This week, people who live in places with good theatres, are going to get to enjoy the latest Tom Hardy effort, Locke. As far as I can tell it’s Tom Hardy on the phone fixing life problems in one night while taking a leisurely drive around town. That sounds amazing, mainly because it’s simple, but mostly because it’s Tom Hardy just talking to me calmly. I think it would do good as a late night film on TV that will lull me to sleep and I can imagine how his voice was digitized and manipulated to be the Bane joke it is today, I’m really glad we’re past that gag.
Anyways, it made me wonder about cars in film; and more importantly non chase scenes in films in cars. Cars are a big part of the world culture, but for the most part they’re used as cut aways in transport or straight up crazed action scenes. However, this week I wanted to highlight some great scenes in films that take place in cars (that aren’t chase scenes).
9. “Maybe it’s the power trying to come on?”; Jurassic Park (1993)
Yes we all remember the T-Rex chasing Goldblum down the path and people shouting them to go faster. However, what we all remember more than that is the water vibrating and being told to pay close attention. I keep remembering how much time they spent just sitting in the cars just waiting to see what’ll happen and as the tension builds it gets more and more glorious on screen for us.
8. “This is bat country”;
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Remember that time that Johnny Depp gave Spider-Man a lift to Las Vegas? I do. It was in bat country. We all adore Gilliam’s drug infused story of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo adventures to Las Vegas, and more that recognizing his insanity as he slips in an out of inner to outer monologue due to his own drugged filled state.
7. “Pull up here”;
Gun Crazy (1950)
Earlier this year, with True Detective running and a great long take being revealed to us all half way through the season, the internet ran into a big panic filled nerd rage over long takes in cinema and this one kept coming up. It’s great. After about forty or so minutes of build up we finally get to the first real bank robbery and we don’t ever really get to see it. We’re stuck outside with Annie as she’s in the car waiting for Barton to come out with the money. This nice continuous shot from the backseat of the car helps add tension to what is already a very tense moment.
6. Shot Marvin in the Face;
Pulp Fiction (1992)
A reminder of all the things I love about Tarantino filmmaking. It’s holding us with a tangential conversation about Cops and how it isn’t always what you think it means and book-ending it all with someone being shot in the face to the point of a blood filled explosion in the car. It’s what Tarantino does best. Distracts us from the big money-shot to the point of being excited and shocked by it when it happens.
5. “Could’ve been a contendor”;
On the Waterfront (1954)
I forget sometimes how great just letting actors role with scenes can be. Here we see Brando explain clearly to his brother what it was he did to him. It wasn’t about anything other than the fact that he was the one that did it to him. He asked him to dive thinking it was okay, but it wasn’t. It showed him that the world wasn’t fit for him and that didn’t just lose him on money or fame, it lost him on life.
4. “How about some Bohemian Rhapsody?”; Wayne’s World (1992)
I actually can honestly remember when I first saw this movie and this scene has always been the one that stuck out. Also, I hadn’t ever heard Queen before and had no clue what this music was. I assumed it was a fake song they made up for the movie. Cut to me more than a decade later discovering Queen and enjoying it even more.
3. “You’re damn unlucky”;
I Saw the Devil (2010)
Remember when I said I wanted to focus on non chase scenes. I consider this not counting. Here we’re treated to one of those special kung-fu-esque moments in cinema where in a tight space it becomes even more glorious to watch our hero (or in this case villain) fight his way out of a corner.
2. Trunk Love;
Out of Sight (1998)
About a month ago the internet was a buzz with conversations about sexy films (with the release of Nymphomaniac). I was touting Take This Waltz and now somehow I’m saddened that I forgot this amazing film by Soderbergh. Something about this scene of Lopez and Clooney being locked in the trunk trading lines and just kind of being status quo about the whole situation just works. It’s a scene that exists for us to know that the chemistry between these two characters are real and make us want them to be together knowing that it’s improbable with their vocations being on opposite ends of life.
1. “We Can Make It”;
Children of Men (2006)
Note, the scene was not embeddable from YouTube. Go watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfBSncUspBk
This is a film that will live on longer that me I imagine and this scene is one of the many reasons why. In this continuous shot all taking place within the car as we sit with all these characters attempting to get out of town to save humanity it begins calmly enough with some laughs and fun, but it quickly turns sour as some violent attackers descend on them and it becomes a state of panic. I read FIlm Crit Hulk’s writing about long takes and it helped me understand why it is we as a community of film lovers flock to them, it’s their natural ability to create tension when at times there isn’t even any to begin with. This scene is one where it feels not just that the scene is creating tension as much as it’s teaching us about this technique as it’s all about tension building.
Which scenes did I miss out?