Moments out of time
, with plot or thematic spoilers
for the respective films.
Since this is a longer post, I’m putting it in the body of the blog rather than the “comments” section. Hope that’s okay.
, dir. Adrian Lyne.
The “scene in the train”: Connie Sumner remembers, during her train ride home, her first act of infidelity. As she recalls the details of their lovemaking, we see her reaction reflected in her face and body language: fleeting moments of lust, excitement, shame, fear, embarrassment, desire, and fulfilment. It’s a complex, convincing, and compelling scene, confidently carried off by Diane Lane as Connie. If only the rest of the film had lived up to the richness and shading suggested by this bravura sequence.
Road to Perdition
, dir. Sam Mendes.
this film; can I nominate the whole film? No...?
*Connor (Daniel Craig) and John Rooney (Paul Newman) at a meeting, the morning after Connor’s taken it upon himself to – seemingly in a fit of impetuosity – kill Finn McGovern and his crew. Connor, cocky and glib, blithely starts to explain/apologize away the events of the previous evening. But Rooney Senior is in no mood to dismiss the deaths of several good men. Erupting in anger, steely-eyed and voiced, he progressively reduces his son to stammering, chastened, and suitably belittled awkwardness. It’s a magnificent
scene, superbly written and performed. It sketches, in a few deft strokes, Connor’s character. And shows, in a few equally telling moments, the sheer force and strength of John Rooney’s will. This film has a towering performance by Newman; less often commented on, is the excellent one by Daniel Craig.
*The whole sequence in which Connor’s killed: the preliminary phone-call to Nitti; then the long shot following Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) into the hotel where Connor is in hiding. The man at the lift entrance, knowing what to expect, silently stands aside; Sullivan purposefully strides down the corridor, removing his gun from his coat with a practised and anticipatory stretch of his arm. Connor is in an all-white bathroom. The shooting is heard, rather than seen. Then, as Sullivan exits, the bathroom door swings open, and we see in its mirror, Connor bathed in red, his blood splotched against the white tiles and tub. Music, cinematography, and direction all work in unison, creating a sequence of terrible beauty.
*One miniscule scene, that no-one else seems to have commented on: Sullivan and Mike Jr. are both staying/hiding at a farm belonging to a kindly couple. Sullivan’s been shot, and nursed back to health by his son. Now in recuperation, he sits on the porch and watches as Mike Jr. helps the elderly farmer at his work. Also watching from the porch, the farmer’s wife notes of Mike Jr., “He dotes on you, you know...”. But Sullivan doesn’t
know it. For him, it’s a moment of realization and recognition: that the love that he has for his son, is returned. Hank’s flicker of surprise, consideration, then acceptance, gratitude, and bittersweet emotion, are all there and gone in a couple of seconds: a startled glance (not quite a double-take), two beats while the comment registers, then the rueful smile. It was an understated, but moving moment; and in a film filled
with memorable scenes, that one stayed with me for a long time.
All or Nothing
, dir. Mike Leigh. [post adapted from one posted in Sept 02]
The fight between Penny and Phil Bassett: For the first three-quarters of the film, life for the Bassetts is bleak, bleak, bleak. Although both are working and (just) financially afloat, their emotional lives are utterly impoverished. Penny (Leslie Manville) waits in impotent despair when her bullying, overweight teenaged son screams at her, while her husband Phil (Timothy Spall) says nothing to stop it. Phil himself is the very picture of a loser: shambling, stoop-shouldered, lank hair hanging over his face, - he has the dogged, hopeless demeanour of a man who only asks to be left alone. After a thoroughly depressing hour with these characters, Leigh then challenges us to empathise with them. - And amazingly, against all odds, somehow succeeds. A medical crisis in the Bassett household acts as a catalyst for a long-overdue confrontation, the crux of the film: a long, uninterrupted scene in which Penny and Phil, in a searing sequence of accusations, recriminations and regrets, ask each other – and themselves - some painful but necessary questions. In a flood of honesty, anger, and catharsis, Penny and Phil fight their way through to understanding, love, hope, and a kind of grace.
, dir. Steven Shainberg.
Finding oneself; finding your “soul-mate”, learning to trust, to love, to give, and to receive. So simple; and yet so hard. Secretary
is a strange, challenging, and touching film; and perhaps the most courageous and difficult scene is one in which E. Edward Grey (James Spader) asks Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to bend over his desk, lift up her skirt, and remove her panties. We aren’t sure what E. Edward’ll do; neither is Lee. The character, and film, asks that we trust them.
More compelling than the physical actions during that scene, is its emotional nakedness: E. Edward is conflicted, unable to acknowledge and articulate his needs; Lee is beginning to recognize and accept hers. At this pivotal moment, the balance of psychological power decisively shifts.
, dir. Tom Tykwer.
Philippa (Cate Blanchett) has been arrested for – so she believes – the murder of the drug dealer responsible for her husband’s death. In the interrogation room, she discovers that her bomb instead killed several innocent people – a janitor, and a family with children – instead. In a single close-up, her face expresses shock, grief, guilt, remorse. Tears flood her eyes, and she begins to cry.
The rest of the film - slight, and uncertain as to what it wants to be, doesn’t live up to the promise of that scene. But what promise...!
, I also remember that you loved the opening shot of the film.)
Great question, many interesting answers. Thanks, shroom
And a Happy New Year to my fellow Milkplusers!