Friday, July 18, 2014

Favorite Scene Friday! Jurassic Park: Special Delivery

This week's FSF! was written by Jay from Life vs Film!


When Robert asked if I'd be interested in writing another Favorite Scene Friday, and during the month French Toast Sunday is celebrating the work of Steven Spielberg no less, there was only one possible film I'd be talking about. Jurassic Park is hands down my favourite movie of all time, and I talk about it as often as possible, so here I am talking about it again. I'm aware that Robert has highlighted a scene from Jurassic Park before - when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler first clap eyes upon some dinosaurs - but that isn't my favourite scene. I could quite happily do a whole series of posts on this movie, with my top 5, 10 or maybe even 15 scenes in the film (20, if you include the rest of the franchise), but I'm going to stick just with one, the opening.

After the Universal logo, and over the opening credits, we get the start of John Williams' awesome score, but here it isn't in rousing mode, it's ominous. There's something coming, something deadly, something the crowd of hard-hat-wearing workmen are equally anticipating and dreading. I love how the trees rustle, and everyone is looking up in expectation, and we're supposed to think a T-Rex is going to come crashing through the trees. No, that's later. For now, we get a fork lift truck carrying a crate, big enough for a large horse, or a six-foot turkey, if you will. The most we see of what's in that crate is a couple of shots of its terrifying eyes through the slats in the side, yet with the use of some great sound design, terrific reactions from the men unloading the cage, and some animatronic flailing from the crate, we completely believe there's a dinosaur in that cage.

Of course, it helps when said dinosaur actually kills someone, which is what happens, less than four minutes into this film. Bearing in mind this is a movie entirely based around dinosaurs as being a theme park attraction, the concept of them killing and eating the customers or staff at said theme park may not have been forefront in the minds of the movie's audience upon that first viewing. It's understandable that the workmen in the film are apprehensive of this large, unknown creature before them, but do any of them think their lives are really at risk? Probably not, other than Muldoon, the only guy who can make tight khaki shorts look badass, even at night, but maybe these workers should have been a bit more wary, especially the gatekeeper, whose job it is to climb on top of the cage containing a live velociraptor and pull up the rather heavy-looking door, releasing it into its enclosure. I'll say that again. He gingerly mounts a cage, holding a LIVE VELOCIRAPTOR. It's not sedated (why the hell isn't it sedated? WHY?), it's not unconscious, it's a giant, carnivorous, eating machine, surrounded by a walking buffet. Of course, it all goes a little awry and we're left with Muldoon desperately trying to hold on to the man being dragged into the cage, the doomed man's arm gradually slipping through Muldoon's grasp as he bellows "Shoot her! Shoot her!" whilst the beast shrieks and screams in a blood-lusting frenzy.

If you didn't know dinosaurs were dangerous before this point, you bloody well do now.

What's your favourite scene from Jurassic Park?

Monday, July 14, 2014

LAMBcast #226: Taxi Driver

Jess, JD and Movie of the Month champion Will joined Jay and me for a discussion about Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese's classic film about a mentally unstable taxi driver named Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) who sets out to clean up the streets of New York. He's just gotta eat some apple pie with cheese first.

Some notes/highlights!

  • Do you think the ending (post shootout) was real or some sort of death/dream? 
  • We talked quite a bit about Travis' diet. Apple pie with cheese and liquor poured over bread (was he trying to make bread pudding or something?) are just a few of Travis' favorite snacks.
  • Here's that "Rorschach Meets Travis Bickle" thing Will talks about. It's from "Before Watchmen", a series of prequel comics that came out a few years back. As far as I know, "Watchmen" writer Alan Moore wasn't involved with those comics at all. 
Bleeding Cool

  • My Travis Bickle impression does kind of suck. But did Jess do one? No!!! Someday she will. Oh yes, someday.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Favorite Scene Friday! E.T.: "He's alive!"

E.T., the 1982 movie about a boy and his alien, is classic early Spielberg. It's been reconfigured, ripped off, and emulated over the years, but it's still the one and only. One of my favorite tidbits about E.T. is that it complements Poltergeist, another classic Spielberg flick. "Poltergeist is what I fear and E.T. is what I love," Spielberg is quoted as saying. “One is about suburban evil, and the other is about suburban good". But even though E.T. is one side of a larger coin for Spielberg, it still stands on its own.

Andy Fairhurst Art via Geek Tyrant

This week's scene focuses on a bit towards the end of the film, when Elliot (Henry Thomas) believes his alien buddy to be dead. Spoiler alert - it's pretty sad. "He must be dead...'cause I don't know how to feel. I can't feel anything anymore." HOLY SHIT, ELLIOT. That's the saddest thing I've ever heard.

No sooner does Elliot close the lid to E.T.'s icebox/coffin than some nearby dead flowers perk back up, and Elliot realizes that his friend may still be alive. He opens the glowing box and, sure enough, E.T. is ALIVE and he's very quick to remind Elliott that he phoned his alien pals for help. Elliot's reaction is one of pure, unfiltered joy and excitement. Just try not to get goosebumps as Elliot yells for joy and that John Williams score cranks up.

Robert MacNaughton as Elliot's big brother Michael is an unsung hero of the film if you ask me. One of my favorite parts of this scene is his reaction to Elliot's good news towards the end and the resulting head bump. Hey if you want more Spielberg, tune into French Toast Sunday. They're spotlighting The Beard throughout the entire month of July!

French Toast Sunday
What's your favorite scene from E.T.?