My Greatest Cinema Moments Ever

There was a terrific feature in Empire Magazine last month, especially during a pandemic when all cinemas are shut down and barely any major movies are released. They invited their readers and celebrated filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Bong Joon-Ho to share their favorite cinema moments.

They are specifically looking for moments in which the whole audience experienced movie magic. Think Hannibal Lecter escaping from prison in The Silence of the Lambs. Can you imagine the audience’s response when he pulls the face off in the ambulance? I sure can, even though I never saw Silence in cinema. Or the ending in Buffalo Bill’s house where the depraved serial killer is stalking Clarice Starling with night vision goggles? These are memories from filmmaker Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead), who initiated this feature.

Wright: “I vividly recall riotous screenings of A Fish Called Wanda and There’s Something About Mary, the unforgettable sound of massed sobs in E.T. or Titanic, or just the palpable energy of the first weekend crowd of Scream or The Silence of the Lambs, which was so electric, you’d think it could power a city. I’ve been lucky enough to have made a few scenes myself where the crowd have drowned out the next scene because they are laughing or whooping (I’m thinking the ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ scene in Shaun of the Dead, JK). Such moments are truly infectious, but again, that’s an adjective that needs to be retired for the moment.”

Other notable contributions in the issue are:
– Darth Vader’s dilemma right before he kills the emperor in Return of the Jedi. By Simon Pegg.
– Luke throwing down his lightsaber, also in Return of the Jedi. By Mark Hamill.
– Neo stops the bullets, but the whole film really, in The Matrix. By Chris Evans.
– The tragic reality of Menace II Society. By Patty Jenkins.
– The ear scene in Reservoir Dogs. By Joe Russo.
– And many many more….

My favorite cinema moment by far is The Lord of the Rings. I went to fellowship on opening day and it was a magical experience. You could feel the whole room just be completely absorbed by the wondrous world Peter Jackson and his team had painted on the screen. It was breathtaking. I remember highlight after highlight, but the ultimate audience engagement happened in Moria where the fellowship faces one challenge after the other. When finally Gandalf sacrifices himself to let the others escape, the audience felt like Frodo: totally and utterly defeated. By the time they face the Uruk Hai at the end, the audience was re-energized, and left the room in pretty good spirit, but also sad because of the loss of both Boromir and Gandalf.

The Two Towers even topped this experience. The way it starts is just a master move. Gandalf being pulled into the abyss and falling and fighting the demonic Balrog. Everybody in that cinema went apeshit. After that: one great scene after the other. But the real show stealer of the evening was off course Gollum. Never before had a digital character been so fully realised. Andy Serkis’ performance is mind blowing. He should have won the Oscar for best supporting actor that year, no question. The movie ends at Helm’s Deep and this is a groundbreaking battle scene in terms of pure scale and spectacle. It is the only movie I saw in cinema three times.

Of course, at the moment there are no cinema experiences at all, but the memories remain. And like many of our favorite movie characters, they will return at some point. No question. True cinema moments are magical. There is no substitute.

Gangs of New York Vs. King of New York

Gangs of New York
Historisch epos van Martin Scorsese over kolonisatie in New York gedurende halverwege de 18de eeuw. Destijds waren de verwachtingen erg hoog en als gevolg viel de film wat tegen, maar een herevaluatie is op zijn plaats. Amerika is echt gebouwd op bloed en dat zie je hier in al zijn glorie. Briljant zijn de kostuums, de sets, het camerawerk en de legendarische vertolking van Bill the Butcher door Daniel Day Lewis.

King of New York
Een gangster film geschoten als vampierfilm. De psychopathische drugsbaas Frank White – briljante vertolking van Christopher Walken – neemt de macht over in New York. Een groep agenten die er niet voor terugdeinzen zelf te moorden zit achter hem aan. Donkere visie op de misdaad van filmmaker en kunstenaar Abel Ferrara met een uitstekend script en ditto cast.

Als je er maar één mag kijken, welke wordt het dan?
Beide zijn het net geen perfecte films, en hebben ze een paar dingen die niet goed werken. In ‘Gangs’ o.a. het optreden van Cameron Diaz en in ‘King’ is het einde niet optimaal. Toch zijn beide wel behoorlijk essentieel. Met het pistool op het hoofd dan maar ‘Gangs’ vanwege de geschiedenisles die je bij blijft.

Dungeon Classics #12: Snatch

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Snatch (2000, UK | USA)

Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Statham, Stephen Graham, Brad Pitt, Alan Ford
Running Time: 104 mins.

Two years after his formidable debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie, now one of the hottest new directors around, returned with Snatch: a crime comedy with exactly the same formula. Poker is replaced with bare knuckle boxing, stolen antique rifles became a stolen diamond, and Big Chris is renamed Bullet Tooth Tony. The visual gimmickry is still there. And a few cast members returned, most notably Jason Statham, now as leading man. Ritchie had more money this time around, so he could also hire A-listers like Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro. Both are great as usual, but Pitt plays one of his most memorable roles ever as Mickey, a ‘pikey’ boxer with an indecipherable accent. What also returns most prominently is the humour. Snatch has sequences – like the black guys attempt to rob the bookies – that will make you piss your pants. It’s one of the funniest crime movies ever made. And the dialogues are one of a kind. In short, Snatch is 86 carats. Or is it 84?

Dungeon Classics #11: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998, UK)

Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Nick Moran, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Jason Statham
Running Time: 107 mins.

Guy Ritchie’s low-budget debut is still his best film, although its hilarious follow-up Snatch comes close. Four friends raise 100.000 pounds to let one of them – card wonder Eddy – participate in the high stakes game of underworld figure Hatchet Harry. They lose 500.000 due to foul play on Harry’s part and have one week to pay back the ‘porn king’ or his enforcers will start collecting their fingers and Eddy’s father’s (played by Sting) pub. This is the beginning of an exhilarating quest for money, featuring dumb criminals, antique rifles and an unconscious traffic warden. Ritchie employs all editing and camera tricks he can come up with which makes the movie – groovily shot in shades of yellow, brown, and grey – a visually rip-roaring experience. The clever screenplay, brilliant soundtrack and delicious cockney accents add to the enjoyment. Not to be missed this one! Allright?