When Alfred Hitchcock was gone, everyone asked who would be the next Hitchcock. When Steven Spielberg lost his touch, people began asking who was the next Spielberg. Christopher Nolan isn’t the next anything. In an age when cinema has become largely cookie cutter, Nolan has risen to become film’s best director, and in 40 years people will be asking who the next Nolan will be. Inception is, in my opinion, Nolan’s best film, and a film so original and yet filled with so many classic elements of different genres that Nolan was able to make his dense script a hook audiences were willing to push themselves to understand. Combined with dazzling visuals, an amazing ensemble, Wally Pfister’s cinematography masterpiece, and a score from Hans Zimmer for the ages and you have one of the best films of the 21st Century…..and the best part is the very last scene. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Inception (2010) “Time”
Unlike most of humanity, I don’t love Forrest Gump. CALM DOWN! I respect the film for the performances and for breakthroughs in the craft of filmmaking, but in no way do I think the film is one of the greatest motion pictures of all-time. “Gumpmania” swept the country in 1994, denying what should have been the most critically recognized film of the year, The Shawshank Redemption, the acclaim it has since received in the two decades since both were released. Likewise, Tom Hanks has given at least three to five performances that were stronger Oscar candidates than Forrest Gump. I will give the film credit, though, for some incredibly powerful, authentic scenes of types of emotion we don’t often see in film. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Forrest Gump (1994) “Jenny’s Grave”
“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never really been in a fight?” Brad Pitt asks it of Edward Norton shortly after they meet, and people (particularly men) have been asking each other the question ever since David Fincher’s 1999 anarchic masterpiece was released. Based on the equally (and oddly quite wise) novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Fincher’s film is a unique and insightful look at the societal neutering of the American male. I’m going to write this from the standpoint of one…since that’s what I happen to be. Men are hard-wired for aggression. We want to punch stuff. We like to see things blow up, destroyed, and laid low. We’re hunter-gatherers at our core. Now we spend 40 hours a week in a sea of grey cubicles, and our weekends at Bed, Bath & Beyond. There’s something missing. We’re missing a key part of ourselves and it manifests in bottles of whiskey and Prozac. We don’t know ourselves, because most of us haven’t been in a fight. That’s why Fight Club (which didn’t do well in theaters) became a cult sensation. It touched a nerve with men. It was a revelation.
Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Fight Club (1999) “Welcome to Fight Club”
In 1993, Steven Spielberg had one of the greatest years of any director in the history of film. That summer he released one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever in Jurassic Park and that winter he swept the Oscars and turned in probably his best film with the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Schindler’s List (1993) “The Girl in Red”
Just as The Godfather Part II was a pioneer in showing what a sequel could do in terms of equalling (in some minds surpassing) the original film, The Godfather Part III is one of the first instances of what is all-too-common now: an unnecessary franchise film. Made 16 years after the second installment, the ground The Godfather Part III treads is unnecessary to fleshing out Michael’s character. If you take the trilogy as a whole, I think it diminishes Michael’s story arc to see him in his dotage trying to avoid damnation while being dragged back to his true nature. The second film showed the consequences of his choices without having to check back in on him as a senior citizen.
Making the film in the first place was a misstep, but Coppola made an even bigger one when in the most famous case of film nepotism he cast his daughter Sofia as Michael’s daughter when Winona Ryder had to drop out of the film. Though she’s proven to be a chip off the block in the directing department, Sofia is not an actress and her painful inability to act robs the plodding film of what should be its most poignant moment. What IS unforgettable and iconic about the film is Al Pacino’s monologue about being dragged back into the real family business. Pacino’s made a career out of iconic monologues, and whatever your other problems with the third Godfather, no one can deny the greatness of this scene.