Monday, 15 March 2010

2009 in Review: Good Beginnings

Each part of a film is important – I suppose. I don’t like to look at any particular part is most important, though most would say if it doesn’t start of well all bets are off. Still, it’s important to have a good beginning because sometimes it is nice to catch the audience off guard with a piercing start or some provocative mystery or sometimes just something fun to pique the interest. The thing with some films, I’m not sure what constitutes the beginning. Take Beauty & the Beast. I suppose the “beginning” is the prologue but if I had to decide I’d the say the beginning is everything up to the end of the song “Belle”. We’re a good ten minutes in, but it’s only then that the film really starts. So my “beginnings” my not be accurate, but bear with me. 
 Off the top of my head I’d credit Revolutionary Road with having my favourite beginning of 2008. The first meeting of our protagonists which is so different from what they become…
Now on to 2009…(click on the links for reviews where available)
#10: I Can Do Bad All By Myself: "Rock Steady"
Taraji is lip-syncing, but the ferocity of it as she gives us every movement with all of the attitude she can muster – and that’s very much, mind you. It’s a shame, the film doesn’t deserve her, but Perry knows to direct his musical numbers and the opening sizzles.
#9: Three Blind Mice: "Fun & Games"
Incongruous and strangely funny. Newton has perfect delivery and just listening to he and Schmitz bicker is hilarious. The writing is a strongpoint and the beginning is bitingly excellent.
#8: Antichrist: "Sex in the Shower"
I don’t love Von Trier and sometimes I think he just f***s with me for the fun of it. The scene is beautiful to look at, but sometimes I wonder what the point of the nudity is. What does it add? Damned if I know, but it’s still beautiful.
#7: An Education: "Credits"
What is the beginning? When I think about the beginning of this film I remember the credits. No film has hade more funs with just rolling credits than this in a while and just the snippets of the schooling (some of which are vaguely familiar from my school days, minus the all girl parts of course ;) handled well.
#6: Inglourious Basterds: "Somewhere in France..."
It’s another film I’m not sure where the beginning ends, I don’t think it’s fair to consider the entire chapter 1 as the beginning but even if we excise Landa this scene is so excellent only rivalled by Chapter 4. This is the reason I can’t love Basterds as much. Tarantino tantalises with the excellence in those two scenes and then gets gratuitous in others.
#5: Nine: "Roll Call"
This reminds me of Basterds since I take the beginning all the way to the end of the Overture. Few things are as lovely as that overture; Nicole Kidman’s silhouette is just sooooo beautiful. What an entrance and as the ladies enter regardless of how you feel about what comes after you can’t deny it’s just lovely.
#4: The Hurt Locker: "The Bomb"
 Is it wrong that I feel as if the film goes downhill from here? I still like it fine, but the beginning is just so good.
#3: Up: "Montage"
Up gives you in its beginning what could have made a beautiful movie in its own…and it goes waaaaaaay downhill afterwards. But I won’t grudge it too much, and the beginning is excellent.
#2: The Fantastic Mr. Fox: "On the Job" 
It opens so candidly and hearing Streep and Clooney banter is just hilarious. Sure Streep outshines him, but who doesn’t? She does the best reading of the “I’m pregnant” line. How I wish this was a liveaction film…
#1: Duplicity: "Do I Know You?"
Not a single film can match the beauty of this opening. Julia and Clive sizzle together and when you give her ammunition she lets loose with it. It’s a perfect setup to keep us guessing, and boy does it work. Pure magic.


Burning Reels said...

It has to be Inglourious really - incredible tension and iconic. Few do better opening scenes than Tarantino.

I also enjoyed the eroticism of the Broken Embraces opening.

Can't say I rate Duplicity that highly but would agree the opening playfulness was a highlight.

Darren said...

I loved the opening chapter of Inglourious Basterds and the opening of Up - surprised they weren't higher on your list. Great list, though.

Mike Lippert said...

I almost stopped reading at the mention of a Tyler Perry film. Happy to find that the rest of the picks were good ones.

Jude said...

Nine (in my book) has the BEST opening of any 2009 movie! I love the Overture. All those women, all that singing, gah!

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I don't think Quentin Tarantino would be Quentin Tarantino if he didn't open with a bang, throw in a few whimpers, then end with bigger, louder bangs. Such is his style, for better or for worse. But I'll agree that the opening interrogation scene is so amazing that it almost can't be topped.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

burning reels i really need to get around to seeing broken embraces

darren up is at three. that's mighty high for a film i'm on the fence about.

mike ha. thank god you didn't stop reading.

jude good call on nine, glad i'm not the only one championing the opening.

m. carter it is his style indeed, although kill bill has the fewest whimpers of all his films.

Nicholas Prigge said...

I loved that "Duplicity" opening too but did you know the studio made Tony Gilroy shoot it to make it a more "conventional" begining? I just think it's interesting that every now and then studio interference turns out to be a good thing.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

nicholas i didn't know that. i guess sometimes the studio knows what they're doing.