EPISODE 368: WHATEVER WORKS

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10 Responses

  1. Philip says:

    Enemies having to work together against a common foe is one that gets me pumped up every time.

  2. Craig says:

    Great episode!

    The thing that works for me nearly every time is when people come together in acts of solidarity. The “I know your angry” speech in MILK is my favorite example and it makes me tear up nearly every time (and I got goosebumps just typing it!).

    I also love watching characters eat and prepare food. A great, and recent example, is BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR. Those scenes where they learn to prepare and eat shellfish are some of the most revealing and delightful moments of the entire film.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I ate some pasta bolognese the first chance I got after seeing Blue Is the Warmest Color.

      – David

  3. Seth H. says:

    Being a struggling musician, I’m naturally drawn to movies that feature struggling musicians. I don’t even have to like the music. Hustle & Flow is the perfect example. I care almost nothing for hip-hop, but damn if that isn’t one of my favorite films of all time. Bonus points, though, if the movie has fighting bandmates: Almost Famous, The Commitments, Hard Core Logo, even the admittedly corny Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg. Love ’em all.

    I’m also a sucker for anything “meta” (which I know David just LOVES). I don’t know why. Too much Animaniacs as a child, I guess.

  4. Seth H. says:

    Oh, thought of another one. Any scene of people working in a field or on a chain gang (Days of Heaven and Cool Hand Luke spring to mind, respectively). Even better if they’re singing. Gets me every time.

  5. Mike says:

    I hate to admit this, but when the song “Hurt” by NIN was thrown onto a scene at the end of The Hangover Part 3, chills were sent down my spine. I didn’t laugh once in that entire film, but that scene somehow worked for me.

  6. Ray (@RaySquirrel) says:

    I was listening to the episode today and was thinking about Oliver Stone’s JFK just as Tyler brought it up. When you examine that film the story is simply Jim Garison talking to a lot of people. The whole story of Lee Harvey Oswald and all the conspiracy theory is simply a projection of the characters thoughts, what my film theory professor Bruce Kawin would call a “mindscreen”. (Also the name of one of his books on film theory which I highly recommend) And when I think about it many of my favorite films tell stories within stories or have numerous stories running parallel to one another: Citizen Kane, Roshomon, Hara-Kiri, Last Year At Marienbad, F for Fake, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Cloud Atlas.

  7. Hudsucker says:

    I love it when something looks intentionally ugly and it’s pulled off really well. Rango and the fallen angels in Noah are good examples.

  8. Scott Nye says:

    You guys covered a few of my favorites – professionalism and process are big for me, as well. Little signs of routines in relationships always work, as well; Zodiac has a ton of them, but I always think of that part where Mark Ruffalo is meeting Anthony Edwards in a cafe to go over some new information. Ruffalo indicates in a very small way towards half of Edwards’ sandwich, and Edwards just sighs and slides the plate over. In Howard Hawks’s Ceiling Zero, there’s this scene in which James Cagney’s trying to assure one of his latest romantic conquests that he’s stayed true to her; all the while he’s madly coming up with lie after lie on the phone, his two pals are sitting on either side of him, undermining the lies they’ve heard him tell other women a thousand times. Beautiful.

    Anytime a director can work quite specific choreography into a shot, even outisde of musicals, having each performer move in, about, and out of the frame in specific, rhythmic ways…guaranteed to win me over.

    Big, defining introductions to characters also goes a long way. David’s favorite scene in the world from Charlie Wilson’s War would be one. There’s also this screwball comedy called Libeled Lady that manages to give really tremendous intros to each of its four main stars, the best of which is Jean Harlow’s. Harlow plays Spencer Tracy’s fiancee; Tracy is a newspaperman who has delayed their wedding countless times because some story or another comes his way. So sure enough, as we meet them, he’s stood her up yet again, and she comes marching into the newspaper office – in her wedding dress! – to tell him, in front of all his friends and coworkers, once and for all that they’re through.

    Screenwriters using one thing to stand in for another thing in dialogue is an absolute pleasure. This is all over Ernst Lubitsch’s filmography, but the clearest example, that needs no context, comes from another Howard Hawks film, Red River: “There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun: a Swiss watch or a woman from anywhere. Ever had a good… Swiss watch?”

    Also, anytime a character has pinned a great deal of their hopes on this one incredible thing working out, and then it just flat-out doesn’t, and they’re just as stranded as before…I’m a big fan of that. Whatever that says about me. See: nearly any Mikio Naruse film.

    And finally, a little thing I’ll call “acknowledging the artifice,” or otherwise celebrating the fake-ness of movies. Doesn’t have to be a “meta” touch or whatever, just throwing notions of “realism” (which doesn’t exist anyway) out the window and letting the film be a film.

  9. Juhani Kenttä says:

    The visual of a road in front of us while we’re going forward in a moving vehicle. For some reason that always gets to me. My favorite scene from Solyaris is probably that long highway scene. Hell, The Brown Bunny is one of my favorite movies and half of the movie is of that aforementioned visual through a bug-splattered windshield.

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