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20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (4 of 4)

If you’ve been following us for the last month and a half, you know that we partnered with BoxingUweBoll to bring you The TOP 20 CLOSING SCENES in film, as selected by the writers on both staffs. And today we bring you the final installment, numbers 1-5:

5.) Inception (2010) –  Christopher Nolan

[by Sean Carnegie]

The dream is over. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) wakes up upon successfully completing the process of inception and walks dazedly through US customs, back to the home he once knew. Once he arrives at his house, he instinctively pulls out his totem and gives it a spin to reassure himself that he isn’t still dreaming. His attention is soon drawn away however, by the sight of his two children and as they rush into his arms the camera pans back to the now forgotten top. The music builds, the top wobbles and… Cut to black.
I have never heard so many theater goers simultaneously exhale in surprise at the ending of film as I did during that final cut of Inception. With this movie, Christopher Nolan built something as puzzlingly complex as a house of cards stuffed inside of a Russian nesting doll. All the way through my first viewing of the movie, I was convinced there was no possible way for him to land a satisfying ending after creating such a wonderfully complex narrative. Yet all it took was the slight wobbling of a top and a perfectly timed cut to knock the wind out of my lungs and set the internet on absolute fire with the question, “Is Cobb still dreaming”? Even though there have been millions of words spent on the subject, the bottom line is that the question is far more important than the answer. Nolan left the blank. It’s up to you to fill it.

[admin. note: embedding has once again been disabled – but please follow the link to see the ending.]

4.) The Thing (1982) – John Carpenter

[by Boaz Dror]

Carpenter’s soon-to-be-prequel’d remake of the Howard Hawks‘ classic begins with a bang and spends the entire 2nd act building suspense as an alien shape-shifter infiltrates a rag-tag pack of Alpha Males and wreaks havoc on their minds, bodies and souls. Against a harsh arctic landscape, the twists and turns hold increasingly higher stakes, as the fate of the world hangs in the balance. And though the eye-candy that fuels this film is Rob Bottin‘s amazing creature effects, the ending is as bare-bones as possible: having seemingly killed the creature, super-cool helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) stumbles to what his final resting place by the camp’s flickering remains. Suddenly his rival Childs (Keith David) appears, “you the only one who made it?” the weight of his words filled with meaning. “Not the only one,” MacReady replies, insinuating what we’re all thinking. As Childs protests that he’s as human as the next guy, it occurs to us that the next guy – Mac himself – might not be so human. “Why don’t we just wait here a little while… see what happens.” Carpenter drops the curtain on the two men and freezes them figuratively in our minds before winter freezes them literally in their tracks, and whether we’re watching two combatant species or two of humanity’s unknown saviors, it’s a perfect ending to a movie in which no one is what he seems, and nothing can be trusted. It’s a delectably open-ended resolution to a masterpiece that won’t be topped anytime soon.

[admin. note: for a more in-depth review of the Thing look here.]

3.) The 400 Blows (1959) –  François Truffaut

[by David Micevic]

When Truffaut shot The 400 Blows, he was an outsider in the film industry, more than that, a hostile adversary—a fiery critic who famously wrote a call-to-arms deriding the stagnation he saw enveloping French cinema. At odds with the industry, by the famous final shot of his groundbreaking debut, he arguably now was the industry. With The 400 Blows he placed an indelible mark on the French film landscape, ushering in a new era of auteur cinema. To watch this scene in isolation doesn’t do it justice. It requires that you come to fully understand the plight of the film’s protagonist, renegade youth Antoine Doinel; to witness his persecution at the hands of authority figures, his eventual confinement in a juvenile detention center and his sudden escape from it all. If cinema, to paraphrase Godard, is not the station, but the train, Truffaut knew that his film needed to expresses that sense of endlessness. To convey the open-ended nature of Doinel’s journey, Truffaut employed a simple, but now-legendary cinematic technique. As Antoine makes his way onto the isolated beach, the camera zooms in on a freeze-frame of his face, and then the film abruptly ends. Truffaut leaves us with a haunting image of absolute uncertainty. There is no resolution; no reprieve. Antoine remains forever frozen in our minds, caught between the captivity of his past and the endless expanse of the unknown future.

2.) Chinatown (1974) –  Roman Polanski

[by Steven Short]

Although it’s remembered both for its technical dexterity and its unflinchingly bleak view of humanity, the ending to Chinatown is perhaps most revered for it astronomically high tragedy-per-minute ratio. In a scant five minutes, the hero is falsely arrested, his lady is shot in the head, a screaming child is carried away in the arms of an elderly pedophile, and the film’s main villain skulks away into the night. The gravity of the sequence is bolstered by a jarring lack of music, and an incorporation of eye-level shots and sparse editing lend the otherwise stylistically bold film an unpredictable, documentary-like feel. Through Polanski’s smart use of shaky P.O.V. shots, the viewer is standing right next to protagonist Jake Gittes as this shocking display of inhumanity unfolds. Everything Gittes has accomplished up until the film’s final moments has been for naught, and before all hope is extinguished a colleague mutters the famous phrase, “Forget it, Jake; it’s Chinatown.” As viewers we know those words have fallen on deaf ears, as his already dreary worldview was shaped by a similar incident in the past. He won’t forget Chinatown, and his compounded cynicism speaks to those of us who know the world can really be that bad.

1.) The Usual Suspects (1995)Bryan Singer

[by Boaz Dror]

There are gimmick endings and then there are outright shocks, culminations that cause us to question not only what came before but also the very nature of storytelling. The Usual Suspects, which pushes the concept of an unreliable narrator to dizzying heights, proves that “the bigger the lie, the more will believe it.” As smug agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) – with whom we’ve identified the entire film – bullies lowly Verbal Kint into finishing his account of Satanic Keyser Soze, we know his betrayal will earn him death. We pity Kint as he’s released, which is our undoing – for in the ensuing moments everything is transformed. Without Kint to lead him, Kujan finally sees the truth – and we see through his eyes. As Spacey shapeshifts from Kint to Soze in one of the greatest tracking shots in film, the audience’s collective jaw drops beyond the fourth wall. We realize we’ve not only been the victims of the greatest sleight of hand in film history, but that we’ve been active participants in our own undoing – we wanted this unbelievable tale-within-a-tale, of a mythical superman and a pathetic gimp, of colorful bad guys and outlandish double-crosses. And as Soze disappears forever, his greatest triumph is the one bit of fiction proven to be true: of his own greatness. Though as an audience we’re left exposed – swindled even – this fleeting fiction is an ultimate Truth we can cling to, a wisp of smoke in a hall of mirrors. The perfect ending to a perfect lie. And then – poof – it’s gone.

[admin. note: unfortunately, embedding has once again been disabled – but please follow the link to see the ending.]

What do you think? You agree/disagree? Either way, we hope you’ve enjoyed our countdown – be sure to revisit parts 12, 3, and to also visit Boxing Uwe Boll for the first installment, The countdown of the top 20 film openings! Please keep visiting both blogs for fantastic writing about movies, and look for more collaborations in the future! Thanks!

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August 8, 2011   3 Comments

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

20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (2 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 2 – numbers 15-11:

15.) Sanjuro (1962) – Akira Kurosawa

[by Marco Noyola]

The use of gore is rarely listed among Akira Kurosawa’s many accomplishments, but it is noteworthy: not only did his smash hit Yojimbo famously feature a severed hand and arm, but its sequel Sanjuro forever raised the bar on what could be shown on screen. Despite a high body count, the sword fights in Sanjuro are bloodless affairs, in keeping with the sequel’s lighter tone and higher-minded aims. Toshirô Mifune plays Sanjuro as scruffy and cynical as ever, but beneath his prickly demeanor is still an honorable man. Through the course of the movie he rescues an elderly woman who comically admonishes him for his violent ways, and though Sanjuro is exasperated by her remonstrations he ultimately takes her words to heart; “You’re like a drawn sword . . . but good swords are kept in their sheaths.” By movie’s end Sanjuro has emerged victorious and the villains have all been brought to justice save one – a rival ronin named Hanbei (Tatsuya Nakadai) who demands retribution. Realizing a duel is pointless, Sanjuro demurs, but Hanbei gives him no choice. What follows is a tense stare down, culminating in what is arguably the first cinematic depiction of an arterial spray. After so many bloodless deaths the sheer volume of blood-drenched gore is completely unexpected, and still has the power to shock today’s more jaded audiences. Sanjuro rebukes his worshipful followers and wanders off, disgusted by cruelty and the futility of violence; an attitude that would only deepen in Kurosawa’s later films.

14.) City Lights (1931) – Charles Chaplin

[by Steven Short]

The final scene of City Lights is just about the most goddamned romantic thing ever captured on film, and is enough to warm the most dejected of hearts. Charlie Chaplin’s signature Tramp character endures of series of slapstick tomfoolery throughout the film in order to find money for a blind and destitute flower girl. Earning money through boxing, street-sweeping, and the exploitation of a drunk, suicidal millionaire, the Tramp lavishes the girl with money and, although he is placed in jail due to his efforts, eventually earns enough money to fund an operation that will cure her blindness. After a chance encounter with the flower girl at her new shop, the Tramp assumes that the girl will not associate with him now that she can see that he is in tatters. In the film’s closing moments, the girl feels his hands after giving him some coins and recognizes his touch. A look of supreme gratitude from the girl is followed by the Tramp’s ecstatic grin before the fade-to-black. The scene stands as evidence to the profundity of silent film and its ability to convey drama through physical expression alone. The time-honored success of the scene is due almost entirely to the actors’ ability to make their audience feel something simply by the way they look at each other. Although the overall message of the ending might come across as too unrealistic and cloying for some, the lyrical and heart-achingly romantic fashion in which it was delivered will never be matched as long as long movies keep having sound.

13.) The Sixth Sense (1999) – M. Night Shyamalan

[by Rodrigo R. Rodarte]

Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan – who will most likely be remembered now for such latter day sins as Lady In The Water and Avatar: Last Airbender – but for anyone who didn’t see it coming, the ending of The Sixth Sense remains one of the best surprises of the late 20th century, right up there with O.J.’s acquittal and Monica Lewinski turning out to be a woman. When executed properly, those great “ahah” moments in films or in life are always undeniably satisfying. Whether it’s a recap of a great heist where you see little nuances you missed the first time, the last clue in a mystery when you realize that adorable little girl from the beginning was actually the killer all along, or the time you’re up late higher than Jesus, searching the house high and low for a snack when you suddenly remember you left a half-eaten Snickers in your car – we all love a good surprise. It’s what Shyamalan pulled off so well in Sixth and miraculously managed to fail at in every attempt since. My favorite is Signs- why Joaquin Phoenix would need Mel Gibson’s dead wife to tell him to swing a baseball bat at a nine-foot tall alien instead of just using common sense may be the greatest mystery of all. But truth be told, M. was right on the money when it turned out Bruce was dead all along in Sixth.

[admin. note: Clip cuts out a few seconds before the final frame, but was the best we could find. Also, embedding has been disabled.]

12.) No Country For Old Men (2007) – Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

[by Rodrigo R. Rodarte]

For the same reasons so many sing high praises to this ending, an equal number seem to hate on it. True to their form, the Coens’ ending to No Country is, in a traditional sense, unfulfilling, abrupt and seemingly irrelevant. Not the unlikely come-back, final shoot out putting the good guys back on top sort of ending you might want – more of an intimate soliloquy on one man’s approach to the end of not just his life, but his relevance in the world. But as confusing as it is for some viewers, No Country truly is Tommy Lee’s movie, with Josh Brolin’s story serving as a younger, hotter, action-driven vehicle for delivering the film’s true message: that getting old and not knowing what’s going on around you sucks balls. So it’s not only appropriate that No Country ends with Sheriff Bell’s so eloquently remembered dream about his dad with metaphor written all over it, it’s also thematically the most perfect way to end a film that’s more of a moving photograph than a traditional narrative, not to mention the fact that it stays truer to the book than most adaptations. It wouldn’t be appropriate to put in any more literal terms than an old lawman poetically succumbing to the irrelevance of his generation, but suffice it to say that this ending is memorable if for nothing more than its beautifully delivered serenity in contrast to the humanity-testing violence witnessed in the rest of the film.

[admin. note: Low quality and cuts out a few seconds before the final frame. People must not like posting spoilers I guess!]

11.) A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Stanley Kubrick

[by Rockie Juarez]

Instead of taking us on a journey into the impossible as he did in 2001, here Kubrick takes us on a more ‘grounded’ approach: A cancer to his society, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is a true psycho killer, the kind of monster who actually enjoys committing acts of violence – raping and killing while belting out “Singing In The Rain” is par for the course for Alex. Incarcerated for murder, government scientists decide to subject him to a new treatment of “reconditioning,” in which ultra-violent acts such as rape and murder will actually make him sick, and physically incapacitate him. Once testing is completed, our rehabilitated hero is released, never to harm another soul. Homecoming, however, proves rough: rejected by his family, beaten up by friends and held captive by one of his previous victims, Alex has a terrible time readjusting, and tries to kill himself. He awakens in a hospital to an apologetic Government groveling at his feet, informing him that if he plays nice (i.e. ‘don’t tell the world we fucked up please’), he’ll be pampered like a king. Wait a second!? The bad guy wins? The monster that’s lied, cheated, raped and brutalized is rewarded? So how does Alex celebrate his new-found fortune? By gleefully riding into the sunset whilst fucking a friendly socialite as his upper class cronies applaud the show. Wrong or Right doesn’t matter, conforming a monster is impossible, and not only is there no justice in the world but what injustice there is is state-sanctioned! Welcome to the future- courtesy of Stanley Kubrick.

[admin. note: Impossible to find, so we posted the credits. And wouldn’t you know it, embedding is disabled. WTF!?]

Hope you enjoyed parts 1 & 2! Be sure to tune in next week when we bring you part 3! And be sure to check out Boxing Uwe Boll for the countdown of the top 20 film openings!

 

July 25, 2011   2 Comments

20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (1 of 4)

IsleofCinema and BoxingUweBoll team up to bring you The TOP 20 CLOSING SCENES in film, as selected by our writers:

Openings are easy – anyone can drop a group of strangers on an island and introduce mysteries willy-nilly: It’s wrapping things up that’s hard, especially in a way that’s fresh, unexpected and that provides closure. As the man said, “Always be Closing!” – and filmmakers should follow that advice, ‘cos if the opening sequence of a film is designed to suck you into the narrative, then the closing sequence gets you out into the world, where you can suck in others (you should be ashamed of yourself). Good endings can elevate an okay movie, bad endings can sink a good one, and that rarest of birds – the “TRULY GREAT ENDING” – can send you home with a tingling sensation at the base of your skull, basking in cinematic afterglow, excited about the possibilities of this medium we call Flix. In a world where movies no longer have “legs” and everyone’s all about opening weekend, great endings are a thing of the past, hallmarks of a vanishing craftsmanship no longer seen so readily in Hollywood.

With this in mind, the writers over at Boxing Uwe Boll and we here at Isle of Cinema put our heads together to wax nostalgic about the greatest closing scenes in movie history. But before you rush on in, be sure to first head over to Boxing Uwe Boll to read our choices of THE 20 GREATEST OPENING SCENES, keeping in mind that both lists were created by generating one master list from the dozen or so submitted by the staff writers of both blogs. And after you’ve perused the beginnings, come back for the endings, you’re encouraged to discover the middles for yourselves. Special thanks goes to Boxing Uwe Boll’s David Micevic for organizing the logistics and persuading otherwise employed individuals to submit volumes of unpaid writing on a subject they love.

So full steam ahead, with SPOILER ALERT warnings flying high, as we open our mega-post on the subject of closings:

20.) A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – Sergio Leone

[by Louis Doerge]

In the scene directly preceding the finale to Sergio Leone’s iconic western, A Fistful Of Dollars, the nameless, and wounded protagonist (Clint Eastwood) acquires handfuls of dynamite, which we assume he’ll use to terminate the gang of villains responsible for his injuries. He is, after all, only one skilled gunfighter taking on several skilled gunfighters. However, instead of bearing witness to Eastwood hurling lit clumps of dynamite at his enemies -which incidentally was James Coburn’s preferred means of combat in Leone’s 1971 Duck, You Sucker! – Leone uses the dynamite for spectacle’s sake and spectacle’s sake alone. As head bad-guy Ramon and his posse publicly torture Eastwood’s elderly friend, their attention is diverted by the massive explosions outside town. Through the smoke, and with enough confidence for ten orphanages, struts the expressionless Eastwood. The Man’s penchant for theatricality is further illustrated as Ramon tries to eliminate Eastwood via shooting him in the heart several times in a row. After each shot Eastwood gets back up, almost as if resurrecting himself, egging Ramon on and criticizing his aim. After a series of stunning close-ups that show the confusion and terror exuding from Ramon and his men, Eastwood reveals the secret to his immortality… the wild wild west’s first bulletproof vest. Watching this scene as a kid, I used to wonder why Eastwood was so sure of himself. How did he know that Ramon wouldn’t put a bullet in his head or kneecap? And come to think of it, why didn’t Ramon put a bullet in his head or kneecap? Thankfully, Leone ignored these pragmatic questions, and instead directed one of the most memorable and influential action climaxes of all time.

[admin. note: we couldn’t find the entire ending. This is the best we could do.]

19.) The Searchers (1956) – John Ford

[by Marco Noyola]

For five long years Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) searches for Scar, the Comanche chief who massacred his brother’s family and kidnapped his young niece, Debbie. With him is Marty, the Edwards’ adopted son – whom Ethan resents for being part-Cherokee. So great is Ethan’s fear of miscegenation that he plans to find Debbie and kill her before she can be married off to a Comanche, which means Marty must not only rescue his adoptive sister from Scar but also defend her from Ethan, whose brutality, racism and hatred are especially shocking coming from Wayne, the paragon of American virtue. Director Ford uses the “quarter-breed” Marty to give the film its moral center- balancing Ethan’s hatred with Marty’s love of family, even if his bonds aren’t blood as Ethan constantly reminds him. And in the end it is this morality that wins out, when Ethan finds that he cannot bring himself to kill Debbie, and instead takes her home where she and Marty are welcomed with love and acceptance. Ethan, on the other hand, stands unacknowledged, alone on the porch, as the reunited settlers walk into the house. The message is that while men such as Ethan may have been necessary to settle the frontier, there is no place for them in a civilized society. As the community regroups, Ethan himself seems to realize that he is too tainted to enter such a loving home, wandering towards the distance as Ford shuts the door on him and his kind forever.

18.) Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Roman Polanski

[by Nick Burd]

It’s been said that the best endings are those that somehow manage to feel both surprising and inevitable. If this is the case, there may be no better filmic example of this theory than the final moments of Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby. Up until this point, Polanski gives his audience a beautifully shot story of a young Manhattan couple (played by Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes), their new apartment, and the impending arrival of their first child. But audiences soon sense undercurrents of claustrophobia and paranoia in the tale. What are Rosemary and Guy’s nosy neighbors really up to? What’s the meaning of Rosemary’s vivid nightmares? The viewer remains tied to Farrow’s perspective throughout the picture and eventually feels the ache of her fear and and unease. But we also participate in her self-doubt. Of course Guy, her husband, would never do anything to harm her. And there’s nothing to fear about Mrs. Castevet’s chocolate mousse. But as we all know, Rosemary’s Baby didn’t earn the title of one of the best horror films ever by being afraid to delve into darkness. The end of the movie takes us to the limits of amorality and reveals the culmination of a satanic plot that we have unknowingly witnessed all along. From the casually included swastikas to the fact that we never see exactly what it means that Rosemary’s baby has his father’s eyes, the closing moments of the picture manage to wrap the viewer in a unique and groundbreaking sense of terror.

17.) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Stanley Kubrick

[by Rockie Juarez]

Ballsy, head strong, and full of cinematic wonder, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has an ending so enigmatic, that debate/discussion is just waiting to be sparked once the credits roll. A monolith, the mysterious artifact that haunts us, as well as the main characters through the picture, orbits the planet Jupiter. Following a powerful radio signal emitted from the black tablet of mystery, astronaut Dr. David Bowman has reached the end of his near fatal mission. David decides to give chase. Sometimes when all is lost (in this case his entire crew), all one can do is press forward. With flying colors, Kubrick takes us target=”_blank”>Beyond The Infinite. A kaleidoscope of imagery relentlessly washes over us as David’s journey finally brings him to a random home. But where are we? What is this final place? Is it the end of time? Are we in David’s mind? Within a few cuts David goes from middle aged, to elderly, to (wait for it……) a fetus……floating in space. WHAT!? Sure, Arthur C. Clarke, writer of the novel the film is based on, breaks down the enigma in the book, but on screen it’s a whole other ball game. Kubrick never insults you with exposition, laying it all out for you. In fact during this entire last act, not a single word is uttered. He trusts his audience to be smart enough to take the ride without demanding spoon fed answers. It’s a long star trek, but the payoff is one of pure wonder and nothing less than one of cinemas greatest achievements.

[admin. note: embedding has been disabled, so you will be transported to youtube to see the following clip.]

16.) Evil Dead II (1987) – Sam Raimi

[by Boaz Dror]

Most horror movies don’t begin with a first act lasting 3 minutes, or feature Ray Harryhausen-inspired stop motion target=”_blank”>Necronomicons, or risk having sight-gag homages to the Three Stooges break the mood. But Sam Raimi’s re-imagining of his low budget Evil Dead (1981) six years on isn’t most horror films – it’s a harbinger of a new era in genre filmmaking, a film which has inspired everyone from Peter Jackson to Takashi Miike to a host of film-school graduates. And if by the middle of the 2nd act you’ve managed to miss the fact you’re watching something out of it’s mind unique, then the ending hammers the point home beautifully. Raimi’s already taken his protag, Ashley J. “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell in a career-defining role), from cheesy douchebag to demon survivor – so why not complete the most genre bending, wish-fulfillment character arc in film history by sending him hurtling through a rip in the space-time continuum to medieval times, to become the savior of mankind? It’s not just that Ash’s reluctant elevation to legendary hero status redeems the sadistic suffering we’ve seen him endure for the past hour and a half alone in a cabin in the woods – it’s that it also raises some serious questions about our heroes, indulging geek boy fantasies while subverting them. It’s daring, inspired fun that fuses Monty Python with J.R.R. Tolkein, and it’s an ending that elevates this small, unassuming movie into the most satisfying first (or is it second?) act of a franchise since Star Wars.

[admin. note: embedding has been disabled, so you will be transported to youtube to see the following clip.]

Hope you enjoyed part 1! Be sure to tune in next week when we bring you part 2!

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July 18, 2011   1 Comment

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