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Moments out of Time

’69: A Good Year (for movies…)

Rummaging in cartons on the top floor of our house—a process that has gone and will go on for years—I recently found two crumbling pieces of newsprint that mark, among other things, the beginning of what became “Moments out of Time.” The “Moments” stuff comes at the end, the entries for any given film clumped together. Only a few anticipate the way such things would be composed in later years. Still, I’d like to enter them into the Parallax View record.

While I’m at it, please indulge the year-end remarks which precede them. (The venue was the counterculture weekly Helix, which expired not long afterward.) Seattle film year 1969 was a remarkably rich time, not least for the fact that it included some local and/or personal premieres from the preceding five decades of cinema. And happily coincident with a landmark restoration this current film year is my top choice for 1969, the year it first played in the greater Seattle area. —RTJ

[Originally published in Helix, January 15, 1970]

’69: A GOOD YEAR (for movies…)
by Dick Jameson

It’s a few minutes past Ten Best time again, and while I’m usually champing at the bit preparing tentative lists as early as November, this year I held off. Not that movies were less interesting in Seattle in 1969. Movies were too interesting. Trying to cull ten titles out of the wealth of fine films making their first appearance in Seattle last year is a hellish prospect, and maybe a leetle bit impossible.

So I sympathize with Johns Hartl and Voorhees of the Times, who made it easier on themselves by limiting eligibility only to released-in-1969 pictures. That does make things a lot easier; I can manage that standing on one hand:

1. TRUE GRIT (Henry Hathaway)
2. THE WILD BUNCH (Sam Peckinpah)
3. STOLEN KISSES (François Truffaut)
4. IF… (Lindsay Anderson)
5. BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (Paul Mazursky)
6. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (John Schlesinger)
7. CASTLE KEEP (Sydney Pollack)
8. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (Sergio Leone)
9. A WALK WITH LOVE AND DEATH (John Huston)
10. I AM CURIOUS—YELLOW (Vilgot Sjoman)

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Moments Out Of Time 2015

‘It Follows’

It Follows: A classroom reading of “Prufrock”—”and in short I was afraid”; old woman seen slowly approaching across schoolyard…
• In Bridge of Spies, Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) instructing CIA man Hoffman (Scott Shepherd) on what makes them Americans: “the rule book”…
• The head-scratching guys, Spotlight: Marty (Michael Keaton) post-golf and Mike (Mark Ruffalo) post-run, beginning to have a sense of how big the story might get…
• Indian stepping straight out of dark screen into firelight, The Revenant
Timbuktu: walking through haze glare of sun while getting away from the suddenly dead Amadou…
Carol: steam off the road caught in headlights at night…
• A fetal form curled up in bright green grass, the little boy (Jacob Tremblay) who has just fallen out of his Room into a great ocean of world…
• An exquisitely manufactured Eve (Alicia Vikander) contemplates iterations of her own visage, displayed on her creator’s wall in Ex Machina….
• Tour-de-force directing and acting in Clouds of Sils Maria: Maria (Juliet Binoche) running lines with Valentine (Kristen Stewart), the two slipping back and forth between the dynamics of the script and their relationship, between roleplaying in and for Oliver Assayas’s movie and acting out as themselves…
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Moments out of Time 2014

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

We perpetrated the first “Moments Out of Time” in ecstasy over the cinematic splendors of 1971—The Conformist, The Last Picture Show, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Straw Dogs, Dirty Harry, et al. It ran in our Seattle Film Society journal Movietone News (“The trees creaking in the wind: the murder in The Conformist…“), where it became a much-anticipated annual feature ’til the journal wrapped in 1981. We’ve missed memorializing a few years since, but have enjoyed at various times the hospitality of Film Comment, American Film, Steadycam, Movies/MSN, and Cinephiled. A comprehensive “Moments” library is maintained at Parallax-View.com.

‘Cold in July’
  • Under the Skin: disembodied face lies in a lap, gazing upward, its eyes blinking…
  • SQÜRL’s banshee screech, “Funnel of Love,” over the first ravishing images—including turntable as flat circle of time—of Only Lovers Left Alive
  • “I was once considered a great beauty,” confides Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), concierge extraordinaire, The Grand Budapest Hotel….
  • A dollhouse town and the relentless cheer of a minister’s wife (Meryl Streep), on the edge of the crazy-making emptiness of the American frontier, The Homesman
  • What to say, politely, to an Iraqi woman after your team has burst into her Fallujah home? “Hello….” Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, American Sniper
  • Birdman: After Mike (Edward Norton) blows up the performance, Riggan (Michael Keaton) storms offstage snarling, “Get him out of here!” Annie the P.A. (Merritt Wever) softly asks, “How do you want me to do that?”….
  • Threesome rocking out to “Gloria” on car radio: a rare communal moment of joy in Two Days, One Night
  • The Better Angels: Abraham Lincoln’s second mother (Diane Kruger) balances on one foot, wavering over a fallen tree trunk, the sun blazing a bright halo around her head….
  • In Exodus: Gods and Kings, a tiny white stallion, rearing beneath a heavens-high curve of tsunami….

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Moments Out of Time 2009

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

By Richard T. Jameson & Kathleen Murphy

The blood beginning to spread on Reb Grosskover (Fyvush Finkel) just when we thought there wouldn’t be anyA Serious Man

The Hurt Locker: rust and scale popping off a derelict car when an IED explodes nearby…

• Middle Atlantic States summer heat and humidity visible in the air, the color, the softness—Taking Woodstock

• At the beginning of Summer Hours, the country house pulsing in and out of shadow, coming to light in memory; Olivier Assayas’s farewell to one small citadel of art, civilization, community…

Public Enemies: the thrill of seeing a piece of Manhattan Melodrama big as a movie-palace wall, with the luster of the brand-new. Worth dying for…

• Ghost on the smoke: the Giant Face, Inglourious Basterds

‘Inglourious Basterds’

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans: iguana sharing screenspace with Nicolas Cage; both rampant…

• In 35 Shots of Rum,” people know things about each other we don’t know. Father (Alex Descas) and daughter (Mati Diop) exchanging glances as he dances with Gabrielle (Nicole Dogué)…

• Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) mishearing the stewardess twice, when she inquires, “Do you want the can, sir?” Intimations of mortality, Up in the Air

Liverpool time: riding a log truck up a mountain, long enough for us to shiver in the freezing air, share the stoic discomfort of a nowhere man (Juan Fernández) heading for home…

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Moments Out of Time 2008

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

By Richard T. Jameson & Kathleen Murphy

* A Christmas Tale: In a house otherwise teeming with family, a black dog appears in the empty sitting room, then lunges out, curling the corner of the rug as it goes….

* In The Edge of Heaven, a brown ribbon of road glowing under the last shrinking patch of blue in a lowering, end-of-day sky…

* On a static-riddled miniature screen, and through the eyes of WALL*E, a scene from the 1969 Hello, Dolly takes on a grandeur it never had….

* Daisy (Cate Blanchett) dancing in silhouette on a backlit pavilion in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, her gorgeous youth and passion as yet too much for the middle-aged man (Brad Pitt) watching her

* In Bruges: the twinkle and the glower: first views of the “Belgian s—hole” by, respectively, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell)…

‘In Bruges’

* With voluptuous abandon, The Dark Knight (Christian Bale) plunges off a Tokyo skyscraper into an ebony abyss … what the fall of God’s most beautiful angel must have looked like….

* “It’s very difficult for me to do everything in one shot. I’m 47 years old.”–But he just did it. Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD

* In Che, the most romanticized revolutionary ever (Benicio del Toro) staggers up a steep wooded hillside, wheezing with asthma….

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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

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Moments out of Time 2006

Images, lines, gestures, moods from the films of the year

By Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy

Flags of Our Fathers: how the whole movie is suspended between the desperate “Where is he?” and finding out who “he” is…

• The calm, ecstatic beauty of the opening shot of A Prairie Home Companion: Mickey’s Dining Car glowing in the night, the turned back of narrator Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) visible through the window as he finishes his cheap meal, pays, and rises to step out into a heartland street painted with light and color after rain…

• Business-as-usual in The Departed: Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) disappears into a back room for a while. When he comes back to reenter the conversation, he’s wearing a bloody apron. We never know why….

‘The Departed’

Brick: The Bad Guy’s (Lukas Haas) mom interrupting a rec room showdown with offers of cookies and apple juice…

Half Nelson: Ryan Gosling’s heroin-addicted teacher storms into the drug-dealer’s hangout to tell the charismatic fellow (Anthony Mackie) to stay away from a little girl he’s taken under his wing–and gets detoured by the lure of shooting up….

• A lively mandrake root swims in a pan of milk beneath a pregnant woman’s bed—Pan’s Labyrinth

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Moments out of Time 2013

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

‘Enough Said’

• Inside Llewyn Davis: Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) sits by in the Village club, uninvited, as “500 Miles” is performed by Jim & Jean (Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan) and Troy (Stark Sands). You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles….
• The opening thirteen-minute shot of Gravity, during which you never think about special effects because everywhere you look, it’s real…
• The straight backroads of Nebraska. Doesn’t hurt to have those black cattle standing in the widescreen distance under a leaden sky….
• The curve of a tree limb above two lovers (Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux) embracing on a park bench, in Blue Is the Warmest Color
• The first time the ladies set eyes on each other, American Hustle. Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) to Sydney (Amy Adams) and then to husband (Christian Bale): “I know who you are! I know who she is, Irving!”…
• The peculiarly pastel density of the air in which Her’s islanded Angelenos swim…
• The fat gray worms of industrial smoke — especially from ground-hugging trains — that trail across Miyazaki’s green world in The Wind Rises
The Counselor: Leopard (Cameron Diaz) contemplates lamb (Penélope Cruz): “What a strange world you live in.”…
• Sternbergian ballet: the duel between Ip Man (Tony Leung) and Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) at The Grandmaster’s last train stop…
• Post-coitus in Enough Said, Albert (James Gandolfini) wondering whether he’s too heavy for his diminutive lover (Julia Louis-Dreyfus); enough to break your heart…
• At the beginning of Before Midnight, the look on Ethan Hawke’s face as his kid goes to board the plane…
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Moments Out of Time 2012

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

* Asleep in a balcony seat at the top of some golden-age movie palace, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is brought a telephone: The Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd) is calling from England….

* In Lincoln, the magnetic clasp of hands at the moment Stanton (Bruce McGill) and Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) finally receive news about a crucial battle…

* Fireflies: the compound at Abbottabad aswarm with night-vision dots, Zero Dark Thirty

* Gothic night woods, the rattle of wagon wheels on rough ground, the contrapuntal swinging of a lantern and a giant tooth: enter Dr. King Schulz (Christoph Waltz), Django Unchained

* Skyfall: 007 (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) at the threshold of 39 Steps country…

* On the beach in Moonrise Kingdom: Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) tentatively boogie to Françoise Hardy’s “Le Temps de l’Amour”…

Moonrise Kingdom

* “Girl from the North Country” playing as Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper) sit cross-legged on the floor, beginning a life-saving dance—Silver Linings Playbook

* “I would like to be cohesive” … Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), Beasts of the Southern Wild

* Moon and Cate Blanchett sharing a frame, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

* Cat sitting atop abandoned iron lung in a dark room, The Sessions

* Coffin with memory drawer optional, Bernie

* In the sepia palette of memory, the soft, volcanic flare when (Rachel Weisz) lights, draws on a cigarette, one measure of appetite and passion in The Deep Blue Sea

* Easy Money: JW (Joel Kinnaman) stares at the back of a golden girl’s neck, turned on by the erotics of privilege….

* Young Heathcliff (Solomon Glave), pressed against Cathy’s (Shannon Beer) back as they ride on the moor, breathes in her hair while his hand grazes the horse’s flank — Wuthering Heights….

* Orgiastic swell of sacred harp hymn as Bertha (Mia Wasikowska) kneels and washes Jack Bondurant’s (Shia LaBoeuf) filthy feet, in Lawless

* Deep in a Paris sewer, a perverse pietà: Beauty (Eva Mendes) and the Beast (Denis Lavant), Holy Motors

* Pietà in Robot & Frank: Frank (Frank Langella) cradling his “son,” after erasing Robot’s harddrive…

* Freddie Quell, surreally tiny, sharing a bench with his hometown sweetheart, just one of his larger-than-life Mothers in The Master

* “Name me.” Olivia Wilde to Charlie Hunnam, Deadfall

* Anna Karenina: The crackling sound of Anna’s (Keira Knightley) agitated paper fan, like the wings of a moth beating against light, as she watches her lover ride in a horserace…

* Hope Springs: Kay (Meryl Streep): “I’m not comfortable with oral sex.” Dr. Feld (Steve Carrel): “Giving or receiving?” Kay: “What?”…

* Django Unchained: blood spattering snow-white cotton bolls…

* Looper Senior (Bruce Willis) face to face with Looper Junior (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) over breakfast in a heartland diner…

* Late-night diner schmooze between two battered hockey “enforcers,” one rising (Seann William Scott), one in decline (Liev Schreiber)—Goon

* Amour: a slap that, in small, shatters civilization…

* Shadows of passing soldiers flickering over the faces of Lincoln and Grant (Jared Harris) as they keep each other company on a roadside porch, post–Civil War carnage—Lincoln

* Tarantino’s uncanny instinct for setup and suspension: in Django Unchained, the hilltop vantage on a man plowing a field, as two men (Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx) argue the merits of his extermination…

* Surveyed from a distance, on high, the track that connects Prometheus and the alien ship takes on a strange immanence: an umbilical link between “gods” and men….

* Barely glimpsed in Life of Pi: the shape of the eat-and-be-eaten island softens into the form of dreaming Vishnu….

* Tabu: In silent black-and-white, Portuguese colonials do the twist on a lawn in the middle of darkest Africa….

* Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) coping with horse dander, The Hobbit

* The Intouchables: Driss’s (Omar Sy) amoral delight when his paralyzed employer (François Cluzet) doesn’t react to the hot coffee Driss has just poured over his leg…

* Debbie (Leslie Mann) touching Desi’s (Megan Fox) breasts in This Is 40: “They’re like memory mattresses—Tempur-Pedic!”…

* In Argo, the always Moment-ous Philip Baker Hall: “The United States Government has just sanctioned your science fiction movie.”…

* Michaels Stuhlbarg and Pitt: who better to initiate us, however unexpectedly, into the madcap zone of Seven Psychopaths?…

* Kneeling aurochs, paying homage to Hushpuppy—Beasts of the Southern Wild

* Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) summoning her orca, the great black perfect circle of its head, front on, materializing out of the blue of a screen-filling tank—Rust and Bone

* In Luck, a man falling in love: Chester Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), seated outside his ailing horse’s stall in the night, registers a noble head swinging toward him….

* A gigantic jellyfish swimming in a night-blue sky, backdrop for silhouettes practicing lethal martial arts—Skyfall

* The erotic squeak of rubber against rubber as two figures in scarlet motion-capture suits mimic sex, replicated by writhing alien avatars on the screen behind them—Holy Motors

* “One of your vertebrae is protruding—it must be put back.” The awful craaackk! that follows marks an end to the orgy of breakage in The Dark Knight Rises

* Bernie: Preparing to address the jury, pompous DA Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) carefully wipes his mouth with his tie….

* Magic Mike: Leather-vested cowboy Dallas’s (Matthew McConaughey) deliciously dirty drawl as he explains the rules to the ladies packing his strip club: “The laaaaw says you can’t touch….”

* Mr. Tarantino blows up real good, Django Unchained

* Crate delivery at 4 a.m., Boardwalk Empire

* Flaying a man down to the soul—Carrie (Claire Danes) breaking Brody (Damian Lewis) in Homeland

* Silver Linings Playbook: Just finished reading A Farewell to Arms, Pat wakes his father (Robert De Niro) to register a protest—”She dies, Dad!”…

* Aro’s (Michael Sheen) maniacal shriek of laughter at the sight of Renesmee—most welcome blasphemy in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

* 3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom: the once and future Mr. Big (Chris Noth), naked except for a leopard thong, pounding away on his treadmill…

* Sons of Anarchy: On his knees, howling, at the edge of a pit, Tig (Kim Coates) watches his daughter burn alive….

* A twinkling yacht gliding under the Golden Gate Bridge at dusk: The Master‘s West Coast version of Gatsby’s green light…

* The Paperboy: in the bayou at night, the eye of a gator glowing like a lantern…

* Three sick souls (Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, James Badge Dale) sharing a smoke and some straight talk in a hospital stairwell, Flight

* Prom­etheus: Über-android David (Michael Fassbender) gravely combing his hair to look like Peter O’Toole’s do in Lawrence of Arabia

* The costumes that fail: KKK bagheads in Django Unchained (it’s the eyeholes that’s the problem)…

* The Sessions: Father Brendan (William H. Macy), decked out in bandana and red-white-and-blue running gear, toting six-pack, arrives at the home of his paralyzed parishioner (John Hawkes)….

* Moral nicety in Deadfall: When a killer (Eric Bana) sneers, “Who are you, my mother?” Sissy Spacek ripostes, “Somebody’s mother.”…

* “Look upon your work, Mother”: in Skyfall, Silva (Javier Bardem) removing the scaffolding of his ruined face for M’s edification…

* The Home we must care for … Promised Land pauses to enjoy the pastoral magic of farm pond and hills as night comes on in Western Pennsylvania….

* Depending on your POV in The Deep Blue Sea: “This is a tragedy” … “Sad perhaps, but hardly Sophocles.”…

* “That’s it for me.” In The Grey, camera moves slowly in on Diaz (Frank Grillo), propped against a log, surveying magnificent forest, mountains, and what might be the big two-hearted river….

* “A lady from days gone by and a sad and melancholic crocodile,” keeping ghostly company in a moonlit jungle, Tabu

* Odalisque with kitten: Eve (Kara Hayward) in her Moonrise Kingdom

* Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence) one-word eloquence in Silver Linings Playbook: that “Hey!” grenade each time she ambushes Pat (Bradley Cooper), and her flat, deal-closed “OK” after his passionate declaration of love…

* “Argo fuck yourself!” John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck sharing a toast…

* Freddie Quell’s gaunted, crucified face as he listens to Lancaster Dodd crooning “Slow Boat to China,” in The Master

* Introductory CU of dead-eyed Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), a perfectly malevolent black snake—Django Unchained

* In This Is 40, Albert Brooks explaining, “You can’t use up a Jew card—it goes forever!”…

* “Make her fun! I want a fun queen!” Christian, King of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard), demands of his personal physician and fellow-rake (Mads Mikkelsen) in A Royal Affair….

* Auntie Phyllis and Frankie—Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunnam—dreamily slow-dancing … so wrong, and yet so right: 3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom

* The Hobbit: Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) dialogue with their eyes….

* ParaNorman‘s ringtone: the iconic theme from John Carpenter’s Halloween

* While Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) hides from her demons under a pool table, the past starts to replay as a little girl’s legs suddenly dangle from table’s edge—Silent House

* The Grey: A little girl’s long hair sweeps over a dying man’s face in benediction….

* End of Watch: Every sweet, raunchy conversation—the jazzy riffs of friendship—between cop brothers-in-arms (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) as they cruise the mean streets of South Central…

* In Premium Rush, Michael Shannon as psycho cop Bobby Monday, nailing the kind of genial, even reasonable dementia that shrinks the world into his personal playpen; possibly American kin to Hans Landa…

* The prolonged demolishing of a man in a bathtub, The Snowtown Murders

* Magic Mike: Stripper Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), bent over a sewing machine, mending his jockstrap…

* The future Robin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) ducking a swarm of bats just before the end of The Dark Knight Rises

* Any one of Tommy Lee Jones’ many eloquent double-takes on the therapy couch, in Hope Springs

* Bedtime reading in Lincoln: the 13th Amendment…

* The Hobbit: the fingers of a statue flexing…

* Say goodbye to Miss Lara, Django Unchained

* Killing Them Softly: Cogan (Brad Pitt) watching Mickey (James Gandolfini) drink a beer…

* Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), blood-smeared and naked except for the belt wrapped tight around his neck, lurching dreamily down a hotel hallway—Boardwalk Empire

* Last man standing in The Grey, Liam Neeson shoves his great Celtic mug up into a dead-white sky and thunders at God: “Show me something real!”…

* Maya (Jessica Chastain) alone in the back of a vast transport plane, Zero Dark Thirty: where to now?…

 

Moments Out of Time 1987

[Originally published in Pacific Northwest, January 1988]

Hope and Glory: Down among the green leaves of his family’s backyard garden, young Bill Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards) confronts the wizard Merlin, while in the house the stillness of the adults ’round a grumbling radio signals that the Second World War has just been declared….

The Dead

• The Vietnamese woman’s voice scrapes relentlessly on our eardrums until we wish anything at all would shut her up: an unforgettable scene in Platoon makes us understand, by vicariously participating, how a My Lai might have happened….

The Dead: Gabriel Conroy (Donal McCann) turns from the snowy window to discover that his wife Gretta (Anjelica Huston), after the most intense and revealing conversation of their life together, has fallen deeply asleep….

Barfly: Returning from the hotel bathroom down the hall, Henry (Mickey Rourke) sits on the bed and slowly begins to wonder why the music from his radio should sound so muted. Oh, right. He’s in the wrong room….

• The wind drifts leaves across the road as Gene Hackman’s car and the camera crest a rise together—Hoosiers….

• “I’m gonna tell you something, Bonanza is not an accurate depiction of the West”: earnest breakfast discourse in Tin Men

• Diane Keaton singing “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” New Year’s Eve 1943. Radio Days

Innerspace: Dennis Quaid sees his unborn child…

• On the battlefield at the end of Good Morning, Babylon, the dying brothers film each other in order that their sons will know what they looked like….

• Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) blows a dead man’s brains out: David Mamet’s most outrageous con job in The Untouchables

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Moments Out of Time 2011

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

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Control (John Hurt), aced out of MI6 after the disaster in Budapest, announces, “Smiley is coming with me.” Smiley (Gary Oldman), his back to the camera, tilts his head a millimeter—surprise? acceptance? both?…

The Descendants: the sound Matt King’s (George Clooney) flip-flops make on asphalt as he jogs over to his friends’ house to get the scoop on his dying wife’s infidelity…

• Three figures frozen on a green lawn, bathed in cold white light, from the moon and the planet Melancholia

• Matchlight on face in front of red door, Le Havre

• Upside-down shadows of kids at play on gray asphalt, swinging from the top of the frame in The Tree of Life

• High angle looking down into cave in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: on the ochre floor, figures lie sleeping (dead?) just where radiant sunlight meets darkest shadow….

• The slow dissolve from one Western landscape into another, a slant of hill coming to exactly echo a line of clouds; actual and aspirant frontiers in Meek’s Cutoff

• The breathlessly kinetic rhythms of the heist that begins Drive

Midnight in Paris: the evolution of the expression on Gil (Owen Wilson)—F. Scott Fitzgerald has just introduced him to Ernest Hemingway—from gobsmacked to go-with-the-flow delight…

• Peppy (Bérénice Bejo) and Valentin (Jean Dujardin) artlessly falling in love, as they dance through a series of takes: The Artist

Moneyball: daughter (Kerris Dorsey) gravely, shyly singing “I’m Just a Little Bit Caught in the Middle” for dad (Brad Pitt) in the music store…

• The air in the village church swimming with dust particles that might once have been people: Le quattro volte

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: brusque, bone-shattering dispatch, by “Mr. Ellis” (Mark Strong), of the owl that has just flown out of the fireplace in his classroom…

• Laurel and Hardy in drag: Mr. Nobbs (Glenn Close), stiff as a stick, and broad-shouldered Mr. Page (Janet McTeer) step out in bonnets and dresses—Albert Nobbs

• In Midnight in Paris, Gil realizing that the woman he was just dancing with was Djuna Barnes: “No wonder she wanted to lead.”…

• Seduction, foreplay and climax on the subway: Shame

The Descendants: the sudden, vengeful kiss Matt King plants on the unknowing wife (Judy Greer) of hiswife’s lover…

• A very tipsy Emma Stone to “Photoshopped” Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love.: “We are going to bang!”…

• Shrinks Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) lying snug as bugs, or babies, in the belly of a boat with red sails, in A Dangerous Method

• In Arthur Christmas, the Mission Impossible precision of Christmas Eve break-in: Santa and ninja elves escape discovery through split-second timing and improvisation….

• A drop of perspiration falling onto a café tabletop, fatally fracturing the fourth wall of a Hungarian “play” in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

• Closeup of British officer’s shining young face (Tom Hiddleston) as he promises to care for Joey, and bring him back to the boy who loves him: a singular moment of sincerity in War Horse that measures what a world war for nothing will cost…

• A black horse sinks down in slow motion, as though curtsying to oblivion—Melancholia

• “Carrying, yeah”—Christoph Waltz’s first utterance in Carnage. Who ever doubted the worldly multilinguist of Inglourious Basterds could master American shrug?…

• A Nose (master perfumer) sniffs the aromas of time in a 32,000-year-old Cave of Forgotten Dreams….

• A shower of green leaves along a tree-lined residential street: something simian this way comes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes….

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), making a clean getaway after his incursion into the bowels of the Circus, passes Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds) on the stairs and confirms from the tune he’s whistling that Peter’s phonecall moments before was monitored. As expected…

Shame: the dying fall of Carey Mulligan’s voice, until she’s nearly whispering “New York, New York”…

• Afterthought in Moneyball: “Who’s Fabio?”…

• In The Descendants, Matt’s quiet “Don’t ever do that again” after his daughter’s boyfriend (Nick Krause) embraces him…

• Over tea at the Pages, the only smile that ever unfreezes—and transfigures—the face of Albert Nobbs

• A Scalphunter (Tom Hardy) in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy caressing the face of the spy he loves with light reflected from a compact, while she (Svetlana Khodchenkova) takes her pleasure in the exposure…

• “Phone sex” in Crazy, Stupid, Love.: Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) tenderly talking his estranged wife (Julianne Moore) through re-igniting the pilot light…

• Jung and his former patient discuss their Dangerous Method on a park bench by a sunlit lake, Sabina’s perfect little white hat like a lid on crazy…

• College guy, self-impaled on a tree branch, watches a horsefly settle on his nose—Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

• Tavern still-life with police inspector (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), pineapple, and trio of serene Kaurismäki goofs: Le Havre

My Week with Marilyn: the look on the publican’s face when Miss Monroe (Michelle Williams) drops by the Dog & Duck to say, “Nice place you got here”; expertly summoned up by the great Jim Carter, and just as expertly dropped before the moment spoils…

• Corey Stoll’s rhythms and tone as Ernest Hemingway, Midnight in Paris—not free of parody, yet oddly tender withal…

• Karl with a K, Sam Rockwell’s lethally deranged dope-dealer—The Sitter

• Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) tinkling his bicycle bell upon sighting the Circus’s new blonde, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

• A breeze teases the white curtains behind him as Mr. Page gazes at a picture of his friend’s lost mother—all that marks the life and death of Albert Nobbs

• The skull of the actual William Burke looking out at the movie audience that has just watched John Landis’s silly Burke and Hare

• The lawn sprinklers at evening, We Need to Talk about Kevin

• Falling in love with a zombie girl (Elle Fanning), Super 8

Moneyball: Pete (Jonah Hill), marveling at Billy working the phones, catches the fever at last, makes a fist of triumph in midair, then wonders whether he did it right….

Melancholia: Udo Kier noting with dismay that a wedding balloon has caught fire….

• After horrific gunplay in Drive: Ryan Gosling’s blood-splattered, shell-shocked face leans into an open door for a count of 10, then slowly, very slowly, slips out of frame….

• Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) awestruck—”Take that, liver!”—as he watches Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) belt down shots, in Young Adult

• Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace) and Nick (Will Ferrell), basking in a swimming pool, one-upping each other with “Your mother is so fat…” jokes—Everything Must Go

• Faced with the need to undress her incontinent charge, a burqa’d caretaker (Sareh Bayat) dials up a religious hotline for advice—ASeparation….

• A lampshade the color of blood in a darkened Margin Call office: corporate shark (Jeremy Irons) cuts his scapegoat (Demi Moore) off at the knees….

• Cobra (Albert Brooks) killing mongoose (Bryan Cranston) in Drive: “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. That’s it. It’s done. There’s no pain. It’s over. It’s over.”…

• Cobra mesmerizing mongoose: Patrick (John Hawkes) serenading Martha May Marcy Marlene (Elizabeth Olsen)…

• Claws clicking on marble, as villainous peacock Shen (Gary Oldman) enters—Kung Fu Panda 2

• Beneath an ice-blue waterfall, in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a beautiful princess is wooed into ecstasy by a very energetic catfish….

• At table in Midnight in Paris with Man Ray and Luis Buñuel, “Dali!” (Adrien Brody) pursues his own surrealistic train of thought: “I see a rhinoceros!”…

• “Why would I not know the context? I am the context!” Ezra Miller in We Need to Talk about Kevin

• Savoring cigar and table full of offspring, suave paterfamilias Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) watches Jung wolf down his dinner. Chacun à son appétit in A Dangerous Method

• The way Home looks from down the street, an oasis of warm, golden light in the gloaming—The Tree of Life

• The way Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) and the other women walk beside their Conestogas in Meek’s Cutoff, as though they would go on forever, sans complaint, heroic pretension, or even imagination of another path, until they fall…

• Post-chemo, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dancing down a hospital corridor, oblivious to all but his own weed-fueled glee, in 50/50

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: the footprints of an eight-year-old boy and a wolf, side-by-side in the cave floor…

• Daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) going underwater to cry, The Descendants

• The bee in the car, how three men deal with it—and how’d they do that shot anyway? Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

• Through undulating lace curtains, sunlight falls like a blessing on a white bassinet: heart-stopping beauty of beginnings in The Tree of Life

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: Surrounded by the chirp of crickets and the rustle of leaves, a pair of ghosts page through old snapshots of their lives one moonlit summer evening….

Melancholia: the morning ride through trees and mist, as seen from … Melancholia?…

• A lone horse gallops out of the fog on Golden Gate Bridge, its improbable rider coming into view a moment later: Caesar as Braveheart in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

• All the dogs we’ve known and loved in 2011: Skeletor, 50/50; Uggie, The Artist; Cosmo, Beginners; Laika, Le Havre; Booger, Tabloid; and above all, that goat-herding pooch in Le quattro volte who in effect “directs” an eight-minute take…

• Trees that signified in 2011: The Tree of Life, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Meek’s Cutoff, Le quattro volte

• In Margin Call, on a Brooklyn stoop in early morning, the Stanley Tucci character’s story of the bridge he once built between Ohio and West Virginia: “1,531 years of lives saved”…

• A pre-Raphaelite beauty (Jessica Chastain), slipping between clotheslines of glowing white sheets, to hose water over her bare feet—The Tree of Life

Take Shelter: Wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) looks at the horizon, then at husband Curtis (Michael Shannon), and says, “OK.”…

Of Gods and Men: eldest monk Luc (Michael Lonsdale, ever sublime) brushing aside ritual to punch the button on the tape player; “Swan Lake” fills the Algerian night….

• In 50/50, mom (Anjelica Huston) and best bud (Seth Rogen) instantly ambushing Adam’s shrink (Anna Kendrick) when she shows up to wait out his life-or-death surgery: “I smother him because I love him!” … “I’m not a dick!”…

• Piper Laurie’s luminous beauty, as grandmother shares a companionable bong with wildman Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)…

• Peeling off Gwyneth Paltrow’s face, Contagion

• A bloody handprint, with claws, materializing on a bedsheet—Insidious

• Little Bob (Roberto Piazza), a pint-sized, white-haired Elvis, rocking out on his red guitar in Le Havre

• Every serving of Darius Khondji’s moveable feast of light and color in Midnight in Paris

• The bouncy strains of “La Mer” behind the final unpacking of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘s Chinese boxes…

 

Moments out of Time 1982

[Originally published in The Informer, January 1983]

• The first shots of E.T.: the downward slant of … something, maybe just our own gaze, across the starry night sky, and then the cut to the extraterrestrial craft already at rest on Earth…

Slaughterhouse diplomacy: "The Long Good Friday"

• Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), bowling through the slaughterhouse to confront the other mobsters he has hung upsidedown on meat hooks, strides across a butcher’s scale; the needle registers his passing, then forgets him: The Long Good Friday….

• Roaring through the Wasteland with The Road Warrior: The Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence) sits tied in position in the backseat of “the last of the V-8s.” Pointing at the center of his face is a gun. The string leading from the trigger is tied to a bone held in a dog’s teeth. Outside the window, a rabbit runs by. The dog’s eyes notice….

Le Beau Mariage: Sabine (Béatrice Romand) standing at the window, her back to the wedding party, wondering whether Edmond (André Dussollier) is going to come back …

• The sometimes dramatically synchronous, sometimes just-there aural and visual presence of the space heater, as Chris (Mariel Hemingway) and Torry (Patrice Donnelly) get acquainted on the floor: Personal Best

• The mother in Poltergeist (Jobeth Williams) humming the tune from the Miller beer commercial as she does the housework…

Keep Reading

Moments Out of Time 2010

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

• The wall that is, and isn’t, there: The Ghost Writer

• In the hills at night, car lights on a distant curve of road—The American and Let Me In

• Gold-brown chicks cupped in Teardrop’s (John Hawkes) palms; memento mori in Winter’s Bone

• The nub of a dark quill growing out of Nina’s (Natalie Portman) shoulder blade: Black Swan

• “You’d do that for me?”—a line spoken to, and later by, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in The Social Network; the addressee not getting it in either case…

• Nic (Annette Bening) getting lost in singing Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” during a dinner party—The Kids Are All Right

• Catherine Keener’s cheekbones, Please Give

Hereafter: Three blocks away, down the street, trees are falling: Marie’s (Cécile De France) first awareness of the tsunami….

• Mattie’s (Hailee Steinfeld) bucket floating away downstream after she sees Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), True Grit

• Stretching away from his dead arm to dabble his toes in a spill of sunlight … Aron Ralston (James Franco), sometime during 127 Hours

• At the beginning of Sweetgrass, a sheep viewed in profile for a long time suddenly turns, stops chewing its cud, and looks directly and intensely into our eyes….

• Jews in the Warsaw street apprehensively eying the camera, A Film Unfinished

• The Escher-like folding over of Parisian skyline, Inception

• A man the height of a lighthouse, Ondine

Monsters: Lovemaking all over the sky…

Winter’s Bone: The ghastly blue twilight in which Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) and the weird sisters search for Jessup Dolly…

• Pink glow on a ferry dock empty of cars and everyone except The Ghost Writer

• During an assassins’ picnic, a butterfly trembles for a moment on the woman’s sweater—harbinger of hope and death in The American

• The Saudi oil minister, terror-struck yet self-possessed, while Carlos the Jackal (Edgar Ramirez) explains the agenda: “I’m going to kill you. Not yet.”—Carlos

• In The Fighter, Dicky (Christian Bale) enticing Mom (Melissa Leo) into a duet of “I started the joke / That started the whole world / Crying”…

• Street scene in Blue Valentine: Backed by shop-window light and a heart-shaped wreath, the girl (Michelle Williams) in a bright-red sweater soft-shoes while her lover (Ryan Gosling) warbles, “You always break the heart of the one you love”…

Black Swan: Nina, in a moment of especial distraction, freezes backstage as her monstrous dreamtime tormentor appears; he says “Hey…,” and walks on by….

• Bus interior, Let Me In: happy schoolkids on an outing, their bus moving into the countryside, reflections from the snow streaming overhead…

• Dad (Adrien Brody) teaching bird-legged Dren (Delphine Chanéac) to dance, Splice

• Algorithm upon a windowpane, The Social Network

• Shades of The 39 Steps in The Ghost Writer: Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson as avatars of Richard Hannay and Professor Jordan in the study…

• In The King’s Speech, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) beginning his audition for the role of Richard III, and cheerfully making a sound like “aardvark”…

• “Goodbye, sweet hat”—the Cheshire Cat as read by Stephen Fry, Alice in Wonderland

• In unobtrusive reprise of contact between Black Stallion castaways, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) averts his eyes and extends a hand to be nosed by an ebony dragon—How to Train Your Dragon“…

• Joni (Mia Wasikowska) says goodbye to her feckless father (Mark Ruffalo) in The Kids Are All Right: “I just wish you had been … better.”…

• Beating a woman (Jessica Alba) in close quarters, for what seems forever and to the death—The Killer Inside Me

• On a makeshift stage, Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) unravels his tale of original sin and lifelong penance, painting the one truly cinematic picture in Get Low; the manic fluttering of fingers and sibilant whispers shooting up like flames….

• A bear rides out of the brush in True Grit: “Do either of you need medical attention?”…

• A ghostly white hart—star of Arthurian myth and Miyazaki’s sublime Princess Mononoke—drifting through a frozen forest, leading Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to the Sword of Gryffindor; arguably the lone moment of magic in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
• That improbable white American Colonial box set down like a child’s playhouse in a green, dripping forest; just another trick-the-eye-and-mind stage set haunted by The Ghost Writer

• “You have part of my attention. You have the minimal amount.” Mark Zuckerberg to the chairman (David Selby) at his hearing, The Social Network

• An act of extreme faith in 127 Hours: free-falling down a narrow cleft between walls of rock, to plunge into an enchanted pool…

Sweetgrass: Grainy, dying-light photography of rider, who turns silhouette head to camera as he passes: “Watch your step”…

• Smudged colors and texture of Irish nightfall, rendered as never before, in Ondine, by Christopher Doyle…

• The road to the beach in unrelenting rain, The Ghost Writer

• The tenderness of casting Nathalie Richard as Madame, Never Let Me Go

• Flat-out decency of the Army recruiting officer (nonprofessional actor Russell Schalk) whom Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) visits in Winter’s Bone: “Buckle up … stay home.”…

• In passing, the grace of Richard Jenkins … Let Me In: the aging vampire-lover tries to postpone his replacement—”Please don’t see that boy again”; his death off-screen in Dear John, while his son monologues; another broken father looking for absolution, the only genuine quester in Eat Pray Love

I Love You, Phillip Morris: Oblivious to mayhem around them, two lovers (Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor) slow dance in a prison cell, blissed out by Johnny Mathis’s “Chances Are” (thank you, Cleavon!)…

The Kids Are All Right: Jules (Julianne Moore), having unzipped Paul’s (Mark Ruffalo) trou, sizes up the situation and says, “Oh — well — hell-o!”…

• The uncanny resemblance between Christian Bale’s Dicky Eklund in The Fighter and John Sayles in dumb mode….

A Prophet: the moment when godfather César Luciani (Niels Arestrup) becomes just another schmuck…

• Sign of our times: huge decal of wannabe street artist Thierry Guetta’s face plastered over the side of a building in the City of Angels, a nobody’s “I exist!” writ large, signifying nothing. Exit Through the Gift Shop

A Film Unfinished: Grief and joy of an elderly survivor as she watches footage of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walking dead, indifferent to emaciated bodies lying in the street: “I am happy to be human again!”…

• Early in The Ghost Writer, the contained 3D infinity of airport lights behind the Ghost (Ewan McGregor) as he expresses his first doubts about the job he’s accepted…

• Courtship by blind taste test: Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard, Hereafter

• “I don’t think of them as breasts—just tubes of potential danger”; Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), provider of mammograms in Please Give

• The slow relaxation of Karen’s (Annette Bening) pinched, angry features into maternal love as she gazes at her housekeeper’s sleeping daughter, in Mother and Child; the shock that flash-freezes Nic’s (Bening) face after she finds her wife’s hair where it ought not to be, The Kids Are All Right

• The way Melissa Leo’s devouring mom lips a cigarette in The Fighter

• The tender concavity between Nina’s (Natalie Portman) hips, as one of her projected selves (Mila Kunis) makes love to her racked flesh—Black Swan

• Island hottie or zombie girl, she still rides her horse—George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

• Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech, his face a-droop with houndlike hurt, stands transfixed in the park, watching his friend and king walk away….

• “Oo, hermit money. That’s good.” Bill Murray, Get Low

• “Machete don’t text!” Well of course not. Danny Trejo, Machete

• In 44 Inch Chest, the entrance of Ian McShane, resplendent though not at the moment rampant: “What’s clickin’, kittens?”…

Exit Through the Gift Shop: The assessment of a passerby after she’s seen Banksy’s phonebooth installation: “Someone is annoyed with BT Telephone.”…

• The reflection of a Nazi cinematographer in a Warsaw shop window: death’s scavenger, devouring images and stealing souls in A Film Unfinished

• The metallic whine of a windmill turning: the sound life makes in Winter’s Bone

• “I know you,” insists the transplanted Frenchwoman (Isabelle Huppert) in Africa, menaced by gun-brandishing black villagers turned rebels, their gazes as empty as lions surveying prey: the ethnic abyss in White Material

A Prophet: Malik’s (Tahar Rahim) brief conversation with a civilized man—”You must learn to read and write”—cut short by razor blade…

True Grit: The death of Little Blackie on a moonlit plain, under a frame-filling sky full of stars…

Never Let Me Go: The dreadful understanding that suffuses Carey Mulligan’s face, long before the boy she loves (Andrew Garfield) catches on: “There are no deferrals.”…

• The mutual, horrific homicide of Fred and Ginger, the lab-created heaps of gray, eyeless flesh whose extended pink-petal “tongues” once intertwined in lovely and loving dance—Splice

• A woman who may be dead, eyed underwater by a teddybear—Hereafter

Let Me In: Car sitting on country road after train has passed; the red lights stop flashing, the barrier arms rise; the distant mountains abiding…

• In Sweetgrass, an endlessly receding zoom downslope at the herd, till cloud shadows sweep the whole valley; the sound level holding meanwhile as, phoning home from the high country, a sheep wrangler (Pat Connolly) at the end of his tether vents: “I don’t want to learn to hate these mountains.”…

• In A Film Unfinished, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto bemused at the sixty-year-old faked scene she is watching projected: “Who ever had a flower in their apartment? We would have eaten the flower!”…

• As wife (Michelle Williams) and child disappear from the frame, a man (Ryan Gosling) walks slowly out of focus, toward the color and pop of fireworks at the end of the street: Independence Day in Blue Valentine

• In The Kids Are All Right Jules (Julianne Moore), penitent, nails it: “Bottom line, marriage is hard … f**kin’ hard … just two people slogging through the s**t year after year … getting older … changing … it’s a f**kin’ marathon.”…

Winter’s Bone: Framed in his truck’s rearview mirror, gun barrel showing, Teardrop (John Hawkes) stares dead-eyed at the cop (Garret Dillahunt) who’s just pulled him over: “Is this gonna be our time?”…

• “I fired mounted and I fired wide.” LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) wistful about the closest he ever got to Chaney, in True Grit

Please Give: Kate (Catherine Keener) offering boxed leftovers—”Are you hungry?”—to an elderly black man … who’s just waiting in line for a table at his favorite restaurant…

• Dicky, in The Fighter, walking away from the crack house; noticing cake icing on his fingers, he absentmindedly licks it….

Ondine: As the lad (Colin Farrell) who may have fallen for a silkie exits the confessional, his wry priest (Stephen Rea) calls after him: “Keep me informed of developments.”…

Let Me In: The man looking pleadingly as he’s drained, his beseeching hand seemingly to be answered by that of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) … which takes the handle of the door and pulls it closed…

• The servant sweeping sand from the patio, surrounded by beach and dunes—The Ghost Writer

Previous Moments Out of Time are collected on Parallax View here.

Moments out of Time 1999

[originally published in Film Comment Volume 36 Number 1, January/February 2000, reprinted by permission]

• The middle-aged Gerald (Alain Libolt) taking out his glasses to look at a photo of a woman who may become his wife—Eric Rohmer’s golden Autumn Tale

Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek - "The Straight Story"
Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek watching the lightning storm ...

• One of those days it’s a minute away from snowing: the dancing bag, American Beauty

The Straight Story: Alvin (Richard Farnsworth) and Rose (Sissy Spacek) watching the lightning storm …

• Slow-motion bullet trajectories and time-lapse clouds, Three Kings

• The first time John Malkovich realizes he is speaking with someone else’s voice—Being John Malkovich

• “You can’t always get what you want”: the far-flung group sing—excruciating and exhilarating—in Magnolia

• The blankness of Rosetta‘s face while she waits for her boyfriend to finish drowning…

• Red balloon sailing up a spiral stairwell, The Sixth Sense

• The queasy roll of a wooden Christ into underwater closeup, In Dreams

• In Boys Don’t Cry, Brandon (Hilary Swank) watching through the windshield as Lana (Chloe Sevigny) walks fluorescent-lit toward the convenience store. The clerk tells her, “Dream on, Lana, I can’t be sellin’ you no beer tonight,” and she replies, “Fine, I’ll browse.”…

• In Besieged, a cleaningwoman (Thandie Newton) hoovers a rug while her enraptured employer (David Thewlis) watches and noodles at the piano: art and love in the making…

The End of the Affair: Sound of door closing on a lower floor. Husband (Stephen Rea) says it’s the maid. Friend of the family (Ralph Fiennes), bent over a whisky glass: “No, it was Sarah’s step.” …

• A postlapsarian pietà—burnt-out ambulance driver Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) cradled in the arms of Mary Burke (Patricia Arquette): all that’s left after Bringing Out the Dead

Eyes Wide Shut: the hotel clerk (Alan Cumming)’s flirtation with, uh, Bill (Tom Cruise)…

• The courtroom shouting duel between the Mississippi prosecutor (Bruce McGill) and the tobacco company lawyer (Wings Hauser), The Insider

• In Topsy-Turvy, the wonderful formality and discretion and play of language of Gilbert’s “notes” after the dress rehearsal of The Mikado…

• Cartman’s Vegas finale to “Kyle’s Mom Is a Bitch,” South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

• Ichabod Crane’s journey up the Hudson River Valley in Sleepy Hollow: a haunted landscape straight out of Hawthorne and de Tocqueville …

• The bright-red door of the Burnham home, glowing through curtains of pouring rain: American Beauty‘s unreal estate, as seductive as Gatsby’s green light…

• Re: goggles in Three Kings: “Those are for night vision—they don’t work in the daytime.” “Yeah, they kinda work.”…

Beau Travail‘s “Billy Budd” (Grégoire Colin) staggers through a sea of blinding-white salt, all his beauty burning away in the sun…

• The practice duel between Keanu Reeves and his sensei (Laurence Fishburne) in The Matrix

• The ineffable Eugene Levy, American Pie‘s clueless, cardiganed dad, gamely striving for male bonhomie with his pastry-ravishing son…

• Mira Sorvino tasting someone else in her husband’s kiss, Summer of Sam

• “You!” On the stairs, in her husband’s embrace, Sarah (Julianne Moore)’s rapt face at the sight of her descending lover. The End of the Affair

• Sunlight haloing Magali (Béatrice Romand)’s wild thicket of hair: just one of many visual harvests in Autumn Tale

• An ice cream vendor (Isaach de Bankolé) and a samurai assassin (Forest Whitaker) watch a man building a boat on a New York rooftop—Ghost Dog….

• Reading, by campfire light, a terrible diary that was never written: Limbo

• Grainy, greenish home movie footage of Mr. Death in his basement, cheerily describing the 19th-century electric chair he’s restoring: “so small it looks like it was made for a child or a woman”…

Dogma‘s trenchcoated angel with a Cockney twang (Alan Rickman) remembering the pain of telling a carefree little kid he had to grow up to be Jesus…

• The sweet, shriven clarity of Lester Burnham’s/Kevin Spacey’s smile when he hears the news that his daughter lane is in love (“Good for her”) just before he becomes a casualty of American Beauty

The Green Mile: The Pet Sematary creepiness of a scruffy gray mouse asleep in a cigar box, its l00-year-old heart laboring on…

• An elderly retainer greeting tainted P.I. Nicolas Cage at the mansion door—”Mrs. Matthews chose to take her life this afternoon”—his dignity and self-contained grief an oasis in the deeply unclean 8MM

• A couple of broken-backed fingers sticking out of the gravel beside a roofed-over railroad line in The Bone Collector

• On the move in a screen-filling landscape, a car driven by a serial killer threads down a curving highway while a girl from Ireland—potential prey—trudges wearily off in another direction: fate and potentiality in Felicia’s Journey….

• In longshot, Connie (Stephen Rea) sprawls in an easychair, his Lolita (Sarah Polley) lying full-length across his lap, his hand inside her open jeans … a poignantly erotic vignette in Guinevere

• On a California beach, under an unforgiving sun, a fortysomething lady in a bathing suit flirts with a hunky younger guy: Susan Sarandon acts her age with such brave pride you wish she was Anywhere But Here….

• One-o’clock-in-the-morning kitchen chat between pipe-smoking Southern matriarch (Patricia Neal) and her black caretaker and friend (Charles S. Dutton)—Cookie’s Fortune

• Weeping Ed Norton burying himself in Meat Loaf’s great breasts in Fight Club

• “Respect the cock!”—Tom Cruise’s Mick Jagger strut/rant in praise of macho piggery, Magnolia

• In Go, Manny—deep into Xstasy—hallucinates a passionate macarena in a supermarket with a yellow-uniformed cashier….

• Lester and Ricky (Wes Bentley) toking up against the back wall of the country club, American Beauty

• In The Sixth Sense, a kid shrink (Bruce Willis)’s suitable case for treatment (Haley Joel Osment) turns back, sadly, after their first meeting, in a church pew: “I’ll be seeing you again, won’t I?”…

• “That movie has warped my fragile little mind!” Eric Cartman telling it like it is, South Park

• Beach Boys blare—”I Get Around”—as a clutch of U.S. soldiers careen through a sunbaked Iraqi desert, Three Kings

Double Jeopardy: the car sinking below them ‘as federal marshal (Tommy Lee Jones) and escapee (Ashley Judd) swim up toward ‘the surface of Puget Sound…

The Muse: the long trek across the Universal lot by “crawl-on” Albert Brooks, bound for a meeting with the wrong Spielberg (Steven Wright as cousin Stan)…

Mickey Blue Eyes: Sotheby’s-style art auctioneer Hugh Grant is obliged to announce the new offering painted by one of his gangland associates, “Die Piggy Piggy Die Die”….

• The sudden Morricone shriek of “spaghetti Western” music when Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) sights a rival in Election

American Pie: Checking out the Internet action between Jim (Jason Biggs) and the foreign exchange student (Shannon Elizabeth), one of many onlookers remarks, “That guy’s in my trig class.”…

• The beginning of The Straight Story: the camera frames a little white Iowa bungalow, very slowly edges rightward to register a larger setting, then penetrate a zone of shadow beside the house. The movement’s disquieting, mysterious, drawing us into as-yet-unknown narrative territory (Twin Peaks? Lumberton? Bedford Falls?) where Something Is Going to Happen….

• Every conversation in Autumn Tale, but especially one concerning the nature of love, in which a blooming girl accuses her smitten philosophy prof of “thriving on ambiguity”: she might be speaking of the author of this exquisitely civilized conte.

• Cigarette smoke billowing out of the apartment—stuffed with dolls—of a child-abusing mother, in The Third Miracle

• Hair and blood and aquarium water pooling in a hallway, Bringing Out the Dead

• Denis Lavant jazz-dancing up and down a room with black floor and mirrored walls: Beau Travail‘s caterpillar uncocooned…

• An open window framing the abrupt absence of a fallen soul in Dreamlife of Angels

• “Happy anniversary.” The Sixth Sense

Mr. Death‘s face: flat, ordinary, familiar … Dr. Mengele as Mr. Potatohead…

• An exquisite courtesan (Gong Li) horribly blighting her own beauty in The Emperor and the Assassin

• The way Lester walks down the table and picks up the asparagus, American Beauty

• A flood of milk in the desert, Three Kings

• Her newly hacked-off head rolling across the room, a mother’s eyes come to rest over a crack in the floorboards—and stare straight at her son in hiding: a freakish (and forgotten-about) interlude in Sleepy Hollow

Princess Mononoke: a girlchild sucking tainted blood from a great white wolf … her mother …

• A new baby nurses the nub of a young war veteran’s finger, making good use of flesh sundered in battle: a vote for reunion in Ride with the Devil

• Up close and personal in Romance: a newborn’s Yoda-like face thrusting out of its mother’s vagina…

Rosetta eats a hardboiled egg while waiting to die … then interrupts her suicide to trudge matter-of-factly across the trailer park to buy another canister of gas….

• A freckled little girl fashions earrings and “nail polish” from flower petals in The Silence….

• In a crowded restaurant, recognition shatters the face of Three Seasons‘ Vietnam vet (Harvey Keitel) who’s just given up a fruitless search for the daughter he left behind: she’s the whore fawning over a john, just a few patrons away….

• In Three Kings, the, weird rapport between Troy (Mark Wahlberg) and the young Iraqi torturer (Saïd Taghmaoui) who describes how his wife was maimed in an American bomb run: “That’s horrible!” … “Oh my god, buddy, I didn’t even tell you the horrible part yet.”…

The Iron Giant: “I am not a gun.”…

• Apples and high heels, In Dreams

Topsy-Turvy: Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) accosted by a harridan-whore in a claustrophobic passageway outside the Savoy Theatre during the first performance of The Mikado: down-and-dirty reality intrudes upon his world’s relentless artifice….

• In a late-night bar, putting the obligatory moves on a pretty young reporter (Mary McCormack), True Crime‘s aging womanizer (Clint Eastwood) looks as though he’s sleazed through this scene a thousand times….

• “Once at band camp I put my flute in my pussy”—Alyson Hannigan’s American Pie geek gets real….

• “I’m the Shoveler. I shovel well.” William H. Macy, Mystery Men

• “I’m in awe of you … I’d love to sit down with you some time and just pick your brain.” The precisely gauged cadences of Caroline Burnham (Annette Bening)’s sharky shrillness, gushing over the Real Estate King (Peter Gallagher) in .American Beauty

• “You can afford a house like this, you buy a house like this, you know”—Luis Guzman explaining L.A. to Terence Stamp, The Limey

• Samuel L. Jackson’s rah-rah rant cut shockingly (and satisfyingly) short in Deep Blue Sea

• “Smell the veggieburgers!”—Zack and his lover considering how to dispose of a young woman they may have killed, Go

• Perched on bars tools, an Oscar Wilde wannabe (Henry Gibson) and a onetime quizkid at the end of his tether (William H. Macy) zigzag through a conversation of monumentally ironic cross-purposes—Magnolia….

• Rehearsing a love scene for a play in Mansfield Park, two beautiful young women, “sisters” sharper in their ways than any man of their world, begin to edge into sensual rapport…

• An Amazon raises her rifle against a mythic stag in Princess Mononoke: “I will show you how to kill a god”…

Cradle Will Rock: the jackhammered wall, a great scar where Diego Rivera’s mural used to be…

• Maxine (Catherine Keener)’s crisp white blouse, Being John Malkovich

• Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) telling .his shrink (Lorraine Bracco) she has a laugh “like a mandolin,” The Sopranos

• The wallpaper in the hotel room where Wigand (Russell Crowe) goes to ground, The Insider

• Nighttown in Ghost Dog: A black samurai slides through wasteland streets, cocooned by luxury car and Wu Tang Clan…

• A degraded earth mother squatting in her filthy subterranean hole in The Thirteenth Warrior

• The sculpted planes of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s face as she kisses off a lover in Limbo—one of the band members backing her—with a haunting country-blues ballad, “Better off without you in my life”…

• In Guinevere, Jean Smart’s bravura performance as a killer mother who takes aim at her daughter’s happiness, verbally castrating Harper’s aging lover and unsexing her child with surgical precision…

• “When I was your age I lived in a duplex!” For Caroline Burnham, a look back into hell—American Beauty

Holy Smoke!: Back in Australia after her earthshaking Indian epiphany, solemn Ruth (Kate Winslet) takes one look at her best girlfriends and regresses instantly into a squealing teen harboring a bigtime crush .

• Pvt. Vig (Spike Jonze) matter-of-factly pauses, in mid-attack on an Iraqi bunker, to remote-lock the beeping luxury car he’s just parked. Three Kings

• “I just thought that’s what guys do around here”: Brandon Teena explains his happy participation in the risky redneck rite of bumper-skiing, Boys Don’t Cry….

• On the run in snowy. woods, a black devil with sharp teeth (Christopher Walken) ssssshhhhhes two angels in pink organdy—one of whom deliberately snaps

a stick. A Sleepy Hollow flashback…

• Walpurgisnacht, In Dreams: a children’s performance of Snow White in an outdoors thrumming with demonic vibes…

• Bellied up to a Midwestern bar, two old men swap tales of decades-old wartime guilt: The Straight Story….

The Limey: Congratulated by his young companion on having been part of “the Sixties,” Peter Fonda starts (to leave the room, then turns back long enough to emend: “Actually, it was mostly 1966 … and the early part of ’67.”…

• The profound pity that suffuses the face of the “goddamn mute orphan halfwit” (Samantha Morton) in Sweet and Lowdown when she lets Emmet Ray (Sean Penn) know she’s married and a mother…

• Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) hanging out with a couple of “suave motherfuckers”—strangers on a train in Dogma

• A handsome gray cat perches on the back of a couch to stare (into the camera) at one of Go‘s seriously stoned adventurers. Subtitle: “I can hear your thoughts.”…

South Park: Bill Gates summarily executed for Windows 98…

• A golden American übermensch sprawled in artful abandon on a Riviera chaise lounge, The Talented Mr. Ripley‘s Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) proves F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contention that “the rich are very different from us.”…

• “It flows through me like rain”: The late Lester Burnham savors his life, the tenderness of his imagery a perfect measure of the look and feel of American Beauty‘s climactic weather ….

• Closeup of a pulsing vein in Galoup’s/Denis Lavant’s arm, Beau Travail‘s measure of a soul in extremis…

• The sweet nakedness of brown feet on flagstones: Thandie Newton on her way to Thewlis’s bedroom, Besieged

• “I’m ready to communicate with you now” … grownup formality from a little boy who’s been to hell and back, The Sixth Sense

• Troy Barlow phones home in Three Kings….

• W.S. Gilbert’s shuttered face as he sits on the edge of his wife’s bed and listens to her idea for a new comic opera, about a woman’s life with a Topsy-Turvy husband who has no genius for love: “Every time she tries to be born, he strangles her with her umbilical cord.”…

• Dr. Lester (Orson Bean)· insistently apologizing for his incoherent speech even though he sounds perfectly lucid—Being John Malkovich

The Third Miracle: a priest (Ed Harris) and the earthy daughter of a saint (Anne Heche) slow-dancing over her mother’s grave…

• The wind of God exploding through a window—Neil Jordan’s signature in The End of the Affair

Three Kings: From a worm’s-eye view in the foreground, we watch a blue truck, tipped over on its side, its driver staring out the shattered window, plowing inexorably toward us and the spikes of a land mine….

• Dancing with her husband at her daughter’s wedding party, Isabelle (Marie Rivière) turns suddenly grave, mirroring our sense, at the end of Autumn Tale, of lost summers and winters to come…

• “I’m great.”—Lester Burnham/Kevin Spacey, American Beauty. Yes!…

RTJ/KAM

Moments out of Time 1995

[Originally published in Film Comment Volume 32 Number 1, January/February 1996, reprinted by permission]

• Oriental views of train bridges into Brooklyn, Smoke

• Birds, insects, air: the sounds around the Roseman Bridge, The Bridges of Madison County

• 1948 sunshine, and a rapturously integral job of period re-creation that never preens as such—Devil in a Blue Dress

• Forest of air fresheners—the apartment of victim #3, Seven

Once Were Warriors: the camera craning around the outside of the home, looking oddly electrified against the night, as if it were a toy house…

The Kingdom: witnessing, from a worm’s-eye view, the automated doors of the hospital swish open—for no one—so that dead leaves can skitter into the deserted corridor beyond…

The Doom Generation: A boy (James Duval) walks his neon’d yo-yo in a horror movie nightscape….

• The bad-child way Nicolas Cage says “I’m sorry” to the nice guy who has to fire him, in Leaving Las Vegas

• Laurence Fishburne’s Othello turning an Arabic gesture of courtesy into graceful gangsta sign…

• A Fisher-Queen and her Merlin (Patricia Arquette, Aung Ko) rafting down a dark, silent river, Beyond Rangoon

• Michael Mann texture, Heat: In a modern-age nonzone under a concrete overpass, and just across the way from an armored car massacre, a bearded bum stands guard over a TV tipped into a grocery cart, its pink screen alive with static….

Dolores Claiborne: Jennifer Jason Leigh looks into a ferryboat restroom mirror to see … a veil of dark hair where her face should be….

To Die For: Wide-eyed fizzy innocence going all flat as Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) flips a cute little umbrella out of her drink, takes a hard suck on the straw, and calculates how much screentime might be bought by “doing things ordinary people wouldn’t do” to George Segal’s cock…

• A Chabrolian kitchen, La Cérémonie: hot cocoa, casual carnage, and Isabelle Huppert cracking wise, apropos the corpse (“His goose is cooked!”)…

• “Alas, poor Yorick”: a faithful son’s very drunken soliloquy to a cooked sheep’s head-an Icelandic delicacy, like Cold Fever itself…

• Working the power of POV in Strange Days: Trapped inside a car with Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) and Mace (Angela Bassett), we watch helplessly as bad guys douse us with gasoline and set us on fire…

• Abandon all hope, ye who enter here: Seven‘s death-factory credit sequence, decomposing flesh, image, sound, and film…

• The astonishing irradiated textures of Hickok’s (Jeff Bridges) opium dream, Wild Bill: a ghost-faced Indian crowned by a halo of black-and-white quills; the white slant of a horse’s straining neck; etiolated riders dissolving into limewhite space; a “little dog” elongating into solarized oblivion…

• The slow realization that the dim, shattered space out of which we are looking out is the interior of an overturned car, and that Midget (Gabriel Casseus) will smile no more—New Jersey Drive

• A young black man (Harold Perrineau Jr.) walking up a curve of Peekskill road, the telephoto collapsing past/present/future, all Smoke

Frankie Starlight: the Dork of Cork (Corban Walker) beaming up at the man who may be his father (Matt Dillon), his dwarf’s face a world of wit and feeling…

Babe: As he learns the facts of life under the killing-shed meathooks, Babe’s head—except for snout and fanned ears—remains darkly shadowed … so that at film’s end the little pig’s face may bloom up toward the Boss’s saving approval, like a sunflower…

• Bruce Willis relishing “the music of the 20th century,” Twelve Monkeys

• The, what, razor-sharp haze of city lights beyond De Niro and Amy Brenneman’s yearning profiles, Heat

Get Shorty: Writhing under Ray Bones (Dennis Farina)’s foot, Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) is handed a pistol and told to put one more into the guy Ray has killed. He points the gun up at Ray’s crotch instead … and Ray simply folds it away without comment. Some fuckin’ guys never learn….

• Approaching the confessional, Desperado: “Father forgive me, I’ve killed quite a few men”…

• “Easy, if you didn’t want ‘im killed, why’d you leave him with me?” Mouse (Don Cheadle) making perfect sense, by his lights, Devil in a Blue Dress

• Figure in hall bearing groceries—Seven

• At the movies, somebody coughs: the trajectory of a virus, Outbreak

• After the rape, Rob Roy‘s wife (Jessica Lange) making a proud, painful walk to water…

Angels and Insects: Matty’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) detonating revelation during a decorous wordgame—INSECT embraces INCEST…

• The two vicars of Christ (Linus Roache, Tom Wilkinson) supplying orgiastic thumps, cries, and moans for the benefit of the face-of-Death cleric on the other side of the wallPriest

• Scraping carrots at the sink: the electric first touch in The Bridges of Madison County

• Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) stepping out into morning light as effulgent as his clothes—the first, and alas highest, moment of Casino

• Haiku for von Sternberg, Shanghai Triad: An exotic Shanghai lily (Gong Li) lounges in her fur coat, cigarette poised, by the open door of a lakeside shack. Beyond, wind moves water and reeds….

• A tear, a cobweb, a sleeping canary—the first elements of an outrageous, hilarious, and manically gladsome concatenation of catastrophes in The City of Lost Children

• A shot we’ve waited years for: Heat takes aerial survey of blocks and blocks of empty nighttown, here and there punctuated by islands of streetlight, then lowers to follow one moving vehicle….

• Perfect scale and a glorious fusion of character, incident, landscape in Sense and Sensibility: Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet) achieving mutual insight on the hillside overlooking the inlet, the tide having newly turned…

Wild Reeds: the amazing 360+ pan that loses the young people amid the sweeping richness of the countryside, then catches sight of them again just as they walk out of the film and into the years separating then from now…

Ulysses’ Gaze: love among the ruins, with Sarajevo’s citizens sitting on benches in the snow to watch an outdoor Romeo and Juliet…

The Doom Generation: Johnathon Schaech’s devilishly AC/DC savior pitches woo to his punk Magdalene (Rose McGowan): “You fuckin’ furry tuna taco”….

• Using his teeth to pull off a signet ring for a woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) he’s just cozened, one-armed Richard III-to-be (Ian McKellen) slides it out of his mouth like a dirty joke….

• The up-close smell of sun-warmed flesh bathed in booze-lust lost beside a motel pool in Leaving Las Vegas

Tokyo Fist: Seen through a windowed door, a boxer’s arms punch into frame like striking snakes….

• One solid guy: Ed Harris’s redoubtability and tenderness as Gene Kranz, the head of Houston Control, Apollo 13; and exactly catching the veteran guerrilla’s wry bemusement as, in Nixon, his E. Howard Hunt fades into the night advising John Dean (David Hyde Pierce), “Your graves have already been dug.”…

• In The Usual Suspects, Peter Greene nailing down the franchise on “crazy fucker” during a hilltop meeting at midnight of radically bad guys…

Wild Bill shakes out his coat, smoothes his mustaches, lays down his lapels, fingers his mane behind his ears, rakes his hat brim, and strides out to the latest big gundown: It’s show time!

Get Shorty: Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) finally nails “the look”….

• “Like the guy in The Godfather says, this is America, OK?” Dan Hedaya in To Die For

• “Oh oh, it’s gonna be a good one!” Marlon Brando anticipating sweet torment as Faye Dunaway puts the moves on him, Don Juan de Marco

• The terrible flatness of Sean Penn’s blue eyes as he tries to charm the nun (Susan Sarandon) who will save his soul: “little man on the make” in Dead Man Walking

• Song of the year: “My Blue Heaven,” as rendered from her coffin by a dead grandma mid-funeral mass, Antonia’s Line, and by Greek (mouse) chorus in Babe

• The pixilated music of Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

• Nicolas Cage builds a psychotic Bluto for Kiss of Death: Junior’s massive neck and pumped torso topped by a too-small head….

• Tender farewell to alumna Elizabeth Berkley from Robert Davi, Showgirls: “Must be weird not having anybody come on you”…

• Karen (Renee Russo) and Martin (Danny DeVito) simultaneously realizing he’s doing Shylock, not a shylock—Get Shorty

• “You’re such a Cassandra.” “I’m not such a Cassandra, I’m Cassandra—that’s who I am!” Mighty Aphrodite

• Anna Karina in Haut bas fragile doing an Edith Piaf, singing “My Lost Love” to a daughter” she will never know…

• In To Die For, the way James’s (Joaquin Phoenix) vacant eyes and slack face switch on as he watches his Salome dance in car headlights … followed by very slowmotion epiphany as he registers the part he’s been assigned in her soap opera…

• Lamely earnest Otis (Carlos Jacott), interviewed for a career as videostore clerk in Kicking and Screaming: who are his influences? “Samuel Fuller … all the good ones … all the other ones”…

Screamers: A weary offworld veteran (Peter Weller) of a war that’s gone on forever does a deadpan Archie Bunker on a gung-ho young Marine who won’t shut up: “Relent!”…

Get Shorty: in the L.A. rep house, at the end of Touch of Evil, Chili (John Travolta) leaning forward to brush a stranger’s arm and beam, “Great, huh!”…

Twelve Monkeys: Madeleine Stowe becomes blond “Madeleine,” stepping out of an unaccounted-for greenish-gray glow off the lobby of the moviehouse as Bernard Herrmann’s morbid memory theme from Vertigo swells on the soundtrack (though it’s The Birds we last saw on the theater’s screen)….

Smoke: After paging incuriously through Augie’s many photos of “his” corner of Brooklyn, Paul (William Hurt) suddenly comes upon his late wife’s face … in passing….

Citizen Langlois: the crabbed silhouette of Lotte Eisner making her way toward the .statue of Metropolis‘s False Maria in the Cinémathèque…

• Tieresias (Jack Warden) at the (New) Acropolis, Mighty Aphrodite (“Does the Trojan Horse have a wooden dick?”)…

Desperado: slowmo telephoto shot of Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas approaching the camera, an explosion blooming tall and orange behind them, their long black tresses rising and falling in unison…

The White Balloon: The little girl in search of a New Year’s goldfish inches her skirt a little further over the grate through which her money has fallen, in case the too-friendly soldier has his eye on it….

Sense and Sensibility: the quietly knowing sideways cut of Elinor’s glance when her feckless mother (Gemma Jones) allows that there was “something” in Willoughby’s eyes…

• Near the end of Kicking and Screaming, Chet’s observation—”Know how to make God laugh? .. Make a plan”—but especially Eric Stoltz’s approximately eight-stage reaction to his own joke, as if he’d never really listened to it before…

• Closing in on the dots that make up a mediated eye in the main-title sequence of To Die For; later, the sudden, total eclipse in Larry Maretto’s (Matt Dillon’s) pupil…

• Surveilled from a distance—and by videocamera, yet—master criminal McCauley (Robert De Niro) nevertheless stares straight out of the ghostly blue screen to exchange one long, impossible look with manhunter Hanna (Al Pacino): Heat….

• Lenny Nero, fucking and killing his beloved Faith (Juliette Lewis), locks eyes in a mirror with his smiling doppelgänger. Who’s reflecting whom in Strange Days?…

• History, indeed life, as TV: after moments of no contact, the wrinkle of static that magicks the Apollo 13 capsule suddenly into view, almost at sea level already. The show will have a happy ending….

• Susan Sarandon’s outstretched hand as a killer dies—purest Christian charity in Dead Man Walking

• The white hand of Desdemona (Irène Jacob) caressing the dark round of Othello‘s skull as she dies…

• An unremarkable demon (Sandrine Bonnaire) slides into the dark when La Cérémonie is over….

• Chazz Palminteri looks at the bottom of a coffee cup, The Usual Suspects….

• “Come ‘ere!” Ray Bones wants his car—Get Shorty….

• Taking a long look at the final digs of a downfall child, the finale of To Die For: a frozen lake where, backed by the shriek of “Season of the Witch,” Janice Maretto (Ileana Douglas) skates and skates and skates … then disappears…

Leaving Las Vegas‘s deathbed consummation: Sera (Elisabeth Shue) riding a dead horse…

Beyond Rangoon: Wracked equally despair and nausea, Laura lurches out into a tropical downpour to be sick. Discreetly, Aung Ko steps forth to shelter her with an umbrella….

• After church, cemetery, and newlyweds, Sense and Sensibility‘s final, and perhaps most telling, freeze-frame: a shower of gold…

• Clint Eastwood standing in the rain, watching something of value pass away—The Bridges of Madison County

• Paul explaining how Sir Walter Raleigh weighed Smoke, and smiling at how it’s a story…

RTJ /KAM