Scenes We Love

Scenes We Love: The Fifth Element

It sometimes seems like Luc Besson‘s name is attached to everything these days. Hardly a week goes by without seeing some new action flick- a Taken here, a Columbiana there- with Besson attached as a producer or writer, but as a director he’s far less prolific. He’s directed a slew of Arthur movies, based off a series of children’s books he also wrote himself, but besides that, the words “directed by Luc Besson” are scarcely seen. So this weekend, which sees the release of the Besson-directed The Family, is a happy occasion (unless you’re Jack Giroux, our own critic who didn’t particularly care for the film). There’s no better time to take a fond look back at one of Besson’s most ambitious and, not coincidentally, most bizarre films: 1997′s The Fifth Element.

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true romance hopper

Tony Scott‘s True Romance is probably one of my top ten all-time favorite movies, which is kind of weird since Badlands is one of my top five all-time favorite films. Or maybe it’s appropriate that this is the case. I’m sure that one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie is because of how directly it’s inspired by and references the earlier Terrence Malick film. Notice I make the distinction between movies and films. Scott made movies, Malick makes films. Scott also made a movie I like that directly references another of my all-time favorite films (Enemy of the State –> The Conversation). I was sad when Scott died particularly because I was hoping he’d eventually cover all my top shelf titles (just imagine what he could have done with Duck Soup!). Then again, maybe he’d have just redone himself, the way he did with Domino, which is like a bad remake of True Romance. Anyway, True Romance turns 20 years old this week. Warner Bros. released the movie on September 10, 1993, and it came in at #3 for its opening weekend, behind reigning champ The Fugitive and fellow newcomer Undercover Blues (uh?). In honor of the anniversary, let’s take a look at some scenes we love. It was hard to narrow down, of course, so we went with major character moments.

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blofeld scaredy cat

Last week, a quote from Daniel Craig hit the movie blogosphere about the potential future of the James Bond movies. “Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche,” he told Vulture, adding that he wishes he could ham it up more but he’s just not good at it. That doesn’t sound like he’s against uttering one-liners, which can be delivered with a straight face, dry as a martini, but rather he seems to want some humor without self-parody or nostalgic trappings of recalling past installments. That makes sense, as his 007 run is a kind of fresh start, minus some nods to the older films as with the Aston Martin appearance in Skyfall. Whatever Craig is hinting at with his remark, we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the funnier moments in the first 50 years of Bond movies. And we’ve excluded those scenes making us laugh with just with puns and double entendre and other witty dialogue. We’ve also left out the alligator farm escape from Live and Let Die — my personal favorite — because it was one of the clips we spotlighted in another edition of Scenes We Love last fall. Some of these were definitely scripted or directed for comedy while some others are unintentionally humorous. After checking out our selection of scenes, let us know your favorite funny James Bond moment below.

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strange-brew-scenes

This is a great week for beer-loving movie fans. Friday saw the opening of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, which involves a nostalgic pub crawl featuring many pints being guzzled, and Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, about employees at a brewery who spend their shifts drinking the wares. And tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the U.S. opening of Strange Brew (aka The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew). Last monday was the date it opened in Canada, so I guess I’m showing some fitting incompetence here. I should blame my brother or something. Strange Brew is a feature-length adaptation by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of their Canadian stereotype characters from SCTV, the McKenzie brothers. It’s also based loosely on Hamlet, making it the oddest update of Shakespeare still to this day (sorry, She’s the Man) and giving it way more plot than you’d expect from a dumb comedy about knuckleheads trying to get a free case of beer. The movie also co-stars Max Von Sydow as the villain, which wasn’t that rare a deal in 1983 but it’s still pretty awesome. This movie isn’t referenced enough these days, in spite of it being a major predecessor to Wayne’s World, Step-Brothers, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and plenty of other modern favorites. It also has the best MGM lion logo parody since the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera. If you don’t love this movie and the following scenes, you’re a hoser, eh. Coo loo […]

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YCTIWY scenes

Frank Capra‘s adaptation of You Can’t Take It With You is one of the least favorite Best Picture winners. For many critics, but not for me. Outside of It’s a Wonderful Life, this film was my gateway to Capra, who I consider one of the most fascinating Golden Age directors. It was also my introduction to Jean Arthur, forever since my primary Hollywood crush. My interest in the film initially came about through a high school production of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, in which I played an FBI agent. As an idealistic teen, everything from the title to the anarchic yet loving clan of eccentrics spoke to me. It’s fair that some people don’t think YCTIWY deserved the top Oscar, especially since it was up against such great movies as Grand Illusion and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Also, if you know Capra was at the time president of the Academy and was supposed to host the ceremony again that year and he threatened both a resignation and a massive boycott of the event out of support for the near-to-strike Screen Directors Guild and is said to have been honored for his leadership in resolving the whole matter, well all that seems to make the wins for Best Picture and Best Director (out of seven nominations) a little fishy. Awards matters aside, though, it’s hard not to like YCTIWY with its perfect ensemble cast and its happy-go-lucky political hodgepodge. It’s far from perfect, hardly Capra’s […]

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01-1

Where were you in ’73? August 11, 1973, to be specific? I wasn’t alive, but just because I wasn’t there on opening night doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the 40th birthday of American Graffiti, which hit theaters on that date*. Just the same, it doesn’t matter that I can’t really answer the film’s tagline of “Where were you in ’62?” George Lucas‘s nostalgic teen movie is as classic as the cars that appear in it, and that’s because it resonates for viewers of all ages and all eras. Maybe we didn’t grow up on the same music and meet up at the same kind of hangout as Mel’s Drive-In, but we can all find something familiar in this multi-narrative feature. It’s no wonder Richard Linklater’s own nostalgic ensemble teen movie, Dazed and Confused, is so similar to Lucas’s. Teen life hadn’t changed all that much in 14 years. Nor is it all that different after 51 years. It’s kind of strange to think about how American Graffiti was set only 11 years before its release. We’re quickly nostalgic today, but that was a pretty quick turnaround for audiences to get so sentimental about the culture of a decade prior. It’d be like us getting a deeply nostalgic movie about 2002 now. Yet 1962 probably felt more like an eon ago to people in 1973. The characters in the movie haven’t been through the JFK assassination yet, let alone RFK and MLK, they haven’t seen the worst of Vietnam or the […]

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Say-Anything_scenes

No, there’s no special anniversary for Cameron Crowe‘s directorial debut. At least not for another eight months, when Say Anything… turns 25. The reason it’s a Scenes We Love pick this week is because of all the recognition it’s been getting lately as a major influence on The Spectacular Now. The new indie teen movie’s male lead, Miles Teller, has been called the John Cusack of his generation, and the movie itself is being celebrated for a mix of comedy and drama and romance not achieved so well since the genre’s heyday in the 1980s. Say Anything… came about at the end of the decade and is considered by many to be the best, even considering all the exemplary works of John Hughes. Strangely, there’s a severe lack of clips from the film on the Internet. Maybe it’s because of Fox ordering them removed from YouTube and elsewhere, because there’s not even a proper version of the famous boombox serenade to be found. Not that this would be my first choice of a scene. The movie is full of a lot more than just Cusack being Cusack in a trenchcoat and a Clash t-shirt, giving his heart to Ione Skye and getting a pen in return. We’ve selected a handful of favorites from what could be found, but as always please tell us the scenes you love from the movie below.

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vacation2

“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road.” Long ago would be 30 years as of tomorrow, because National Lampoon’s Vacation opened theatrically on July 29, 1983. Directed by Harold Ramis, the family road movie was written by former “National Lampoon” staffer John Hughes, based on a short story of his published in the magazine.  The comedy debuted at the top of the box office, knocking out Jaws 3-D in its sophomore weekend, keeping Return of the Jedi back in its tenth and besting fellow newcomers Krull and Private School. And it stayed at #1 through mid-August. Americans were clearly in love with rising star Chevy Chase, though they may have been even more in love with the relatable premise of a cross-country outing. We may not have known it at the time, but it was also a sign we were in love with Hughes’s writing, as both Vacation and Mr. Mom, which he scripted and which opened in limited release a week prior, both were among the highest-grossing comedies of the year, each with a then-remarkable take of more than $60m. Vacation has probably the greater legacy, in part because it kicked off a never-ending franchise (another sequel/reboot is currently in the works for next summer) and in part because millions are still enjoying the original to this day. Very little outside of the model of car and styles of clothing (and some notable political incorrectness) is dated. And the following favorite scenes are […]

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die hard scenes

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the release of Die Hard. Know how much it made in it’s opening weekend? $601,851. Of course, that was from only 21 screens in 20 cities. Can you imagine an action movie like this getting such a limited debut today? Well, nobody saw the movie coming, at least not on the level we see it at today, though Fox also hoped the slower roll-out would spark buzz. A modern day take on the western, with a lot of allusion to drive that idea home, the first Die Hard sort of originated a new subgenre of the right place, right time (and wrong place, wrong time) hero that has the action drop in his lap. It’s a real classic, one that truly needs to be added to the National Film Registry (nominate it here), thanks to its influence on the next three decades of cinema (and beyond, since even this year we had a few more Die Hard knockoffs in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down) as well as its own distinct craftwork (especially the team of director John McTiernan, cinematographer Jan De Bont and screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, along with the Oscar nominated editing by Frank J. Urioste and John F. Link and the Oscar-nominated sound and visual effects, etc…) and its perfect representation of the time in which it was made (including the reflexive significance of the building it was shot at). It’s another movie that is so […]

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coming to america club

Despite its arrival two years after the surprise success of ‘Crocodile’ Dundee, the similarly premised Coming to America hardly seemed like a knockoff. Sure it is also about a strange foreigner who visits New York City and experiences a comical culture clash, but the 1980s were actually so full of movies of this nature (see also Moscow on the Hudson, Splash, Brother From Another Planet, Big Business, both The Muppets and Jason Take Manhattan and maybe even Big, which along with ‘Crocodile’ Dundee II had just recently come out ahead of this), so it wasn’t a big deal. Besides, with Eddie Murphy at the peak of his career at the time there was no way this thing could fail. This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the release of Coming to America (specifically yesterday), and although a lot of obvious parts are dated (some of which actually make the movie funnier now), it remains a rather timeless metropolitan fairy tale. It’s still one of the top three Murphy comedies (the other two being Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, of course), features some amazing make-up work by Rick Baker that would be still be worthy of its Oscar nomination if done today, excellent African dance choreography from little known Paula Abdul and in recent years it provided tons more laughs via the meme in which any dialogue spoken by James Earl Jones is dubbed over scenes of Darth Vader. As ripe as the plot would seem for a remake, hopefully it […]

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roger rabbit scene we love

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. An innovative co-production between Walt Disney (via Touchstone Pictures) and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment based on the novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” by Gary K. Wolf, the live-action and animation hybrid has already been officially celebrated this year with a commemorative Blu-ray and DVD release hitting stores back in March. But this is the weekend to truly honor both the film and your memory of seeing it for the first time, amazed by the interactions between humans and toons and the mix of real and illustrated props and sets and the idea that you might be turned on by a two-dimensional redhead. Roger Rabbit is not regarded nearly enough these days outside of the reporting of any latest news on its sequel ever actually happening. The Oscar-winning effects don’t astound as much as they did in 1988 (it was one of the first movies I was obsessed with watching specials on how it was made), the title character stopped being a regular and relevant star of theatrical shorts once Pixar came into play (interestingly enough, Toy Story was preceded by a re-release of the Roger Rabbit short Tummy Trouble, in place of a canceled original work featuring the character) and most unfortunately even with a special Academy Award recognition for his work as the director of animation here, Richard Willliams has hardly been given his due — though if you’re in Los Angeles later this week […]

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scenes_superman

Editor’s Note: To celebrate Father’s Day, 114% of movie websites will be giving you a list of the best and worst cinematic fathers, the most fatherly moments, the best movies to watch with Dad on Father’s Day. This year, we’re keeping things simple by dedicating our recurring column Scenes We Love to a single scene (not coincidentally featuring this weekend’s biggest hero Superman) featuring a tender moment between father and son. Our J.L. Sosa recalls his favorite scene from 1977′s Superman: The Movie.

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scenes_canthardlywait

While it might not be the definitive high school comedy (that’s a discussion for another time), 1998′s Can’t Hardly Wait is a damn good one, and a strangely enduring new classic. Sure, the nineties-set production is dipped in era-appropriate fashion, slang, and cultural nods (X-Files, anyone?) and its cast is positively peppered by awesomely nineties talents (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Seth Green, Melissa Joan Hart, the list goes on and on), but Can’t Hardly Wait still feels applicable to teens today. Or, at the very least, it still feels like a very good approximation of the high school experience that we remember. The film turns a staggering fifteen years old this week (it was released on June 12, 1998), and in appreciation of the film that gave us a stoned Jason Segel as “Watermelon Guy,” reaffirmed the cultural relevance of Barry Manilow, and saw the wonderful Lauren Ambrose get hit in the face with a pot brownie, we give you five scenes we love from Can’t Hardly Wait.

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big scenes we love

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Big, the movie that boosted Tom Hanks from being just a funny leading man to an Oscar-worthy movie star. It’s also the comedy that put filmmaker Gary Ross on the map as he too earned an Academy Award nomination for this, his first feature script (co-written by Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne). Directed by Penny Marshall, it was a word of mouth kind of hit, having opened in second place behind Crocodile Dundee II in its second week then going on to become the fourth highest grossing movie of 1988. For those of us around the same age as Josh Haskins (David Moscow/Hanks) at the time, it was a thought-provoking What If? situation even if most of us found a lot of the scenarios and behavior to be well-below the character’s maturity level. The tricky thing about Big in terms of highlighting its best moments is that it’s really only good as a whole, the sum of its parts. Yes, there are a lot of memorable scenes, but without the context of the, um, big picture, a lot of them are pretty silly or the comedy just falls flat (maybe this is why it’s so hard to find embeddable clips online). Still, I loved Big then and I love it now, albeit more so today as something to prod and study in terms of the fantasy scenario and how much of the humor seems so unremarkable in today’s regular manboy world. We can’t be sure […]

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fast and furious yacht jump

It’s hard to believe that a little Paul Walker vehicle (pun so fully intended) from a over a decade ago has turned into one of the box office’s most beloved franchises, spawning no less than five sequels, all while seamlessly shifting genres, earning new fans at every turn, and keeping The Rock‘s baby oil handler very much in the money. The Fast and Furious franchise is a surprise hit all around, and with the release of the series’ unbelievable sixth entry zooming into a theater near you this weekend, fans everywhere will soon be debating the best exploits of Brian, Dom, and the rest of the family, and things are no different here at Reject HQ. What’s the best act of vehicular mayhem in the franchise? The sickest stunt? The most oily Rock appearance? We don’t know, but we sure know what we like best from the series that just won’t pull over. Strap in, buckle up, start your engines, and drive off into the sunset with five of our favorite scenes from the Fast and Furious franchise.

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molly weasley in action

Moms have been an important part of cinema since the beginning, as one of the first humans to appear in a film was Sarah Whitley, mother-in-law of inventor/director Louis Le Prince, in the extremely short 1888 work Roundhay Garden Scene. Since then, we’ve had mothers serving important roles in quintessential masterpieces of Soviet cinema (Mother), Bollywood (Mother India), experimental film (Window Water Baby Moving), animated features (Bambi, Dumbo, etc.), documentary (Grey Gardens), political thriller (The Manchurian Candidate), science fiction (The Terminator), horror (Psycho, Friday the 13th, Carrie, etc.), comedy (The Graduate) and of course melodrama (the whole maternal subgenre). And we’ve all grown up identifying with certain movie moms, and actresses who often played moms; for me they were usually portrayed by Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Dee Wallace Stone and Diane Wiest. Therefore it would be an enormous task and read if I were to attempt to either list all or narrow down the best movie moms ever let alone handpick only a handful of scenes we love involving matriarchs. So I’ve asked the other FSR writers to help out by selecting a single maternal character they favor, and with one from yours truly included we honor ten of these varied women below.

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Iron Man

Every Sunday we bring you a new list of great scenes — we call this little series Scenes We Love. From the remembrance of Sundance’s of yesteryear to the best of Michael Bay’s movies, we’re always trying to share a bit of that movie-loving spirit through the moments that make these characters memorable. This week’s person of choice is Iron Man, a character that first appeared on the pages of Tales of Suspense #39 in 1963. Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, Iron Man is the alter ego of billionaire Tony Stark. In his 50 years of existence, Mr. Stark has battled a lot of villains, wrestled with his own demons and had his share of feminine conquests (as any great playboy billionaire would). But his life on the silver screen has been only heating up as of late, propelled by Marvel Studios‘ choice to let Iron Man lead the way as their first film as an independent studio. They cast Robert Downey Jr., brought in Jon Favreau to direct, got Paramount to throw a good bit of money at it and the rest was history. This week, Tony Stark will make his fifth film appearance since 2008. That is, if we include the post-credits scene in The Incredible Hulk. Of course we do. So even though it’s recent, his run on the big screen has been rather prolific and beyond entertaining. It’s the reason that we’ve chosen to single out the five scenes we love most from […]

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the rock shower massacre

Given all the positive buzz we’re hearing for Pain & Gain, Michael Bay could very well have his first critical hit since 1996 when the movie opens this Friday. And it might just be an even fresher tomato than the lonely red orb affixed to The Rock seen here. Interestingly enough, this new release stars someone named The Rock, further proving that Dwayne Johnson isn’t just franchise viagra but also a kind of Hollywood miracle in general these days. Not that Bay has been struggling as far as the industry is concerned. At all. It’s not important for us to defend the quality of Bay’s movies. They are what they are. Some are more entertaining than others. Most fulfill a certain demand by audiences for action, broad humor and flag-waving. And occasionally they do surprise us, especially in times when our expectations are at their lowest — or simply on that horizon to which we anticipate his work, neither high nor low, just there. We do enjoy some of it. Maybe not even whole films but individual bits. So, this week’s Scenes We Love highlights six favorite moments. And as usual we invite you to share your own picks.

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easter bunny critters 2

On Easter Sunday, many people watch the old religious film favorites. Just look at today’s TCM schedule to see the epic staples programmed, like King of Kings, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told and Ben-Hur (which Neil highlighted for Scenes We Love last year). They’re also showing the obviously appropriate musical Easter Parade. But there are a lot of other movies that aren’t recognized enough for either being Easter movies or including memorable Easter scenes. Did you know Altman’s Cookies Fortune takes place over Easter weekend? And major events happen on the holiday in such films as Chocolat, Steel Magnolias and Resnais’s The War is Over. Quite suitably, Charlton Heston’s first movie, Dark City, opens with him carrying a gift box with an Easter bunny inside. Six other movies selected here are rarely thought of as Easter movies, if they’re thought of at all. Consider them like hidden eggs ready to be discovered or re-discovered. They’re personal favorites, and we’d like to share them on this holiday to be enjoyed along with your Peeps and jelly beans.

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The-Sandlot

What’s more amazing/disturbing, that The Sandlot is turning 20 years old or that it didn’t open in the summertime? One generation’s beloved celebration of baseball and coming of age opened on April 9, 1993. That’s a couple weeks from now, but we figured we’d highlight the occasion early because a special anniversary Blu-ray hits stores this Tuesday. Let’s look back. Unforgiven had just won Best Picture. We were more than a month into the Waco siege. Snow’s “Informer” was pushing through its first month as the #1 single in America. While the adults were off watching Indecent Proposal the same weekend, their children were seeing The Sandlot, yet it really built its audience on video and through constant TV play over the two decades that followed. How has it struck a chord with so many people when it’s really just a rehash of Stand By Me with a more family friendly plot and James Earl Jones playing a character a little too reminiscent of his role in Field of Dreams? Below are some of the scenes that have stood out for us all these years, and we invite you to share your own favorite moment from the movie down below.

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