Thursday, 31 October 2013

10 Scenes that Genuinely Disturbed Me...

Terror is like music or food, we all have different taste.

Yes, different kinds of things scare different kinds of people. Some people are scared of clowns, others of commitment, its probably one of these things that go back as far as childhood.

So, in honor of this Halloween, I have compiled a nice little list....of terror. Here are ten gloriously twisted, genuinely creepy movie moments that scared the living 'bejesus out of me....

....and they aren't all from horror films...

Hanging around- The Omen (1976)

I have always thought that the first real scare of a horror movie leaves a distinct impression. As such, in a movie chalked full of creepy moments, this blissful suicide definitely ranks among the most intense and certainly left a lasting impression on me. I think it is the nanny's look of glee and joyful demeanor as she willingly leaps to her death in Damien's name that truly sells the moment.

The Black Stereotypes- The Birth of a Nation

Just look at this crap!

What makes DW Griffith's "timeless" film The Birth of a Nation creepy is that, not only is it not supposed to be creepy, it is actually supposed to be a family-friendly adventure romp. Nonetheless, the maker's of this film were very, very racist and had embued their film with embarassingly dated notions of black subservience and the Great White Master ruling America. The scenes that take place in the "negro colonies" are particularly skin-crawl inducing.

The Face in the Painting- Ghostbusters 2

Okay, okay, so this entry is pretty specific to me. You see, I was about 6 years old when I first saw the Ivan Reitman and co's sequel to their smash hit Ghostbusters (I saw it before I saw the original). I was deeply disturbed by the visually striking image of badguyVigo's face emerging from his own painting, having a peek around, and then receeding into the portrait again.

The golden days of 1980s practical effects, eh?

Everything in the Climax of Requiem for a Dream (2000)

It's almost impossible to articulate the sheer, mind-numbing despair of the final half hour of Requiem for a Dream. Where to start, with the lonely old woman being rendered a vegetable by shock therapy? The severed, gangrenous arm? The horrifying addition of "ass-to-ass" to popular lexicon? Only Holocaust documentaries get this repulsive.

 Castration- Hard Candy (2005)

It doesnt take Sigmund Freud to determine why men squel at the though of their genitals undergoing mutilation. What makes this drawn out castration scene interesting is that it results from a pedophile getting whats coming to him from a potential victim turned vigiilante (Ellen Page). The mixture of satisfaction and horror is an intriguing blend.

She's getting into the Tub! - About Schmidt (2002)

So, Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) settles down for a long soak in the hot tub of his daughter's future mother-in-law Roberta (Kathy Bates). Things are upbeat and neighbourly...and then Roberta strips naked and attempts to make advances on Warren. It's a comic scene, but I have always found the moment when you realise that Kathy Bates and a hot tub are about to conspire always gives me a chill...

A routine stop- Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Abel Ferrara's 1992 masterpiece is full of complex imagery and themes...oh, and there's also the bit where Harvey Keitel masterbates on screen for about three straight minutes while forcing two young girls to perform for him. Evidently, the censor only allowed the scene to remain in the final cut because it was "too grotesque for anybody to find erotic."

Yup, I think "Let me see your ass" and "show me how you'd suck it" is pretty much a 10.0 on my weird shit-o-meter.

Seriously, just watch...

The Lady in the Bathtub-The Shining (1980)

Do you really need more explanation than the image?

Little Red Riding...What? Don't Look Now (1973)

If you have yet to see Dont Look Now, I will not say anything that might spoil the surprise. All that needs to be said is that, in the film, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) is persued/haunted around Venice by a mysterious figure wearing the same bright red coat as his daughter, who tragically drowned. The revelation as to what lies behind the red coat is as chilling a reveal as I can think of within the horror genre.

Marvelously creepy.

And, the award for most chilling movie scene of my life goes to....

Shhhh! Saving Private Ryan (1998)

You may not have expected this scene to win; but, honestly, this is the only scene in a film I find genuinely hard to watch.

The scenario is this: out of bullets in the middle of a Nazi siege, Private Mellish (played by the amazing Adam Goldberg) is forced to engage in hand to hand combat with a German soldier. Mellish draws a knife but, in time, the German is too strong for him. With his cowardly friend unwilling to come to his aid, Mellish gets death...really slowly...and it plays out in one agonisng long take.
You can watch the scene here:

I don't know what it is that disturbs me so about this scene. The emasculated helplessness of Mellish? That it breaks the age-old trope that the good guy always wins the fight? That Mellish begs for his life, only to have the German coo and "shh" at him? Either way, I have actually stopped watching Saving Private Ryan as a result of the scene. Go figure.

On the plus side, Adam Goldberg was also Chandler Bing's crazy roomate...


Do you like to hear me blather on prophetically?? Then be sure to keep tuned in for more Kino Shout!

For now my fellow Shout-kateers, Happy Halloween!

Talk soon,

Friday, 11 October 2013

The 8 Greatest Sex Scenes..that Actually Advance the Plot


Now that I have your attention...let's talk about sex..

Why does Hollywood have to cheapen sex scenes? It seems nowadays that, when you go to a movie, a love interest is as obligatory to the storytelling process conflict and resolution. And, yes, the steamy sex scene between two big stars comes as readily as the mandatory action sequence and exposition of the protagonist. It's all very routine...

But some movies use sex a character device, to explore what characters need and what makes them tick, and even to further establish the themes of the movie.

Here are meaningful 8 sex scenes that add more to their movies then just scandal...

Ghost- Pottery Class

Love it, hate it, choose to ignore it; whatever your feelings are on the weepy 1990 hit Ghost, you must admit that it has its fair share of effective moments. Not least this tantilizing sex scene which (I'm not kidding) arises from a late night pottery session between lovers Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen.
What makes this a meaningful sex scene is that, due to Swayze's character spending most of the film as an aloof spirit, the audience needs a really intimate scene to establish the couple's physical connection unequivocally, and very early on in the film. This pot-boiling romp certainly achieves that and more.

Casino- "New Sponsor"

Perhaps the least-Hollywood sex scene ever in a glossy A Picture. Here is a scene in which Joe Pesci's Nicky Santoro reminds Sharon Stone's Ginger Rothstein that, regardless of far she has climbed the social ladder, she will always be a hooker to him. What is even more disturbing is- that's exactly how she wants to be treated...

Having flirted for some time, the connection between these two charatcers finally ignites as a result of their shared irritation at Ginger's husband Sam Rothstein (Robert De Niro). However, the sex itself is almost painfully real....
....basically, Joe Pesci just forces Sharon Stone to give him oral sex. A Perfect illustration of the selfish conceit of the Nicky character and the disturbed vulnerability of Ginger.

Y Tu Mama Tambien- Mommy Issues...

In a film brimming with sexual energy (and just plain sex), it is almost impossible to pick just one moment in which sex defines the Y Tu Mama Tambien, but Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men) finds it with this remarkable sequence in which a desperate and alienated Tenoch bursts into the room of his ideal woman Luisa, and frantically makes love to her.
The incendiary moment in which he lies, cradled, in her lap says it all. Though Tenoch and Julio appear to be carefree hell-raisers on a teen road trip, what they really seek in Luisa is a mother rather than a sexual partner.

Shame-Just Plain Awkward...

Is there anything sadder than a sex addict who can't perform sexually?

Here is a rare example of a scene in a which we literally see a relationship built, flourish, and destroyed, all within the confines of one sex scene. Sex addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is frustrated by his life's monotony and a sister that he perceives to feed off him. In desperation, he steals a kiss from Marianne, the one girl with whom he has a real affection for. Tragically, when it comes time to make real love, Brandon cannot perform; he cannot make a real connection. As Marianne leaves the romance is over, and we feel the anti-climax as much as the charatcers.

Monster's Ball- "Make me feel good..."

Another sex scene that falls somewhere between erotic and horrifying, this is amongst the most graphic sex scenes in mainstream film, and is what most people remember if they have only seen Monster's Ball once.

A conservative, empty man in his forties and a grieving mother that has just lost her son- add whiskey and a mutual attraction and you have an epic encounter, one with romantic connection and violent desperation in abundance. The characters, however, are always in development.

Deliverance- you know the scene...

I had promised myself not to include any rape scene in this list, as rape deserves no esteem. However, it must be admitted, rape has served as an effective dramatic tool and, in this case, epitomizes the whole message of the film Deliverance- dont mess with that which you do not understand.

The tale of four blue collar schlubs that fall way out of their depth into a hick-sploitation world of fear, rape, murder, and lies has become film legend; and Ned Beatty being made to "squeal like a pig "plays no small role in the telling of said tale.


Raging Bull- Boo Boo's and Kisses

Not every sex scene has to result in actual sex; and, here is one scene that finds brilliant charatcer development in curtailing any and all chances of intercourse.

Jake LaMotta, as portrayed by the brilliant Robert De Niro, is an animal at heart. He is a man constantly at war with his basest and most terrifying emotions. Here, the night before a bug fight, he is strictly forbidden from sex with his beautiful wife Vicky.

Here, Vicky comes to him like a loving Madonna, kissing his "boo boos" lovingly. Jake asks her to undress, but knows that he has to hold back his urges. However, when Vicky insists on intimacy, Jake has to resort to pouring ice water on his crotch to fend off his wife..and his own animal urges.

This is a terrific scene and a powerful portrayal of a marriage onscreen.

and, my personal favourite...

Don't Look Now- Bet you didn't see this coming

This is not a sex scene, this is the sex scene...

Here, in the middle of a horror film in which two parents come to grips with the drowning of their, comes one of the most devastatingly intimate reconciliations in film history. Laura and John, once happily married, have had their union tested by the death of their daughter. Now having not so much as looked at each other in months, they reconnect physically in what can only be described as an epic sex session...

It is the one sweet moment in a distinctly morbid film and, thus, stands out every bit as much as the infamous red hood of the film's narrative.

If you have not seen it, see it. It can be scarcely believed...and it's totally meaningful.

Though Donald Sutherland is way too ugly for Julie Christie...just saying....


Thanks for reading!

More sex to come at a later date here on Kino Shout! Well, probably, there usually is....


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Top 10 Films of the 1980s

It was the decade of excess, adventure, and consumption. But was it the age that taste forgot?...

....nope....well, maybe a little...this is hard.

Introduction- A Brief Retraction

Two weeks ago I paid tribute to my favorite era in film-the lyrical, challenging, and glorious 1990s. Oh, what a golden age! However, in doing so I may have inadvertedly taken a shot at another era, one with arguably comparible cinematic influence. Yes...I am taking about the always silly 1980s.

The 80s was, of course, an era of true excess. It was an era in which less was not more, more was more. This gave way to a total reinvention of the adventure film, with Star Wars sequels firing on all cylinders, Indiana Jones and Terminator franchises coming to be, and movies like The Goonies, Blade Runner, and The Lost Boys ensuring that 1980s adventure films would forever have a distinct visual style.

But, surprisingly, the excess disnt just help adventure movies. You see, with a taste for excess comes a greater ambition, and with greater ambition comes a more ambitious art film. As such, the indie film was essentially revolutionized in the 1980s; and many masterpieces were churned out as well.

In preparing my list I was surprised by the sheer excess of politically, philosophically, and technologically innovative films that needed to be be confined to the honorable mention list:

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)*, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)*, Blue Velvet (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1988), Back to the Future (1985), Robocop (1987), Amadeus (1984), Terminator (1984), Ghostbusters (1984),  Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Sixteen Candles (1984), Body Heat (1981), Escape From New York (1981), Batman (1989), They Live (1988), Wallstreet (1988), Pretty in Pink (1986), sex, lies, and videotape (1989), After Hours (1985), The Vanishing (1988), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Fanny and Alexander (1982)

*nope, it didn't make the list
*nope, neither did that

Yes, I have been unkind to you, 80s. I have left the 1980s with bad karma (chameleon), feeling, perhaps, like a virgin touched for the very first time....

Please accept my apology by way of my Top 10 1980s Films:

10. The Breakfast Club (1986)

A movie that looks, sounds, and most importantly, feels quintessentially 80s, The Breakfast Club is also one of the best teen films in history. Arguably the masterpiece of 80s favourite John Hughes, this is a film about the rigid boundaries of fear that represent teen cliques. Each student in detention has chosen to identify and express a different culture-princess, jock, rebel, nerd, freak. In time, however, the bond of detention breaks the cycle and friendships are formed. No matter what the future holds, we get the sense that these characters will always cherish their morning as "The Breakfats Club".

Humor, Huey Lewis, rage against the machine, this film has it all.

Best Moment: The final ten minutes has an air of romance and friendship that just has to be the unique to the 80s. Come on, who doesn't love Bender's fist bump??

9. The Shining (1980)

Kubrick's horror masterpiece may be one of only a half dozen horrors that can be considered worthy of decades of analysis. It has been theorized to be a social reflection on everything from the colonial losses of Native Americans  to a faked moon landing. One thing is for sure, however, this is one of the most masterful and visually memorable movies ever made. Bolstered by Kubrick's mood, a great score, and Jack Nicholson's iconic performance, The Shining is a grim and totally unforgettable experience. See it more than once!

Best Moment: Toss up between the iconic trike shot sequences (especially the one with those twins), and "Here's Johnny"...the line Jack Nicholson can never live down. Also, that old lady...*shudders*

8. The Thing (1982)

Sometimes a film is great simply for doing what it sets out to do without fault. John Carpenter's The Thing is among the greatest remakes of all time. More visceral and far more horrific than the refined Howard Hawks original, this is a memorable a film as one will ever see. The best practical monster effects...ever are complimented by a Morricone score, a charismatic cast, fantastic atmosphere and sense of place, visually inventive scares, and Kurt Russell's considerable beard to make this film one of John Caprenter's best and a film that will be the subject of both critical analysis and fanboy lore alike for decades to come. Horror perfection.

Best Moment: The blood scene is awesome; ditto for the ending. Also, who doesn't like the "stomach-jaws" surgery scare (you will know when you see it!)

7. Paris, Texas (1984)

A film for the lonely, the lovers, and those of us who just like to see good characters on screen. This is one of the saddest and sweetest small town takes and family and loss. The story of a call girl, her son, and a brother lost in the dessert is a film that truly has to be seen to be believed. The score alone is enough to mark Wim Wender's masterpiece with distinction.

This is the epitome of a small story with a big heart. And, it has Harry Dean Stanton...what's not to love?

Best Moment: "I knew these people...". Unquestionably the most romantic monologue ever delivered in a brothel.

6. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

If somebody was to pitch you an idea for a movie in which the life of Jesus is retold using a boy and his pet alien, you might be forgiven for a certain pessimism. However, throw Steven Spielberg into the mix and things change dramatically. In a decade of feel-good adventures for kids, this was the feelgood movie for kids. A story in which a young boy finds an alien in his backyard, kisses the pretty girl in class, runs from the 'Feds, and flies through the air on his bicycle is surely enough to both please kids, and speak to the adults who have never forgotten the first time they saw this great film.

Best Moment: The realisation that the story is semi-Biblical is quite a trip; bit the conclusion is still the film's best achievement.

5. Brazil (1985)

Many films can claim to have great production design, but Terry Gilliam's Brazil may well have the greatest prooduction design in film history. The story of a man at odds with the dystopian British future in which he lives, this is truly an ode to feeling lonely and out of place. Befriending an outcast played by Robert DeNiro, and falling in love with a woman he is trying save is clearly not enough for Sam Lowery, he also flies through the air with dazzling wings, is chased by giants and has his apartment frozen in a block of ice. This is a cult favorite for the thinking man.

Best Moment: The Icarus-esque flight scenes are still beautiful, Lowery's mother's face-lift still grotesque. I love the sequence in which Lowery does battle with a giant in a dreamworld; not to mention the terrifying conclusion in the gargantuan chamber.

4. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Here is a film so beautiful that it makes a group of mass murderers truly look like sensitive souls. Think of it as a more European Goodfellas.

Leone's final masterpiece owns the screen from the opening swell of "God Bless America...", to its conclusion in a seedy opium den...four hours of screen-time later. Guilt, misogyny, murder, drugs, and corruption are not enough to stop the humanity seeping out of every frame during scenes as simple as a young ballerina reading a love sonnet, a boy devouring eating a cupcake, and two lost friends saying goodbye.

This is one of my favorite films ever made...

Best Moment: This hopeless romantic loves the love sonnet scene between young Noodles and Deborah.

3. Aliens (1986)

If the 80s stood for excess, then this might be its most emblematic film. A furious combination of machismo, horror, wit and relentless pace, James Cameron rightly refers to his blockbuster masterpiece as a "ride." That shouldn't, however, suggest that there isn't craft involved...

Where would action be without the kind of characters like Vasquez and Hudson. Cameron's motley band became the archetype for action film scripting almost instantaeously. Also, the "bigger is better" approach of the set design (in particular the amazing Queen Alien) brought out the best from everybody in the design apartment, in particular Stan Winston.

And, then there's that Newt kid...

Best Moment: "Game over, Man!", "Get away from her you bitch!"

2. Raging Bull (1980)

Haven't seen this movie yet? Well, get ready fro film school....

Jake LaMotta- he came, he saw, he conquered, he fell, he cried...we cried with him.

To call this film impeccably executed would be an understatement. DeNiro succeeds Brando as the man who can best portray a sensitive soul within a gruff exterior, guilt and paranoia forever waiting to pounce upon him. For his part, Scorsese leads in timeless form- think of the long single-take as Jake marches towards his brother Joey's (played by Joe Pesci) house, or the darkness in LaMotta's cell as his confronts his demons. It may also be the most devastating portrayal of a marriage since A Streetcar Named Desire.

So much more than just a  boxing movie...

Best Moment: How about the horrific final fight with Sugar Ray Robison??

and, the winner is....

1. Ran (1985)

"A series of human events witnessed from heaven". This is how Akira Kurosawa chose to describe arguably his best film. I chose to describe it, personally, as one of the greatest of all cinematic achievements of an era and by anybody.

The courage to only include one traditional close-up in a two and a half hour movie is only the beginning. As Kurosawa was going blind at the time of making this film, he storyboarded every frame by hand with water color paint (which explains the film's dazzling use of color). Oh, and he also had the audacity to change the ending to Shakespeare's "King Lear". Wow.

In case the idea of a samurai King Lear isn't enough of a sell unto itself...I can testify to fact that the film provides both artsy symbolism and blood-drenched action in abundance to satisfy fans on both sides of the fence. Oh, and then there's Lady Kaede- a must see character!

You will rarely see better.

Best Moments: The battle sequences, and Lady Kaede's amazing exit.


So, there you have it. Another decade evangelized, another blog churned out (number 29, actually!)


1. Soon enough, I will have chosen a favorite film from each of the 10 completed decades of narrative film (not counting this decade).

2. Once that is done, I will be ready to compile a top ten list of the ten filns that topped each decade list.

3. When I have decided on my number one from that list- that film will be THE OFFICIAL KINO SHOUT! PICK FOR GREATEST FILM EVER MADE!

But, why should you need to worry about all that?...

Thanks for reading,