Wednesday, August 20, 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 seventh installment I'll already be putting the final touches on part eight). 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...two of the seven films represented in this installment are currently streaming on Netflix instant and three are easy to come by on DVD & Blu-Ray just about anywhere (I'm not sure about the availability of the other two)

As I re-read this entry back before posting it, I came to the realization that this is probably the saddest one so far. 

Here's part seven, Enjoy...

A Tribe Called Quest has never claimed to be "tough" in the world of hip-hop/rap music and we've certainly never expected that from them. But no matter how socially conscious & "peaceful" ones persona may be, there's still a societal expectation/generalization that the public has about most rappers being stoic & and "hard" (on top of the unfair expectation society already puts on men to be "strong" and to not show their sensitive side, coupled with the heightened expectation placed on black men to be extra stoic & strong).
Jarobi, the most mysterious member of A Tribe Called Quest, broke this stereotype in a scene in Beats Rhymes & Life.
Like any disease, it's tough to watch someone go through kidney failure. The dialysis process makes you weak and in some cases you kind of wither away. It's hard to see someone you love go through that like Jarobi did with ATCQ member Phife Dawg who was suffering from diabetes-induced kidney failure.
This moment let a lot of people know it's ok to be a man and cry which is a stigma men will probably have to deal with forever…

Bruno Dumont's Camille Claudel, 1915 may go down as one of the more underrated/misunderstood biopics/true stories adapted for film in recent years. Filmmakers need to accept the fact that trying to cover an entire lifespan in +/- two hours is damn near impossible. Sure there may be a few exceptions but generally speaking, the handful of successful biopics only span a specific time line and didn’t go from birth to death (Ali, Lumumba, Last Days, etc).
Camille Claudel, 1915 just oozes with depression (which is ultimately what the film is about) and this specific scene, which is one continuous shot at one point, just hammers that home. This would be a perfect movie to watch for people who don't "get" or have the wrong idea about depression. It’s amazing what can trigger a dark feeling in someone. This scene shows how something seemingly harmless & non-threatening to one person can be a reminder of something dark & sad to another person.

12 Years A Slave is a powerful & important film but when it comes to style, I prefer the look & feel of Hunger & Shame (I'm just taking about style, everyone. Relax. I'm not downplaying 12 Years A Slave in any way).
The large majority of 12 Years A Slave's look felt like such a huge jump from McQueen's previous work, but this one scene brought me back to those polarizing quiet moments in Hunger (pretty much half of the movie) & Shame (Brendon watching his sister sing or that scene on the pier) that I love so much…

Who would have thought Lee Daniels had a dark & twisted side? I honestly did NOT see this part coming at all. I knew Matthew MacConaughey’s character in The Paperboy had some demons and there was a lot more to him than what we were led to believe, but I didn't expect anything like this S&M shit. Wow...
This scene, where MacConaughey bites off more than he can chew, could be analyzed in so many ways ranging from racial tension to repressed homosexuality.

Imelda Staunton in Another Year
Another Year is quietly brilliant. Mike Leigh novices or people more accustom to his more accessible works like Naked & Vera Drake might consider it “boring” or “tame” (which is what I heard a few people grumble to themselves after I first saw Another Year at the NY Film Festival back in 2010), but those that know Leigh’s work understand this film’s greatness. There’s plenty of scenes to chose from (I actually reached out to my Pink Smoke friend/Mike Leigh aficionado John Cribbs for suggestions). Given that therapy has become a big part of my life for the last two years, the two scenes with Imelda Staunton have a deeper meaning to me now. Sure, I’m not as miserable as her character obviously is…

Gerri (Ruth Sheen): What is the one thing that will improve your life other than sleeping?

Janet (Imelda Staunton): Different life

…I’ve still come to understand depression a lot better in recent years and can seriously empathize with this character who only has two quick scenes in the whole movie but leaves a lasting impression.

I still have a lot of mixed feelings about this movie overall. Carlos was made well and kept my interest the entire time, but given Olivier Assayas’ history with left-wing politics & pseudo-revolutionism, I seriously think he idolized this guy a little too much and made him out to be some “cool” Jason Bourne espionage agent as opposed to the terrorist he really is. Nevertheless, this scene, where Carlos loses it after being betrayed by one of his cohorts, is excellent and Olivier Assayas’s use of silence (combined with Edgar Ramirez’s heavy breathing) is one of the best scenes he’s ever directed in my opinion.

Honestly, the scene just before this part shown above is what I really wanted to highlight, but I don’t have this on DVD yet and it’s not up online so I couldn’t get the screen grab I wanted. But at the end of the day it all leads up to this moment (pictured above) where our young character decides he’s had enough and takes his own life (again – another scene I didn’t see coming)


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