Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Favorite Scenes

1. Hands down my favorite scene of all time is the staircase scene in Suspiria. For the life of me, I could not find the correct time code for the scene, but the full movie is on YouTube.

It's a very climactic scene where the young new ballet student is running from what she does not yet understand. The scene hits its peak when she is running down a spiral staircase, blasted with red light, and the camera is filming at a low angle from below. It gives you this strange sense of vertigo and her place in the frame is never fixed. She is also very small in the frame compared to the spinning chaos around her. It gives the sense that she is lost and floating in a cycle of evil that she cannot begin to comprehend.

2. The penis murder scene in A Clockwork Orange, obviously.

Like, let's just be real here, this scene is creepy and funny and genius all at the same time. I especially love this shot of the old female where she is quite literally being hit in the face with a phallus. If that doesn't speak to the patriarchal sway of ultraviolence, I don't know what does.

Then there's that crazy go-pro esque shot where we follow Alex around in his madness to hurt this woman. He doesn't know why he wants to hurt her, he just does. I think the constant frame shifting and the chaotic handheld shooting gives testimony to his violent and unsure behavior.

3. Then there's the extended cut of the dream in Donnie Darko. On first watch, no one knows what in the hell that scene is there for. There's all this surreal imagery and strange music and seemingly nonsensical language. We don't question it too much because we are familiar with the chaotic nonsense that we associate with dreams. Then you break down that scene after a rewatch and you find shots like these:

The surreal flooded school and Frank in the dark are not throwaway shots. Both of them took lots of time to perfect and lots of special FX. We learn later that the school is flooded by Donnie after this dream and Frank "made him do it." Those shots are so quick that you don't see them at first.

4. Next is a sequence from one of my favorite docs, Tarnation. There is a brief scene where Jonathon explains just exactly what his mental disorder is like. He does a fantastic job of using jarring visuals and poetic style editing to convey the disjointing feeling of having this disorder.

5. Last but not least, is the morning after scene from Ratatouille. Yeah. I'm going there.

There's just something so hilarious about a rat controlling a sleeping guy who just comes off as a jerk to his love interest. We all know that sunglasses-indoors-non-chalant-quiet guy who seems like he's too good for everyone. Linguine is NOT that guy. But the amazing way in which the animators made his movements both asleep and cocky mesmerizes me every time.

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