Friday, December 22, 2006

2006 movie moments

As stated before, I won't give my best of 2006 until at least seeing Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," but this is just a little different.

Here, instead, are 10 scenes that have lingered on my brain the longest. These aren't necessarily the best movies I've seen this year, but they at least had these moments that have managed to stick with me.

Dave Chappelle's Block Party
There's so much to choose from in this feast for the senses, which somehow didn't really catch fire at the box office. The triumphant return of the Fugees at the end was certainly a high point, but for me my favorite moment was a fairly quiet one when Dave's sitting on the drum kit and surveying the audience: After asking if there are any Mexicans in the audience, he breaks into his Mexican Lil Jon: "Que! Que!" A silly moment, for sure, but it was just so great to see him having fun again. If you haven't seen this magnificent Michel Gondry flick, do so right away.

Thank You for Smoking
"Borat" and even "Beerfest" may have been more laugh-out-loud funny than this one, but as smart political satire, it stands tall as the rare exception to a dying breed. My favorite scene would have to be in Rob Lowe's Hollywood office, when he's trying to explain to Aaron Eckhart's Nick Naylor how astronauts would be able to smoke in space. Priceless.

V for Vendetta
After seeing V for Vendetta, I'm now thoroughly convinced that Alan Moore will never be happy with a movie made from one of his graphic novels, because they won't get much better than this one. If you somehow haven't seen this, skip the next sentence. The ending sequence of "V," as our hero staggers into the subway station and is placed on the train full of explosives by Natalie Portman's Evey, is just a joy to watch.

Nacho Libre
I know a lot of people just hated this one, but I found it to be charming, albeit seriously silly. If you've seen this and can honestly say you didn't laugh out loud when Nacho fought those fur-covered midgets that looked something out of "The Wizard of Oz," I'm not sure I can believe you. I still have nightmares about those creepy little dudes.

Clerks II
Sure, this pales in comparison to Kevin Smith's original movie, but in long stretches its just extremely funny. The best for me came when Wanda Sykes and the comedian Earthquake are trying to order at Mooby's just as Randal is trying to explain why he thinks it's OK to use the word "porch monkey." It's wrong in almost every way, but I certainly laughed, and won't apologize for that.

Tristram Shandy
I'm not sure this qualifies as 2006, but I don't think it came out in the U.S. until January, so I'll claim it. Steve Coogan is a brilliant ball of blustery ego in this one, and there's funny bits throughout, but I have to admit that what I won't forget is Tristram's sudden and accidental circumcision at the age of 3. If you haven't seen it, think of the worst scenario, then be ready for more when you get around to it.

Pedro Almodovar's female flick is really slow in getting started, but it's among his best in the final third. By the time mother and daughter Carmen Maura and Penelope Cruz are revealing all their secrets to each other on that park bench, I was thoroughly hooked.

Though I only do a few crossword puzzles a week, I felt an instant connection with the geeks it so adoringly chronicles at the national crossword contest, or whatever it's called. My favorite by far was Ellen Ripstein, who as we first meet her defiantly describes how she dumped a boyfriend who challenged her crossword-puzzle addiction, and is later seen twirling her baton in Central Park. She's just adorable.

Up until now these haven't been in order, but count these last two as my two favorite movie moments of 2006. There are many searing scenes to choose from in Babel, but the Mexican wedding sequence was the best for me. It's the best party sequence I had seen since the street party in "City of God," and is just a nearly flawless mix of peril and joy.

Little Miss Sunshine
I'm fairly certain that anyone who bothers to read this will have seen "LMS" by now, but if not, stop now. The end of this movie is, I can definitely say, like nothing I had seen before. Up until they reach the pageant I was enjoying the flick enough, but it reaches a whole new level once you see those poor young ladies made up to look like whores, and once Abigail Breslin finally takes the stage, break out your hankies. It's pure schmaltz, but it works for me, and obviously for many other people too.

So, there you have it. I'm sure there are many I have overlooked (at least 10 more would have made the list from me if I had more time.) Please feel free to share any scenes you won't soon forget, and have a great holiday weekend.


Anonymous said...

Loved V and wordplay.
Might go to see Babel in Philly, if we don't want to wait for the DVD.
Offtopic.. What do you think about Good Shepherd? I love how MAtt Damon just molds himself in to the characters he plays.

Happy holidays

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't had a chance to see that one yet, sanjay ... This weekend, I might stick to Night at the Museum and Rocky Balboa, so it might have to wait another week for me

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you on a lot of these, especially Thank You For Smoking and V For Vendetta (I still haven't seen Little Miss Sunshine). I think I would also throw in the two "magician" movies, The Illusionist and The Prestige. Never mind the oddity of having two so similarly themed movies in one year (when was the last major motion picture about stage magicians), it was also an oddity because they were both really good.

Reel Fanatic said...

I skipped "The Illusionist," Mercurie, but I have to agree with you on "The Prestige" .. the gotcha scene, with all the hats and the cat, is just a stunner

Anonymous said...

I clearly didn't see as many movies as you did this year, but those that I recognize on your list were certainly memorable moments. Two others I'll share:

Prairie Home Companion, not my favorite movie of the year, but I liked it nonetheless, had a scene where Kevin Kline is talking to a very pregnant Maya Rudolph and says, "You need to lay of the sweets... either that or the sex with men."

The other was the ending to Michael Gondry's flawed Science of Sleep where St├ęphanie climbs into bed with St├ęphane and holds him. That scene touched me in ways that the entire rest of the movie couldn't/didn't.

Linda said...

What sticks with me this year is the scene in Little Miss Sunshine when Olive consoles Dwayne on the roadside. Not a word spoken, and one of the most powerful scences I saw in film this year!

Reel Fanatic said...

I do see too many movies probably, Mr. Lizard, but you seem to see better ones than I do ... PHC only played for one week at our theater, so I'm ashamed to say I missed the great Mr. Altman's final flick, and The Science of Sleep never even came near us

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I really liked "V" and "LMS" was my favorite movie of the year. I cried from laughter through out that whole flick. And the ending!! I couldn't breath I was laughing so hard. We just bought it on DVD the other day.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

OH and I'm doing a little post on, "I Heart Huckabees" today. I'm putting in the post some of my favorite quotes. I loved that movie.

Anonymous said...

So maybe Clerks 2 pales in comparison to the first in terms of originality, but it was sooo much more laugh-out-loud funny!

I really really really wish I saw Block Party and Thank You For Smoking. I really wanted to see both and missed my chance!

Reel Fanatic said...

They're both well worth checking out on DVD, elton ... the block party especially .. it helps if you like hip-hop music, which I do, but even if you don't, it's just a really fun event

Anonymous said...

Those are some great choices, Reel Fanatic. As I thought back on the movies I saw this year I had a difficult time coming up with any isolated scenes, aside from some of the ones you mentioned, that I truly loved (although I thought of several whole movies that I loved).

The only other moment that I found memorable (in a film that wasn't even that great, though I confess I did enjoy it) came at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.


When Johnny Depp slowly turns around to face the Kraken who bellows at him (spitting out his hat in the process which was kind of funny given that Jack was looking for his hat throughout the entire film). He puts it on, smiles, says "Hello, beastie," pulls out his sword and (in a great final shot) gets swallowed up as he stabs at the monster with the sword. I like this scene for a couple reasons.

Firstly, I thought it was pretty bold of the filmmakers to kill off their main character... even though a) I should've seen it coming given that there is a lot of imagery in the film foreshadowing it (the first time we see Jack he's in a coffin, later he accidentally falls into an open grave, etc) and b) we ALL know he won't be dead for long.

Also, the slow-mo shot where Jack pulls back his sword ready to thrust it forward reminded me of what I believe is a famous painting of a pirate striking a similar pose (I think it was used in Goonies). That's also when I realized, sitting in the theatre, that the character of Capt. Jack Sparrow had at last reached mythic proportions. I've always loved characters who die fighting (such as Pacino's spectacular demise in a "blaze of glory" at the end of Scarface). If ya gotta go, that's the way to do it. :)

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the spoiler warning, Damian (just in case one of the three people who haven't seen Pirates 2 happen to stop by here!) ... The end of that sequel was indeed a real winner, but I'm afraid what it will create is a wave of cliffhanger endings to fuel sequel fodder, many of which won't be of that high caliber

Anonymous said...

Some excellent choices and, though we'll have to disagree on "Nacho Libre," I really appreciated your reasons, especially your comment in LMS. I was especially glad to see "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" and "Thank You for Smoking" on your list. I thought that in LMS, a film with across the board superb performances, Steve Carrell really stood out. On the other hand, in C2, Rosario's superior acting ability threw the movie a little off-balance. To comment on some of your commenters -- I also agree with Linda's point on LMS, one of the sweetest scenes I have ever watched. And I endorse the recommendations of PHC and "The Prestige." Let me also add one of my favorite films of the year that got very little theater time -- "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles."

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to say it is one of my favorite things about writing this, Nell, when someone suggests something I've never even heard of ... I have no idea what "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" is, but I've already added it to my Netflix queue, so I won't be able to say that for long

Chris said...

All right, I'll give this a try. Although I'd like to go on a long comment here about my favorite scenes from 2006 (that I'll save for my own site), I'll at least give you my most memorable moment, and it comes from a movie that I feel hasn't been topped all year: United 93.

When an air traffic controller watches the little blip that is American Airlines 11 vanish on his screen, with the accompaniment of the faintest echo of reverberation on the soundtrack (absolutely chilling), he says, "AA11 just disappeared somewhere over Manhattan." The scene resonates for so many reasons.

Reel Fanatic said...

It does indeed, Chris ... The re-creation of that horrid day in the first 90 minutes or so of United 93 is a unique accomplishment to be lauded ... I've admitted here before that I had to turn away from the screen at several points in the closing minutes, knowing all too well how it would all end, but that has much more to with me being a big wuss than with any flaw in the film itself

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the spoiler alert on V For Vendetta. I skipped that last sentence!

Reel Fanatic said...

I always try my best to warn people, Mr. *, because I get thoroughly annoyed when people spoil things for me!

Anonymous said...

At the risk of redundancy, kudos to your sticking up for V for Vendetta. Your comments about its authors' pissiness over the adaptation are spot-on.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks, Tony ... I have read several of his graphic novels, but have decided to stop because he just seems to be such an asshole!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog Reel Fanatic and some nice mentions in this article. I loved V and one scene in particular: Valerie and the telling of her life. Dario Marianelli's music along with the scene are amazing.

Fresh in my mind as well are a couple of scenes from Children of Men. I will never forget the 7-8 minute long lasting scene with no cuts. Just amazing.

-Thanks for your compliment as well. =]

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm going to see Children of Men today, Kevin, assuming that my car can make it there and back, and expecting to be thoroughly blown away