There are always scenes we remember or talk about in movies of recent times that may not always come from the freshest of the bunch, in fact quite often they are worthy seeds of a simply rotten fruit. That said, of course, the greatest films this year are crammed with terrific set-pieces and moments and sequences, all I am trying to say is the vast array of scenes from 2016 you are about to read about comes from a varied bag of fruit. If you fancy a bit of repressed sexuality brawls, teddy humping, airport security nightmares, making an escape to see the game, then there is something for you.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy Fight (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
One does find it easier to believe that not everyone has read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice than one would believe that they haven’t imagined or envisaged that the stubborn lovebirds at the center of the story have a good old-fashioned scuffle. In the ridiculously grand, flesh-eating, tongue-in-cheek version of the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Elizabeth (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) actually do go head-to-head. Following his measly marriage proposal, she turns him down on the account of how he treated her sister – and as feelings are hurt, the fighting begins. Elizabeth kicks him full force before hurling books at him, and that is only the start of it as she grabs the fire poker. Some standard martial arts ensues, you know, she gets leg-swept, he gets round-housed. There’s also a bit of swift button removing on Darcy’s waistcoat from Elizabeth, before he slashes back at her revealing yet more cleavage – you see, there is still then some of the sexually driven tension from the book. The scene is rather hilarious and without boundaries, when the bedlam dies down, Mr. Darcy leaves, giving his best wishes in true Jane Austen fashion. Splendid.
Fuck Toy (I Smile Back)
To start, I didn’t much like this movie for reasons that would be ill-timed to mention and would most certainly send me into an uncontrollable rant. Let’s just say that although the vision was clear, the foundation was rather set in quicksand instead of concrete, leaving me drowning under a wave of questions about the birthplace of Laney’s demons. And then came the scene. THE scene. You know, the one where the heroine is on the floor, completely wasted, humping her child’s stuffed animal while said child is sleeping an arm’s length away. Now, I’m not one for frivolous shocking, I don’t like having my arm twisted into an open jaw just for the sake of it – but this… This was more than that. It went deeper than that. This wasn’t a bored housewife lost in her own mental, suburban insignificance, trying to find self-worth in sex, drugs and the rolling rocks of her promiscuity. This was a woman trying to fuck away a fucked up childhood, trying to reconnect with the girl within, fix her, plead with her for a clean slate, a do over. This was woman with a name, a face, a past and a present, a story and a history. This was Laney Brooks, flailing to keep afloat in the dark waters of a fading future, thrashing in the deep end with arms flapping frantically; while the world simply smiled at her and jovially waved back.
Escape To Victory (Mustang)
Mustang is certainly not a down-in-the-dumps execution, it’s tough-and-tumble subject matter is handled beautifully through vivid lighting and hopeful little faces. A merciful distraction from the confinements of the sisters comes through not just a form of escape but also a moment of genuine humor. Football-fan Lale refuses to be forbidden to see Trabzonspor’s current big game. The girls come together and make it happen, sneaking out, though they sadly miss the all-girls bus that would take them there, the kind truck driver Yasin is persuaded to help. The girls are overwhelmed, overjoyed by the sporting spectacle, moments of pure young euphoria ensue. However, just as the men in the family and local village come together to watch too, their aunt shockingly sees the girls in the crowd on the television. In a panic, the female relatives also join forces to firstly cut the power to the house – but then hilariously the entire village it seems. The whole sequence is great, a victory for the girls, providing a welcome funny moment, as well as portraying some real family loyalty in it’s wonderful story.
Calmed and Compounded (Next to Her)
What a pleasure to witness a film exceed expectations, not merely those calibrated prior to watching, but those built upon through the film itself. Asaf Korman’s Next to Her showcases its filmmakers’ skill in navigating consistently knotty, tricky emotional situations throughout, but, in its climactic sequence, it excels further at that which it has already shown such prowess in constructing. Chelli’s struggle in raising her mentally disabled adult sister Gabby is both calmed and compounded by her relationship to Zohar; her own emotional issues making the maintenance of two such intimate, complex bonds highly problematic for this young security guard. An assumption, its reasonability as reliable as it is disputable, leads to a development that seems to solve some of Chelli’s problems, before a scene near the end of the film shatters that supposed solution. No need to divulge a major spoiler, but Next to Her’s conclusion only adds to the knottiness of its emotional landscape, delivering a crushing blow that closes this excellent Israeli drama out on a powerful note of hollow despair.
Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen
Mephisto Waltz (Victoria)
When Victoria meets and then proceeds in hanging out with a bunch of unknown lads you can’t help feel there may be danger ahead. The entire film is a remarkable achievement for following through with this, while still remaining gripping and fairly unpredictable. Victoria’s attachment to one of the boys, Sonne, certainly carries some mutual attraction, and one scene between them is one of the more sedated but poignant of the movie. Stopping off at the cafe where she works, Victoria is challenged by Sonne to have a crack on the piano. She does so, and unbeknown to him, she plays Mephisto Waltz by Franz Liszt expertly and beautifully. Victoria claims she always wanted be a pianist until she was knocked back. Sonne is rightly impressed by her talent and dreams, as are we watching, a lovely, character-building scene in a movie rife with rapid action sequences and dark narrative passages.
Airport Rumble (Captain America: Civil War)
If you haven’t read the story-line that inspired the film version, I can sum it up simply: Those in favor of superheroes registration side with Iron Man, those opposed side with Captain America, and just about every superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe picks a side and beats the shit out of one another in highly profiled open fights. In the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Joe & Anthony Russo pull out heroes from the various instalments of this franchise (save Thor and the Hulk) and bring them to a brawl in a Belgian airport tarmac. Iron Man has War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Bettany) and two new additions in the form of Black Panther (Chadwick Boesman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in his corner, whereas Cap has Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) on his side. It’s an overload of characters in one big set piece, but the beauty of it is how effortlessly the filmmakers weave this fight together: it’s filmed clearly, we get to see all of these super-powered individuals show off what they can do, and there are some hilarious moments thought the whole sequence, with Rudd and Holland scoring the best lines through the whole thing. Mostly though: the airport battle is just a huge treat to watch and it’s the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater this year.
Jonathan Holmes @MisterBrown_23
Seven more to come shortly. Do not go anywhere.