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.

Dungeon Classics #9: Gremlins

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

Gremlins (1984, USA)

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton
Running Time: 106 mins.

Billy gets a very special Christmas present: A mogwai (Kantonese for monster or devil). A cute little furry thing called Gizmo. The problem is: keeping mogwais ain’t that easy. You get them wet, they spawn more mogwais. You feed them after midnight, they morph into the little monsters called gremlins. And if you drop one in a swimming pool…you get violence, terror, and mayhem during the Christmas season. This Spielberg-produced creature feature became understandably very popular. It has many memorable scenes, a super cute hero and a terrific villain in Stripe, leader of the monstrous gremlins. The movie has aged pretty well due to the excellent creature effects (all animatronics). And since it is family oriented, it remains a favorite for the holidays. Not just for eighties nostalgists like me.

Mijn Top 20 favoriete filmmakers

1. Martin Scorsese
Verantwoordelijk voor mijn favoriete film aller tijden: GoodFellas. Maar maakte talloze andere meesterwerken; Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Casino, en vele anderen. Scorsese is een echte maestro die nooit teleur stelt.
Beste film: GoodFellas

2. Sergio Leone
Leefde te kort om een enorm portfolio na te laten, maar alles wat hij gedaan heeft is te gek. The Dollars Trilogy met Eastwood zijn de coolste films ooit en Once Upon a Time in America is een geniaal gangster epos.
Beste film: Once Upon a Time in the West

3. Quentin Tarantino
Maakt originele & uber coole films die hij baseert op onbekende pareltjes. Zijn meesterwerk is nog altijd Pulp Fiction, maar Reservoir Dogs en Kill Bill zijn bijna net zo briljant. Maakt nooit iets ondermaats.
Beste film: Pulp Fiction

4. Peter Jackson
Wist de onmogelijke missie om The Lord of the Rings te verfilmen tot een onvoorstelbaar succes te maken. Was daarvoor al een geweldig regisseur die Nieuw-Zeelandse splatter horror films maakte zoals Bad Taste en Braindead.
Beste film: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

5.
The Coen Brothers
Hun oog voor bizarre personages is hyper ontwikkeld, hun humor onovertroffen en hun pen vlijmscherp. Ze maken om de twee jaar een te gekke film al zo’n 25 jaar lang, met hun hoogtepunt in de jaren 90 toen ze achtereenvolgens Fargo, The Big Lebowski en O Brother, Where Art Thou? maakte.
Beste film: Miller’s Crossing

6. Stanley Kubrick
De perfectionist. Leverde meesterwerken af die voor altijd verankerd zijn in de filmgeschiedenis. Wist uit te blinken in verschillende genres waaronder sci-fi (2001: A Space Odyssey), oorlog (Full Metal Jacket) en misdaad (The Killing)
Beste film: A Clockwork Orange

7. Steven Spielberg
Objectief de beste regisseur ter wereld. Weet de magie van film te pakken als geen ander. Heeft talloze klassiekers op zijn staan waaronder E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler’s List en Jurassic Park.
Beste film: Raiders of the Lost Ark

8.
Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock weet van een kartonnen doos nog tot een super spannend voorwerp te maken. Ze noemen hem niet voor niets de Master of Suspense. Is waarschijnlijk de meest invloedrijke regisseur ooit. Talloze scènes uit zijn oeuvre staan voor altijd op mijn netvlies gebrand.
Beste film: Rear Window

9. Sam Raimi
Maakte de hoogst vermakelijke Spider Man films, maar waar hij zichzelf wat mij betreft mee onsterfelijk heeft gemaakt is de Evil Dead trilogie. Heerlijke films. Maakte met The Quick and the Dead ook een fantastische western.
Beste film: Evil Dead II

10. Francis Ford Coppola
Hey, hij regisseerde The Godfather trilogie, hoe ga ik hem niet in mijn Top 10 zetten? Was ook verantwoordelijk voor de beste oorlogsfilm aller tijden met Apocalyse Now. Fenomenaal.
Beste film: The Godfather

Daarna volgen:
11. George Lucas (Beste Film: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope)
12. James Cameron (Beste Film: Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
13. Danny Boyle (Beste Film: Trainspotting)
14. Brian De Palma (Beste Film: The Untouchables)
15. Akira Kurosawa (Beste Film: Throne of Blood)
16. Paul Verhoeven (Beste Film: RoboCop)
17. Robert Zemeckis (Beste Film: Back to the Future Part II)
18. Richard Linklater (Beste Film: Dazed and Confused)
19. Robert Rodriquez (Beste Film: Sin City)
20. Jim Jarmusch (Beste Film: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai)