Friday, May 28, 2004

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

If you missed Part One, click here to find out what this is all about.

Lilo and Stitch

* Stitch’s escape and the first sight of Hawaii. This rare gem from Disney’s contemporary animation factory is a real treat; full of heart, smart writing, beautiful watercolor artwork that really captures the feel of Hawaii and unique characters that are so cute I could plotz. The wonderful “boner” moment that caps off Stitch’s initial escape happens when his alien captors see that Stitch’s ship will be crashing into the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a planet called “Earth.” The Grand Councilwoman of the United Galactic Federation smiles and reminds everyone that Stitch can’t survive in water. The aliens all start celebrating…until a tiny green spot of land suddenly appears in the vast ocean of blue. Everyone stops, gasps and in disbelief the Grand Councilwoman’s jaw falls open, uttering only, “no.” Awesome.

Strangers on a Train

* Bruno in the tennis crowd. Strangers on a Train is my current favorite Hitchcock film precisely because of moments like this one. When Guy Haines looks up into the crowd watching the tennis match and spots Bruno Antony smiling, staring right back at him…the one shot never fails to completely creep me out. The manner in which Hitchcock sets up the moment is so simple and so effective that it proves once again what a master of cinema he was. The only sound we hear is the volleying tennis ball. The crowd’s gaze moves in unison following the ball back and forth, all except for one familiar face who is much more interested in watching Haines. So simple. So creepy. So “boner-ific”.

The Graduate

* Dustin checks in. The entire sequence where Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson meet at the Taft Hotel for the first time is comprised of one great boner moment after another. From Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant acting to the smart camerawork and pacing choices, the sequence is positively jam-packed with boner moments: the way the camera “hides” behind the wooden partition; the sweat dripping from Benjamin’s forehead as he lies to the front desk clerk; Benjamin accidentally writing his real name in the sign-in book and then tearing the page out; Benjamin’s phone conversation with Mrs. Robinson from across the lobby. All brilliant, yet all simply there to provide contrast to the next sequence, also marvelously executed and filled with boner moments. Set to the famous “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, this montage never fails to surprise. Benjamin’s post-virginal change is made even more prominent by the fact that it was immediately preceded by the above-mentioned sequence. The distance between the old and new Benjamin is expertly and wordlessly developed as the montage follows Benjamin’s life over the next few weeks. Ben floats in the pool, calm and cool, while his parents are busy elsewhere in the backyard. Going inside, Ben buttons up his shirt--cut to Ben back at the Taft where Mrs. Robinson unbuttons his shirt. Ben closes the door on his parents eating and goes to watch some TV--cut to Ben in bed at the Taft, watching TV while Mrs. Robinson dresses herself. Back at his parents’ pool, Ben mounts his floating mattress--cut to Ben mounting Mrs. Robinson.

Monsters, Inc.

* The door chase. Mike and Sulley, with child Boo in hand, hit the button that sends their door back into the warehouse at Monsters, Inc. with them still riding on it. It felt like I was boarding a ride at Disneyland as the door made it’s way around that first corner and began one of the more surreal and exciting chase scenes I can recall in recent cinema. Leaping from door to door and child’s room to child’s room with Randall in hot pursuit, the audience really has no idea what to expect beyond the next closet door, and yet it all makes sense within the established Being John Malkovich-esque physics of the film.

The Human Tornado

* Instant Replay. That’s right, I said The Human Tornado. I don’t think it’s come up before, but several of the Masked Movie Snobs have a real soft spot for blaxploitation movies of the ‘70s. Mil Peliculas and I routinely get together for “Dolenight” where we’ll run our own blaxploitation movie marathons, usually featuring the films of Rudy Ray Moore (a.k.a. the “bad, bad Dolemite”). Bolsa de Queso is known to have a special affinity for Blacula and Moore’s The Disco Godfather. My personal favorite of Moore’s films is the so-bad-it’s-great The Human Tornado, the sequel to Dolemite. The boner moment that really sets this movie apart for me comes near the beginning of the film when Dolemite is running from the racist sheriff who caught Dolemite in bed with his wife. Dolemite makes a dramatic head-first dive off the side of a steep hill and for a moment the film freezes. The words “Instant Replay” appear on the screen and the action rewinds to show the jump again. Moore’s voice booms in the film’s only bit of narration as he boasts, “So ya’ll don’t believe I jumped, huh? Well watch this good shit!” And the jump is replayed. At that moment The Human Tornado crosses the line from delightfully cheesy to wonderfully ludicrous. The main actor interrupts the story to bask in the studliness of a stunt he performed himself and replay it for the audience. You’d never find anything like that in any film made by “The Man” and I absolutely love it. Mr. Moore, that IS some good shit!

Be on the lookout for even more "boner" moments coming soon!

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