The Great Cuts

Some of the films that left a lasting impression often can be attributed to the great spectacles, excellent writing, and impeccable sense of unique taste in putting them all together. More often than not, the bigger impression comes from the smaller details, some particular scenes, sequences, or moments that puts a smile on our face.

Being a visual dreamer that I am, most, if not all of those moments share some kind of a spectacular photographic achievement more than the actions, sound/music or the writing put together, but then again, failure to attribute them would be an artistic violation cause without them, those achievements are half done.

Over the years, I have been slowly collecting those happy moments where stationery movements on screen can bring so much joy and awe, and how these talented souls have put some dent in our heart, touching our very soul with excellence. As the hours of 2010 coming to an end, and the sunrise of 2011 approaches, it would be a thrill to visually relive these great cinematic achievements and share them with a like-minded souls like you are, and as Christopher McCandless wrote in his diary (from the movie Into the Wild): “Happiness only real when shared.”

This may not be a recipe for a great movie, and many of the films and shows found here are, in no way, perfect, but these scenes that made it to the final cut are game changers and should redefine how still & motion pictures are crafted.

Enjoy the show.

Memorable scenes and spectacular sequences from feature films or television shows as seen by yours truly.

(Appears in no particular order)

Avatar: Jake’s First Flight

Avatar: Jake's First Flight

Directed by James Cameron, cinematography by Mauro Fiore, original music by James Horner

It’s Jim Cameron’s favorite scene in Avatar, I still have my goosebumps every time I remember the sequence.

Inception — The Hotel Fight

Inception: The Hotel Fight

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Special Effects Supervisor: Chris Corbould, original music by Hans Zimmer

Trivia: Took a month to complete, weeks of tests to get the effects right. (especially taking the five bodies afloat into an elevator)

Imagining an intense fight scene in zero gravity is one thing, but making them happen, and as real as possible with long cuts with great choreography and real action deserves an Oscar for itself. The WSJ blog talks to Chris Corbould on how they dreamed up and deliver the effects.

The Social Network — Henley Race Scene

The Social Network: The Henley Race Scene

Directed by David Fincher, cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth, music (In the Hall of the Mountain King) adapted by Trent Reznor Clip:

There’s no story here except a rowing race, but the great camera angles, and the great editing make it the most interesting rowing race I’ve seen on screen. Here’s the director, David Fincher talking about the scene.

Smallville: Reckoning — Jonathan Kent’s Funeral

Smallville: Reckoning, Jonathan Kent's Funeral Scene

Directed by Greg Beeman, cinematography by Barry Donlevy, original music (I Grieve) by Peter Gabriel

Great camera, great color, apt choice of music edited nicely into a 3-minute screen orgasm.

Up: Married Life – Carl & Ellie

Up: Married Life Sequence

Directed by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson (co-director). original music by Michael Giacchino

I see no other way to tell a story of a young boy falling in love to a young girl and live happily ever after till the day she dies, in five minutes.

CSI: Chaos Dominium — Bullet Time

CSI: Chaos Dominium Opening Sequence (Bullet Time)

Directed by Kenneth Fink, cinematography by Christian Sebaldt, original music by John M. Keane.

This two-minute sequence shows what a water drops in the air looks like, speeding bullet, exploding skin tissue and frozen mobs having a gun fight with the goods guys inside a crime lab. Rumor has it that it costs more than US$300.000 to make.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Part 1): The Tale of the Three Brothers Animated Sequence

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: The Tale of the Three Brothers

Directed by Ben Hibon, Supervised by Dale Newton (Framestore)

It’s a combination of shadow puppet, stop motion and graphic animation, it’s like magic. Great scoop by Cartoon Brew and FXGuide has an interview with the sequence supervisor Dale Newton.

Hero — Duel in the Forest

Hero: Duel in the Forest

Directed by Zhang Yimou cinematography by Christopher Doyle original music by Tan Dun

Hand it over to Zhang Yimou and the chinese, they invented the power and the look of Kungfu on screen. Also check out the The Imaginary Chess Duel.

Ronin — Car Chase

Ronin: The Car Chase

Directed by John Frankenheimer, cinematography by Robert Fraisse original music by Elia Cmiral

Ronin practically set the new standard for car chases scenes. A must watch.

House of Flying Dagger — Duel at the Drum Room

House of Flying Daggers: The Drum Room Fight

Directed by Zhang Yimou, cinematography by Xiaoding Zhao, original music by Shigeru Umebayashi.

I’m no fan of the movie, but it’s Zhang Yimou, and this scene, among many others are just too good to be missed.

This article is always going to be a work in progress, and by no means, is this piece a year-end special, or even remotely related to what this blog regularly publishes.

Happy New Year.