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Today we want to spend some time looking at patterns, and
how they can cause us to build up certain expectations.
And how filmmakers can take advantage of that to astonishingly powerful effect.
And to do it, we've rounded up five different moments from some of our
favorite recent films to dig down on.
In no particular order, and for no real reason other than we love them,
here are five more completely unranked brilliant moments.
(Music)
Before we get going it's worth mentioning that all of our brilliant moments today
involve some not insignificant spoilers,
because of the nature of the moments we're looking at.
So if the movie we're introducing is one you haven't seen and
care about going into fresh, we recommend skipping ahead to the next slide.
They're time codes in the description.
With that out of the way, let's first look at an abridge scene from The Artist.
The 2011 Best Picture winning silent film, where in former silent film star
George Valentin despairs at his bankrupt fortune, broken marriage and failed fame.
While Peppy the extra whose career he launched beyond his own, finds him
missing from her care, and realizes that he might be a real danger to himself.
(Music)
This one brief moment of pulling the rug out from under us,
is an incredibly dense spectator experience.
We feel so many different so quickly in a row from such a small conceit.
So let's take a look out how it works.
To begin with, the scene sets up two independent lines of action.
Valentin is on his way to suicide, and Peppy is on her way to Valentin.
The film alternates between these two different lines of action and
developes them in parallel in order to imply that not only are they happening
simultaneously, but they are progressing towards their completion
at almost exactly the same rate.
Taken together, we very quickly assume exactly the what the film wants us to.
That these two narrative lines will eventually resolve.
But we also carry the exact uncertainty that the film wants us to.
We're not sure which will resolve first.
It sets up a race between Peppy and her car and Valentin and his gun.
And it raises a narrative question, will she arrive in time or too late?
As the intercutting continues, as the pace accelerates, as we grow nearer and
nearer to the resolution of this narrative question, the tension intensifies.
And by the time we get here,
it seems like the answer cannot be dragged out any longer, we get our answer.
And this is the key frame upon which everything hinges.
First, we have to interpret it in context.
We connect it to the narrative line we just came from Valentin and the gun.
We read it the only way that makes any sense, the gun has fired.
But then we cut to here and our understanding shifts.
We realize this sound wasn't coming from Valentine's line of action, but
from Peppy's.
We re-contexualize the shot and re-write our mental narrative,
until we cut to here, and our understanding shifts again.
We realize this sound was coming from Valentine's line of action, and
Peppy's line of action, just not in the way we had originally assumed.
We realize that the two narrative threads have finally collapsed into one, and
we put everything in its place.
The narrative question of the scene has resolved itself,
it has satisfied our initial expectations, while surprising us by how.
And it's done one more thing.
These three contexts for the bang have given us that rapid fire whiplash
experience that first caught our attention for this moment.
First, we felt terror and shock.
Second, we felt confusion and surprise.
And finally everything came together and made sense.
These just so happen to be the three experiences in this scene.
First, Peppy and her terror that she'll be too late.
Second, Valentin and his surprise at the noise he didn't expect.
And finally,
a fulfilling reunion where everything works out, all in the span of a moment.
It's a spectacular example of what we think is the essence of a brilliant
moment, filmmakers employing creative cinematic techniques.
Not just because they're cool, but because they mirror in us a version of
the emotional experience that's happening to the people on the screen.
(Music)
Next, let's look at a pattern that's almost the exact opposite of the artists.
This time from 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Michelle has woken up from a car crash in a bunker and no memory.
She's been brought there by Howard who insists he saved
her from some sort of apocalyptic event, and that if she leaves she'll die.
Emmet's there too but he doesn't have much more to go on than Howard's word either.
And Howard's word seems a little well, creepy as hell.
So, in secret they make a plan and
begin building themselves a DIY hazmat suit to find out.
It's all going well until this.
>> This is percloric acid.
It's highly corrosive.
Dissolves most biological material on contact.
With humans right down to the bone.
>> Hey, Howard, what are you showing this to us for?
>> You think I'm an idiot.
>> Howard, please,
you're going to have to tell us what it is that you're talking about.
>> I'm talking about getting rid of some waste.
Tell me what you two were doing with these?
You tell me what you two are planning right now!
>> Howard, listen, just take it easy, take it easy.
>> No. >> Howard, Howard come on, please Howard.
>> I'm giving you one chance.
>> Hey, Howard, just calm down.
>> One chance, to answer with some dignity, or I swear to God,
you're going into this barrel while you're alive to feel it.
>> It was me.
All right? Not her, it was just me.
>> No, no, no.
>> Stay out of this, all right?
She doesn't have a clue what you're talking about.
I wanted your gun, and so I was thinking
about making a weapon to get it from you.
I want her to respect me the way that she respects you.
I'm not saying that I was right, okay?
And I'm sorry.
>> You're sorry?
>> I'm sorry.
>> I accept your apology.
>> If you're anything like us,
you probably did not see that coming on your first watch through.
and it's a cool counterpoint to the artist's pay off.
One seems to be leading us towards a gunshot conclusion, but
surprisingly doesn't, while the other seems to mercifully turn us away from any
bloodshed, before unleashing its gunfire unexpectedly.
Each of them building up a pattern that seems to point us increasingly towards
an outcome that it finally subverts in the last minute.
And here in the bunker while traditional dramatic structure plays a role in
suggesting certain expectations.
We're most excited about the role of the camera in all of it, check it out.
Apart from a few in such shot of hands and a master three shots that we only see
a few times, these scene is covered almost entirely in over the shoulders.
But not just any over the shoulders,
six different over the shoulders arranged in pairs along three different axis, so
that, at any given time, the film making is focusing on the dynamics of only one,
Two-person relationship in the dramatic triangle.
So when Michelle and Emmett are freaking out together about what's about to happen,
we see this shot on this axis.
And when they're each watching Howard slowly transform into a very dangerous
man, we watch from these two axis.
And when Howard is trying to sniff out the rat between them,
the over the shoulder swings wildly from one axis to the other,
like a desperate man searching desperately.
As Michelle falls under his gaze and were meant to worry that he will
rightly realize she's to blame, we begin to favor her axis with Howard.
Until finally, Emmett fesses up and takes all the blame.
Causing us to suddenly lock in on the Howard-Emmett axis, and
set off an incredibly tense conflict between them like this.
As a result, Michelle is safe and her safety is reflected in the camera choices.
We no longer see her in the same frame or
participating in the same dramatic conflict with Howard.
Instead we focus on her axis with Emmett.
First pleading with him not to do this and then later grateful and
relieved towards her.
We see this shot a total of three times.
Each of them increasingly safe from the danger until the shot
itself begins to feel like a safe space.
And when Emmett and Howard finally make amends in their paired over
the shoulders here, it seems like that conflict is resolved, too.
So when our view leaves their conflict, for hopefully the last time, and
heads over to the safe shot of Michelle, breathing a sigh of relief.
We breathe a sigh of relief with her, when the moment unravels in an instant.
The barrel of the gun intrudes just into the edge of our safe range, and,
(Noise) The safety of this peaceful shot is shattered.
We are shocked to have been misled by the story and its film making,
just like It's like Michelle is shocked to have been mislead by Howard's forgiveness.
We were made to look left, then the danger came in quietly from the right.
And we end up blindsided by violence we would have seen coming 30 seconds prior.
Immediately, Emmett is banished from the frame.
We cut to the only access that remains between Howard and Michelle.
And as if dissolved by acid,
all that remains of Emmett is his blood stain on the wall.
(Music)
For our next brilliant moment, we're sticking with guns and violence for
a scene from the climax of JARHEAD.
The film follows Marine Scout Sniper Swofford as he trains and
then deploys for what will eventually become Desert Storm.
But Desert Storm is nothing like his father's deployment in Vietnam.
We are instead introduced to a lifestyle where boredom, pointlessness,
and absurd dominate.
An existential malaise sets in and eventually, the promise of violence begins
to grow attractive because at least it means being good for something.
So after an hour of inaction when Swofford and his partner, Troy are finally assigned
a mission to assassinate a high ranking officer in a nearby airfield tower,
we get this.
>> Shit.
There's no one in the tower.
Something's going down.
Shit.
>> Wait.
>> Thank you, Jesus.
>> Romeo, golf, charlie, Romeo, golf, charlie.
This is Lima to Sierra, over?
Officers in control tower, over.
>> That's what they look like.
(Music)
>> Range.
>> 900 yards.
(Music)
>> Wind is?
>> Five to seven, west to east.
(Music)
Romeo, golf, Charlie, Romeo, golf, Charlie.
Requesting permission to take the shot, over.
(Music)
>> Set.
>> We have the shot, over.
(Music)
Affirmative.
Out.
Permission to fire.
Fire.
Fire.
Fire.
(Sound) >> What fuck frequency are you on?
>> Fuck.
>> We got air, I'm calling it in.
>> It's like a combination of the artists bang misdirect with
10 Cloverfield Lane's last minute intrusion.
But this time, the violence is the hope rather than the fear.
And Mindy sets this up in quite a few ways,
explicitly by having the characters quickly voice their anxiety.
But he also works in a number of several ways to help make us ache for
a violent release despite our best ethics.
First he present the process as an incredibly intimate one.
All of the filmic language used for
lining up this shot belong more to a gentle romance than a war film.
The camera lives in the super tight kissing distance close-ups and
sensitive tactile macro shots.
It lingers on the sense of gentle touch, where the dialing of a knob is more akin
to brushing away a lock of hair than preparing for execution.
And all this really perverts violence.
It makes violence feel gentle and comfortable.
It also makes interruptions to said violence feel, well, violent.
The loudest and most disturbing parts of the scene are Troy jabbering on the radio,
and the door banging open to stop them in the end.
The climatic event that completely ruins the visual intimacy.
This final unexpected violence interruption introduces a series of
increasingly wide angled shots that ends in a heartbreakingly impersonal master.
But there's a second conceit here that's even more important to
our sense of mounting tension.
And that's the re-evocation of a previously established pattern.
Sam Mindy spends a tremendous amount of time in the first half of the film
introducing us to this intimate relationship between man and his gun.
From the reading of distances to the procedural communication,
to the unforgettable triplicate of fire, fire, fire.
We know how this song and dance goes by now, and that's really important.
In this scene, we're not building out into an unknown void where at some unknown
point we hope there will be a gunshot.
Now, this routine allows us to locate ourselves somewhere along a mental
timeline with a concrete sense of how close we really are to its end.
With the finish line in view, we begin to expect a certain resolution.
We begin to count on that expected resolution.
And we begin to actively look forward to that expectation which in this case,
happens to be violence.
So when the door bursts open with a bang, and the pattern completes itself but
not in the way we've learned to expect.
We take a look at ourselves and what's just been happening and
realize that all it took was a little nudge.
And we've been sitting here hoping to see our hero make a stranger die.
(Sound) For our fourth moment,
we're turning to the climax from You Were Never Really Here for
a completely different way to achieve a very similar feeling.
We think this movie is ultimately genius in its empathy and insight into pain and
violence, both as victim and perpetrator.
But you should be aware that this moment involves some really graphic examples of
violence, murder and child abuse.
And if you often find yourself uncomfortable with that kind of thing,
you might want to skip ahead.
With that being said, early in the film, our protagonist,
Joe is hired to track down a missing girl named, Nina.
After finding the house she's being held in, he goes inside to rescue her and
it looks like this.
(Music)
And this on its own, is a pretty brilliant sequence.
Joe is presented as this ultra bad ass man with nothing but
hammer pursuing child abusers.
Which practically screams out guilt free skull bashing fun for us to expect,
except that's not what we get at all.
This rotating surveillance camera aesthetic completely submerge normal fight
sequence suspense structure.
Instead of ramping up slowly to a violent pay off we feel like we both want and
have earned.
This sequence alternatively shocks us with violence and then deprives us of it.
In such a way that we can never quite get our expectations underneath us.
It continuously frustrates us by giving us violence we didn't want yet, and
then taking it away just as we start wanting it.
It is violence at its least satisfying.
Joe rescues Nina but it doesn't last.
Men track him down and take her back from him.
They're city police bought by the rich and powerful to support a child's sex ring,
where they trade children back and forth.
And Nina is the governor's favorite.
By the time Joe figures all this out, he's lost just about everything he cares about
in life, and is almost entirely consumed with hatred, and us along with him.
He heads to the governor's estate, hammer in hand, and finally, we get our sequence.
(Music)
And wow, if Jarhead shocks us with how we could feel about violence,
this sequence absolutely rattles us to our core.
First, it evokes the previous Hammer Revenge sequence in style editing pattern
and music.
We're being cued to expect at least some violence.
We know we got it last time, although we weren't quite ready for it.
This time, we know what we're getting and how we're getting it.
So we begin to expect, and even crave it.
But this time, we get even less.
We are like Pavlovian dogs, being reminded by the film's familiar stylistic
patterns that it's feeding time, but all we get is an empty bowl.
This is massively disappointing, but we're led not to give up yet.
We're cued to expect at least some violence.
The film finally shifts away from this surveillance style that we've come to
know by now promises nothing but frustration, and
returns to a more traditional continuity, diegetic sound, and camera movement.
This leads us to expect something different, something more,
something climactic.
And we've all imagined what it will be, a hammer in the head of the governor.
And as every part of the filmmaking pushes us towards this end point, and
we glide towards this future expected act of violence, finally we arrive and
then it all falls flat.
There will be absolutely no violence.
How deeply unsatisfying!
And this is why it's brilliant,
because the next thing that happens is that Joe breaks down.
And our feelings match his.
And it gives us immense insight into his human condition,
because in this moment, we're kind of the same.
And we realize that just like we wanted this, Joe needed this.
Joe hated these characters on screen, these men he had never even met,
because he equated them with the child abusers in his life.
And when Joe collapses in pain when this hatred has nowhere else to go but back
inwards, we kind of understand it because we feel really freaking lousy, too.
The disappointment we feel at the plot is just a miniature model of
the disappointment he feels at being unable to satisfy an outlet for his hate.
This moment is such a phenomenal investigation of how anger, rage and
violence are actually just protective mechanisms against otherwise
inescapable pain.
And Lynn Ramsey pulls it off by masterfully manipulating us along
the emotional experience of Joe through her almost maniacal frustration,
the patterns she knows we expect.
(Music)
And finally, we turn to our last scene, this time from Room.
Room finds 5-year-old Jack and his 24-year-old mother, Joy,
captive in well, a room.
They're held there by old Nick, a man we come to learn kidnapped Joy as a teen, and
then with her, fathered Jack.
But he's never really met Jack.
Joy never lets him near her son, even though he's tried.
She always hides him away in a cabinet to sleep when old Nick comes to visit and
molest her.
Eventually, Joy helps Jack escape and the police find where she's being held.
She's rescued and our scene here finds Jack waking up alone in an entirely new
place to the sounds of his new step-grandfather,
milling about downstairs.
>> You should get some.
>> Thanks. >> Thanks again.
>> Okay, so, What am I going to do now?
I wonder if there's anybody around that would play with me or talk to me.
I guess not.
I'm pretty hungry.
I know.
I've got something in the kitchen, I think.
Yes, there's something very tasty in the kitchen, I think.
Let me see if it's here.
Hello, I didn't know you were up.
>> While this scene may seem entirely ordinary on its surface, in the context of
the film we couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of dread here.
A growing concern that Joy's step-father Leo, might not have the best intentions.
Of course it turns out that we're mercifully wrong.
He's nothing more than a kind and caring man,
trying his best to connect with his new grandson.
But for a second there, we could swear it was going another direction.
And upon closer inspection, this wasn't just a hunch but a careful manipulation on
behalf of the film, considering context of our first encounter with old Nick here.
>> Hey.
>> Shh.
(Crosstalk) >> Hey!
>> Let's go to bed.
>> You want some candy?
>> You like candy?
>> Look at how Jack, curled up in a safe hiding place, regards each of these two
characters in POV, both times peering through something, slats or a railing.
Both times too shy to look directly at their face such that the camera
conceals it.
Both times a man attempts to win his affection first by toys and play, and
then by sweets and candy.
Notice how in both scenes the goal of the man in question is to
lure Jack out of his hiding place.
The difference, of course,
is that one relationship is wholesome while the other is anything but.
But you couldn't tell that from the way it's written, staged and shot.
And that's exactly the point.
These two relationships look the same, despite fundamental differences because
we aren't supposed to be able to distinguish between them.
The film making re-evokes an old, unsuitable pattern for
engaging with the strange man because the only experience Jack has ever really had
with an adult man has been with his captor.
He's a child whose only schema for adult relationships is abusive.
So when choosing a way to perceive a new adult man,
there is only one available aesthetic to Jack, and therefore us.
This is the tragedy of trauma.
It extends past the event itself and infects everything that comes after it,
such that even the non-traumatic is seen through traumatic eyes.
So when the scene ends with almost nothing happening at all,
just a simple conversation, no abuse, no reveal, no big moment,
no melodramatic hug, it's the best thing we could have hoped for.
Because it's not traumatic, it's just ordinary.
And in a childhood and a movie where everything has been traumatic,
ordinary can mean a hell of a lot.
(Music)
By its very nature, drama is about desire.
Positive desire, wanting something to happen, or
negative desire, definitely wanting something to not happen.
This is hope and fear.
So when drama is employed in a narrative space, it raises the dramatic question.
Will what we want or fear happen, or won't it?
Will Peppy arrive in time?
Will Howard dissolve them in acid?
Will Swafford get to do something in the war?
Will Joe have his revenge?
Will Jack be safe alone with his granddad?
And patterns are structures designed to be guessed at.
Progressions that imply a direction,
it seems predictable where they're heading if uncertain whether they'll get there.
All these moments employ patterns that point us in the direction of an answer
to their main dramatic question.
They suggest that they will at least resolve one way or another and soon.
And then at the eleventh hour, they all complete their patterns in complicated,
unexpected ways, giving us answers that cause confusion, or shock,
or outrage, or blood lust, or relief.
And by promising us an answer, nudging us into guessing what it will be and
then upending it, they reveal to us the complexities of what we've wanted all
along, and how we feel about getting it or not.
And they guide us through this moment with such care that the feelings they reveal
just so happen to be the same ones our characters are feeling.
And in this, we learn something about them.
We learn something about us, and
how we are more like these characters than we would have guessed,
which is why we think all five of these moments are utterly brilliant.
(Music)
So what do you think?
Disagree with any of our interpretations?
Have any other brilliant moments?
Let us know in the comments below.
Be sure to subscribe for more brilliant moments, and more CineFix movie lists.
(Music)
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電影中非常精彩的時刻 (Even MORE Brilliant Moments in Film)

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Pedroli Li 發佈於 2019 年 1 月 29 日
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