The Church Fight in Kingsman: The Secret Service
With out a doubt the most audacious fight sequence seen in cinemas this year is the one in the church in the middle of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Colin Firth’s Agent Galahad (aka Harry Hart), following a lead but realising it is getting him nowhere excuses himself from the midst of a group of prejudice religious fundamentalists. One of their number, a middle aged woman, berates him for this and the hero, the good guy, shoots her in the head. Suddenly everyone goes nuts and a huge fight breaks out. Not that we know it at the time but a ‘neurological wave that triggers the sensors of aggression and switches off inhibitors’ has been released into the building turning everyone murderous and feral. People turn rabidly on one another but Harry of course is trained to kill and works his way around the room coldly and brutally dispatching everyone in his path. It is violent but thrilling and imaginative and visceral and it is all captured with the minimal number of cuts (at least in the film editing sense). It is a far cry from Firth’s slappy fight with Hugh a Grant in Bridget Jone’s Diary. Irrelevant of whether this is your type of movie or not there is no denying that this is brilliant piece of film making.
The Ball in Cinderella
I loved Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella for reasons I can’t quite explain. It was just a fairly straight telling of the fairytale but I was totally swept up by it. I think it is partly because they just went for it with everything they could (and with all that the considerable Disney budget would allow). Nowhere was this more evident than in the classic ballroom scene. It is just lovely.
Thomas the Tank Engine in Ant-Man
It is a shame the Thomas the Tank Engine train set battle was in the trailer for Ant-Man because it was one of the movie’s best surprises and that kind of gave it away. I understand why it was in the previews though because it did succinctly and effectively demonstrates the tone of the film. I guess they knew they had more surprises in store as well. Few things looked better on the big screen this year than a when giant blue Thomas crashed through the side of a quiet suburban town house a few moments later.
The End of Whiplash
This is an interesting one as I loved and hated it in almost equal measure. The tension is ratcheted up way way higher than you would ever expect from a scene that is essentially just a guy performing a drum solo and the director is to be commended for this. Unfortunately the flash editing in the scene infuriated me. The montage shots of the other instruments are hideous; it is the cheesiest and most cliched way of filming a jazz band you could possibly imagine. In between the shots of protagonist Andrew’s speedy sticks are close ups of swinging trombones, raised trumpets and strummed bases. Nonetheless I was still transfixed, my heart in my throat, conflicted by what I was seeing but excited and unable to look away. It both dragged and rushed.
The Car Chase and Coach Bust up in Fast & Furious 7
In a film full of audacious and joyously preposterous action scenes, the best is the one that ends with the coach hanging off the cliff and Paul Walker running up it as it topples over the edge. Frankly I don’t know what all the fuss was about at the end of The Italian Job now. This is clearly how it’s done.
This Speech from Still Alice:
The poet Elizabeth Bishoponce wrote: ‘the Art of Losing isn’t hard to master: so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.’ I’m not a poet, I am a person living with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, and as that person I find myself learning the art of losing every day. Losing my bearings, losing objects, losing sleep, but mostly losing memories. All my life I’ve accumulated memories – they’ve become, in a way, my most precious possessions. The night I met my husband, the first time I held my textbook in my hands. Having children, making friends, traveling the world. Everything I accumulated in life, everything I’ve worked so hard for – now all that is being ripped away. As you can imagine, or as you know, this is hell. But it gets worse. Who can take us seriously when we are so far from who we once were? Our strange behavior and fumbled sentences change other’s perception of us and our perception of ourselves. We become ridiculous, incapable, comic. But this is not who we are, this is our disease. And like any disease it has a cause, it has a progression, and it could have a cure. My greatest wish is that my children, our children – the next generation – do not have to face what I am facing. But for the time being, I’m still alive. I know I’m alive. I have people I love dearly. I have things I want to do with my life. I rail against myself for not being able to remember things – but I still have moments in the day of pure happiness and joy. And please do not think that I am suffering. I am not suffering. I am struggling. Struggling to be part of things, to stay connected to whom I was once. So, ‘live in the moment’ I tell myself. It’s really all I can do, live in the moment and not beat myself up too much for mastering the art of losing.
A Girl Skateboards Home Alone at Night
The arty black and white vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night played nicely with the conventions of its genre throughout. The best example of this is when the modern day urban bloodsucker glides down the street, black cloak flapping behind her like vamps used to do in those old Hammer flicks. Her smooth movements are not spectral or supernatural though, it is because she is riding a skateboard.
John Wick Takes Down the People Who Break into his House
The scene where he takes down the gangsters in the club is perhaps more memorable but it is that first fight in his house that sets the tone of the film. Keanu Reeves is not dispatching his attackers with those nifty moves he learnt for The Matrix, here he seems aware that the fastest way of dispatching people is to hide in doorways and then unload your firearm into them when they walk round the corner. It’s efficient and thrilling and it makes so much more sense than all that hand to hand combat. Watching it you suddenly realise that all that punching and kicking you’ve seen in a hundred action films previously just doesn’t make sense. Just shoot them!
The Mission Impossible Car 360°
The car/bike chase from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was excellent but there is one tiny little moment that was particularly impressive. Super spy Ethan Hunt is driving a car down a narrow, house lined street surrounded by assailants on motorbikes. They are all around him and preparing to fire their handguns into his head when he pulls the handbrake and yanks the wheel. The car is pulled into a loosely controlled 360° turn which wipes out all of the bad guys in one go. Cool!
Han Solo and Kylo Ren (No Spoilers)
The bit where Han and Kylo do that thing in that place. Han says one thing and Kylo responds in that way and then he does something else before the two of them do that other thing and Han does what Han does. Awesome!