Laurence Anyways”, as Laurence and Fred (Suzanne Clement) meet over a catering table and the meaning of their "minimizes my pleasure" mantra that's been echoed through the whole film is given shattering weight.

8. The striking cut as we open on a man welding, and then he turns around to reveal Department of Corrections on the back of his suit. Christian Bale in “Out of the Furnace”
9. “Dallas Buyers Club” The meeting between son (Jared Leto) and father.
10.The overhead shot on a line of cars as a group of SWAT officers deploys slowly onto them. Yet another striking set piece in Johnnie To’s “Drug War”.
11. The look of Christopher Walken going from boredom to disbelief as he sees his partner in crime Val (Al Pacino) slow dancing with a pretty girl. “Stand Up Guys”
12. The slow tracking shot as a group of children approach an old German house, and the horrors that await inside… “Lore”
13. The final scene of Tom in “Stories We Tell”, hidden away during the credits that causes a gasp with “we did sleep together one time…..”
14.In “What Maise Knew”, watching a crosswalk sign turn from stop to walk, and the way Maise (Onata Aprile) reaches up for the hand of Alex Skarsgard.
15. The sad resignation on the face of Bruce Dern as he wanders into his parent’s old room in an abandoned house with “they used to beat me if I came in here. Can’t beat me no more….” Past and present coming together in monochrome melancholy in “Nebraska”.
16. Gilles (Clement Metayar ) describing the film he’s about to begin work on with “it’s a science fiction film… with prehistoric animals… and Nazis.”  “Something In the Air”
17. The tentative finger hold and hesitation over the ATM machine as it asks to charge $3 processing fee for her usage… and all this after running six blocks. Frances (Greta Gerwig) in “Frances Ha”
18. The eyes of a random woman, covered by a Muslim headdress, as Jep (Toni Servillo) wanders the streets of Rome at night. Is she sad, worried or in deep thought? Yet another fleeting moment of life in Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”.
19. The sheer excitement on Christian bale’s face as he looks back at the prison he juts left, rapping his hands on the hood of a car. “Out Of the Furnace”
20. Imitating her mother, the quick slap that Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) gives to Thomas (Kai Malina) refuting his hand between her legs .  “Lore”
21. Laurence’s (Melvin Polpaud) first walk down a school hallway dressed as a woman and the tracking shot across the faces of everyone as he walks by, alternating between the dumbfound to the inquisitive in Xavier Dolan‘s “Laurence Anyways”
22. The performance of Kevin Costner in "Man of Steel".... sheer father-like humanity as he raises his hand to stop his son from saving him.
23. In "Short Term 12", the way Brie Larson tilts her head, allowing her hair to gently fall to one side as she tries to reach the hurt and afraid kids in her care.
24. Where to choose in Wong Kar Wai's sumptuous "The Grandmaster", but probably the train platform fight where Gong Er (Zhang Yiyi) shows us exactly who the real Grandmaster is.
25. The perfect Park Chan Wook murder in "Stoker", where a large bed overtakes the scene, a head drops to one side of the screen while the blood splatter on the wall on the left side slowly drips down.
26. At night, a long slow zoom above a house in the Hollywood hills as two teenagers sulk around the glass tinted rooms with carefree abandon, Los Angeles glowing in the background. "The Bling Ring"
27. In "Dallas Buyers Club", the meeting between father and son (Jared Leto).
28. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) reading a letter to Celine (Julie Delphy) from himself in the future. 
29. In "The Great Beauty", a woman's face encompassing the whole screen as she backs away up the steps of a lighthouse from young Jep... lost in memories and regrets, its one of those fleeting moments that we don't do something and regret it for a lifetime. 
30. The way John Goodman blurts out "oh fuck!" when a cat appears on the lap of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) in the front seat. "Inside Llewyn Davis".
31. The way the sound slowly falls out in Miguel Gomes "Tabu" as one story in the present begins to unwind into the past... and we're introduced to the young Aurora (Ana Moreira).
32. The dinner scene in "Before Midnight" where couples, young and old, talk about literature, love and life. One of the most adult scenes in any film this year.
33. The long steadicam shot as a group of men are paraded through a small village, mothers and wives weeping at the edges of the frame, and then the sound of them being hanged in Serge Lotniza's harsh "In the Fog".
34. "Captain Philips" and the utter precision and sound design as a group of snipers finally get their shots.
35. The burst of laughter that emanates from Sandra Bullock as she faces being burned alive upon re-entry in "Gravity".
36. The opening shot of Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" as stunt bike rider Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling) crosses the carnival grounds.
37. In "Prisoners", a man drives a young girl to the hospital in a torrential rainstorm, the camera cutting back and forth from on top of the car to inside the car as the cop (Jake Gyllenhall) wipes blood from his eyes and tries to stay focused on the road. 
38. Michael Cera and his juice box... and a blowjob. "This Is the End"
39. A rock crashing through a window and a man falling out of frame. "Like Someone In Love"
40. A man making sounds inside a metal storm sewer drain. "Upstream Color"

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