Friday, February 05, 2010

Moments of 2009

In conjunction with my favorite films of the year list, I offer up some moments out of 2009 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. Possible spoilers so beware!

1. In “Nothing But the Truth”, the performance of Vera Farmiga and the cold threat she administers with a smile when she meets Kate Beckinsale outside her daughter’s school.
2. A dolphin breaking through the roped off net and swimming madly, finally sinking under a trail of blood. “The Cove”
3. The final ten minutes of Andrejz Wadja’s “Katya” where we finally get to see what happened in the forest in all its cold savagery.
4. “She’s the new temp.” She’s a tramp?!” “Extract” and a mix up of words.
5. The story of the 100th monkey in “Collapse”
6. The long tracking shot that enters the Destroyer in Cary Fukunaga’s “Sin Nombre”. Virtually entering into hell.
7. In a haze of explosive terror, the quick, almost subliminal cuts to a terrifying face in “House of the Devil”… effectively mimicking Friedkin while carving out its own place in low-fi contemporary horror.
8. In a fill full of high-wire performances, the way Julia (Tilda Swinton) mumbles away an excuse not to be involved with a kidnapping proposed by a new neighbor. “Julia”
9. A pair of hands and bodies meet in a semi darkened room…. The breathless and perfectly rendered final scene in Greg Mottola’s “Adventureland”.
10. “William, it’s me” and the shell shocked look of a soldier who doesn’t even register his wife’s face as he returns home in “Edge of Love”
11. The final shot that holds on the face of Marion Cotillard for what feels like an eternity, and the single tear that falls down her cheek in Michael Mann’s masterpiece “Public Enemies”.
12. “C’mon… it’ll be easy peezy lemon squeezie.” :No, it won’t. It’ll be difficult difficult lemon difficult”. “In the Loop”.
13. As two cops interrogate her in her apartment, the series of yes and no answers given by Lorna (Arta Dobrishi) and the range of emotions, from defensive to eventually heartbroken, that streaks across her face. “Lorna’s Silence”
14. In “Summer Hours”, the long tracking shot through a house of teens party-goers, emerging into the garden and a girl facing up to her enormous family history.
15. The “I failed John Keats” scene from Paul Schneider in “Bright Star”…. a performance that feels somewhat off-center the entire film, yet ends up being one of the most spectacular roles of the year.
16. The Will Ferrell cameo scene as a falling skydiver in “The Goods” and the way he screams “oh… don packed the wrong bag!” This type of thing usually fails miserably, but it works to side splitting perfection here.
17. “It’s called Dionysus. And they act like it.” “Humpday”
18. A couple (Adrein Brody and Rachel Weisz) walk behind a row of pillars and emerge holding hands in Rian Johnson’s candy colored heist film “The Brothers Bloom”….. a sweet and evocative example of innocent, budding love.
19. The shoot out at Little Bohemia. “Public Enemies”
20. Building to the torturous payoff that we all know is coming, the long black screen pause before we see the footage from the four hidden cameras placed strategically around the cove… and the sounds begin. I had to look away…. And I hardly ever do that in a movie theater. “The Cove”
21. The slow zoom into the face of a young boy (Kodi Smit McPhee) and his glacial response of “ok”. “The Road”
22. In one of the year’s best female performances, Emily Blunt going ‘tressling‘, as sparks fly above her head and her laughter turns into sadness…. If only we could all scream away our sadness without being noticed. “Sunshine Cleaning”
23. Fanny Brawne (Abby Cornish) falling to her knees, losing her breath after receiving word that Keats has died in “Bright Star”.
24. A man (Bard Owe) standing at the edge of a ski lift at night with a satisfied smile after seeing the image of his mother in “O Horten”.
25. The color home movie footage that abruptly breaks up the previous monochrome black and white as three kids enjoy themselves in Paris. Whether its real or imagined is beside the point. “Somers Town”
26. In a film full of haunting images, the final shot in “Sin Nombre” as Sayra (Paulina Gaitina) talks on the phone, a ray of sunlight breaking through the frame behind her.
27. Corneliu Porumboiu’s “Police, Adjective” and the agonizing long take in which a young police officer tries to explain his reasoning with his commander, only to be beaten down and bested by his superior’s totalitarian understanding of the language and dictionary.
28. The quiet gravity gravity given to a man on a street corner as he puts his head down after its mentioned he used to play baseball in the States… a dream once held that now evokes quiet despair. “Sugar” is a film that’s attentive to these glorious little details.
29. The way Wincoat (Stephen Lang) lights a cigarette and turns away from the media circus on the street in “Public Enemies”.
30. The absolutely hungry stare on Garrett Dillahunt’s face as he looks a young boy over. And the flicks of his tongue in “The Road”
31. As a door slides open, the way Glenn Kenny spurts out “what the fuck is up?” to Sasha Grey in “The Girlfriend Experience”
32. “Did I get any in my mouth? Did I get any in my mouth?” probably the most absurdly funny and grisly scene in the catalog of Sam Raimi. “Drag Me To Hell”
33. The long tracking shot as a man (Nichols Cage) runs into the fresh destruction of a plane crash and a man on fire runs past him. “Knowing”
34. The slow emergence of Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva) timed to the Stones’ “Tops”- not as carnal as Phoebe Cates slow dip in the pool, but pretty damn close. “Adventureland”
35. “Inglorious Basterds”- the loud, pulsating drone of music as Colonel Landa (Christophe Waltz) appears behind Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) in a fancy restaurant.
36. The emergence of a shadowy figure down a long alley. “Two Lovers”
37. The near perfect visual representation of paranoia- a black figure stands deathly still in a snow covered field, watching for something in Richard Kelly’s maligned and under appreciated “The Box”.
38. The Guggenheim shoot out. Probably the most well staged scene in Tom Tykwer‘s “The International”.
39. The static home video camera shot of a school hallway, then the bodies of two girls staggering into the frame and collapsing. “Afterschool”
40. Rose (Amy Adams) offering to sit with an elderly woman on the porch in “Sunshine Cleaning”
41. And keeping with the death theme, the eyes of a family slowly changing from spite to reverential gratitude as a man (Tsutomu Yamazaki) transforms their recently deceased into something quite beautiful in “Departures”
42. The imprint of a hand on a dirty car window. A possible foreboding premonition of things to come. “The Headless Woman”
43. The performance of Colin Farrell in “Crazy Heart”. We expect him to be an asshole of biblical proportions, yet he strides in and out frame with generosity and caring for his old mentor Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges).
44. Those slanted and heavily font ed captions that roll and spray across the screen in “Il Divo” laying out a history of execution and corruption… setting up a punk rock exposition that feels like young Scorsese. Sadly, the rest of the film never comes close again.
45. “ow.. You hit me with a whole corn dog.” The lament of the dweebs in “Adventureland”
46. The long shot as Sasha Grey sits just out of frame in Stephen Soderbergh’s visually resplendent “The Girlfriend Experience” as she breaks up with her boyfriend (Chris Santos). As with her sexual excursions in the movie, even the break up is handled with detached patience…

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