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20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (3 of 4)

IsleofCinema and BoxingUweBoll have teamed up to bring you The TOP 20 CLOSING SCENES in film, as selected by our writers. We continue our countdown with part 3 – numbers 10-6:

10.) Jackie Brown (1997) – Quentin Tarantino

[by Louis Doerge]

Being that the foundation for Quentin Tarantino’s critical success certainly doesn’t stem from his ability to create great romances, it seems odd that the ending to Jackie Brown is (what I consider to be) one of the most romantic and bittersweet scenes in motion picture history. Throughout the film we’ve been subjected to scenes featuring flight-attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) and bail-bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) falling for each other while trying to pull a heist on gun-dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). The film’s final moments consist of these two middle-aged, would be companions performing brilliantly, managing to pine for one another and simultaneously recognize that theirs is a relationship that won’t work. They kiss briefly, only to be interrupted by a phone call. While Max struggles to feign interest in his business call, he watches Jackie leave out his front door, then promptly requests his client call him back in thirty minutes. Given how strong-willed, calm and collected he’s been for the entire film, there’s something to be said for Max suddenly needing a moment – even if it is just a half-hour. Tarantino’s closing shot features Jackie driving away, lip syncing the words to Bobby Womack‘s “Across 110th Street“. Like Forster, Grier’s sadness is incredibly tacit, exposing a soft side that Tarantino hasn’t expressed since.

09.) Being There (1979) – Hal Ashby

[by Sean Carnegie]

After fostering the meteoric rise of simple-minded Chance (Peter Sellers) amongst Washington DC’s political elite, banker and power-broker Ben Rand (Melvyn Douglas) finally succumbs to his battle with anemia. As his coffin is carried to his crypt by his kingmaker friends, they discuss  in whispered tones the forthcoming presidential election and which candidate they should throw their support behind in hopes maintaining their political clout. The unanimous conclusion is Chance. Ever disinterested in their machinations – or the funeral itself for that matter – Chance wanders away through the forest. He comes upon a lake and, seeing something on the far side that strikes his fancy, miraculously walks toward it on the water’s surface. This parting shot beautifully captures the perfect, unadulterated innocence of a man who lives beyond the institutions of guile, malice or simple reason. He is, in every way, above the scheming and back room dealing that have become synonymous with American politics and, as such, unwittingly stumbled into the unlikely role of Idiot-Savant Messiah. As he walks across the calm waters you can’t help but feel a twinge of anxiety at the possibility of this sweet, nonthreatening man-child being swept up into a malicious and destructive world of which he has little to no understanding. The scene becomes even more bittersweet when you realize that this was Seller’s penultimate on-screen performance – and that he, like Chance, was walking steadily toward his destiny. Life is, indeed, a state of mind.

08.) Don’t Look Now (1973) – Nicolas Roeg

[by David Micevic]

Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now remains one of the most mesmerizing of all horror films because the majority of its terror emanates from within rather than manifesting as an external danger. It’s the story of a couple, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), tortured by the accidental drowning of their daughter. As they travel through Venice, John encounters a mysterious figure in a red raincoat—the same red raincoat his daughter was wearing when she died. Meanwhile, a blind seer tells Laura that she has spoken with her daughter, and conveys her sense of peace and tranquility in the afterlife. As Laura begins to accept her daughter’s death, John hunts relentlessly for her ghostly apparition among a swirling backdrop of mounting eroticism and tension. All this boils over into the movie’s startling conclusion, in which John confronts what he believes to be his daughter’s ghost, cornering it in an abandoned structure. The moment when the figure turns to reveal its ghastly true form remains stunningly horrifying not because it embodies the tired old “gotcha” moment synonymous with horror films, but because it marks the inevitable end result to an impossible obsession. The monstrous figure John stares down could be just about anything, it need not be a tangible threat (although, from a narrative perspective, it most certainly is), but rather the sad realization that those who cannot let go of the past face nothing but hardship and disappointment… which unfortunately for John Baxter also includes death.

07.) Dr. Strangelove (1964) – Stanley Kubrick

[by David Micevic]

Has there ever been a more iconic movie image than Major Kong riding a plummeting atomic bomb as if it were a bucking bronco, appropriately waving his Stetson wildly in the air? This single act of destruction, colored in broad comic strokes, sets in motion the entire famous ending sequence to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; an ending that takes its bizarre fascination with mankind’s annihilation and subverts it with satirical, incisive humor that lessens what objectively should be viewed as an immensely dreadful occurrence. The scene is loaded with off-kilter jokes: Nazi-defector Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers in one of three roles) lays out a post-apocalyptic contingency plan involving subterranean dwellings and a ten-women-to-every-man breeding plan that appeals to the libidinous General Turgidson (George C. Scott); the Americans start planning in advance for another arms race with the Soviets even as the world crumbles around them. To top it all off, the whole thing ends with a throwaway gag in which the wheelchair-bound Strangelove rises to his feet and declares “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!” before the film launches into its legendary closing sequence of nuclear bombs detonating across the globe; all set to Vera Lynn’s soothing “We’ll Meet Again.” Often mimicked, rarely surpassed; given the lasting influence of this single scene and its morbid juxtaposition of destruction and comedy, it’s hard to imagine that initially Dr. Strangelove was intended to be a drama. Lucky for us, Kubrick knew better.

06.) Psycho (1960) –  Alfred Hitchcock

[by Nick Burd]

Heralded by some as the first psychoanalytic thriller, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho starts out as a simple tale of workplace embezzlement and turns into an analysis of a man who has lost his grip on reality to a degree that is both wildly dangerous and slightly comical. Even the few people out there who haven’t seen the film are familiar with the basics of the plot: a cross-dressing hotel manager keeps his mother’s dead body around the house and butchers one of his guests in the shower. While cultural familiarity and changing taboos may have forever lessened the film’s punch, many at the time labeled it an indulgent festival of gore and sex. Censors at the time were shocked by the opening scene which featured Janet Leigh in a bra, and the sound of Marion Crane, (Leigh’s tragic character) flushing the toilet caused quite a stir as well. So imagine how audiences felt at the end of the film when Marion’s sister Lila (played by Vera Miles) makes that grizzly discovery in Norman Bates’ basement. Now multiply that by a wild-eyed, dragged-up Anthony Perkins bursting in with a butcher knife. Needless to say, Psycho was unlike anything that came before it. But for all its campiness, the picture still manages to hold a firm, terrifying grip on the cultural consciousness. While its influence can be seen everywhere, from De Palma’s Dressed to Kill to Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs, there’s nothing quite as creepy Norman Bates thinking in his mother’s voice that he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

[admin. note: almost made it through an entire post without an ‘embedding disabled’ link. But alas, it was not meant to be.]

Hope you’ve enjoyed parts 12 and now 3. Be sure to tune in next week when we bring you the Finale to the Finales countdown post: part 4! And be sure to check out Boxing Uwe Boll for the countdown of the top 20 film openings!

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August 1, 2011   1 Comment

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 6 (of 15)

100.) To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – Elmer Bernstein

Robert Mulligan’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel stars Gregory Peck and benefits from a fantastic score by the great Elmer Bernstein, who also composed The Man with the Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, and Walk on the Wild Side. Here’s track 3, “Atticus Accepts the Case”:

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99.) Savage! (1973) – Don Julian

I somehow missed this blaxploitation flick directed by Cirio H. Santiago, one of the many produced in The Philippines by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, which stars James Inglehart as a mercenary who becomes leader of a rebel faction. The flute-heavy funk soundtrack is awesome, as is Don Julian’s other obscure score, for Shorty the Pimp. For more on movies made in the Philippines keep your eyes peeled for the documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed!

Here’s the title theme, “Savage!”:

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and track 2, “Lay it on Your Head”:

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98.) The Trip (1967) – The Electric Flag

Roger Corman directs Peter Fonda as a commercial director experiencing a mid-life crisis who turns to an LSD guru (Bruce Dern) for help. Dennis Hopper costars, in a flick written by none other than Jack Nicholson. The Electric Flag, fronted by Mike Bloomfield & Nick Gravenites and featuring the legendary Buddy Miles, provide the mind-altering psychedelic soundtrack.

Here’s track3:

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and track 5, “Hobbit”:

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and track 7, “Green & Gold”:

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97.) Yakuza (1975) – Dave Grusin

Sydney Pollack’s movie, written by screenwriting legends Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, tells the story of a businessman who travels Japan to rescue his friend’s kidnapped daughter from the Japanese mafia, also known as the Yakuza. The easy listening soundtrack comes courtesy of Dave Grusin, who also composed the soundtracks for Three Days of the Condor and The Goonies.

Here’s track 4, “Tokyo Return”:

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and track 18, “Bows”:

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96.) Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) – Ryûichi Sakamoto

Nagisa Ôshima directs Ryuichi Sakamoto, the soundtrack composer himself, opposite David Bowie, in this period war drama in which Japanese discipline, honor and glory clash with Western sensibilities. Sakamoto’s score for The Handmaid’s Tale and Pedro Almodovar’s High Heels are also worth seeking out.

Here’s track 4, “A Hearty Breakfast”:

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and track 19, “Forbidden Colours,” which features singer David Sylvian:

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95.) Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) – Yeong Wook Jo

Chan-wook Park’s film is the final installment in a trilogy including Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy and stars Yeong-ae Lee as a woman trying to put her life back together after 13 years in prison for kidnap and murder, who happens to also be arranging her revenge on the real killer who framed her. The black humor in the film is offset by the elegant soundtrack, which is dramatic and beautiful, incorporating harpsichord and baroque guitars and borrowing from Vivaldi’s “Ah ch’infelice sempre,” a song about, appropriately enough, revenge and betrayal.

Here’s track 2, “The Gold Letter, Which It Intends”:

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and track 16, “First It Was Wicked From The World”:

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94.) Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) – Riichiro Manabe

Jun Fukuda directs the giant rubbery lizard in this, the 13th film of the franchise, which features Gigan, Megalon and Jet Jaguar, creatures sent by the underground kingdom of Seatopia to destroy us pesky above-ground Earthlings. So it’s one of those times when Godzilla is with us rather than against us. Manabe’s music is always weird and amazing – check out the equally incredible Godzilla vs. Hedorah if you’re into it.

Here’s the main title:

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and track 4, “Highway Road”:

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93.) Man and Boy (1971) – J.J. Johnson

E.W. Swackhamer’s film stars Bill Cosby (who also produced) in his dramatic debut as a former cowboy and Union soldier who sets out with his 12-year-old son (George Spell) to retrieve a horse and plow stolen from him by white bigots in this G-rated Western re-imagining of The Bicycle Thief. Costarring Yaphet Kotto and Henry Silva, the film benefits greatly from a fantastic soundtrack by J.J. Johnson, filled with the wonderful sound of target=”_blank”>bass harmonica and the familiar voice of Bill Withers. Trombonist Johnson also composed the scores for Cleopatra Jones, Willie Dynamite, and Across 110th Street (with Bobby Womack – featuring the greatest title song of all time!), as well as tons of releases on the Blue Note and Impulse! labels, all worth seeking out.

Here’s track 1, the title theme, “Better Days” sung by Bill Withers:

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and track 4, “Pull, Jubal, Pull”:

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and track 6, “Theme from Man and Boy”:

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92.) City of the Living Dead [a.k.a. The Gates of Hell] (1980) – Fabio Frizzi

In Lucio Fulci’s free-form gore-fest, a priest commits suicide and opens the gates of Hell, and it’s up to a psychic and a reporter to close them before the malevolent zombies take over the world. The music is top notch, full of creepy “ahh”-ing voices, weird moog, and swanky bass-lines, which lend Fulci’s over-the-top apocalyptic tale an appropriately epic – and slightly pornographic – feel. Here’s track 3, “Irrealta Di Suoni”:

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and track 5, “Verso L’Alba”:

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and track 6, “Apoteosi Del Mistero”:

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91.) A Pugni Nudi [Naked Fists] (1974) – Franco Bixio

Marcello Zeani’s film about a juvenile delinquent-turned boxer who throws a fight to pay for an operation for his friend is full of melodrama, backstabbings, and is set to the sounds of Bixio’s funky grooves. Here’s the opening track, “With Bare Fists”:

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and track 3, “Where They Reform You”:

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60 down, 90 to go!!!

Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

September 27, 2010   3 Comments

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