Sep 5, 2014

Cinephile Photos (and some words too)

I'm rather relieved that I was never nominated for the ice bucket challenge, but another recent nomination trend on Twitter has caught my attention.

The #cinephilephoto trend is simple: as far as I understand, you post a picture from a film and a scene that you love and that means something to you.  So, inspired by this, here are a few cinematic moments that are meaningful for me, because they helped to kickstart my interest in things that still define my particular brand of cinephillia.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
This, as I've said more than a few times on the site, is the first film I can recall loving.  I have few memories before I was 11 years old, thanks to three weeks of sedation during extensive hospital treatment when I was 10, but I have vivid memories of the several times I saw this film at the cinema; hiding under the seat during a cubs trip; sneaking in to catch the tank chase one more time on the ferry to Holland.  This film means a lot to me, and I still love it.

The still I've picked isn't the one I'd have picked then (it probably would have been Indy and Henry tied together in the burning room in the castle), but it's the moment that really sums up the film; a literal ride into the sunset with the promise of further adventures; father and son united with their friends.  It's a perfect moment, beautifully shot by Spielberg and DP Douglas Slocombe.  Let's pretend Crystal Skull never spoiled it.

The Last Picture Show
I was lucky when I was growing up as a movie fan because terrestrial TV was still the major force in media and, given that, they still pushed the boat out a little in their choices when it came to films to show.  I taped a lot of films from late nights on BBC 2 and Channel 4 and discovered many new genres and films from far flung corners of the world.  This was one of the first older films that I fell in love with that way and is probably also one of the original sources of my love of teen and coming of age movies.  

Again, this isn't the still the 15 year old me who first saw this film might have picked (Cybill Shepherd would be wearing less if that were the case) and I could have picked so many stills from this beautifully observed film.  This isn't the most beautiful shot in the film, but it makes me smile because it's from one of its funniest moments, also one of my favourite moments.  I love Jeff Bridges' preening in contrast with Shepherd's unimpressed "I don't even think you done it right anyway".

A Nightmare on Elm Street [1984]
For someone who is a big genre fan I got into horror cinema quite late on, and this was one of the trigger films, getting me to delve further into Wes Craven, John Carpenter and other films from the golden period of 80's horror.  This particular image, simple as the way it was achieved is, has always struck me as one of, if not the single, creepiest frames in 80's horror.  Perfectly composed, it plays on primal fears by taking the real world fear of being watched and imposing something supernatural on it.  As the dreadful remake showed, it's the subtlety of this effect that makes it so chilling.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [1974]
This film was one of the early stops on my investigation of more extreme horror.  I'd always been fascinated by censorship and when, when I was about 19, the old banned titles began to come out with BBFC approval this, thanks to its notoriety, was one of the first I sought out.  It remains one of the most purely terrorising films I've ever seen, and the still I've chosen is from a scene that still makes me wince whenever I watch or even consider it.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
I was already a Jennifer Jason Leigh fan and had long wanted to see this film when it was finally rereleased on VHS after a long absence from UK shelves.  Beyond her obvious charms (look how cute she is in that still) Fast Times made me an even bigger fan of Leigh's acting, and was the film that made her one of my absolute favourite actresses, setting me on the way to a collection of her work that now includes 52 features plus much else, and is still growing.  Again, this may not be the most memorable or brilliantly composed shot I could have chosen (I suspect an image from a certain dream sequence might have gone over well), but it's one that indicates what initially drew me to the film and what I love about it.

Fucking Amal
I've always liked coming of age movies, but Lukas Moodysson's debut was the film that really took that interest from a casual one to something more focused, and which particularly drew me to Scandinavian coming of age films, which largely have a very different feel to their US counterparts.  This also happens to be one of my absolute favourite films, and one I seem to love more every time I watch it.

This still is from the last scene, which I adore, it seems like a throwaway moment but, in contrast to what Elin says in the previous scene, it's a sweet, innocent, moment of connection between these two people you've been rooting for.  It's a perfect ending.

Badlands is my favourite film.  I tried writing something about why to go in this space, but it was rubbish.  Look at those stills.  That's (part of) why.

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