Introducing ‘Master Moments!’


Singin in the Rain

As of today, I will no longer be writing the already mostly dead ‘Breakouts and Outbreaks’ column. It will be replaced by what Alex and I have decided to call ‘Master Moments.’ The idea originated a while back when I saw Roger Ebert had reposted this old “Top 100” film list of sorts. What separates this list from the typical unintelligently quantified assessment of film is that it is focused not on entire films, but on individual moments. To me, this simplifies the criteria for measuring greatness considerably. It also demonstrates both how much an individual moment can affect an entire film and how much an individual moment can affect how the movie is received.

Obviously movie moments is still a very broad category to assess (which I intend to stretch as much as possible in this column). A moment can be anything from a single shot to a full scene. Perhaps the most common example of a movie moment is a memorable and often quoted line. But no matter the length, a moment is defined by a significant reaction within the viewer, whether it be from a narrative or informational revelation, or a release from tension. Some of the great movie moments are almost nothing other than sheer aesthetic beauty. There is no answer to what makes a moment a ‘Master Moment.’  But that is the question I want to explore in this upcoming column.

I’m going to start it off with a piece from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey this week. I know I have a lot of ideas for this column, some off of Ebert’s list, and many more that are not. The image above is a great example. What are some of your favorite ‘Master Moments?’

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  • The chase scene from The French Conncetion, The Deer Hunter Russian roulette scene, the ‘I could have saved more’ scene from Schindler’s List, the opening to 8 1/2, The Third Man scene where the audience first sees Harry Lime, Joe Pesci’s ‘what do you mean I’m funny’ scene from Goodfellas, the last scene from Chinatown, the ‘I’m not an animal’ scene from Raging Bull, the helicopter attack in Apocalypse Now, and Christopher Walken’s watch monolouge from Pulp Fiction are the first ones I can think of at the moment.

  • ‘The Flight of the Valkyrie’ movement in Apocalypse Now is absolutely one of my favorites and Welles’ entrance in ‘The Third Man’ is also classic. Although I have a different scene from ‘Goodfellas’ in mind. I’ll definitely consider all of those.

  • The tracking shot through the restaurant in Goodfellas is also great if that’s the one you’re thinking of.

  • That one is great, and it is paid homage to in ‘Boogie Nights.’ But it still isn’t the one I’m thinking of. You’ll have to wait until I post it!

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