Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Talkback - Openings that sold you on the movie immediately

I saw Drive that past weekend after having managed avoid finding out ANYTHING about it beyond the fact that seemingly everyone who saw the film raved about it.  It's rare I get to go into a film that unmolested by spoilers and reviews, and I have to admit, it was kind of fun.

I knew that this was my kind of movie partway through the opening sequence, when it became apparent that we weren't going to see the "getaway" shot or executed in the conventional "chase scene" sense. (I'm being deliberately vague in the hopes that some readers will have their curiosity piqued and be motivated to check it out themselves.)  I didn't care what came next - that opening had me.  It earned my complete faith and trust in the filmmakers.

What opening sequences have accomplished that for you?


  1. For me it has to be the opening of Stake Land. When I saw that vampire devouring a baby, I knew this was a vampire movie I could trust. No sparkling pussy vampires here, just mean baby eating motherf***ers!

  2. I've seen quite a few films that just rode on the strength of the opening sequence. The most vivid memory was X-Men 2, the White House sequence. The rooftop chase of Crouching Tiger, the first fight in Kill Bill, the very deliberate and gentlely morbid comedy in the japanese film Departures, William Goldman talked about the pregnant cop's intro scene in Fargo...I'm forgetting a big one. I'll be back later.

  3. I know I'm going to miss some, but here are mine.

    Pulp Fiction: Just seeing this conversation unfold in the restaurant and realizing who these who people really are before climaxing with the stick up attempt.

    Zombieland: Just love the feel of that intro with all the rules and whatnot.

    Stranger than Fiction: Same deal as Zombieland. Just had this great literary voice over & quick summation of who this guy was before jumping right into the concept. Hooked.

    Star Wars: Who can forget the opening shot of the tiny rebellion ship and giant destroyer of the Empire. In two shots it sets up this seemingly hopeless underdog story. Plus, it was revolutionary at the time.

    High and Low: Does the first 50 minutes of Kurosawa's High & Low count? It shouldn't have captured me because it's a bunch of guys talking in a room for nearly an hour, but dammit the way he blocks & frames those people in the room for that whole opening act is goddamn brilliant and caught me for some reason.

    Manhattan: I love hearing Woody Allen trying to express the awesomeness of New York in words and how it seems almost impossible while the pictures so clearly show how amazing a city it is, implying the city itself says it all.

    Die Hard With A Vengeance: The first Die Hard I ever saw & will never forget the explosion in the streets of NY that sets things off.

    Sunset Boulevard: Dead guy in the pool. Who is this guy? What's his story?

    Touch of Evil: That opening shot with the guy setting the car bomb and then in one crane shot following it through the streets, meeting the couple, seeing the car in the back, waiting for the inevitable moment when that bomb goes off and seeing how it affects those people.

    Memento: A bloody murder scene. Stuff moving backwards in time. WTF is going on (in a good way)

    Toy Story 3: We finally get to see how toys feel when they're played with. Awesome & funny as hell.

    Men in Black: The "Will Smith as a cop chasing down a bad guy" scene we're all familiar with, but then we see that guy run up a wall and the weird blink and we can't help but think "Hmm."

    The Thing: Talk about crazy. There's a chopper chasing and shooting at a dog, then a bunch of Swedish people get out looking crazy and accidentally blow themselves up. Intense.

    Back To The Future: Seeing the doc's crazy ass setup + the charm of Marty McFly, you know you're in for something different & fun.

    Tons more, but I can't keep writing them all haha.

  4. Oh and speaking of "It earned my complete faith and trust in the filmmakers."

    I had trust in Boyle based on his past, but I was very wary of 127 Hours because it was a guy stuck to a rock for an hour and a half, but the quick pace intro made me feel comfortable.

  5. The Matrix blew me away with that opening. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it was cool.

  6. Jules Dassin's Thieves' Highway: A joyous homecoming where the son brings home new slippers as a present for his father, whose expression falls as he rolls out from under the table with his legs missing. At that moment I COMPLETELY trusted the filmmakers to take me anywhere they wanted. I love a good mean-spirited opening.

  7. Good call on the Matrix opening, Emily. I've been trying to think of openings that convinced me I was in for a good ride and Matrix should have been come to me instantly.

  8. I loved the opening "coincidence" stories in Magnolia, and the momentum PTA pushed through them, leading to an awesome buildup to the explosive "Magnolia" credit, and THEN meeting the characters of this crazy ensemble with Aimee Mann's version of "One (is the loneliest number)". And thinking about it, "Boogie Nights" opening night club Scorsese-esque megashot at the disco was a fantastic way to meet all these characters at once, not to mention the movie's setting and incredible tone. It sucked you into 1970s swinging culture and didn't let go.

    1999 seemed to be the year of great intros (with Matrix and Magnolia already mentioned), I also loved Election. Seeing our ruthless leads (Tracy Flick and Mr. McCallister) go through their ridged routines at school before school starts, and seeing Mr. McAllister round the corner onto Tracy sitting, swinging her legs under her chair in zealous anticipation for the first student to arrive to sign her petition for Student Council President. And Mr. McAllister's annoyance at her ALREADY BEING THERE. In that one moment, you knew who these characters were, and how they felt about each other.

    ON MORE... Inglorious Basterds. Colonel Landa. Long ass conversation. Scary claustrophobic tension. This movie goer SOLD!

  9. Opening to JJ Abrams Star Trek was awesome. to be honest, the rest of the film disappointed in comparison.

  10. Fight Club had a pretty neat intro to the film, but not on the intrigue level of Matrix, or the slow boil of Inglorious Basterds, but it really gee'd me up when I saw it.
    Loved the slow rise of the music over silent film images in the opening credits of The Fall, although I didn't know it at first it nicely sets up the story telling for the rest of the film.
    p.s. If you haven't seen The Fall, you should.

  11. American Gangster - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq11c2lf3s8

    30 seconds. Done. Still the most efficient/effective hook I've ever seen.

  12. Michael Mann's opening of "Thief" was virtually identical in theme and tone and feel to that of "Drive."

    Bitter, you should re-watch "Thief" again. It's really an overlooked movie.


  13. Buckaroo Banzai

    Dead Again (that music!)

    The Manchurian Candidate (the opening was so crucial to the story, the original ads emphasized not being late

    Shadow of a Doubt

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    and the best ever, IMO - Apocalypse Now

  14. Trainspotting, Fight Club, 24 Hour Party People, Adaptation, The Social Network