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>>CineFix Host: For this week’s list, we
want to take a break from ranking things and spend some time appreciating
the beauty and the details. Pointing out some of the subtle
ways films speak to us in this little moments you might
have otherwise missed. These are five unranked brilliant
little moments in great films.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: Cinema is
a distinctly active visual media, where novels have the ability to dedicate
pages of their story to the internal and the complex, cinema is forced
to find a way to show it happen. So one of the things we really wanted
to highlight with this list is how clever film makers have found
ways to visualize the un-visual. How films managed to
reach beyond the surface, how they render the internal external
in a clear and understandable way. And what gave us this idea
was a tiny little moment from Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon. When the green destiny sword is
stolen by a masked thief and the thief is track back to Governor Yu,
Shu Lien sets out quietly investigate the Governor’s household,
including his suspicious daughter Jen. Now Shu Lien has already
fought the thief and she already notice the thief’s
particular martial arts skills. Then we get this sequence and
something important happens.>>Jen: [FOREIGN]>>CineFix Host: Without saying
a single word, we get to watch Shu Lien realize that Jen is a gifted martial
artist and possibly the thief. In just a few simple shots,
Ang Lee has rendered realization visual. Now, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. He’s already established
Shu Lien’s suspicion but let’s unpack this brief moment and
how it works. After establishing the scene,
he cuts to a closeup of the brush tip and what starts as a rather ordinary static
shot lingers longer than you might expect. Devoting extra time to gliding
along with the brush stroke. This extra time cues us to mark
the beauty and rhythm of the writing and pay a little closer attention. The film cuts to the top of the brush and
Jen’s hand holding it. Two long close-ups of different
parts of the same object in succession ,which will be a relatively
unusual coincidence in a well-made film. Of course, it’s not a coincidence. A well placed close-up doesn’t
just show us an arbitrary detail, it shows us a specific one. And in a place where we might
not ordinarily expect it, the close-up insists upon itself. It asks us to consider why
we’re watching this close-up, giving an ordinary object
extraordinary importance. Not only that, but this second shot
specifically excludes the brush. We are focusing on a handle and how it
is held, its movement, its precision, separate from its use as
a writing instrument. With this amount of time dedicated to it,
it’s hard for the audience not to start
making connections. Finally to complete the sequence,
we cut to a medium close up of Shu Lien shifting her eyes from the brush to Jen,
revealing the previous shot to be a POV. This extra importance we’ve
given to the brush tip and the brush handle that wasn’t just us. We can conclude that the importance
with which we regarded that object is the same importance
with which Shu Lien did. And in three simple shots we see
that Shu Lien is paying extra special attention to the way
Jen holds her brush. And with a little inference has realized
that Jen knows how to wield a sword. Of course as an added bonus and
if anyone hasn’t picked up on it yet, check out what Shu Lien says next.>>Shu Lien: [FOREIGN]
>>CineFix Host: What she’s really saying here,
is I now know you know how to use a sword. And from the look on Jen’s face we’re
not the only one’s who pick up on it. Now while we’re talking realization,
Crouching Tigers reminds us of another one, one that’s even
more technical and precise. Because while there’s no denying that
the wonderful human performances of Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang help us
along, could a film show us realization in the mind of a character
who has no emotion at all? And it obviously can, as seen in the lip-reading scene
from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When Bowman and Poole go into an insulated
pod to talk about their concerns over their artificially intelligent computer
system HAL, without it overhearing, things don’t quite go as planned.>>Dave: You know another
thing just occurred to me.>>Frank: Hm?
>>Dave: Well, as far as I know, no 9,000 computer’s
ever been disconnected.>>Frank: No 9,000 computer’s
ever fouled up before.>>Dave: That’s not what I mean.>>Frank: Hm?>>Dave: I’m not so
sure what he’d think about it.>>CineFix Host: First the set up, the two astronauts talk privately
about their concerns about HAL. And traditionally they would be
the focal point of the shot but the drop dead centered deep focus framing
of HAL along with their constant looks towards him keep us ominously
shifting our focus to him throughout the entire conversation
an unblinking and ever present threat. And then we cut a closeup on HAL, the
sound is dead silence, eerie silence, and there’s something odd about this. At first it seems like we’re getting
this close-up off of the astronaut’s reference to him.>>Dave: I’m not so
sure what I think about it.>>CineFix Host: But if we were still
operating out of their perspective, we would expect to still hear
their voices in the background, as if this was their POV. But we don’t, and
we soon realize it isn’t. We’ve shifted perspectives
to HAL’s point of view, which immediately signals to us
that something else is going on. And when the shot cuts again, we see what? HAL is doing something, from his POV, we see that he’s following the entire
conversation and no, we can’t hear it but the ultra-tight framing on their mouths
tells us he’s focusing on their lips. It’s an unusual composition. It’s not how normal people
experience a conversation, either in real life or cinema. And this traditional breach lets us know
that something different is going on, which allows us to infer that
he’s reading their lips. Imagine this shot if it were just
a close-up, panning back and forth between their entire faces, we
would read it an entirely different way. It might seem like HAL was struggling and
failing to follow the conversation, helplessly looking back and forth, but by singling in on exactly what matters,
their lips, we catch the real meaning. Next we wanna take a look at
Inglourious Basterds’ pub scene. When Lieutenant Hicox goes to a German
tavern to meet with an undercover Bridget von Hammersmark, the Gestapo Major Dieter
Hellstrom becomes suspicious of his accent and invites himself over to investigate. And while Hicox manages to
explain away the accent, something else happens to give him away.>>Hellstrom: [FOREIGN]
>>Hicox: [FOREIGN]>>Hellstrom: [FOREIGN]>>Bartender: [FOREIGN]>>Hellstrom: [FOREIGN]>>Bridget: [FOREIGN]>>Hicox: [FOREIGN]>>CineFix Host: Sometimes it’s helpful to think of every
shot as a close-up. Even the medians,
even the two-shots, even the wides. That’s because a director truly in control
of his medium, is trying to show you exactly what he wants you to see at any
given moment, nothing more, nothing less. If you’re suppose to pay attention to
just one thing, exclude everything else. If you want to connect two things,
put them together in a frame. If you want to look at a big picture,
you put it all in the frame, and this way a two shot is a close
up a relationship and a wide shot is a close up of an entire room and a close
up, is a close up of, well, the close up. So, how does that play out here? Well, it primarily hinges on
one single shot, this one.>>CineFix Host: Breaking
this moment down into plain English as we come to understand it,
Major Hellstrom notices Lieutenant Hicox’s distinctly English gesture and
realizes he is not a German after all. Instead of breaking it into
three different shots, like Lee and Kubrick,
Tarantino goes for it in one. The shot begins as a closeup of
his fingers holding up three, and then turns into an over the shoulder on
Hellstrom as he looks between Hicox’s fingers and his face,
bringing the conversation to a dead stop. Notice how this one shot starts with
Hellstrom’s dramatic head snap. His attention shifts rapidly and obviously, letting us know that
something important has happened. Note also that Tarantino’s over the
shoulder here provides actual information about what Hicox’s is doing by being wide
and in focus enough to read, as opposed to the over the shoulder earlier in the scene
that provides far less information. This keeps us thinking about the dramatic
relationship between the two men as opposed to just Hellstrom. We’re also cued into the shift in
the nature of the scene by the immediate rhythmic and sonic change. What was previously a scene of
snappy back and forth dialogue.>>Bartender: [FOREIGN]
>>Hellstrom: [FOREIGN]>>CineFix Host: Turns into one of silence.>>CineFix Host: All we can hear
are glasses clinking, water pouring, and a low murmur in the background. While Tarantino’s directing choices here
are certainly more efficient than our previous example’s, we’re not sure they’re
clear enough to sufficiently convey specifically that Major Hellstrom has
noticed Hicox’s hand gesture to any but the savviest audience
members on a first viewing. While we certainly notice and
abrupt shift, and understand immediately that the jig is up
and Hellstrom is now a dangerous enemy. And this is probably all that
Tarantino was going for, the how is better
explained later in dialog.>>Lt. Aldo Raine: How’d
the shooting start?>>Bridget: Englishman, gave himself away.>>Lt. Aldo Raine: How’d he do that?>>Bridget: He ordered three glasses. He ordered three glasses,
that’s the German three.>>CineFix Host: This verbally pings us
and asks us to recall the previous shot, which we do because
attention was drawn to it. But it wasn’t quite enough of a breach
of expectation at the time to draw us into a fully aware realization. Enough of realizations,
what about another supposed unfilmable? How about a decision? In The Godfather, Michael has volunteered
to kill a rival of his family and the dirty cop works for
him during an apparent truce talk. Michael has never worked for the family
before, nor has he assassinated anyone and while the plan was for him to go to the
bathroom, retrieved the planted gun and come out shooting, he doesn’t.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: After a brilliant moment
of indecision we don’t have time to unpack here, but
extra credit if you do it in the comments, Micheal sits down into a simple over
the shoulder shot at the table. But once included shoulder connecting
him with Micheal and pointing toward the dialog between them, soon becomes
a clean single as the camera pushes in.>>Speaker 11: Too bad, [FOREIGN] [NOISE].>>CineFix Host: In keeping with
the concept of every shot a closeup, by excluding the other
characters at the table, the film is signaling to us that
they’re not important right now. The plot isn’t happening with them,
it’s just happening with Michael. And pushing centrally inwards reinforces,
intensifies, and lets us know that this is intentional. It makes our close up more close up,
it asks us to focus more, to exclude more, to be distracted less. It invites us to heighten our focus on the
subject in exclusion of the environment. This leads us inwards, and
to Pacino’s performance. Here, it’s all in the eyes. Now, I don’t know if it’s fair to call
this performance realistic or not. It’s certainly believable, no one’s questioning whether
Pacino is convincing us here. But does someone making a decision move
their eyes like this in real life? I’m not sure. It’s hard to remember seeing anyone do
this, and harder still to do it yourself. What it is, is expressive. Watch it without his eyes and
see how much of a difference it makes.>>Speaker 11: [FOREIGN]
>>CineFix Host: They signal to us inner movement, the wheels are turning,
he’s deciding something. And it doesn’t take much effort for
the audience to intuit what. And finally there’s the sound.>>Speaker 11: [FOREIGN]
>>CineFix Host: What if we extended our concept of close
up to more than the image? What if we do a close up with sound too? What if we do a sound push in? As the camera moves closer, Sollozzo’s
dialogue is quieter, almost further away. Even if it were in our language,
we hardly be able to hear it anymore. We’re no longer paying attention
to the words just like Michael is. And not only are the words not the point, the fact that the words aren’t
the point is the point. Coppola is drawing our attention
to Michael’s inattention. And then, there’s the subway sound,
overwhelming the soundscape of the scene. A sonic close-up of a pot bubbling over. The unrealistic loudness and grating
nature of the sound both intellectually signaling a climax to his thought and
emotionally pushing us into dis-ease. Putting it all together, you have
a handful of simple signifier’s of film language combining to communicate
the complex notion of Michael deciding to murder two men, all without
a single word of expository dialogue.>>[SOUND]
>>CineFix Host: So we lied a little bit when we said film was just a visual medium, it’s a sonic one too. Although, people often forget sound in
favor of its flashier brother image, it’s often just as important,
if not more so. Consider some of the low
budget found footage movies, like Paranormal Activity or
Blair Witch Project. The visuals are shaky and low-fi,
and occasionally incomprehensible. Shot for thousands,
not millions of dollars. When acquired by studios for wide release, the same studios pump a couple
million more into polishing the film. But it doesn’t go to the picture, no, that
money goes to making the sound tolerable. Given a choice between two films, one with
poor picture and good sound, and the other vice versa, you’ll find most gravitating
towards the better sounding film. So for our last little feature at, we wanna look at how sound can bypass
the logical, the intellectual, and as we hinted at with The Godfather, communicate
with us on a visceral and emotional level. To paraphrase famous sound
editor Walter Murch, while visuals tend to knock on our
front door and get our attention, sounds sneaks in through the back and
acts on us without our knowledge. And one of the most visceral examples
of this we can remember, happens in 127 Hours, when after five agonizing days
of being trapped under a boulder, Aron Ralston finally cuts through his arm.>>[MUSIC]>>Aron Ralston: [SOUND]
Aah!>>CineFix Host: How does a film
communicate intense pain? Sure, you can show someone
else experiencing it and count on our empathy to
fill in the blanks, but there’s a limit to the discomfort
that our mere neurons can create. So first, watch the moment when Aaron cuts through
his arm without sound, visuals only.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: Kind of mediocre, right? We know he’s in pain but
we can’t fight experience with it. Now, give it a watch with sound.>>[MUSIC]>>Aron Ralston: Aah!>>CineFix Host: It is much different,
isn’t it? You’re reaction probably range from mild
shock to actual anxiety to significant physical discomfort, chills,
wincing and turning away.>From a sound, our bodies are bizarrely hard wired to
respond vicerally to different sounds.>From the anxiety that comes with
the inaudible sub base rumble, to the spine chilling response
to nails on a chalkboard, sounds seem to speak more to our
emotions than to our intellects. While Crouching Tiger’s concepts
take time for us to understand, Aron Ralston’s pain is instant because
sounds don’t communicate concept and symbols so much as they
communicate feelings and moods. Consider 2001’s eerie silence,
Inglorious Bastards tense clinking, the Godfather’s roaring subway and now
127 Hours jarring electric nerve, shock. We don’t watch them and think to
ourselves, hm, this silence is eerie now, which means something bad is afoot. Because we don’t have to,
we intuit it directly, which when combined with the logical
communication of a series of images, makes up one hell of a cinematic toolkit. You like this kind of list? Wanna see more like it? Any ideas for
other lists you’d like us to do? Seriously, we’re running
out of ideas here. Let us know in the comments below and
be sure to subscribe for more Cinefix movie lists.>>[MUSIC]

21 thoughts on “5 Brilliant Moments In Film

  1. The inglorious bastards and Pacino were pathetic and I think you have to be an American to think that this is Brilliant Moments In Film, indeed?

  2. "well if this is it old boy, i hope you don't mind if i go out speaking the kings…"

  3. I actually think the lip reading scene is a rare misstep for Kubrick. In a movie filled with extreme subtlety that challenges the viewer to pay attention and interpret layers upon layers of subtext, the scene is out of place. When, much later in the film, HAL tells Bowman that he read their lips, it falls completely flat. Bowman is shocked but we, the audience, cannot share his surprise because we already had the "twist" handed to us on a plate. Also, had the scene not revealed that HAL was spying on the astronauts' private conversation, it would have kept his true nature hidden for longer, making his reveal as a rogue entity that much more impactful.

  4. The genius with this sort of camera work is that we understand it subconciously st first and only when we think about it do we realise why its perfect

  5. 10:50 I feel like I do this a lot when I'm stressed out, and I make myself stressed out a lot, so it's easy to keep track of, lol. My mind feels like it's shutting itself off, and it sometimes feels like paralysis, and my eyes are the only thing I have control of. 100% brilliant performance from Pacino.

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