Friday, June 24, 2016

Favorite Scene Friday! Josey, Jamie, Abe, Lige, and The Rose of Alabama.

This week's FSF is by Nick from French Toast Sunday. Check out his other guest posts here.

We all have those movies we quote. A line, no matter how prevalent or obscure, creeps into our subconscious and ends up becoming a part of who we are. Whenever I find myself in a heated moment and someone points out that I’m heated, my immediate reaction is to shrug it off and reply, “calmer than you are.” Thanks to French Toast Sunday's infatuation with Clue whenever someone says the phrase, “to make a long story short” I immediately toss in, “too late.” It’s fun. I don’t just do this with friends, I do it with my family too. My mother and I will often exchange quotes from Cast Away and Silence of the Lambs while my uncle and I quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Deadwood a little too much. I realize Deadwood isn't a movie but they say if you put something out into the universe it becomes an experience. I don’t know who said it and clearly I’m paraphrasing but you get the point and I think the world would be a better place if there was a Deadwood film. #DeadwoodMovie #DeadwoodPancakes


When it comes to my father, there is one film among all others that we quote the most and that’s the 1976 western The Outlaw Josey Wales. Clint Eastwood’s fifth directorial effort, and one of the many films he starred in, is about a farmer whose wife and child are killed after the Civil War and he takes it upon himself to exact revenge. My father introduced me to this film at a young age. Probably too young, as is the case with most good films we see growing up. It blew me away. The film was very bleak and that was a big change for me. Up to this point I was watching Disney films (both animated and non) and musicals. I wasn’t watching men ride around on horses killing each other and struggling to survive America post civil war. I didn’t even know what the Civil War was when I watched this film. Of all the great moments and quotes in this film, this scene sticks out to me the most and I think it’s because it’s the film at it’s lightest. It’s a break from the bleakness of the west and while yes, it’s a potentially dangerous moment for Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) and Jamie (Sam Bottoms), the danger is downplayed by two very cartoonish gentlemen (played wonderfully by Len Lesser and Doug McGrath) who hope to capitalize on the $5,000 bounty currently on Wales’ head.

The scene might seem unnecessary but I always found it to be important. Throughout the film, Josey continually tries to be left alone and fight his battles himself but he always manages to have a companion. Often times, that companion proves vital either by saving his life or by helping Josey get to the next step of his revenge. This moment is no different as Jamie serves as a distraction while Josey lays the final blow. Or shot. However you want to word it. It also shows how much colder Josey has become. He doesn’t want to deal with Jamie’s health problems, he refers to earth as “Hell’s creation” and he leaves the dead bodies behind so the buzzards and worms have something to eat. Cold. Blooded.

There isn’t a line from this scene that my father and I don’t quote to one another. Each one has it’s own unique purpose and perfect moment of execution. I can remember as a kid coming to my father for something and whenever I began a question with, “Hey Dad…” sixty percent of the time my father would reply “I ain’t your pa…. now shut up!”. I can see how this might seem cruel cause when you read it on paper without proper context or inflection it definitely gives that vibe off, but I can promise you it was said with love most of the time. There have also been times where lines were inserted in situations they had no place being in. I can remember several times while driving, a car would put on a turn signal, showing its intent to merge into our lane in front of us and I’d slide in, “Watch him Abe” to which my father, again, lovingly, would reply, “shut up Lige…” And before you ask, yes I have been threatened with beatings using a knotted plow line. The only other film my father and I quote so frequently to each other is Blazing Saddles, but that’s another scene for another Friday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Favorite Scene Friday! Obvious Child

I recently caught 2014's Obvious Child for the first time and really enjoyed it. The film follows Jenny Slate's Donna as she deals with an unplanned pregnancy after a drunken romp with Jake Lacy's Max (you may recognize Jake from later seasons of The Office). The two turned in excellent, true-to-life performances, and Slate was particularly strong. I've always loved everything she's done comedy-wise (Kroll Show, Parks and RecreationMarcel the Shell with Shoes On) and it was nice to see her do something with a serious aspect.

By Source, Fair use, Wikipedia

Weird side note - I'd heard recently she was dating Chris "Captain America" Evans (another reason to love her) and stumbled across the (slightly out of date) news that she might actually be pregnant with his child.

Leading up to this week's scene, Donna - a stand-up comedian - meets Max at a bar, they get really drunk, Max farts in her face while they're both peeing in an alley, and it all culminates in fun, drunken shenanigans set to Paul Simon's "Obvious Child" (what else?). Enjoy!

Bonus! Enjoy the not-what-I-was-expecting-but-pretty-awesome video for Simon's "Obvious Child" below.

What's your favorite Jenny Slate scene?

Would you have Captain America's baby?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Favorite Scene Friday: The Adventures of Tintin: Falcon Around

I've often heard it pondered as to why there aren't many great family films these days. Not films aimed solely at children, or ones that have just enough wit to keep parents engaged simultaneously, but films that are genuinely fun, entertaining and appealing for people of all ages. Films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future or Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Large scale action/adventure romps that are endlessly thrilling but have plenty of depth for repeat viewings. One recent potential candidate that unfortunately failed to grasp the public's affections was Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Poster by Jonas StÃ¥hl

It's by no means a perfect film, but it's far better than it's lack of notoriety would have you believe, and there's one scene in particular that should be discussed amongst the conversations of great long tracking shots. Granted this shot comes with a fairly hefty asterisk in that it's in an animated film, but considering it was made using motion capture then large chunks of it - possibly the whole thing, I don't know - would have been shot in sequence. The film concerns Tintin (Jamie Bell), an intrepid Belgian reporter who recently came into contact with one of three scrolls which may lead to the location of a large stash of treasure previously considered lost. Tintin's adventure has brought him into the companionship of sozzled salt Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and up against the villainous Sakharine (Daniel Craig), who wants the treasure for himself and has just succeeded in acquiring all three scrolls. Haddock, through little fault of his own, lost Tintin's scroll to Sakharine just before this scene, which is the final straw in terms of Tintin putting up with the captain's alcohol-soaked antics. Anyway, here's the scene. The shot I'm particularly focusing on begins at the 2:10 mark and ends at 4:41.

Great, isn't it? It's such a fun scene. I love the repercussions small events have on the rest of the action, like Haddock accidentally shooting the bazooka backwards and hitting the dam, causing the sluices to open and a river to appear through the middle of the scene. Every character always has something to do, down to Tintin's impossibly proactive dog Snowy, Sakharine's even more useful falcon and his drivers, played by Mackenzie Crook and Daniel Mays. The smaller beats within the larger scene all make a certain kind of sense within the rules of the film and all flow wonderfully into one another, and there are enough surprising, unexpected moments too, such as the tank trundling along with a building on top of it. Everything happens very quickly yet is still relatively easy to comprehend and keep track of, even once almost everyone is on their own personal mode of transport, and the final moments, with Tintin sailing along a handy wire with the remnants of his motorcycle and then a lantern are just awesome. It's that kind of thing that really showcases what animation can really do. Sure, that kind of shot would be possible in live action, but to do so as part of - and at the end of - a shot already two minutes long in which a dog and falcon fight in mid-air over some ludicrously robust ancient scrolls? I don't think so.

This was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy, with Peter Jackson helming part two and an as-yet unconfirmed director for the third instalment, but alas production seems to have stalled. There are rumours that Jackson is now just producing, but the project has been off-and-on since before this film even came out, so I'm not holding my breathe. Regardless, if you've not checked out The Secret Of The Unicorn then I'd highly recommend that you do.

What's your favourite under-rated long shot?