Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Best Cinematic Moment, 2008

WALL*E – space dance (104 points/9 votes)

"Computer-animated robots performing a graceful pas de deux among the stars is an unlikely candidate for the year's most romantic moment on film, yet WALL-E's expression of boundless joy comes from an old cinematic tradition. WALL-E, a mechanical descendant of Chaplin's Little Tramp, presents his beloved EVE with a sprouting plant, a gesture that lifts her prior blindness to his attentive care and generates a literal spark.

"For the squat, lonely hero of WALL-E, a space dance with the sleek EVE is the fulfillment of his tender longing. The universe's vastness is suddenly less empty as they dart among rocket boosters to the accompaniment of Thomas Newman's twinkling score. Director Andrew Stanton presents the scene mostly in wide shots, all the better for communicating how the right connection can produce intimacy in an enormous space.

"Conversely, the humans in WALL-E are together alone due to not looking much beyond their own noses. The metaphorical distance between two of the spaceship's inhabitants is finally breached in this scene through their observation of the androids' lovely, entwined movements. What they see between WALL-E and EVE is neither leading nor following but rather unrestrained mutual passion in motion. This beautiful sight not only awakens the slumbering human characters but also floats outside this excellent film as an exquisite standalone moment." ~ Mark Pfeiffer


The Wrestler – Randy’s first day behind the deli counter (94.5/9)

“This moment comes along at just the right time, both for Randy (Mickey Rourke, of course), and for the audience. After seeing his wrestling career sidetracked by age and ill health, Randy has struggled to find his niche. Unable to make his rent, out of touch with his daughter and hopelessly stuck on an also-aging stripper, Randy is adrift, with nothing of consequence to anchor him to the world. Compared to his golden boy days in the squared circle, working behind a deli counter seems pretty humdrum. But Aronofsky wisely lavishes a great deal of attention on Randy (now going by his given name, Robin), even before he actually begins serving customers. The use of crowd noise as he approaches the entrance to the deli is an inspired touch, cluing us in to Randy’s anxieties and process of putting on a face for the punters. And once he emerges to serve the customers, the movie observes him in detail and at length, first as he struggles with his new responsibilities, then as he gets the hang of it, flirting and joking and BS-ing like the natural performer he is (‘what can I get ya, spring chicken?’). Some people will complain that this scene is too long, but that’s just impatience. I for one would gladly watch another reel or two consisting entirely of Randy’s experiences behind that deli counter, making the job his own and even getting to know the regulars a little. That way, when the other shoe inevitably drops, it would hit that much harder.” ~ Paul Clark

Encounters at the End of the World – deranged penguin (90/8)

"At the beginning of his latest fascinating documentary Encounters at the End of the World, director Werner Herzog assures us that 'this will not be a film about fluffy penguins,' and indeed it is not. There is a brief penguin sequence in the movie, however, and it should come as no surprise that it's a uniquely Herzogian one. Who else would think to ask the question, 'Is there such a thing as insanity among penguins?' Herzog answers by showing us a penguin separating himself from a group heading towards their feeding grounds, instead waddling on his own across the ice toward mountains some 70 kilometers away. There is no changing his mind, a researcher explains; even if captured and brought back to the colony, the penguin would immediately turn around and head back into the void. The penguin fits the mold of the typical Herzog protagonist: irrational, obsessed with an impossible quest, attracted to the wild but underestimating the natural world in such a way that will lead to certain doom." ~ Scott Von Doviak

The Wrestler – The Ram vs. The Ayatollah and the final Ram-Jam (64.5/7)

Burn After Reading – Clooney/Pitt reunion [SPOILER!] (63.5/6)

And just for the heck of it, some more voter favorites:

The Dark Knight - How about a magic trick?

Man on Wire - Between the towers

In the City of Sylvia - sketching the coffee shop patrons

The Dark Knight - Nurse Joker leaves the hospital

Cloverfield - Lady Liberty's head

Still Life - one character to another

Click here for complete results


James said...

I'm the only vote for 7 out of 10 of my choices. Eeek! I figured someone else would have picked the end of Rambo or "the security...of your shit."

Steve C. said...

Considering how much trite avain symbolism is out there in the world of fiction, how is it that Herzog has in his career found not one but two real-life bird stories (this and Stroszek) that manage to be funny, striking and profound? I guess it's true -- you just can't make this shit up.

bentclouds said...
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bentclouds said...

"15. (tie) Rachel Getting Married – dishwasher contest (41/4)"

I would have voted this as the worst scene of 2008.

Andrew Dignan said...

Alright, I'll bite: and why is that, Jason?

Bryan Whitefield said...

The dishwasher scene is only terrible in it's book-closing confirmation that the lead singer of one of my favorite bands is a complete and total dork.

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