Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mare Crisium

Going back to MODA winners for this week's installment. Mare Crisium is one of the great stories about dreaming big. A fairly transparent adaptation of the Icarus myth, what is truly remarkable about Mare Crisium is how uplifting the end of what is essentially a distressingly tragic story can be. Full credit goes to screenwriter Robert Christopher who won his first MODA for Mare Crisium at the 1995 ceremony.  Of course his place in Hollywood is by now practically legendary and you can expect to see more of his scripts appear in this blog.

This scene opens the film and with great economy reveals the depth of Jack's ambition as well as hinting at his destructive mania. Rewatching this scene - and the fantastic performance of Edward Sweigskraft - knowing where the film is ultimately taking Jack, and vicariously us, there is never any doubt that reaching his goal, at literally any personal cost, will be a triumph for Jack.

Friday, March 22, 2013


When one starts a new endeavour there are things that need to be learned.  I learned one of those things this week.

I thought I was being clever, taking one of the all-time classic silent shorts and writing up a full description of the action, but as it turns out, it was a lot of work!  So, fair warning, I'm probably never going to do that again.  But I did do it, so here we go....

You have seen Sideshow, right?  It is one of the seminal works of slapstick comedy of all time.  It is one of the very first  Muybridge Legacy short films (Shot in 1913 - yes, 100 years old!) yet it still holds up.  It stars Shao and Zi Zhe, a pair of real-life Siamese twins. (Allegedly - there is some controversy alluding to fraud, but that is not my business here.) And actually manages to deconstruct the classic Hollywood fist-fight before there was a Hollywood, or a set of fist-fight tropes to deconstruct.  Seriously, this is genius before it's time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Inside the Four Foot

This week's scene is from a rather unknown Canadian film from 1978. You are going to have to excuse me for a bit here while I indulge myself. I grew up in a curling family, my father was at one time one of the top 100 curlers in the world. In fact, he was responsible for the reform of the hog-line rule in the mid 70s. (I swear!  You can look it up!) So perhaps you can see why this particular film is special to me. I doubt that there was a curling household in Canada that didn't have a well worn copy of Inside the Four Foot on betamax.

I'm not going to kid you, this isn't a particularly great movie, but this particular scene has always affected me. I found a digital transfer of Inside the Four Foot online just last week and watched it for the first time in probably 25 years. It has not aged well. However, I was surprised to recognize a face I didn't know back then. As it turns out this was the debut film for Bailey McGettigan, later to be known as Minister Sledge in the long running Brit-com Big Wig.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Better Days

This week's scene is from one of my favourite romantic films of all time.  Yeah, Better Days is pretty bittersweet to be called "romantic," but I've always been drawn to films with a healthy dose of the ambiguous and/or the subversion of expectation.

If you haven't seen the film and haven't been told the big reveal, take your warning here - spoiler alert! - this is the scene where Vida's big secret comes out. But its one of those moments that, like Dil's secret in The Crying Game is pretty much a staple of pop-culture by now. So even if you haven't seen the film, you probably are aware of the twist.

Jessica Wainbottom, who played Vida in the film won the 1984 MODA for Best Actress, and it was scenes like this one that got her there.