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.

Wat ik gemeen heb met Donald Trump

Gelukkig heel weinig, maar sinds gisteren één ding. We zijn allebei permanent verbannen van Twitter.

En net als Trump, beweer ik ook volledig onschuldig te zijn. Een verschil is dan weer dat dit in mijn geval echt zo is en dat Trump dit alleen maar denkt in zijn narcistische brein.

Wat is er gebeurd? Anderhalve maand geleden kon ik niks meer met mijn Twitter-account. Er stond dat ik bepaalde regels had overtreden, maar niet specifiek welke dan. Ik ging in beroep tegen de blokkade.

Lange tijd hoorde ik niks en gisteren ontving ik deze e-mail:

Hello,

After investigating your appeal, we have determined that your account posted content that was threatening and/or promoting violence in violation of the Twitter Terms of Service. Accordingly, your account has been suspended and will not be restored.

You can learn more about suspended accounts here: https://help.twitter.com/managing-your-account/suspended-twitter-accounts

Thanks,
Twitter

WTF? Ik heb iemand bedreigd? Dat lijkt me toch stug of ik heb een gespleten persoonlijkheid zonder dat ik het zelf weet. Ik ben even door mijn tweets van het laatste jaar gegaan en dacht nog, misschien kun je deze retweet beschouwen als een oproep tot geweld?

Maar Twitter zal toch wel begrijpen dat dit een onschuldige parodie is op Return of the Jedi?

Toen ging ik op zoek naar ‘lotgenoten’ en vond ik op Reddit de mogelijke dader van mijn block:

The origin of Threat Destroyer comes from Threat Slayer which happened notably in 3rd November 2017. Threat Slayer is a rogue Twitter user who managed to exploit Twitter’s reporting system for tweets containing words relating to threats, namely “kill you” or “just die.” The reported tweet is then sent to Twitter’s automated review system and is automatically detected as a violent threat – and that makes the posting account suspended and cannot be appealed – what a god he is.

Een kwaadaardig algoritme heeft het gedaan! We leven in gekke tijden.

Ik houd er een gek gevoel aan over. Echt een big deal is dit natuurlijk niet, al ben ik wel ruim 4000 volgers kwijt. Wat me meer dwars zit is dat ik vals beschuldigd ben en gestraft voor iets dat ik niet gedaan heb. Ik kan me nu een heel klein beetje voorstellen hoe het moet voelen om op te draaien voor een misdaad die je niet gepleegd heb. Kortom, ik heb enige empathie. En dat kunnen we van Trump dan weer niet zeggen.

Update 28 april 2021

Hello,

After further review, we have unsuspended your account as it does not appear to be in violation of the Twitter Rules.

Your account is now unsuspended. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.

Please note that it may take 24-48 hours for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.

Thanks,
Twitter

Er is gerechtigheid!

Why Bringing Back Palpatine in Ep IX was the Right Decision

Like always when a Star Wars movie is released, the fans and general public are bitching and complaining. One of the major complaints about the recently released Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker, was that it brought back the presumed dead emperor Palpatine. They think this is a chickenshit move to please fans who were unhappy about the direction the previous installment – The Last Jedi – was taking the franchise. I’m about to tell them why they are wrong.

First of all, if you accept the decision to make episode VII, VIII and IX in the first place, you’ll have to accept the rise of a powerful new enemy. It is called Star Wars after all; there has to be conflict between the forces of good and evil. This enemy must also be very powerful. At least as powerful as the defeated empire. Or there won’t be much tension. This new force of evil became The First Order.

Secondly, who is gonna command this mighty new enemy? It seemed that Supreme Leader Snoke was the brains behind it, but that would have been strange and unsatisfying. Don’t forget, it took Palpatine a whole trilogy (episode I, II, and III) to build up the Galactic Empire through an elaborate Master Plan. Are we supposed to believe that out of nowhere, a dark lord would arrive and overpower the newly established republic? No way. Only the master of the dark arts of the Sith could manage such a feat.

And thus, Palpatine somehow survived his fall in Return of the Jedi, and in the shadows of Exegol worked on his revenge. I like the idea that he created Snoke to do his bidding. And now, finally after 42 years of Star Wars films, he is finally defeated and the force is balanced once again. Yes I know, Anakin Skywalker had already brought balance. But again, if you accept the decision to make new movies in the Skywalker timeline, you’ll have to accept that there are still major tremors in the force that have to be evened out.

Yes, The Rise of Skywalker, is a safe movie. Rather than taking chances it sticks to the familiar elements Lucas created long ago. But it is visually stunning, features great acting, and brings an emotional punch or two. J. J. Abrams did an excellent job and now, Star Wars is really really finished. We might have to wait a very long time before the next really epic fantasy series comes along…

What Do Gollum, Darth Vader & Agent Smith Have in Common?

You were just wondering about that, weren’t you? Well, I’ll explain.

Every big epic in fantasy or science fiction, needs a legendary villain-character like Darth Vader, Gollum or Agent Smith. But these three are not normal evil doers. They are very special, because their destiny is directly tied to the resolution of the whole story. They are more like causal agents than just ordinary bad guys.

Their evil is also much more nuanced than the other main villains in their holy trilogies. And their motivations are often harder to fully grasp. Take emperor Palpatine in Star Wars. He is just evil to the core. There is not a single shade of grey: he is BAD. Darth Vader, on the other hand, was actually a good man before he was seduced by the dark side of the force. Luckily, for the oppressed galaxy, Vader’s son Luke Skywalker felt there was still good in him. Luke exploited this inner conflict, which lead to the death of Palpatine by Vader’s hand at the end of Return of the Jedi. The galaxy was free once again due to Vader’s destiny.

Gollum and Agent Smith (especially after his supposed destruction by Neo in the first Matrix movie) don’t even belong to the villain class and are free agents, so to speak, Smith quite literally. They are just roaming around in their fantasy worlds, driven by their own insatiable desires. Gollum by his addiction to the Ring of Power, and Smith by his need to destroy his arch enemy Neo and the entire simulated computerworld the Matrix with it. But, like in Vader’s case, through their actions they enable the heroes of their stories to fulfill their appointed tasks while they would have otherwise failed.

Like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He managed to get the ring all the way to Mount Doom, but could unavoidably no longer resist the power of the mighty precious and thus refused to destroy it. Gollum took his chance and jumped at Frodo, bit off his finger, and took the ring. But he could only enjoy it for a brief moment. As a crazed Frodo attacked him, Gollum fell to his doom taking the ring with him. The panic in Sauron’s one eye is very satisfying. His reign is over forever. Gandalf had foreseen this turn of events: ‘My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over.’

Agent Smith’s faith is similar. When Neo realises that it is inevitable that Smith – who he has destroyed before – must now destroy him in order for things to end. He allows Smith to clone him, like he has done to the entire population of the Matrix (‘me, me, me’). But since Neo is the One, the anomaly of the system, this creates a fatal chain reaction eliminating the virus Smith. By pursuing his own purposes, against the will of his masters (the machines in case of The Matrix), he ensures that the humans are set free.

Do all epics have this type of causal agent? What about Harry Potter for example? Well in a way: yes, a very interesting one. When Voldemort tried to kill Harry when he was a baby, he unwillingly put a horcrux (a piece of his soul) in Harry. While Harry was growing up, he slowly discovered his connection to the Dark Lord. In the end, the only way to defeat him, was by letting Voldemort kill him. This villain created a causal agent himself that lead to his doom! Because Voldemort didn’t kill Harry, but just the horcrux. The now released Harry could return and finish off Voldemort in a final confrontation, ridding the wizard and muggle world of this ultimate baddie.

The world is more complex than just good-evil. While most of the characters in these epics are either of the hero or villain archetype, these causal agents are not so easily defined. So to answer the question, what do they have in common? They are tools used by the clashing higher forces to decide the faith of the world. Apparently, free will is absent in these worlds, and we are merely instruments of the ruling powers. This makes sense, for at least two of these trilogies (Star Wars and The Matrix) are inspired by Eastern Philosophy of which some movements (Advaita Vedanta) teaches us that free will is an illusion. The Lord of the Rings seems more in tune with paganism that also suggests that greater spiritual forces can impact the course of events or the ultimate outcome.

The individual destinies of these characters are thus intertwined with the destiny of the world at large. Thereby, they completely transcend a clearcut character definition. Beneath their wicked appearances, they actually become saviors, even though that was never their intention. Gandalf nailed it when he said: ‘Even the very wise cannot see all ends.’ Good, bad, everyone has their own perspective. But in the end, love and goodness will always be victorious.