Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Most Ridiculous Scenes Ever...in Classic Films!

Introduction-Killer Joe is Awesome (4/5)!!

I sat in awe this month as I witnessed the director of The Exorcist (1973) gallantly proving that the lunacy of old is far from behind him with his appalling new gem Killer Joe (2012). The film takes the familiar hitman meets scorned wife narrative to hideous, transcendent new heights. Watching rom-com favourite Matthew McConaughey place a piece of fried chicken on his crotch and force a married woman to suck it in front of her husband (SERIOUSLY) got me thinking: how far do filmmakers go to make an impression? This medium, the best positioned medium to offend and disturb, has had it's fair share of priceless crazy moments.

What is your favourite crazy/wacky/disturbing scene??

Here are some masterpieces that ventured into the downright appalling...

The Shining (1980)- Bear-Lovin'

It is one of the most baffling shots of cinema history, it's ludicrous nature causing many to laugh out loud in sheer incredulity. The clip really speaks for itself:
Sprinting through The Overlook Hotel to defend her son from his father, Wendy Torrance comes across...and there's no better way to say this...a ghost in a bear suit performing oral sex on another ghost. As bizarre as this is, however, the explanation can be found- and it is even more disturbing.
Consider this...

It now makes sense; terrifying sense.

During a scene in which a doctor's visit reveals that Jack Torrance has been violent with his son, Danny, Danny lies on a bear that is strikingly similar in appearance to the outfit in the infamous "bear-job" (I just made that up!) scene. The implication? Jack Torrance has sexually abused his son Danny.

*pauses to let reader be chilled to the bone *

Dead Man's Shoes (2004)- one bad acid trip...

"Snub me for a BAFTA, will ya?!"

Shane Meadow's' caustic revenge fable Dead Man's Shoes is not exactly abundant in compromise. For as one's family is concerned, cruelty must not be forgiven. So, how about feeding the perpetrators acid in their tea, isolating one of them, showing him one of his friends hacked up in a suitcase, then stab him as he weeps over the grotesque sight? Job done.
The fact that the body in the case goes unseen makes it particularly chilling.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) -The Black Knight fails to rise!

It's hard, in the age of South Park and torture porn horrors, to imagine the waves it made in 1974 to see the Monty Python crew take such glee in human suffering. This masterpiece of human barbarism begins when John Cleese's The Black Knight attempts to prevent  Graham Chapman's King Arthur from crossing through the woodlands. A fight ensues, the Black Knight loses a limb. Does it end there? Nope, the proud knight is too insane for surrender...leading to the classic line "it's just a flesh wound."
And, so, we witness a man slowly hacked into a human stub-and he's not feeling too bad about it either! Will this scene ever be beaten? No? Well then, we'll call it a draw...

Electrocuting an Elepehant (1903)-Electrocuting a real elephant!

Okay, so with a running time of a whopping one minute this is hardly a film. But, I ask you, what can be more insane than audiences actually paying to see a one minute short depicting an actual elephant execution?! Thomas Edison was one of the father's of cinema, and once stated that does not "allow himself to be discouraged under any circumstances." Well, if being known as an emblem of elephant euthanasia doesn't discourage you, nothing will.
Apparently the elephant was violent and unruly. So, I guess this is a death penalty argument?!

See for yourself @    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bowA1xUZpmA

Fargo (1996)- "Hi ho hi ho, to the wood chipper we go.."

In truth, it's quite hard to put into words just how ludicrous this scene is. Sure, the Coens had already given us baby kidnapping and Mad Man Munt, but let's be honest-THIS IS STEVE BUSCEMI IN A WOODCHIPPER. That's his foot in the first picture (above), and, yes, those are his bloody remains in the second!
The best thing about all of this is that, next to perhaps No Country for Old Men (2007), Fargo is generally hailed as the Coen brothers' masterpiece. Poetry, sheer poetry.

Deliverence (1972)-That Scene!

We all know the one I am talking about...
"He's got a purrdy mouth"
"Boy, you look just like a hog"
"You gonna do some praying for me, boy. And you better pray good." Yes, these are the eloquent words of cinematic brilliance.
Perhaps the best indictment of the American macho myth ever depicted in cinema, this horrifying male rape scene is but the centerpiece in a film in which mid western men brave the wilderness and find only darkness.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)-Leatherface sure can move

Let's face it, the only true way to end The Texas Chainsawe Massacre is with absurdity.
*SPOILERS* Having hung people from meat-hooks and partaken in some of cinema's most gripping chase sequences, it is perhaps the last actions of Leatherface on film that serve to disturb the most. Having missed Marilyn Burns' Sally by a whisker as she flees onto the back of a pick-up truck, Leatherface chooses simply to wield his chainsaw about in the form of a phsychotic dance. It is pointless, defiant, and typical of the film that it finishes-cinema's most bizarre ending?

This speaks more than words ever could.

White Heat (1949)- "On top of the world!"

*SPOILERS* Another fine entry into the weird endings canon. This one is a metaphor; an insane metaphor. It is also the perfect way to bid farewell to the classic James Cagney crook character that dominated the vintage noir period.
Like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino (2008), Cagney decided to end his action heyday by going out on his shield. Surrounded by police while atop an explosive tank, Cagney's Cody Jarett starts to see the funny side. Bellowing up at the sky (towards his dead mother) ye yells "I made it, Ma! I'm on top of the world!" The cheery fellow then shoots the tank- blowing himself into smithereens.
Now, we see the funny side too.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)- Buffalo Bill: the dance coach

To see a man as a killer is one thing, but to see the pathological self-hate that drove him to kill is much more frightening. Following the revelation that Bill is a woman trapped in a man's body, we eventually bear witness to one of cinema's creepiest and most memorable scenes. I dub it the "Man-Gina Dance"
To see the man conceal his penis as he prances around his basement in a dress declaring "Would you f**k  me? I'd f**k me!" Who said this film couldn't do subtlety?!

and, finally, the winner...

The Exorcist (1973)- Crucifix materbation

We really dont need the close-up...

Did you really think it would be anything else?
Here it is, perhaps the ultimate case of hair-raising, graphic, gut-wrenching excess in film. It is, indeed, arguably the most horrifyingly uncomfortable moment in any horror film. The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty has often said that the scene was born out of the need to make it plausible that an atheist actress would seek an exorcism for her young daughter.
Well, when Satan inspires the hand of a young girl to violently masterbate with a crucifix then, well, I think you can safely declare "plauibility established! Go exorcise that little girl!"

What a job.

Honourable mention: Five Easy Pieces toast
                                 Se7en head in a box
                                 Metropolis church gargoyles
                                 Fight Club "his name is Robert Paulson.."

Note: Videodrome (1983) could not be uncluded as every scene merits inclusion on the list.


Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises-The Kino Shout! Review

Title: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Verdict: 4/5

Great Films that are similar: Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight


So, here it is at last...

Four years of anticipation, Heath Ledger's great shadow, a tragic massacre, and a saga to finish- few movies could shoulder even one of these burdens, let alone all. Of course, in a Christopher Nolan film, courage is of the essence.

Indeed, the final outing for the Bale/Nolan caped crusader is as courageous as one would have anticipated. The opening image of cracking ice is poignant- a narrative this ambitious will always be skating on thin ice, narrowly avoiding failure in order to find success. Taking place eight years after the fan's beloved predecessor The Dark Knight (2008), the film presents a state of affairs so shocking that it's opening bears far greater resemblance to the saga's opener Batman Begins (2005).
The first thing to note is the air of deathly calm before the storm. There is a sense of silent doom that engulfs the film's opening gala scene:
  •  A divorced/virtually redundant Commissioner Gordon, 
  • Wayne Enterprises' financial trouble
  • The nihilistic, thieving anti-hero Selina Kyle
  • Alfred makes more sorry excuses and, not least...
  • A crippled, pathetic, helpless, depressed Bruce Wayne?!!
Yup, this is certainly a new direction.

"Nana-nana-nana-nana- Heartache!"
Now, I have no intention of getting into spoiler territory. Suffice to say, this is film of big ideas: can a hero have served his time? Is loss more galvanizing than privilege? Can you inspire good in others? But the biggest ideas surround the film's primary theme- suffering. There is a string of new characters for us to meet over the course of the first hour and each one carries suffering as a motivation- the working-class Selina Kyle stealing to survive, the spineless, ladder climbing Sgt. Foley (Modine), the honest-cop Blake (Gordon-Levitt) who is powerless without an honest system and the return of his boyhood hero. Throw in the fact that Commissioner Gordon is riddled with guilt about making a false idol and Alfred's dismay over the whole "Bane can break Batman in two" issue and this should be the most depressing power coup since the Gordon Brown administration...

And so, we move on to the all new villain...
We all know the line     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrLSR8px1BA

Indeed, with some unintentional donations from the Wayne foundation, Bane does seize Gotham and reduce it..well, not to ashes...more to Tim Burton-ish looking winter of discontent. Bane is, indeed, war incarnate. Whilst Heath Ledger's Joker was the face of a flamboyant nihilism, Bane's intents are bigger, more purposeful, and militant. Bane is more the face of Fascism- an idealist with a disgust for life. You may hate Tom Hardy's wry, Brit accent at first but, be assured, by the end of the film I cursed myself for ever doubting the portrayal. An opening action prologue within a plane provides an inspired introduction to Bane. There is nothing more terrifying than intelligent madness, and the notion that this guy could destroy Batman leads to the most epic of conclusion's for Gotham's fate.

And, whoop Batman's ass he does. But, then, this leads us to what are (in my humble opinion) the film's greatest scenes. Following an unsuccessful physical encounter with Bane, Bruce Wayne (unmasked) finds himself confined in the prison of Bane's youth. This is where the film's true themes manifest before our eyes.

To illustrate my point, check this out     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EgHhH4com4

This is the musical motif that persists through virtually every scene of The Dark Knight Rises. It is a chant meaning "rise", and it is found not only in the percussion of Hans Zimmer's score but also echoed in places diverse as Bruce Wayne's howls of pain and the rhythm of tools during a construction scene. So, why the importance of "rise?"


It comes from the pit. You see, in the prison of Bane's youth there is a vertical tunnel, gaping upwards towards the light, leading to freedom. Many men, aided with a harness, have attempted to climb to freedom and failed. They say that only a child has ever climbed to freedom. The catch? He did it without the rope. So, for Bruce to escape he must untie the rope; and use his of fear death to make the leap.

This, for me, is the true meaning of The Dark Knight Rises: That pain and strife exorcise all weakness, and make you whole. Bruce Wayne is told in the prison that he is a man of privilege, whilst Bane is a man born of suffering. Batman initially  cannot defeat Bane. In order to do so, he must face the tragedy within him-even if that means learning the truth about Rachel Dawes wanting to marry Harvey Dent instead of him.

In short, this is the story of the redemption of Bruce Wayne. Bruce must regain his will to live, even without Rachel by his side. You may have problems with the ending: a telegraphed twist, forced romance, broken promises regarding certain characters, a few unnecessary cameos, and silly death scenes from certain French actresses. The conclusion for the principle characters, I would suggest, satisfies entirely. You may be a tad melancholy at some of the more morose details, but we all knew it had to end this way. With Batman, we have always invested in the myth. Thankfully, The Dark Knight Rises ensures that, now, we have also invested in the man.

And so, it ends. It was good, it was bold, it was dignified; Batman bows out with honor, and now Nolan can move on to Memento 2: Memory Cops* in peace.

* not actually happening.

or Alfred: The Naughty Chap Rises

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Jobbers-10 of the Finest Obscure/Supporting Actors of all time!

I don't discuss actors nearly enough...

The term "movie star" will only ever be applied to the fortunate few. We all have an opinion on Cruises, Hanks', and Depps of this world. We may even smile gleefully upon seeing our icon-de-jour appear onscreen.
But few actors will ever be John Wayne or Marlon Brando...


So what of the average, work-a-day Hollywood actor? Or the reclusive star/non-actor that only acts a handful of times per decade? We may not be conscious of them, but if an occasional, semi-obscure actor can pick the right roles, it can get to a point where an actor whose name we cannot even recall can warm our heart far more than any Angelina Jolie.

How often do you see an actor onscreen and think "hey, it's that guy!"
Here is a loving tribute to some of "those guys"...

Philip Baker Hall

He is the charcoal-voiced, granite-faced old sage of many, many a contemporary classic. Although he didn't get his big break until his mid 50s (playing Richard Nixon in Secret Honor (1984), he has since worked with Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia), David Fincher (Zodiac), Michael Mann (The Insider) and Lars Von Trier (Dogville). In addition to owning the hell out of the world's top directors, he has also appeared in De Niro crime-comedy Midnight Run (1988), rom-com classic Say Anything (1989) and recent bromance-weepie 50/50 (2011). There's life in the old frog yet.

in Hard Eight
in Dogville

in 50/50

Crowning Moment:  As Jimmy Gator in Magnolia (1999)

At 68, Hall gave the performance of his lifetime as a veteran game show host that begins with him having sex in his office and ends with a gun in his mouth. In between he collapses on his gameshow stage and makes startling revelations regarding parenthood. His 'regret' speech is one of cinema's best.

Brigitte Bardot

Better known simply as one of the most attractive human beings to ever grace this Earth, Ms Bardot also managed to rack up a few (mostly French) film credits to her name. Lacking the success, but not the presence, of fellow beauty Claudia Cardinale, Bardot made do with bringing her unspeakably seductive presence to Robert Wise's epic Helen of Troy (1956) and Masculin Feminin (1966), as well as the sinister presence of Giuseppina in Fellini collaboration Spirits of the Dead (1968).

in Masculin Feminin

in Spirits of the Dead

Crowning Moment:

 It has to be her one true virtuoso performance in Godard's Contempt (1963). Her mysterious, semi-clothed presence in the first half of the film paves the way for her mysterious frivolity in the second half. Timeless.

Harry Dean Stanton

Roger Ebert once said that this guy was so good in small roles that no film in which he co-stars can be entirely bad. The now nearly 90 year old Stanton was Jack Nicholson's mentor. Be it as a lackee in a David Lynch film (Blue Velvet, INLAND EMPIE), a jovial electric chair test subject in The Green Mile (1999), or a discerning nightwatchman in this year's smash-hit The Avengers (2012), Stanton can make more of an impression in 30 seconds than most leading men can over the course of a movie.

in Alien

in The Green Mile

in The Avengers

Crowning Moment:

in Paris, Texas

Ironically, it is his only leading role- as Travis in Wim Wender's Paris, Texas (1984). Only Stanton can spend the first 20 minutes of a movie as a mute and the last half hour in virtually constant monologue, and communicate the same magic with each.


Peter Stormare

One of cinema's classic "who is he again?!" actors, Stormare has had his finger in every pie in method acting business. The Swede has inquired about the "house of pancake" in Fargo (1996), been a Russian Cosmonaut in Armageddon (1998), and fought Vince Vaughn in Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997). All of these things make him a hero.

in Fargo

in Minority Report

Crowning Moment:

in The Big Lebowski
I'm going to have to go with the amazing nihilist Uli the Nihilist (aka porn-star Karl Hungus) in the cult sensation The Big Lebowski (1998). "Tomorrow, we come back and we cut off your Johnson." Classy.

Tom Waits

Yes, he can steal a scene from Anthony Hopkins. The rag-tag music icon with the world's most congested throat is certainly an over-achiever. On top of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fames in 2011, Waits has also carved out a name for himself as a quirky character actor, all the while playing eye-catching, nuanced oddballs in the films of Francis Ford Coppola (One From the Heart, Bram Stoker's Dracula), Robert Altman (Short Cuts), and Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law, Coffee and Cigarettes).

in Down by Law

in Dracula

in Short Cuts

Crowning Moment:

How about playing himself in the Palme D'Or winning short later featured in Coffee and Cigarettes (2004)? His skill for vivid vocal improvisation works a treat when he attempts to convince Iggy Pop that he is a doctor on the side, all the while subtle goading him for not having songs on the juke-box. Gloriously cringe-inducing.

Lilian Gish

She acted for 70 years and always demanded attention. This sweet, sweet lady was as good as the epitome of virtue and hope in Griffith's Intolerance (1916) as she was as a charismatic old biddy Nettie Sloan in Robert Altman's A Wedding (1978)-62 years later! In between came titles like The Wind (1928) and Duel in the Sun (1946). Her final credit came in the form of The Whales of August (1987) at the age of 94! It could be said that Lillian Gish was Hollywood's all time great go-to jobber.

in Intolerance
in A Wedding

Crowning Moment:

in Night of the Hunter

It has to be as the faithful and wise guardian Rachel Cooper in the lyrical classic Night of the Hunter (1955). She is the perfect moral counterpoint for the children to Robert Mitchum's insane preacher, and her closing monologue "the children abide" would later be satired in The Big Lebowski (1998).

Quentin Tarantino

Okay, okay, so Tarantino is a pretty lousy actor. And, to make matters worse, his parts are almost almost extremely self-gratifying:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-7f7vVCqvI   -oh dear! Yet, think about it, what would those films have been without his smarmy, cocksure presence. Incomplete, you say?? Think about his confused glare in From Disk Till Dawn (1995), or Mr. Brown from Reservoir Dogs (1992) complaining that Mr.Brown is just a little bit "too close to Mister Shit."
Move over, Mr. Olivier!
in Reservoir Dogs

in Sleep with Me

in Pulp Fiction

Crowning Moment:
Death Proof
For me, he did it right as Warren the bartender in Death Proof (2007), a character for which he hardly needed to act in any capacity. "Warren sends 'em, we do 'em!" Amen.

David Bowie

He doesn't just throw on his red shoes and dance the blues, turns out old Ziggy is quite the method actor. Despite only acting about twice a decade, Bowie has been a Roman general in The Temptation of Christ, a law enforcer in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1994), and, of course, none other than Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige (2006). Oh Bowie, what accent will you put on next?!

in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

in The Prestige

Crowning Moment:

David Bowie is The Man Who Fell to Earth

Again, the irony is that Bowie's strongest is his one role as a leading man-not to mention his very first acting role! In The Man who Fell to Earth (1976) Bowie is a mysterious, brooding, romantic, and incorruptible alien super-being, brought down and corrupted by the foreign agent of humanity. He could well have taken home an Oscar for his first ever gig.

and, of course...

Rutger Hauer

You will laugh with him, you will cry with him, you will wonder what the hell he is saying. Rutger Hauer is the the ultimate part-time Hollywood success story: powerful, iconic, yet in almost nothing! Since his big break his scattered titles include John Carpenter's The Hitcher (1986), Sin City (2005), and Batman Begins (2005). You may not have seen titles like The Ostermann Weekend (1983), but you just know he was great in it anyways. Here's to you, o' obscure one.

as The Hitcher

in Sin City

in Batman Begins

Crowning Moment:

Blade Runner-"I've seen things..."

Simply to have appeared in the climax of Blade Runner (1982) is worthy of a big break unto itself, but to have completely improvised it's final monologue (one of the best in cinema history) is something on a whole new creative level-almost not of this planet. We wish every actor with a good career was this good...

Watch it again!!!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTzA_xesrL8

Honorable mention: Woody Strode, Slim Pickens, James Spader

Too Obvious (Take them as a Given) : Eli Wallach, Steve Buscemi, Bruce Campbell

Thank you for your readership!!!!!
Ross @ Kino Shout!