This is the second part in an ongoing series where I discuss a few of my favorite scenes in cinema. You can read part one of this series here.
The Final Scene
Big Night (1996)
Directed By: Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci
There’s nothing more important in life than family. In Big Night, two Italian immigrant brothers (played by the brilliant Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) run a restaurant on the Jersey Shore. With their business failing, the brothers gamble on one special night to try to save it.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. The night is full of hilarity, anger, venom, mouth-watering food (I mean, look at this Timpano), and lies. However, in the final scene of the film, none of that matters. There are only Four lines spoken in the entire scene and in spite of the venom spewed the night before, and when all things seem lost, there is still love between these brothers. It’s a scene about family, forgiveness, friendship and food. It’s an absolutely beautiful ending to a wonderful film.
It’s Not Your Fault
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Good Will Hunting is a film with a lot of amazing scenes. Like Skyler’s dirty joke, or Ben Affleck talking about the favorite part of his day. Also, who could forget, “Son of a bitch. He stole my line.”
However, it’s during the “Not Your Fault” scene that we get the emotional payoff of the film. This scene finally allows Will Hunting (Matt Damon) to release all the rage he’d been building up after years of neglect and abuse and he unloads it all on Sean (Robin Williams), his therapist.
Matt Damon absolutely crushes this scene with his incredible emotional breakdown. However, I believe this scene only works because Robin Williams plays it with a full heart and eyes that say: “I understand.”
First Liquor Raid
The Untouchables (1987)
Directed By: Brian De Palma
There are so many great scenes in The Untouchables that I honestly was going to remove this entry completely. In my original draft of this piece, I had the immaculate “bridge scene.” Next, I flirted with putting the “Union Station” scene on here with its infamous tumbling baby carriage. But alas, I decided to go with the First Liquor Raid. Why? Because It’s the first time we get to hear Ennio Morricone’s brilliant Untouchables theme song.
It’s also the scene in the movie where the group begins their crusade on Al Capone and declare that they’re not afraid of him. Right after, the four unlikely teammates sit down and eat a meal with one another. Taking a picture to commemorate their victory and the lengths that they’ll go to put Capone behind bars, no matter the cost.
Eliot Ness, the Untouchables, (and the IRS) would go on and lead to the arrest of Al Capone.
Bonus Scene : Robert De Niro as Al Capone was great. Especially when he hits this guy with a baseball bat.
The Opening Scene
Directed By: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Hi. My name is Andrew. I’m 27 and still cry at the beginning of Pixar’s Up. In the span of five minutes, Up told a perfect love story … not using a single word. Twilight couldn’t do that with five movies.
There’s a lot going on in this scene but most importantly, we see a man’s life. With exacting detail and not a wasted frame, Doctor and Peterson manage to show us a man’s entire relationship with his wife, the good times and bad, the hopes, dreams and desires, the life and then death, and the inevitable loneliness that follows.
There are a few pieces of art that are able to summarize the life of a man or the complexity and beauty of marriage. Up does it in five minutes.
The Pianist (2002)
Directed By: Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is a bad human being. That being said, The Pianist is a brilliant film.
Adrien Brody gives the performance of a lifetime as Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish musician struggling to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.
The above scene comes during the third act of of the movie. In this scene, a German Soldier, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann), discovers Szpilman’s hiding place in the attic of an abandoned building. Instead of killing him, he helps him survive. But, before leaving after their first encounter, the German Soldier asks what he will do after the war is over.
“Play the piano again” Szpilman answers.
“Show me” Hosenfeld replies.
After two years of not being able to do the one thing he loves, Władysław does so, happily. For that moment, both parties are united by music; healing together and making peace.
“Music has no fatherland; its homeland is the whole universe.” – Frederic F. Chopin
Show Me The Way To Go Home
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
What’s better than this, guys being dudes … before a shark attacks and eats ones of them.