Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Lists used to be a regular thing here at PINNLAND EMPIRE, but for whatever reason I gave them a rest in favor of writing longer articles that most of you probably don't even finish reading once you start. It recently hit me that although its way too early to start deciding what the defining movies of the decade are, there's already quite a few isolated moments from the last 4+ years that are either so visually striking, prolific, heartbreaking, frightening, hilarious or a combination of everything that they deserve to be mentioned.

So as part of a new ongoing series, we're going to list my personal favorite movie moments of the decade so far.
I put an emphasis on the word personal because its just that. My own personal opinion. This list in no way speaks for anyone else. And please keep in mind that this is ongoing (as you're checking this third installment I'll already be putting the final touches on part five). So if you don't see something listed that you feel should be, give it some time. It may show up eventually. There's no order or hierarchy in what gets listed either.

FYI...six of the eight films represented in this installment are currently streaming on Netflix instant and if the other two aren't out on DVD & BLU-Ray yet, they will be eventually, so I don't wanna hear any of that; "no one has heard of, or seen any of these movies"

So here's part three. Enjoy...

The drill scene in Outrage
The older I get the more I see through the bullshit of looking at gangsters as “cool” figures. But for some strange reason Takeshi Kitano always manages to get me to root for his Yakuza characters. What makes this scene so memorable and effective is that it sort of comes out of nowhere. Kitano leads the audience to believe we’re about to see an execution-style shooting but it turns in to a funny bit of torture. In a moment that lasts for literally 5 seconds (the editing in this scene is subtly brilliant), Kitano makes the drill scene in Marathon Man look tame. I have an issue with men in their mid-20’s or older who “get off” on violence in cinema, but this scene is an exception.

A father/daughter moment in Pariah
Contrary to what cinema will often have you believe, Dads can be good guys from time to time (see other recent films like 35 Shots of Rum & Somewhere for further examples of this). Sure, they’re conflicted, imperfect and sometimes complicated, but they can still be good overall. Alike’s father in Pariah is, in my opinion, easily one of the most complex characters of the decade so far and represents so many real fathers I either know or know of. Throughout the film we go in & out of liking him. One minute he’s a cold asshole and the next minute he’s a supporting & caring father. But we’re still not sure what to make of him overall. However towards the end of the film he finally shows his true colors and has his daughter's back (which he should as a parent) when everyone else (including her mother) abandons her. Sure he still has some personal issues to work out but at the end of the day he stepped up and was there for his daughter, which is something we don't often see in modern cinema.

Going for a swim (Take This Waltz)
We’re going to be getting in to this one a little more in depth later on, but for now I’ll just say that this is probably one of the most frustrating films to come out in years (that’s both a good thing and a bad thing). In fact, this (beautiful) scene actually represents one of the many frustrating/upsetting decisions that our main character (played by Michelle Williams) continues to make through the course of the film. But this moment (highlighted by Jonathan Goldsmith’s amazing score) is so great and beautiful to watch that I had to include it (I often play this scene back a few times while watching this film). I almost wish this four minute montage was a standalone short completely separate from the rest of the film…

Alien shows off all of his shit in Spring Breakers
“The American Dream” on the big screen was a troublesome/scary/conflicting thing in 2013 thanks to The Wolf Of Wall Street, Pain & Gain and American Hustle. I mean, were we really supposed to like, understand or empathize with the characters in those films? And with films like Wolf and Pain & Gain, were we really supposed to be entertained by these shitty/horrific (REAL) events? I ask these questions because the tone of these stories clearly suggests that we should on some level. Spring Breaker is the one film from 2013 that shows how disgusting the American dream can be and how it consumes people, highlighted by this cribs-like montage where Alien (James Franco) gives us a tour of his home and shows off all his material possessions. While this scene is quite funny & entertaining, it also has a creepy & negative vibe to it as well.

The intro to Melancholia
Lars Von Trier is a button pushing troll but he still has tons of talent and possesses the ability to craft beautiful scenes like the opening montage of Melancholia

some time alone in Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
I could honestly close my eyes and pick a few other equally great scenes from this excellent film but this moment here is just so haunting & moody that it’s stayed with me ever since I first saw it years ago…

face stomp (Drive)
Having watched Drive a few months ago, I’m happy to say that it still holds up and I love it just as much as I did in 2011. Like Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, there’s multiple scenes to choose from with this movie (which I probably will later on down the road) but right now I’m going with the elevator scene which, in my opinion, is the epitome of Nicolas Refn’s glossy, hypnotic, violent style that I love so much.

The final battle in 13 Assassins
You can have your big extravagant CGI battles from Lord Of The Rings or Pacific Rim. I’ll take the last 20 minutes of Takeshi Miike’s 13 Assassins over all of that. I’m well aware that the large majority of the blood splatter in this scene is mostly CGI but other than that, everything you see here is all done by the actors. I don’t normally like Miike’s work (Audition being the exception) so kudos to him for making a great film that I didn’t shut off or walk out of…


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