Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Side Orders #3

Okay, this isn't really an opening to a movie I like, but it does feature a favorite opening song of mine---I mean, it rocks, and you can't get it out of your head!! A real earworm. Anyway, this is sort of a fan vid for a movie called The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid (El sheriff y el pequeño extraterrestre in Italian!). I have an interesting little story about this movie under my belt, but for right now, just enjoy the theme to this 1979 romp starring Italian superstar Bud Spencer as a Southern U.S. sheriff trying to protect a little E.T. tyke (played by former Close Encounters of the Third Kind kid Cary Guffey) from evil, black-suited U.S. forces. (Do you think it's possible Spielberg just saw this on TV one day and said "Heyyy, I think I can make something of this...")

Oh, boy, does this screenplay pop. Paper Moon, Peter Bogdanovich's fine blend of retro-comedy trappings with disarmingly modern touches, also has one of the best scripts around. It's written by Alvin Sargeant, who's also provided the screenplays for Julia (Fred Zinnemann, 77), Dominick and Eugene (Robert M. Young, 88), Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 80), and the last two Spiderman movies by Sam Raimi. This scene, adapted from Joe David Brown's novel Addie Pray, is one of his career best. In it, Tatum O'Neal plays the watchful Addie, a worldwise moppet who meets up with conman Ryan O'Neal at her mother's funeral ("Baby, I bet your ass is still warm," O'Neal whispers into her grave). He agrees to drive her to an aunt in Missouri, but not before deciding to make a little money off the girl. What follows is the explosive, rightfully famous "Nehi and Coney Island scene."

I always think the best trailers are the ones in which at least some of the footage is specifically shot for the advert. Case in point: many of the the opening shots of this preview for Bob Fosse's All That Jazz don't appear in the movie (though they were obviously part of the shoot for the short opening credits sequence). Definitely in hindsight, such a trailer makes the movie AND the preview more special, if not more symbiotic. The editing here is superb, and it's already a wonderfully edited (by Alan Heim) movie! My advice is to see All That Jazz, even if you think you won't like it. Believe me, it's a weird trip--very sobering, energetic, cynical, and stunning to look at. A life-changing movie for me.

It's rare a movie has a scene in it that sticks out so perfectly and unusually as does this one from Michael Mann's The Insider (1999). What's unusual about it? Well, it stands out largely on the backs of two actors who barely have another moment in the film. Here, Russell Crowe is Jeffery Wigant, a "big tobacco" scientist about to take the stand to say that cigarette companies knew nicotine was addictive. But Crowe is in the background only here as two character actors--Wings Hauser as the tobacco lawyer, and Bruce McCall as the Wigant lawyer--battle it out, with McCall making a VERY memorable one-scene impression in The Insider, a film that gets better and better each time I see it.

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