' ' Cinema Romantico: My Christmas List: Top 5 Stand-Up-and-Cheer Movie Moments

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Christmas List: Top 5 Stand-Up-and-Cheer Movie Moments

The one thing I've noticed in regards to movie audiences in Chicago as opposed to those in Des Moines and Phoenix is this - they tend to applaud much more often. You couldn't have used an onslaught of brooms to thwack a mess of applause out of anyone in a movie theater in Iowa or Arizona but here in the Windy City it seems to be the norm. (Truth be told, they sometimes applaud too much. I enjoyed aspects of "Wanted" but it is not worthy of any clapping, people.)

I've never actually stood up and cheered at a movie but, oh, I have come close here and there, perhaps even on the edge of my seat before having to restrain myself. I mean, really, does it get any better in a movie theater than when you literally have that desire to rise to your feet and hoot and holler because you wait and wait and wait and wait and wait for great cinema to come along and you suffer through oh so much dreck and - at last! - finally you've happened upon it? I remember each of these as if they happened yesterday and wish dearly I could re-live them again.

1. Million Dollar Baby. Scrap (Morgan Freeman) takes Maggie (Hilary Swank) to that crummy little diner for her birthday, and gives his amazing speech (is there any other kind of speech in this movie?), and then the other boxing manager walks in - the one Scrap has asked to come so he can take the manager duties away from Frankie (Clint Eastwood) and get Maggie her title shot - and Scrap leaves and Maggie walks right up to the manager and tells him there's no way she's ever leaving Frankie and Scrap's voice-over follows it up with, "Maggie always did like taking 'em out in the first round." In fact, if you don't mind, I'm going to take a second and cheer right now.

2. Almost Famous. The inimitiable young scribe William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has just been backstage at the Stillwater concert and met legendary "band-aid" Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and now they stand outside the arena together in an empty parking lot and she asks him if he wants to go to Morocco with her, and he asks her to ask him again, and she does, and he says "yes", and then she advises "it's all happening", and he says it too, and they turn and walk in opposite directions, and the music that's playing over this is just about perfect (excuse me, it is perfect), and, well, why aren't you standing up and cheering right now, you emotionless robots?!

3. Kill Bill Volume 2. The Bride (Uma Thurman) has just been buried alive in a pine box and then we flash back an extended sequence featuring her training many years ago with the legendary Pai Mei and, lo and behold, it turns out one of the very tactics used in her training is breaking through a wooden board with her fist at extremely close range and so we cut back to the present and the camera above and moving in on The Bride's grave as this wonderous - utterly wonderous - spaghetti western, mariachi horn-influenced music begins to play and then we're inside the grave with The Bride and she gets herself together and as the music swells she puts her fist to the board and busts her way through and pushes her way through the dirt and, oh, I just can't help it, people! Woo-freaking-hoooooooo!

4. Shakespeare in Love. Oh no! The production of "Romeo & Juliet" is about to go on except the young guy playing Juliet has lost his "womanly" voice and so the theater owner (Geoffrey Rush) bustles into the nosebleed section of the theater to advise of the financier of this development only to - as luck would, of course, have it - happen upon Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) who, you may or may not know, had been starring in the play in the guise of a man until her true identity was revealed and she was thrown out. "Do you know it?" asks the owner. She replies, breathlessly, in a way that gives me goosebumps as I type this, "Every word."

5. Batman Begins. Midway through the film, keeping up a particularly obnoxious persona to maintain his secret identity as Batman, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) approaches Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) and tells her, "Rachel....all this. It isn't who I am." Rachel replies, simply, harshly, "Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you." Then, near the end of the film, Rachel has just been saved from the clutches of some zombie-like bad guys by, of course, Batman. He hops onto a ledge, ready to leap off and go do battle with the film's arch-villain, when Rachel steps toward him and says, "You could die. At least tell me your name." He looks at her and declares, "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." "Bruce?" she asks, getting that look in her eye. And he turns and swoops off as the music swells. A recent showing of "The Dark Knight" at a friend house's house ended with an approximately 52 minute argument between several parties about whether "Batman Begins" or "The Dark Knight" was better. It's a personal preference, obviously, but I preferred the former, and I did because the latter had no moments like this one.

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