Moments out of Time 2007

Images, lines, gestures, moods from the year’s films

By Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy

• Cellophane wrapper lately crushed in a monster’s fingers uncrimps on the counter as Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) teaches a gas station owner (Gene Jones) to appreciate what a remarkable quarter has entered his life: No Country fir Old Men….

• What pubescent Briony (Saoirse Ronan) saw in Atonement: a beautiful emerald-green butterfly impaled on the library wall…

• The naked look that unmasks spy, actress, assassin in Lust, Caution: “Go, now.”…

• Julie Christie’s puzzled but gracious, “My, you are persistent,” as she greets the stranger—her husband of 40 years—who keeps visiting her in Away from Her

• Urbanite Michael Clayton (George Clooney) come to an upstate hilltop in early morning, and facing three horses in mysterious communion…

‘Michael Clayton’

• A loop of snaky tail rising out of a cavern pool in Beowulf

• In The Savages, Wendy (Laura Linney) reaching out to touch a golden Lab’s foot while having sex with the dog’s owner…

• In a hardware store, the long, scary look exchanged by investigative reporter (Jake Gyllenhaal) and probable Zodiac killer (John Carroll Lynch): Zodiac

Breach: The last, long look to pass between the CIA spy (Chris Cooper) and the “son” (Ryan Philippe) who’s unmasked him … “Pray for me.”…

• In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, aged Max von Sydow gazes into a mirror, flanked by a photograph of his screen son Mathieu Almaric … the startling resemblance between these cinematic kin….

• The umbilical/Oedipal boomerang effect: Margot at the Wedding‘s mother and child reunion on the bus (Nicole Kidman and Zane Pais)…

Alexander Supertramp (Emile Hirsch) in Alaska, looking up from a ravine to see the roof of a bus, where no bus ought to be: Into the Wild

No Country for Old Men: Llewellyn’s (Josh Brolin) truck on the horizon behind him; him looking back to see another truck pulled up beside it; the boil of backlit dust after he goes over the rim and into the river…

• The pebbles sliding away from the vibrating rail as Jesse’s boot rests there, waiting to stop his last train: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

• In a dim room crowded with frozen figures, the kid in Cashback who can stop time glimpses a hooded silhouette in motion….

Starting Out in the Evening: Confronted by a redheaded beauty (Lauren Ambrose), the elderly gentleman (Frank Langella) involuntarily covers his face with his hand—to hide his age or to shield his eyes from her bright heat….

• Steve Carrell, quintessential klutz, boogying with sexy Emily Blunt in Dan in Real Life; Don Cheadle and Taraji P. Henson boogying together in their underwear in Talk to Me

• The movie we all need to see in 2008: Machete, as previewed in Grindhouse! The apotheosis of Danny Trejo…

• In Day Watch, a fugitive smushes a bad guy’s mug into some snow, picks the icy life-mask up in his palms, and presses it onto his face…

• A lascivious avatar presses his palm deep into Paprika‘s body, then unzips her from within … to reveal the face and form of a “real” woman…

• CU of empty tennies, dangling limply, then—plumping up with feet, flexing toes, the shoes come firmly down to earth: the resurrection of a child in The Orphanage

Eastern Promise‘s good guy in disguise (Viggo Mortensen) lolling on a red divan, like a half-naked odalisque, as he’s tattooed with “stars”…

• In Lust, Caution, a little song in a brothel, ravishing its audience of one: “A young girl is to her man like thread to needle”…

• The moment when serial killer Mr. Brooks joins his phantom demon in laughter (somehow, somewhere in the universe, we always knew there had to be a movie in which Kevin Costner and William Hurt would play the same character)…

• Guillotining Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) from her ferret daemon in The Golden Compass

Eagle vs. Shark: she’s the shark, he’s the eagle at the costume party, where it takes a video-game duel to tilt this geeky pair into love….

‘Eagle vs. Shark’

Juno (Ellen Page) propelling a tiny racing car rising over the great swell of her belly…

• Playing her piano by an open window in Once, a sweet-faced girl (Marketa Irglova) gazes out, perhaps recalling a long-gone friend. The camera recedes, turns and leaves her and the movie behind….

• A long, ragged yellow nail points down into a groove, to slowly turn a 78rpm record in 30 Days of Night

• What to do with a frozen corpse? “Have you got hairdryer?” … Eastern Promises

• Night birds: Chigurh, the raven, and the gunshot reverberating off the otherwise deserted bridge, after which the two bend their separate ways: No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood: Killing God in a two-lane bowling alley: “I’m finished.”…

• In Disturbia, the boy (Shia LeBoeuf) under house arrest desperately searches for clues in a cellphone video of his nextdoor neighbor’s living room, when something—an eye?—comes into focus behind the grill of a heating vent….

• The artist’s avid blue eye in “Atonement”; the intense one-eyed focus of the “locked-in” man in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

• Vince Vaughan’s rapt, crazy gaze as Emile Hirsch raves about heading Into the Wild to escape “sick society”: “Hell of a young guy!”…

• Frank James (Sam Shepard) brushing off the appeal by Bob Ford (Casey Affleck) to join the gang: “You don’t have the ingredients, son”—The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

• Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) warning Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) not to spend too much time conjecturing about him: “That’s not an ‘if’ you want to bring into your life”—Gone Baby Gone

Southland Tales: CU of a toy G.I. Joe hunching on its elbows across a Venice Beach boardwalk, blasting away with an automatic rifle…

• The first getting-to-know-you-and-your-music duet in Once, one of the purest distillations of rapport ever…

• A jolly infant grows to young womanhood while devouring the world-destroying nightmares of the Lord of Darkness, in Paprika

• In The Hoax, the slow wipe of Alfred Molina’s deer-in-the-headlights expression into incredulous delight as he realizes that the head honchos at McGraw Hill have bought the Howard Hughes flim-flam…

• Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) commanding that the couple (Clive Owen, Abbie Cornish) she loves dance before her, then watching, a melancholy voyeur: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

• In Gypsy Caravan, a Greek diva, her face obscured by a black veil, stands stock still, only her magnificent voice and expressive hands telling the story of kin murdered in Kosovo….

• A wheezing, snorting, purring child-thing in a smock, its head swaddled in a rough cloth adorned with one button-eye and features crudely drawn in crayon, heads down a long, dark hall in The Orphanage

• Gunshots inside a fog-shrouded Land Rover—The Mist

• A man bathing in a lush green outdoors, his muscular back a beacon of life for Lady Chatterley

• “All is not well on the hippie front,” opines Rainey, maintaining ursine serenity, here and wherever he appears in Into the Wild: the marvelously unactorly presence of riverman Brian Dierker…

• And on the other all-American hand, the surprisingly actorly presence of James Carville investing the Governor of Missouri with civility and gravitas, in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

• Having triumphantly climbed a tree, Margot looks down to see her audience drifting away—and she’s stuck. Margot at the Wedding

• The cops closing in across the field, Lonely Hearts

Zodiac: The squeaking of the plastic chairs under the investigators as they interview suspect Arthur Leigh Allen in the workplace break room…

Mr. Brooks‘s bad dream about his daughter, a chip off the old block…

• Killing time in Away from Her, the retired professor (Gordon Pinsent) who’s lost his wife (Julie Christie) to Alzheimer’s chats up a girl in punk regalia … her unexpected empathy blowing away his—and our—easy assumptions…

• Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) giving up a tattered shoe to a ghost, in Rescue Dawn

No Country for Old Men: scuff marks on linoleum … the distant, almost inaudible sound of the desk clerk’s phone ringing, and ringing, and ringing … the wind that’s never not-blowing, you know it, in the scrub pines near the motel in Del Rio…

Paprika’s Fellini-esque parade of all the stuff that’s piled up in our unconscious: machines, gods, toys, emperors, animals, robots, etc … and the swarms of blue butterflies that signal imagination gone wild….

“We don’t give out that information”… No Country for Old Men’s Chigurh meets his match in a tough old trailer park broad….

Ratatouille’s remembrance of things past courtesy of a ratatouille: the critic’s flashback to childhood…

• In Savages, dad turns off his hearing aid, to stare out the car window at a cemetery, while his children wrangle, a universe away….

• “Is it a man or a woman?” wonder two telephone installers in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, confronting bedridden Jean-Do all decked out in a big furry hat with huge ear flaps…

• Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) shares that Malcolm (Jack Black) was molested by his babysitter. “Make whatever use of that information you want,” Malcolm allows. Margot at the Wedding

The Savages: You can almost see Wendy willing herself not to look under the sheet and see whether, as the best reports have it, her dad’s toes have curled over in death….

• The kiss, with baby as witness, on the dark riverside steps, the best place to dump unwanted dead in Eastern Promises

• Briony grown old (Vanessa Redgrave), explaining her final act of Atonement: “I gave them their happiness.”…

• Carla Jean Moss’s (Kelly Macdonald) refusal to call the coin toss, No Country for Old Men; Chigurh coming out of the house, pausing on the porch to check the soles of his boots…