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.
Good call on Once Upon a Time in the West. It's amazing how compelling that opening sequence is with just sounds and slight movements and atmosphere. It's probably my favorite opening sequence of all time. Certainly one of the most effectively made.ReplyDelete
Favourite end credit sequence has to be Howling 2 Right !ReplyDelete
Celebrity cameo The Evil Dead house in Oh Brother where art Though if that countsDelete
Forgot Howling 2. That wins for sure.Delete
Wait, are you trying to tell me Goldmember collecting and eating his own flaking off skin isn't decent? Goddamn movie snobs 'round here...ReplyDelete
I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic but the first time I watched Watchmen the goodwill engendered by that opening scene almost carried me through the entire movie - had it not been so goddamn long could have been to the end!
I wasn't being sarcastic! Love those opening credits.Delete
Best openings that come to mind: A Clockwork Orange and A Nightmare on Elm Street (as mentioned on the podcast)ReplyDelete
I know this might be a weird choice, but I've always liked the opening of the original Clerks. Not so much the perverted clown animation, but everything after Dante rolls out of the closet and answers the phone. Just the music, him opening up the Quick Stop, putting up the sign, 'I assure you, we're open.' I think its a great montage to kick off the film.ReplyDelete
It and the film it goes with are by no means classics, but the opening hook to MI:III certainly works well, mostly because Philip Seymour Hoffman is his usual awesome self.ReplyDelete
As far as villains go, I completely agree on Alan Rickman in Die Hard. I'm not sure he really counts, but Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive certainly plays the antagonist, if not the villain of the film (I suppose Jeroen Krabbe is the "villain"), and I find myself rooting for him as much as Kimble much of the time.
Wouldn't the ultimate example of a villain that you root for in a movie be Tony Montana in Scarface? I think a lot of people who watch that root for him. A more recent example of this could be Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, my first time through that movie it took me until about the end of the movie before I stopped rooting for him. It's like rooting for Walter White in Breaking Bad.ReplyDelete
Favorite opening sequences that come to my mind would have to be: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pulp Fiction, and The Road Warrior. I have always liked the opening of Airplane! too.ReplyDelete
A movie that I thought did the celebrity cameo well was Around The World In 80 Days. So many huge names in that movie for only seconds at a time. The best one is probably Sinatra at the piano in one of the bars they go to.
Cameo: "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."ReplyDelete
Villain: I like the concept of a villain whose rationale or motivation is justifiable when viewed from an alternative perspective, and that a different movie could be made if the antagonist and protagonist were switched. Unfortunately, the few examples I have seen were not executed well: Prometheus from David's perspective, or Kingsman: The Secret Service if Samuel L. Jackson wasn't over the top. I once read an interesting article interpreting Alien from the xenomorph's perspective, and, of course, there is JB's idea for a found footage movie from the point of view of the camera. Can anyone recommend good movies that explore this angle?
Point of order: The Mask of Zorro contains cinema's greatest opening scene. Though the rest of the movie is just as strong, and the story is built on the consequences of that scene, one could watch just that sequence as a completely satisfying and amazing short film.ReplyDelete
Closing credits sequences: Jackson's Return of the King with its sketch portraits (the Hobbit 3 reprise... not so much), and who could forget the signatures at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?!
I think 2001 has the best opening ever. Not the planets aligning and the title and all, I mean the blackness set to Ligeti music. Always sets the perfect mood for me and I can never bring myself to skip it.ReplyDelete