Thursday, April 10, 2014


Lists used to be a regular thing on 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 fourth installment I'll already be putting the final touches on part six). 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...three of the six films represented in this installment are currently streaming on Netflix instant and one is easy to come by on DVD & Blu-Ray just about anywhere, so I don't wanna hear any of that; "no one has heard of or seen any of these movies" (although I will admit that two films on this list aren't easy to watch or come by on DVD/Blu-Ray)

So here's part four. Enjoy...

Representin' Williamsburg (The Comedy)
Hating on “hipsters” has become a little tiresome and cliché. We get it – they can sometimes be pretentious, dirty looking and annoyingly ironic. But you can find faults in any sub-group/sub-genre of people (hip-hop backpackers, skaters, incense burning bohemians, rockers, bros/frat boys, etc). 
Film had yet to really address hipsters, specifically Brooklyn hipsters, until Rick Alverson's The Comedy came along in 2012. I somewhat appreciate that it was made by a white filmmaker instead of a filmmaker of color (as messed up as that sounds) because there’s a good chance it would have been angry, emotional & misguided instead of precise & well thought out. Imagine Spike Lee’s recent rant on gentrification in the form of a movie. Sure it would have been interesting and rooted in truth, but it would have come off slightly immature & angry. 
This scene from The Comedy, where we see our main character (played by Tim Heidecker of Tim & Eric) at a predominately black bar being casually racist and self imposing, pretty much sums up what’s wrong with "hipsters" & gentrification in Brooklyn today.

The seizure scene (The Comedy)
Here’s another great scene from The Comedy that really got to me for some strange reason. Towards of the end of the film Tim Heidecker casually sits back and watches a woman he hooks up with have a seizure and he does nothing to help.

The Hottentot Venus (Black Venus)
Not since Irreversible has there been a scene involving rape, sexual assault or sexual objectification that made me squirm in my seat. Simply for the fact that this is easily one of the most uncomfortable moments in cinema is why I’m putting this on the list. Before Abdelatiff Kechiche broke through with last year’s Blue Is The Warmest Color, he made one of the most underrated/misunderstood films in the form of Black Venus – the story of the Hottentot Venus. 
After being paraded around Europe as a sideshow attraction due to her voluptuous figure (something Europeans weren’t used to seeing at the time), Sarah Bartmann was later used as a prop/human sex toy for high society orgies and sex parties. In one scene, while random strangers are violating her in various ways, she breaks down and starts to cry. But the scene is shot so up-close & personal that you almost feel like you’re a part of the sexual abuse. You just want the scene to end. Black Venus is a tough film but it’s important. I’ll never understand why bipoics on the same damn people continue get made (and find success) while more original stories like this one get no love. Black Venus didn’t even get love in its own home country (France), but I’m sure part of that had to do with guilt and Europeans still wanting to keep certain thing tucked under the rug. 

A Pissed Off Bride (Certified Copy)
I can’t give too much of an explanation as to why I love this scene outside of the cliché reason of seeing someone angry and in tears on what’s supposed to be a happy time (their wedding day). There’s a nice contrast here. This (quick) scene is also very polarizing because the camera just stays locked in on this woman and there’s no movement on her part for a few seconds to the point where it looks like an old painting.

The Homonculus (Faust)
This is definitely one of the three creepiest moments of the decade so far. Easily. This scene, of a homunculus trapped in a jar, evokes the spirit of both Tarkovsky & Henenlotter (specifically Basket case) at the same time.

Tom Wilkinson's "extended cameo" in The Ghost Writer
It’s a shame that there's already signs of The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski’s 2010 political thriller, not standing the test of time. In my opinion, this is the best thing he’s done in YEARS (it was in my top 10 of 2010). It seemed like most true Polanski fans didn’t like this because it wasn’t a psychological thriller (a lane that Polanski mastered & innovated) and average movie goers found it “boring” (I saw this twice in the theater and both times I heard rumblings of it being boring). Tom Wilkinson is one of those under-appreciated supporting actors (often mistakenly labeled as a character actor). Like Danny Huston, even in bad and/or mediocre films, their presence makes most things watchable. Wilkinson is used sparingly in The Ghost Writer (only two scenes) yet his creepy performance/extended cameo is the most memorable thing in the film for me.

Hiding Out (Upstream Color)
Like the scene in Certified Copy, this is another one I love but I can’t fully explain why. I know this scene is supposed to symbolize vulnerability and being scared of an unknown/mysterious threat, but beyond that, there’s a beauty & ambiance  here that almost can’t be put in to words.


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