Patrick’s Top Five Random Music Moments in Film

By contributor Patrick Zabriskie

In most films that aren’t musicals, the music is meant to bolster the action in a scene and add weight to it; occasionally though, there are moments in movies in which the music happens to be so powerful that it completely overwhelms the scene itself, and thus, the tail wags the dog.  These moments in which the action bolsters the music (and not the other way around) often come out of the blue and have little to no bearing on the plot, but they sure are entertaining.  Anyways, here’s my pick for the top five “Random Music Moments” in film.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ — ‘Wayne’s World’

Chances are if you’re a guy, more than once you’ve been in a car with your buddies, music blaring, singing along to your favorite tunes. 1992’s ‘Wayne’s World’ celebrates this beautifully as they perform a cappella to the latter half of Queen’s grandiose epic while driving through suburban Chicago.

‘Johnny B. Goode’ — ‘Back to the Future’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox1pkvNHZko (Embedding disabled; I don’t know why – The Editor)

80’s teenager Marty McFly gets sent back through time to the 50’s and must help his parents fall in love, save his own existence, and find a way to get back to the future, but not before picking up the electric guitar and jamming to an old rock and roll staple.

‘Dueling Banjos’ — ‘Deliverance’

A chance encounter sparks an impromptu banjo-guitar duel between an inbred hillbilly and a southern city-boy; and people have never looked the same way at the banjo since.

‘Descent into Mystery’ — ‘Batman’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGAKYVGuPqE&hd=1 (Embedding disabled; what the frak? – The Editor)

Tim Burton’s music here is so sweeping, dark, and epic that you almost forget that Batman is just driving back home with his girlfriend.  It ties with the title track for the best part of this amazing score.

‘Ecstasy of Gold’ — ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PwpOmjAu1M (Embedding disabled; where is the logic in this? – The Editor)

The bandit Tuco, aka “The Ugly” has come across a thousand-grave-strong cemetery with a fortune buried in just one of them.  So he spends the next three minutes running through it, looking for the name of that single grave, accompanied by some of the most lively, dramatic, and powerful music of composer Ennio Morricone’s career.  This piece is so awesome and enduring, in fact, that Metallica has used it to open up their concerts for the past twenty-five years.

 

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Patrick’s Top Ten Movies Just To Watch For Special Effects

By contributor Patrick Zabriskie

Let’s get one thing straight: You always should watch films for their story, for a strong narrative that offers some message or at least entertains. Unfortunately, not all films have a good story. Some movies just go for visual appeal, placing CGI, explosions, stunt scenes, or cool creature designs over plot; but occasionally it works. Anyways, if you’re going to watch a film just for the effects, these are the ones to watch.

10. Transformers (2007)


The plot is certainly sketchy. But hey, I do love me some fifty-foot robots waging all out war.

9. Robocop (1987)


It’s like ‘Lethal Weapon’ meets the ‘Terminator’. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, but Robocop just looks so darn awesome as he fights criminals with an array of machine guns and explosives.

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)


I think the word that sums this film up is “boring”. But at least the ships look really good and there’s a cool quasi-psychedelic cloud scene.

7. The Lost World (1997)


The original philosophy and social-commentary that Michael Crichton put into the novel isn’t captured particularly well in its big screen adaptation. The dinosaurs look mighty fine though.

6. Valley of Gwangi (1969)


This film starts out as a crappy western that then decides to rip-off ‘King Kong’ and become a crappy western with stop-motions dinosaurs. But like ‘The Lost World’ it still looks pretty cool, albeit in a very nostalgic way.

5. Independence Day (1996)


Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin specialize in making big budget B-movies, and this was certainly their most riveting. The dialogue and plot are corny and trite as they come, but ‘lots of jet-plane-on-alien-ship dogfights and fun looking aliens make this worthwhile.

4. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)


The moving message of the original ‘First Blood’ gets lost in the explosions and machine-gun fire of the sequel, but you tell me that explosive arrowheads and helicopter fights aren’t still fun to watch.

3. Destroy All Monsters (1968)


I didn’t say the effects had to be good, only that they were the reason to see the movie. The film reeks of cheesy, cheesy camp value, which some love and others shun. But no one can deny the wonderful spectacle of guys in rubber suits beating the crap out of each other, especially when it features the “Who’s Who” of giant monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and many, many more).

2. The Trip (1967)


Lots of strange visuals and music fill this cult-film about a man who takes LSD for the first time. I can only imagine that under the right “influence”, it must be quite an experience.

1. Tron (1982)


Okay, I admit this one actually had a pretty good story, but the real reason you saw this was the ground breaking CGI that brought this arcade/futuristic world to life. Nothing like it was seen before, and in the nearly thirty years since it’s release, its visuals still have a certain charm. If there ever was a movie to see just for special effects, its ‘Tron’.

Patrick’s Top Five Villainesses

Usually the antagonists in films are men. But every so often, a women comes along in a film who’s so cruel, nasty, and just plain evil that you can’t help but say, “Wow, what a b****!” Anyways, here’s my pick for the best (worst) villainesses of all time.

5. Dr. Elsa Schneider – ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989)

She was such a sexy love-interest for ‘Indy. Too bad she was a double-crossing Nazi.

4. Rossa Klebb – ‘From Russia With Love’ (1963)

By far the single most troublesome (and ugly) woman in James Bond’s life, she spends most of the film trying to kill him. Kuddos to the poison-tipped shoes though.

3. The Alien Queen – ‘Aliens’ (1986)

One ugly, disgusting creature. She’s got two mouths, a fifty-foot egg sack, and the ability to summon other aliens at her whim. Not only that, but she tries to kill the film’s little girl (gasp!). Thank goodness Ripley (and a military-grade power suit) was there to save the day.

2. The Wicked Witch of the West – ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939)

She’s a witch, she’s got an army of flying monkeys, she can wield fire, and she’s pure evil. Need I say more?

1. Mrs. Robinson – ‘The Graduate’ (1967)

She’s manipulative, creepy, and slightly insane. She seduces Dustin Hoffman only to turn psycho on him when he starts dating her daughter. She’s as deranged and frightening as they come, and there’s a look in her eyes that keeps me awake at night. No villainess has been more disturbing, conniving, or just plain evil.

Patrick’s Top Ten Directors (Without An Order)

Well, apparently I’ve been called out on the Silver Mirror for a top ten directors.  Here we go.  My Top Ten Directors (again in no particular order):

Sergio Leone

I feel a little guilty about stealing a little of James’ top ten thunder here, but it’s a proven fact that Sergio Leone is made of pure awesome.  His movies are violent, comical, and (surprisingly) touching.  He doesn’t allow himself to get boxed in by labels or genres.  Even if you’re not a fan of spaghetti westerns or gangster films, you can’t help but watch his movies and smile just a little.

Hayao Miyazaki

This man is the Steven Spielberg of animated films.  Movies like ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Princess Mononoke’ show powerful story telling and an incredibly beautiful sense of art, all the while delivering a powerful and yet not anvilicious message.  He shows that animation isn’t just for kids, it’s for adults too.

Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner knows how to make a good movie.  Well, as a matter of fact, he knows how to make a lot of different kinds of good movies.  He’s done everything from horror movies like ‘Misery’, to dramas like a ‘Few Good Men’, to fantasies like ‘The Princess Bride’, to family movies like ‘Stand by Me’, to comedies like ‘This is Spinal Tap’.  Few directors have such a resume.

Akira Kurosawa

The excellence of Akira Kurosawa cannot be understated.  He is the mastermind behind Japanese epics full of action, slow motion, quick cuts, and badass samurais.  He’s not too well known in the U.S. of A., but he ought to be, considering that such famous films as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’ wouldn’t have existed without his work.

Ridley Scott

What can I say?  This is the man who made ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’, and ‘Gladiator’.  He’s a master of despotic story telling that still shows a surprising amount of action.  Let’s hope his next film, ‘Robin Hood’, lives up to his other classic works.

John Carpenter

John Carpenter is a master of horror and suspense.  He has scared audiences to death with films like ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Thing’.  He’s also responsible for the arguably coolest character in the history of film, ‘Escape from New York’s’ Snake Plisken (“Call me Snake”). Badass!

John McTiernan

I think action directors are very underrated.  John McTiernan helped resurrect the then-ridiculous genre in the late 80’s and early 90’s with such classics as ‘Die Hard’, ‘Predator’, and ‘The Hunt For Red October’.  He’s made his fair share of bad films, but when it comes to action films, you can count on him to deliver.

Woody Allen

Woody Allen is great about telling very personal stories that also manage to make you laugh your ass off.  His insights are unique and yet relatable at the same time.  His movies about everyday people caught up in the struggle of day-to-day life are forever entertaining.

Clint Eastwood

Not only is he a badass actor, but a master director as well.  He shows seemingly hard-hearted people slowly learn to open up to others, and it’s a powerful effect.  Films like ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘Gran Torino’ mix subtly and raw power.  As the Smashing Pumpkins might put it, he is a bullet with butterfly wings.

Don Bluth

Don Bluth dominated my childhood. Films like ‘The Land Before Time’ and ‘The Secret of NIMH’ I still love to this day.  There’s a certain mysticism he employs in his films that is, well, empowering.  The characters in his movies are always just a little more real than in other animated stories, and it makes them that more relatable and really less “kiddy”.  That’s the great staple of his animated films.  They aren’t just for kids, they really are for all ages.

James’ Five Most Anticipated Films Of 2010

Hey folks.  Here’s the five movies due to be released this year that I am most looking forward to.  Pretty much what the title said.  Oh, and they’re in no particular order.

The A-Team


Here’s the why. I haven’t seen any of director Joe Carnahan’s stuff, but I like the look of this. I’m a massive fan of the old show, and I sure hope Joe is too. At least he picked the right actors. I think. TBR June 11th.

Tron Legacy


Here’s the why. The original ‘Tron’ was strangely awesome, mostly due to its leading cast. That’s why the new one has my attention, as they brought back Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. The User abides.  TBR December 17th.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Here’s the why. Jerry Bruckheimer, producing, knows what makes a genre movie work.  Judging by the trailer, they went as all out on this one as they did on the ‘Pirates’ movies, in terms of casting and visual impact, so it may be the first really decent — or good — video game adaptation.  Well, I’ve heard some decent things about other video game adaptations, but if this is one is really fun, it will probably be the benchmark. TBR May 28th.

Inception

Here’s the why. It’s Christopher Nolan’s latest “mid-Batman” movie.  ‘Cuz, you know, he made ‘Batman Begins’, then ‘The Prestige’, which was quite good, then ‘The Dark Knight’, now ‘Inception’, then ‘Batman 3’ or whatever.  I’m thinking it’s going to run along the same kind of quality. TBR July 16th.

Iron Man 2


Here’s the why. ‘Cuz it’s just so cool. TBR May 7th.

Yeah, I know these are all action movies, and most of them have a sci-fi/fantasy bent.  I’m an 18-year-old male who enjoys things like shooting guns, smoking pipes and wishing I had a girlfriend.  Sue me.

James’ Top Five Film Composers

Sound, as the saying goes, is half the picture.  It’s a critical part of any good movie, and I’ve got my list of favorite composers here, once again in no particular order.

Sound good?

John Williams

Unleashing the bald power of music.  (Somebody stop the puns!)

Unleashing the bald power of music. (Somebody stop the puns!)

Here’s the why. Anybody who can write ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Superman’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jaws’ etc. etc. without a serious degradation in awesome is too awesome to degrade.  I’m sure the man is a saint.  God bless him.

Howard Shore

Ssh.  Mr. Shore is listening to the music of the angels.

Ssh. Mr. Shore is listening to the music of the angels.

Here’s the why. Mr. Shore was so kind as to provide us with the operatic and extremely leitmotif-errific ‘The Lord of the Rings’ scores for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the trilogy, but you should listen to it as much as you can, because I’m pretty sure it’s on loan from the seraphim.

Danny Elfman

...

...

Here’s the why. He’s fantastic, and suitably whimsical to enhance the heck out of everything Tim Burton (or anyone else) does.  His ‘Batman’ score is beyond the impossible.

Bernard Herrmann

The dog could be a bomb, and Bernard Herrmann's music could subtly tip you off either way.

The dog could be a bomb, and Bernard Herrmann's music could subtly tip you off either way.

Here’s the why. He was one of the greatest film composers ever to grace our ears, and helped train a young John Williams. Noted for his Hitchcock scores, among many others. Currently a part of a black-on-black ops team of superhero celebrities. R.I.P., Bernard Herrmann.

John Barry

The one on the left, standing trial for knowingly breaking the awesome limit in thirty countries.

The one on the left, standing trial for knowingly breaking the awesome limit in thirty countries.

Here’s the why. He composed 11 out of 22 James Bond soundtracks, and though he may or may not have written the James Bond theme, he’s still well ubiquitous with the secret agent. He’s just an all around master.

James’ Top Ten Directors (Without An Order)

Sorry about the long hiatus, folks, but I kind of lost my drive to write.  The good news is, I did regain my drive to screenwrite, and I’ve got a solid idea progressing nicely.

It occurred to me that a major obstacle to the success of this blog is the lack of variety in articles.  Sure, we’ve got reviews and the ‘Elements’ series, but what about top-tens and other die hard blog tropes?  Ain’t nothing wrong with a good trope.  So, here we go.  My top ten favorite directors.  Minus the numbers one expects from such things.

Steven Spielberg

Spielberg shades his eyes because they're too bright for you.  Hence the hat, even without the glasses.

Spielberg shades his eyes because they're too bright for you. Hence the hat, even without the glasses.

Here’s the why. He made ‘Raiders’, ‘Close Encounters’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Jaws’, and your mother’s amazing plasticine face.

Christopher Nolan

I think he's an accomplshed actor, too.  Didn't he play a James Bond villain at one point...?  No?

I think he's an accomplished actor, too. Didn't he play a James Bond villain at one point...? No?

Here’s the why.  He saved Batman’s batfilm batexistence batfrom bathell.  He’s really good at screwing with your mind, even in relatively straightforward movies like ‘The Dark Knight’.  On the extreme end of intentional mindscrews, of course, is ‘Memento’, which is referenced in way too many screenwriting books. C’mon, people, we’re novices, if we’re reading your book looking for advice, don’t mock us with a challenge to repaint the Mona Lisa.  Also, Christopher Nolan is the only fellow I would trust to remake ‘Blade Runner’.

Quentin Tarantino

That's the German three.

That's the German three.

Here’s the why. Quentin cares enough about his stories that he lets them gestate for ridiculous periods of time.  That way, he doesn’t rely on formula, but delivers a compelling and original story that breaks a lot of “rules” and yet somehow still works.

Peter Jackson

Before

Before

After.

After.

Here’s the why. He directed ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, which kicked everybody’s ass, except J.R.R. Tolkien himself, who was on the moon fighting vampires when it was released. Mr. Jackson has since lost a lot of girth and become a Hollywood heavyweight, shepherding up-and-coming directors and projects, like Neill Blomkamps’ ‘District 9’, which was like the ’80s sci-fi craze had come back to life with a blood transfusion from Jason Bourne. So he’s got that going for him.

J.J. Abrams

He is not clueless.  Merely geeked the heck out.

He is not clueless. Merely geeked the heck out.

Here’s the why. He’s great at fusing genre films with solid, emotional stories.  Sometimes too good.  I didn’t expect the opening of ‘Mission: Impossible III’ to be nearly as traumatizing as it was, but that’s okay.

Alfred Hitchcock

Nobody does it better...

Nobody does it better...

Here’s the why. Hitchcock represents the majority of exposure pretty much anyone has to the silent era and its powerful ‘show, don’t tell’ ethos. Thanks to this training as a silent film director, Hitch kicks lots of ass in the suspense department, and his stuff is really memorable.  Every suspense movie, ever, is compared to Hitch.  Not to his movies, no, to the man himself.  Why is he laughing in that photo?  Why?  Why!?

Brad Bird

Let's see... Bird pun... Bird pun...

Let's see... Bird pun... Bird pun...

Here’s the why. Brad Bird is another fellow who can blend genre with emotional, original story. So far, his works have been fantastic animated movies, such as ‘The Iron Giant’, and Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Ratatouille’, but he may be making his first foray into live action soon. Whatever the case, Brad Bird’s imagination is sure to soar.  Ha.  Ha.

Sergio Leone

OVIEIf he looks fazed it's only because he spent all his energy making THE BEST MOVIES EVER.

If he looks fazed it's only because he spent all his energy making THE BEST MOVIES EVER

Here’s the why. Sergio Leone is the godfather of the Spaghetti Western subgenre.   Since he’s passed away, there’s no point in making Spaghetti Westerns anymore.  Unless you’re Quentin Tarantino or something.

Duncan Jones

This is what happens when you put out the fire with gasoline.

This is what happens when you put out the fire with gasoline.

Here’s the why. He directed ‘Moon’, the best sci-fi film of 2009.  Strangely, he’s David Bowie’s son.  Sure, this guy’s new, but he’s awesome and he looks to be building a sweet sci-fi series.

Tim Burton

How dare you, Tim.  I used to hate your movies.  Who do you think you are?  Get out.  You misfit, you.

How dare you, Tim. I used to hate your movies. Who do you think you are? Get out. You misfit, you.

Here’s the why. He’s quirky.   He’s got scissors for hands.  He was not permitted to eat sweets as a child — because his father was (not) Christopher Lee.  His movies are bizzare.   I don’t like the ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’.   I do love ‘Batman’.  Why, Tim?  Why do I admire you, so?

And, that’s my top ten.  Patrick should be coming out with his soon.  Very soon.  You hear that, Patrick?  WRITE THE DAMN LIST.

What?  Oh, okay.  Bye for now.