Features

The Best Scene (and the Worst)

Schwarzbaum selects this year's best scene in film

The best scene: man and refrigerator in Flight
In a superb white-knuckle drama about a plane crash and a human nosedive, the most breathtaking action sequence is a wordless one involving a hotel mini-fridge, a tiny bottle of booze, and a man standing stock-still with his life in the balance. Will he open the bottle? And if he does, will he drink the contents? Nooo! Don't do it! we pray, sick with knowing that we're helpless to protect the man from himself. The scene is so finely constructed by director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter John Gatins, and star Denzel Washington that just the whir of the refrigerator motor kicking in sounds as loud as an explosion, and the appliance light glows like an entrance to hell.

And the worst: man and urine stream in Trouble With The Curve
Clint Eastwood has made a late-career specialty out of playing grumpy old men — broken-down loners and growlers who want everyone off the damn lawn. It is arrrghhh! unfortunate that, in playing a broken-down, growling loner of a baseball scout in Trouble With the Curve, Eastwood is first seen at a toilet bowl, talking to either his urine or his penis (reasonable people can disagree as to which) in an effort to get his day off to a good start with a hearty pee. Earlier this year at the Republican National Convention, the fellow famously talked to an empty chair. Get this man some friends!

Flight
WHIP'S POV--
Among the glass and steel office buildings, Whip spots a church spire. A simple cross is perched on top.
Whip looks at the church, deep in thought.
Then suddenly
We HEAR A HUM. THE GENTLE HUM OF AN ELECTRIC MOTOR.
WHIP turns from the window and scans the room
It's the MINI-BAR refrigerator -- HUMMING to life.
Whip stares at the gleaming black box. The WHIR of the motor seems to get LOUDER. Calling Whip. Beckoning him...
Whip looks at the fridge. His face is blank, His eyes tell us nothing. Then
Whip steps toward the box.
CLOSE ON THE MINI-BAR.. Whip swings open the door.
WHOOSH -- OUR DARK SCREEN LIGHTENS
COLORS SPARKLE as a cadre of tiny liquor bottles GLOW like jewels in a chest.
WHIP stares at the "glimmering gems" for a long, long time -- vodka, gun, wine, bourbon. The bottles SHIMMER -- AMBER, CRYSTAL, EMERALD, RUBY.
WHIP reaches for a frosted vodka mini bottle -- he gently pinches the neck of the bottle and lifts it out of the fridge. He holds up the mini vodka and considers it.
Now Whip slowly removes the stopper and smells the White Whiskey. He looks at the bottle once more, then slowly twists the tiny cap back on.— With a look of solemn resignation, Whip places the frosted mini bottle on top of the fridge and walks away.
WE STAY CLOSE ON THE BOTTLE. The CAMERA FOCUSES on the small bottle as a small droplet of condensation runs down its side -- ever so slowly, slowly. Then suddenly... WHAP!!! In a flash, WHIP SCOOPS THE VODKA OUT OF THE FRAME!!
Originally posted Dec 28, 2012 Published in issue #1239-1240 Dec 28, 2012 Order article reprints
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