Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Sombrero Grande’s “Boner” Moments in Cinema: Part One

Mil Peliculas issued up his top ten favorite “boner” moments in cinema in his blog, so I figured I’d weigh in as well with some of mine. For those who are confused, a “boner” moment is a moment or even a full scene in a film that is executed so perfectly, so emotionally-charged, so brilliantly crafted that I just can’t help but get an intellectual “stiffy” every time I watch it. Some might call them “goosebump” moments, but we Masked Movie Snobs strive to be more vulgar than that. Allow me to share five of my favorite “boner” moments with you now (more to follow):

Dr. Strangelove

* Major “King” Kong riding the bomb. This big Texan is so determined to do his duty to his country, to avenge the “Russkies” for what he’s been duped by Jack Ripper into believing they’ve done to America, to put his own life on the line to do it…and then when he suddenly finds himself on top of that bomb as it disappears from the body of his plane, hurdling towards the ground and he realizes he’s about to die in a few seconds but will be succeeding in his mission, what does he do? In a moment of sheer overpowering emotion he starts screaming at the top of his lungs “YAHOO!” as if riding a bucking bronco and savagely tosses his cowboy hat about in the air right up to impact. Talk about cathartic moments…I get choked up just thinking about it.

Psycho (1960)

* Norman “cranes” his head. That one glorious shot of nervous Norman, oh-so uncomfortable with Arbogast’s questioning, as he peers over to look at the Bates Motel’s guest sign-in book perfectly illustrates his awkward feeling of being caught red-handed in a lie to the detective. I love that shot. His face, neck and jaw—caught in a nervous chew—are contorted in such a bizarre angle by Hitchcock’s framing that it perfectly captures what must be Norman’s feeling. It certainly becomes my feeling every time I watch it.

Toy Story 2

* The opening sequence. Toy Story 2 has probably my all-time favorite movie opening. So over the top, so not-what-we-were-expecting, it catches everyone who watches it off guard. “Um…where’s Andy’s room?” I love movies that open as if you’ve accidentally sat down in the wrong theater. The series of events that befalls Buzz on his “real” adventure infiltrating Zurg’s base serves to not only show off Pixar’s wondrous animation abilities and the writers’ love of sci-fi clichés in this very affectionate parody (consider the joyous ludicrousness of the millions of “sniper dots” that cover Buzz from the army of heavily-armed robots who sprout smaller, equally heavily-armed robots from their shoulders) but it also does a wonderful job of establishing Buzz’s character on the kind of adventure that was only hinted at in the first movie. Here we get to see Buzz at his heroic best, which is mirrored later in the film in his drainpipe leap from Andy’s bedroom window and the “final” battle between Buzz and Zurg in the elevator shaft. This is an enormously entertaining, no-holds-barred opening that we later discover was really there all along to help set up future events.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

* Gollum’s “what?” Gollum is the most amazing computer-spawned character I’ve seen in cinema to-date. Peter Jackson has turned him into such a lushly painted character that we’re able to see past the not-always-obvious CGI and really, really feel for him, even though at heart he’s a greedy, murderous back-stabber. The first real conversation between Gollum and “Smeagol” is beautifully realized. The moment where Smeagol gets the upper hand over Gollum and Gollum’s reaction is a splendidly animated expression summed up by his one-word retort, “what?” was my biggest “boner” moment in this “boner”-filled film.

Time After Time

* Amy Robbins’ fatal slip of the lip. If you haven’t seen this wonderful time-travel film yet, basically anything I tell you about this scene has the potential to massively spoil the “boner factor” for you, so I’ll try to be vague. Basically, Amy makes a seemingly innocent query to Jack the Ripper and it turns out to be the one bit of information Jack needed to…well, lets just say my butt puckered up enough that I almost took the couch with me when I stood up. The expressions on both their faces when they realize what she just let out of the bag…priceless.

I'll be posting more "boner" moments soon. Stay tuned...

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