by Patrick Bromley and Doug Schultz
What's the best opening scene from a movie, and why is it Contact?
Well, my immediate reaction is to say the opening of Apocalypse Now, because every time I see it I'm convinced for those few minutes that I'm watching the best movie ever made. I really like Apocalypse Now, but there's nothing else in the movie that I like as much as that opening. Also good? The opening scenes of The Searchers, There Will Be Blood, Narc, Once Upon a Time in the West, Snake Eyes, Miami Vice (theatrical cut), Dawn of the Dead (2004), JCVD, Touch of Evil (duh), Inglourious Basterds...I could keep going. Unless when you say 'opening,' you mean the stuff before the credits or the credits themselves. In that case, it's Watchmen.
In the same vein, do you have a favorite closing credits sequence?
Answer 1: Any Jackie Chan movie.
Answer 2: The Cannonball Run.
Any film coming out this fall that you're particularly looking forward to?
What is your favorite film in which you root for the villain?
I have villain turns that I love -- Alan Rickman in Die Hard or Treat Williams in The Phantom -- but if a movie is really doing its job I should still want the hero to triumph no matter how great the villain is. Part of being a great villain is making us hate the person (or at least recognize that he or she is really, really evil). so I rarely fully side with the bad guy/girl. Even in a movie in which the actor playing the villain is so much more talented or interesting than the block of wood cast as the protagonist -- and I'm certain this can be said of several action movies I've seen -- but I feel like part of the contract of watching movies is to try and accept them on their terms. That means that if a bad actor is playing the hero and a good actor is playing the villain, I still have to do my part to root for the hero and buy in to the spell the film is at least attempting to cast.
Having said that, a lot of horror movies probably fall under the category of "rooting for the villain," from the original King Kong (provided we're calling Kong a "villain") through the Friday the 13th series. In the case of King Kong -- or James Whale's original Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein -- the monster is the most sympathetic character in the movie, not so much bad as misunderstood. Rooting for a character like that I'm not really "rooting" for Jason Voorhees, but I do watch those movies to see him do his thing (cuz). Again, really good horror movies have me wanting the characters to survive no matter how cool or charismatic the villain might be, but there is a certain enjoyment to be had in seeing a slasher dispatch victims in creative or elaborate fashion. It's part of the appeal of the genre, even if it's not a) the only reason I watch a movie or b) the character I throw my full support behind.
I know you're not a fan of the "celebrity cameo," but is there any instance in which the surprise appearance of an well-known, A-list personality really improved your enjoyment of a movie?
Bill Murray's stuff in Zombieland was pretty funny. The celebrity-filled opening of the third Austin Powers was the only decent stuff in that entire movie. The Matt Damon/Ben Affleck scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back is still one of the funniest things Kevin Smith has ever done. It's hard to say if I would have still "enjoyed" those movies without the cameos (I did not enjoy Goldmember even with the cameos), but I guess their inclusion did improve the experience of them even if it was just for the few minutes the surprise guest stars were on screen.
I tend to get more excited about cameos that aren't from A-list actors, whether it's obscure genre movie stars or directors showing up for small parts in every John Landis movie. Again, those things don't necessarily make me like a movie more, but it does engender a lot of goodwill towards a film and a filmmaker -- I like when a director will reward me for having seen a lot of movies and knowing very specific character actors or what other directors look like.