Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Great (film) Debates vol. 3

Let's continue our Great (Film) Debates series. Today's issue:

What is the most romantic moment in film?

Panelist: T-Rav

I'd have to go with the famous scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo is about to be frozen in carbonite and Leia shouts to him "I love you!" as he's being lowered into the vent. Han's reply, of course: "I know." I can't really explain why this works, but in light of Han's lone wolf, unsentimental attitude and the earlier mutual antagonism between him and Leia, it just does, somehow. And if you don't believe me, ask any female fan of the movie whether it would have been better for him to say that or "I love you too."

Panelist: AndrewPrice

This is a difficult one. I considered the “scoundrel” scene in the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back and I thought about John Cusack’s stereo scene in Say Anything. But in the end, it had to be the scene where Scott and Fran dance behind the stage in Strictly Ballroom. This is both the most romantic scene on film and probably the best dance scene I’ve ever seen.

Panelist: ScottDS

When I first started my Netflix subscription, I made a point of catching up on all of Woody Allen's movies. This scene from Everyone Says I Love You in which Woody and Goldie Hawn dance along (and above) the banks of the Seine puts a lump in my throat. In fact, the last twenty minutes of this film are pure gold - the scene that precedes this one features singing and dancing Groucho Marxes!

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Most Romantic? In West Side Story, when Maria goes to the dance and everything else melts away except for Tony and her.

Comments? Thoughts? What would you choose and why?


AndrewPrice said...

Good choices everyone. I think it's interesting that three of the four chose dance scenes. I'm not sure what that means... if anything... but it's interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nice work! Empire, huh? I need to learn never to underestimate the geek factor. :-)

Everyone Says I Love You is Woody Allen's (thus far) only musical. It's completely non-cynical and just light and fun, though there's one plot element that might be a considered a (sigh) sucker-punch for some folks who pay attention to that sort of thing, though it's still relatively harmless and played for laughs.

Apparently, Woody didn't tell the actors it was a musical until after they signed on. All the actors sing in their real voices, except for Drew Barrymore who begged to be dubbed. Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, and Tim Roth are pretty good. Ed Norton isn't too bad. Julia Roberts... meh. ;-)

This film also proves what a joke the MPAA is. They gave it an R rating for one use of "motherf---er" in a rap song. No sex, no violence, no other profanity of any kind and it gets an R. It could've easily been PG, but Woody didn't want to cut it. (Of course, it's well known that the MPAA gives certain filmmakers leeway but not others.)

Amazingly, after this film, Woody made Deconstructing Harry which is probably his darkest and most cynical film, until Whatever Works with Larry David, which I absolutely hated with a passion.

Also, unlike several questions that are to come, this one just hit me. I didn't have to list any honorable mentions nor was I constantly flip-flopping. :-)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I don't dance. That's why.

Scott, who are you calling a geek? :-) To be perfectly honest, I was hesitant about going with that because I thought either you or Andrew might pick it, too.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, This one wasn't obvious for me at all until I thought about Strictly Ballroom. I went through a very long list before I hit upon that one. I even considered the movie Hero, which I think is an excellent love story disguised as a kung-fu film.

A sucker-punch is a sucker-punch and if Hollywood doesn't want people ignoring them for that reason, they shouldn't include them. It's their choice and they have to bear the consequences.

On Woody Allen, I'm torn. I think he has some brilliant scenes, but I've rarely enjoyed his whole films because they feel lazy and indulgent to me. Even my favorite (What's Up Tiger Lilly) feels like it should have been so much better than what he came up with. And I've never cared for his "view from New York" material.

So you had no second choice huh?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. NEVER underestimate the Geek Factor! (Heck, that sounds like a good movie title!)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I almost choose the same film, but interestingly a different scene. I think the scene earlier when they are in the Falcon and he tells her there aren't enough scoundrels in her life is more romantic. But that's just me.

Ed said...

I've gotta go with Casablanca. It may be trite, but it's the tops for me.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, There's nothing wrong with the classics. Any scene in particular?

Anonymous said...

I'm torn with Woody, too. I think he's very talented and I enjoy many of his movies but I don't feel the need to watch them more than once (there are a few exceptions). He's also done a lot of crap but when you make one movie per year, that's bound to happen. Incidentally, there are movies of his that seem to be well-liked (for example, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex) which I couldn't get into, and there are films of his that are not well-liked which I kinda dig, like Small Time Crooks.

As for the "view from New York," there are times I wish he'd make something with characters who are more, shall I say, suburban. I remember watching one of his films and thinking, "Can't the lead character work at Target or something?! Do they all have to be opera fans?" But they say write what you know and Woody knows the Upper East Side. :-)

I never really had a second choice. There are romantic elements in films I like but they are usually incidental or part of some greater plot/arc. For this, I limited myself to a scene that was more self-contained.

Re: the geek factor - when you're young, you think you're the only person who's into X, Y, and Z. Only when you get a little older do you realize, "Wow, there are others with the same interests! Where were these people when I was 10?" :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, What's funny about your last point is that there are tens of millions of science fiction fans across the country. I would actually estimate that it's the single most popular genre. Yet before Star Wars, which exposed the vast numbers of people who loved science fiction, the whole genre was considered something that only kids and a few geeks actually liked.

Indeed, Hollywood viewed science fiction as schlock. And even today, they still don't believe it is anything more than a specialty genre. Television in particular is scared of science fiction, seeing it as too niche to get the ratings they want.

On Woody Allen, the problem with his "upper East side" focus is that it becomes almost like an ethnic film. When I hear Woody Allen has a new film, I think, "whatever, another film about a very small group of rich, neurotic, elitist New Yorkers." It's the same thing to me like someone who specializes in "Boston Irish tough guy" films. If you aren't part of that world, it gets tedious pretty quickly.

On his films, as I said, he's had some good scenes that I've enjoyed, but his films always leave me flat. For example, I loved the scene where the rebels finally take over the government in Bananas and I love his quote "yeah, though I walk through valley of death. . . no, I run, yes, yeah though I run through valley of death." But overall, I never feel like I want to watch his stuff again or that I look forward to his next ones.

Anonymous said...

Television in particular is scared of science fiction, seeing it as too niche to get the ratings they want.

Yep, which is why a show like Lost was never advertised as a sci-fi show. I think the other point I was trying to get at was how sci-fi, comics, etc. are all considered "cool" now whereas when I was younger (and before that, of course), they weren't. Nowadays, my friend can take his son trick-or-treating in a Starfleet uniform and it's okay. Obviously this is all in the eye of the beholder but one can't deny some kind of pop cultural change has taken place and the geeks are inheriting the Earth.

Now I wonder if I'm not geeky enough! (It's always been a thin line I've walked.)

I'm really trying to think of any other romantic scenes that might've occurred to me but I can't. The only scene that might come to mind is The Steadfast Tin Soldier segment from Fantasia 2000. (Yes, really!) It's a lovely and heartfelt 8 minutes and I cried when I heard how the original story ended (not well). It also made me a Shostakovich fan.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The world of film is full of romantic moments... you should get out more! ;-)

I think there has been a pro-Geek change in the culture, but not always for the better. I like the fact that things like science fiction are no longer considered just for kids. But I think some of the geekiest stuff is too twisted/indulgent and should not be celebrated. For example, I think comic books too often are pretty sexually twisted and I don't like the fact that comic book geeks are treating this like it's an acceptable thing to parade around in the real world. In other words, I don't mind people dressing up like Klingons, but they shouldn't be out there bringing porno to kids, and I think too many of these geeks don't know where to draw the line.

I find it rather ironic how television treats science fiction. Many of the greatest shows in television history are science fiction shows, yet the networks (1) have no idea how to write science fiction and (2) have no tolerance for anything that isn't an instant hit. They will let a stupid sitcom about five drunken idiots run with no viewers for a couple seasons before killing it, but if a science fiction show doesn't get great ratings right out of the gates, it will be canceled within a couple weeks.

Ed said...

Andrew, Any scene will do, but clearly the most romantic was the one where he told her to get on the plane. I believe it was the hill of beans speech.

Scott, I liked "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex" because it was quirky. I think Allen was very quirky when he first started and that made his stuff fresh, even if it wasn't great. But by now, he seems to keep making the same type movie every time.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I figured that was the scene you meant.

On the Allen stuff, I agree with you. I think he was a more interesting filmmaker when he was making strange and idiosyncratic films. These days, it seems to me that he just keeps remaking the same film.... and yes, I know that's not technically true, but it just feels that way to me.

LawHawkRFD said...

The reunion of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember. I'm not into romances, but that was a true tear-jerker. As for romance in sci-fi films, they don't get to me. I keep expecting Darth Vader-types to show up and ruin the scene.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, A lot of people mention An Affair To Remember as their favorite romantic film.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, I like the new series. It's a nice way to enjoy a Sunday morning. This one is not an easy question though. I would go with any scene involving Megan Fox in Transformers... I kid, I kid. :D

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Doc, I think it's a good series. We'll keep it up and see how people respond.

Transformers huh? I guess you're trying to get my blood pressure up? What happened to "do no harm"? Isn't that the physicians' code?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. For everyone who notices that Jed isn't participating, he's away for a couple weeks, so don't think he's blowing anyone off.

T-Rav said...

I never really thought much of Woody Allen. I haven't seen a lot of his stuff, but he and his films just strike me as way too pretentious.

On Transformers, I'll just say that I never understood the concept. Robot aliens from Mars? Sorry, but I like my sci-fi to have at least a shred of plausibility. I never really understood the popularity of the movies either--well, I understand the Megan Fox aspect, but that's not enough to sustain two movies.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think the Transformer films' success can be attributed to attention deficit disorder.... a good chunk of the public likes looking at blurry explosions for two hours.

Also, don't think of them as robots from Mars (they are actually from some other planet whose name I can't remember) think of them as Toys from Mattel. Then it makes more sense.

On Allen, my issue isn't so much with his being pretentious, it's with his films being largely meaningless and vapid.... but his fans thinking he's done something truly deep and risque. I've actually found his work to be very simple, shallow, predictable and well within established norms.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I began to find Woody Allen creepy about the time he turned "serious" and just before he was outed as a child-molester. He should have stuck to comedy. In fact I think his best film was his earliest, What's Up Tiger Lily?. And that wasn't even entirely original. He took two Japanese chop-sockey movies, re-edited them, added Englsh language dialog, and inserted himself into the films. It was hilarious. I guess he just proves that the opposite of comedy is depression (or as he would like to think of it, romance). The best word I can think of to describe Allen's "serious" movies is ennui.

Anonymous said...

Robots are okay and Mars is okay but robots from Mars? Nonsense! :-)

It reminds me of an exchange from Firefly:

Wash: "That sounds like something out of science-fiction."
Zoe: "You live on a spaceship, dear."

Re: Woody - I do find him pretentious when he used to go into Bergman territory every few years. His three humorless melodramas - Interiors, September, and Another Woman - are borderline unwatchable for me, despite the excellent acting on display. Other than that, all my thoughts on the man are written above. As for his personal, uh, issues, I'm very good at compartmentalization. :-) should get out more! ;-)

Story of my life! Truth be told, there are certain film genres I need to catch up on, mainly romances and westerns.

Want to know a bad romance? Francis Ford Coppola's epic musical failure One from the Heart, a bold experiment which failed. FFC was attempting to integrate live TV production techniques into filmmaking and even built part of the Las Vegas strip and airport on a soundstage. Needless to say, it looks great but is rather cliched and I'm pretty sure it was the film that finally bankrupted Coppola.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think he's gone downhill a lot since Tiger Lilly.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've never heard of One From The Heart. In truth though, I don't think of Coppola as much more than a mob film guy.

I've been looking for good non-formulaic romances for years, but finding them is difficult. I've even looked at foreign movies hoping to find them, but have only come across a couple good ones. Most romances are as formulaic as modern action flicks.

I guess that sells.


T-Rav said...

Andrew, that would be a good summation for a lot of "sophisticated" films recently--people just like to think they're being sophisticated, when they actually aren't.

So...just think of the Transformers as big, robotic Ewoks. Got it.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I had heard that his latest film, Midnight in Paris, was supposed to be fairly good. But that's just hearsay, and at any rate, I'm not going to sanction a child molester with my money.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Bingo. Metallic Ewoks. . . you should buy them all. . . it will fulfill you. ;-)

I've noticed that a lot too lately, that a lot of the "deep" films are really pretty shallow, but their fans are very stuck up about having seen them.

There used to be a time when artists challenged the public. I didn't like most of it, but there was no doubt that they were doing "avant guard" things that were outside the box. But these days, so much "art" strikes me as pretend-out-of-the-box. They act like they're doing something unusual, but they are really firmly within the normal bounds.

Of course, their "fans" still act like it's deep, but the joke is on them for not being able to realize the difference and then for trying to look down on us.

Anonymous said...

Changing the subject from Woody for a moment, here's a cool clip about the making of Empire and the "I love you" scene. As T-Rav hinted at, Han's original reply was, "I love you, too."

Director Irvin Kershner sadly passed away earlier this year. The upcoming Blu-Ray set features what is probably his last on-camera interview.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's interesting how these things evolve. I wonder if the Blu-Ray edition will be of the crappy remakes or the cool originals? Of course, I'm being facetious. Until Lucas gets hit by a bus, we're doomed to see his crappy remake version. Hence, I'm keeping my copies of the originals and hope Lucas crosses a lot of streets.

Koshcat said...

My wife picked two: The Last of the Mohicans where Hawkeye tells her to stay alive no matter what and he will find her and Pure Country near the end where the girl finds out that the guy she liked was a famous singer and he sings her a special song.

She gave me a funny look when I offered Blue Velvet when we first meet Dennis Hopper and his nitric oxide. Just kidding.

I really like the ending of Casablanca but rather than the typical sappy, I tend to like more subtle scenes. One of my favorite couples is in Fargo with the Sheriff and her husband. It is the little things they do for each other that express their love: getting up early to make her breakfast, buying him nightcrawlers.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Those are good choices. I thought Fargo was really interesting. What's interesting is that you never once doubt they're a happy, loving couple, even though they never once get sappy or do anything Hollywood normally does to show love/romance.

I also liked how Macy just can't handle the pressure. I thought it was one of the more realistic portrayals of someone in over their head because it came in bursts where he just didn't know how to respond. Too many other actors would have played him too smooth, but he's not meant to be a smooth character.

Plus, I enjoyed the whole Minnesota stoic thing.

Koshcat said...

Couple more things:

1. I have never been able to get into a Woody Allen movie. I tend to get bored with them after about 10 minutes.

2. The Empire Strikes Back Moment is Geek Romance, but it awesome and one of my favorite scenes. "I know" is a far superior come back and any other would have destroyed the whole thing.

3. An Affair to Remember has a nice ending but found it frustrating. Why didn't she just write him a letter?

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Geeks need love too! LOL!

It is geek romance, but it's very effective. I personally always find romance better when it comes out of the story rather than being the focus of the story.

Woody Allen's original stuff was interesting, but his later stuff got really dull and is quite boring.

On An Affair, I'm thinking they just went for the dramatic punch.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Yeah, we lost that battle but as long as there are fans out there working on their own reconstructed versions of the originals, I think we'll be fine. :-) The Blu-Rays feature George's latest revisions with a few additional minor fixes, dirt clean-up, etc.

Truth be told, if they fixed three things, I'd be fine with it:
-Make Han shoot first again
-Put Vader's "Bring my shuttle" line back in Empire
-Get rid of the "Jedi Rocks" number in Jedi

On the other hand, there's about 40 minutes of deleted material included on the Blu-Ray set which is pretty exciting... for me. :-)

I've never seen An Affair to Remember but I'll get to it one day.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's quitter talk. We have not yet begun to fight!

Actually, I think they'll release it when Lucas dies. There is too much money to be made for the estate to not re-release the real version once his ego is basking in the warn sulfurous glow of hell. :-)

I would like to see them replace the deleted scenes that were in the original theatric version, but other than that, I want all the bullshit taken out again. It ruins the movie to turn a beautiful almost Haiku of a story into a fricken videogame.

LawHawkRFD said...

Scott: When you get Affair, be sure to get the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr version. The original was made in the 30s with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. It was good, but just didn't have the impact of the later version. That version was called simply Love Affair. That same title was used for the 1994 version with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. It's a stinker. But three versions of the same movie tells you that there's definitely something there.

T-Rav said...

Here's some other stuff that should be fixed:

-Take all that crap out from Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back that clutters up the screen.

-Ditch the weirdo '80s musical montage thing in Jabba the Hutt's palace in Return of the Jedi. What is that, anyway? What was the point of all that? It sure wasn't any Mos Eisley cantina, I can tell you that.

-Edit out Hayden Christensen from the ending scene of Jedi. Put that older version of Anakin back in. Also, get rid of those scenes from Coruscant and Naboo and wherever the heck else. We're all trying to delete the prequels from our minds; we don't need to have the actual good trilogy's ending ruined by hearing Jar Jar shout "Wesa free!" in the background.

Actually, redo about half of Jedi while we're at it.

T-Rav said...

Scott, while I don't think Harrison Ford is that brilliant an actor, he probably had better ideas for both Empire and Jedi than Lucas did. I don't know if I like his idea that Han should have died in Jedi, but it likely would have been better than the bland, washed-out version of the character we got.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Sounds like it's time for a remake! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yep... essentially, take everything out Lucas added to make the evil "special editions."

You know, it would have been interesting if Han Solo had died. I'm not saying it would have been the right thing to do. Clearly, the goal was to end the trilogy on a high note and maybe that's how trilogies are supposed to end. But could you imagine how much a Spock-like death scene could have improved Jedi? That could have been an epic decision!

Cheryl said...

I'm a sucker for You've Got Mail and the last scene when Meg Ryan says, "I wanted it to be you." While Somewhere Over The Rainbow plays in the background.

Or the scene in Fools Rush In when he watches her dancing in the kitchen and you can see him falling in love with her.

And I always loved the scene in Ghost when they're making the pottery.

Or anything in Pride & Prejudice.

AndrewPrice said...

Cheryl, Those are definitely some excellent choices! I have to say that I love Pride and Prejudice. It's just such a great story all around and you really feel for the characters.

T-Rav said...

Wait, which "Pride and Prejudice"? Because if it's one of those PBS adaptations, I could see that, but the only one I've actually watched is that Keira Knightley version from a few years ago, and it sucked.

AndrewPrice said...

Yes, the PBS version with Colin Firth, or the book -- both are excellent. The Knightly version wasn't very good IMO.

Or, if you want an interesting adaptation of it, check out Clueless, which is really quite good as well.

rlaWTX said...

I love that y'all chose "Empire" scenes!!!

Philadelphia Story - when Cary Grant hides Hepburn's jewelry and tries to talk her through the events of the night before - he's trying to get her to see but also protect her; also when he punches the odious fiance the night before and distracts him; and when he gives her the lines to say and essentially asks her to marry him...

Although, I LOVE An Affair to Remember also...

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Philadelphia Story was great. I think Carey Grant is a great leading man and could pull of both romances and suspense films with incredible class.

Yeah, there's a lot of love for Empire! And deservedly so.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Most Romantic...

There's a scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant's friend -- he's married to a paraplegic woman... they hold a dinner party and play some game for the last brownie after a brief speech about how he loves her and how Hugh Grant's character is more pathetic and deserves the brownie. He later carries her up the stairs after the party -- well acted and written. Actually his treatment of his wife in that whole movie is romantic.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

I'm not necessarily saying the above is the "most" romantic scene in film history... but it's up there in my book.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I thought that was a great scene and I thought it really stood out against the more fake standard Hollywood romance between Roberts and Grant later in the film. I guess the best way to put it, is that scene felt "genuine" and I didn't really get that out of anything Grant did.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

AP... exactly re Roberts and Grant though I will admit to Notting Hill as a guilty pleasure... one of those I'll watch if on but haven't bought or rented the DVD. The same with Bridget Jones Diary... I know I should hate it but it makes me laugh.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, In truth, it's not a horrible movie. There is something to it that makes it likable. I can't tell you what it is, but it's there though. And both stars are strangely likable in that movie as well, though I don't generally like watching them in other films.

RGallegos said...

It's a Wonderful Life - the telephone scene with George (Stewart) and Mary (Reed) unbelievable tension filled scene that each was trying deny their feelings for each other.

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