Posts Tagged ‘Jaws’

Reel List: Top 5 – Horror

Posted: October 30, 2014 by jperritt in Horror, Reel Lists
Tags: , , , ,

Just a few days ago, I made some comments about the change in seasons and how that’s connected to our pre-fall existence.  I also said that we like to capture these seasons by enjoying seasonal foods, as well as, flicks.  With that in mind, we at Reel Thinking thought we would compile another Reel List for you to enjoy (or, not enjoy).  Let us state up front that neither of us are huge fans of the horror genre.  Therefore, some of our horror films may seem a little less horror than your average horror film fan (I can only handle so much gore).  So, for those of you die-hard horror fans, please sound off in the comment section and compile your own list. [Blaine’s list will be posted tomorrow]

John’s Top 5:

daniel-danger-psycho-poster-redPsycho – For me, this is the all-time greatest horror film ever made.  Hitchcock was a master of suspense and I am still amazed that this film is creepy in 2014.  Anthony Perkins played the roll of Norman Bates in phenomenal fashion – it was Oscar worthy.  Killing off a notable lead in the beginning paved the way for many plots to follow suit.  Even though I still know the ending, I am amazed at the erie feel I still receive.

What Lies Beneath – Some of you may be scratching your heads on this one.  Robert what_lies_beneathZemeckis is an excellent director and a film like this shows his versatility.  Plus, almost anything with Harrison Ford is worth watching (almost! Crystal Skull was a horror film of different sorts).  Again, the acting by Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent and the story wasn’t sacrificed for the scare. If you can make it through this movie without jumping or being slightly scared of the water, it’s probably because you’ve watching one too many Saw movies.

signs-posterSigns – If you’ve followed this site at all, you know that I’m (still) an M. Knight Shyamalan fan.  This was one of the most fun theater experiences I’ve ever had.  Everyone was screaming, everyone was shouting, and most people were covering their eyes (Normally this kind of thing bothers me, but it was fun).  Again, the acting was great.  Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix worked well together and this was one of the few movies where the kids didn’t bother me.  Plus, there’s several notable scenes – the baby monitor, the corn field, the pantry, and the basement.  It’s also as funny as it is scary.

Jaws – Okay, some of you may have objections to Jaws being a horror movie.  Object all you want, but picturejawsposter yourself in the open water with a great white swimming under you…pretty horrific, right?  Jaws was the birth of the summer blockbuster and if you can watch this without being slightly scared of the water (sound familiar?), then you’re not human.  Steven Spielberg worked masterfully to create anticipation (John Williams helped with that, just a tad), by not showing audiences the shark until half-way through the film.  Although the film is tense throughout, Robert Shaw’s dialogue on the ship at night is the highlight.

devil-posterDevil – I wanted to put a more recent film on here.  Plus, not mentioning a film entitled DEVIL for top horror movies seems like it’s breaking a rule somehow.  For those of you who know anything about this film, Shyamalan is attached to it (he wrote the story).  However, not only is this movie pretty scary, the theology that runs throughout is impressive.  It begins with Scripture and has biblical themes until the credits roll.  It is a violent film, but it doesn’t relish in gore like so many (less-creative) horror films.  I’ve written more about it here.

Just so you know, I don’t think all of these are classics and I don’t think this is the definitive horror list.  I do, however, enjoy these films and think they offer some good scares if you’re ever in the mood.

jaws 1In 1975, a now-famous theme song—a haunting melody, its foreboding refrain feigning cacophony—announced the presence of a shark; and the shark, in turn, taught us to fear the ocean. For almost forty years now, that shark has terrified audiences. But when a film like Jaws endures for this length of time, there must be something more, something deeper, than a fear of sharks that compels us to watch. The real reason that Jaws is terrifying is because it forces us to confront a reality we fear the most: our smallness. This sense of smallness, which is primarily achieved through the film’s theme of isolation, makes audiences feel feeble and helpless, out of control, and, thus, terrified

The film opens with a shark attack at a nighttime beach party, as a young woman named Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) leads her love interest away from the party and toward the beach for a romantic swim. The girl enters the water. Her would-be lover, being heavily intoxicated, passes out on the beach and is unable to follow. Alone in the ocean, Chrissie is pulled under the water. She resurfaces—but is then violently jerked back and forth like a rag doll. Her cries for help are in vain. Once again she is pulled under; this time, she does not return. This scene’s power to evoke fear stems from the fact that it depicts Chrissie as an isolated and, therefore, helpless sort of everyman figure. That is, as spectators, we acknowledge that we could very easily be in Chrissie’s position. And the realization that we cannot control nature—that we are powerless against it—fills us with fear. In addition, this theme of an isolation that magnifies our smallness becomes even more prevalent as the film progresses.

In Jaws we meet Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), who has recently been appointed Chief of Police in Amity, a small island town. Brody, aware that there is a killer shark in the area, has to fight the self-serving city politicians and locals for the right to do his job. One of the central conflicts in the first half of the film, then, is not man versus nature but man versus man. The mayor is not willing to close the beaches for the fourth of July weekend because he does not want to cause a panic, hurt local businesses, and damage his own ego. Adding to Brody’s frustration is the fact that many of the locals do not trust him since he is not “not an islander.” People stare and make snide jokes and eventually turn on him when the shark takes a young boy’s life. In other words, Brody is an outsider; he feels impotent and dwarfed by his surroundings, both politically and socially.

Jaws 2In a later, particularly frightening scene, shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) comes face-to-face with a type of isolation that makes him acutely aware of his smallness. He dives into the dark and murky water to explore a wrecked fishing boat and discovers an enormous shark tooth. Then, he realizes the gravity of the situation: he is in the water with one of the world’s top predators. The unilluminated sea that dominates the shots in this scene gives the impression that the owner of that tooth could be lurking just out of sight. Suddenly, the body of a dead fisherman floats on screen. A closeup of Hooper’s terrified reaction is shown as the soundtrack blares shrilly. The terror of it all is that we are right there with Hooper—alone.

The theme of isolation reaches its apotheosis as Brody, Hooper, and Quint (Robert Shaw) take a ship out to sea to kill the shark. Brody must leave his family and face his fear of the ocean. There will be no land in sight where they are going. The ocean, its beautiful and serene surface cloaking the killer it hides, stretches for miles. Here, Spielberg does a marvelous job utilizing numerous long shots to show us just how alone the crew is. It is almost as if the ocean becomes a central character, a deadly foe in its own right. Finally, after a face-to-face encounter, Brody arrives at the logical conclusion: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

jaws 3When taken as a whole, these scenes of isolation show us that there is something we fear more than people, oceans, and sharks. We fear our smallness above all, for we are accustomed to acting as if we are the center of the universe. Full of pride and selfishness, we are terrified to think that we can be brought so low. Indeed, what Jaws really shows us is that we are deeply afraid of being humbled—of losing control. Moreover, it pulls us out of our self-absorbed state and reminds us that we do not rule the world—that we are, in fact, tiny beings.

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?” God asks.

No.

Still, He cares for you.

Embrace your smallness.

This post is a few years old, but decided to run it again because of Monday’s post.

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Hannibal Lecture, Norman Bates, & Darth Vader; three of cinemas greatest villains. According to the American Film Institute, these are the top three greatest villains of all time. The shark from Jaws, the alien from Alien, and the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also made it in the top twenty.

What is it about these villains that make them better than the average villain? Why is it when we think of Darth Vader, for example, that we think, Yes! He’s an awesome villain. For starters, he’s got the force, his outfit is pretty cool, and his voice/breathing has left a lasting impression on culture (thanks James Earl Jones). But, he also crushes a man’s neck in Episode IV, as well as, cutting off several other character’s breathing, ending their life. Is that good? Does that make him awesome?

We at Reel Thinking, recently composed a list of the top villains/henchmen in the James Bond franchise. It got me thinking, should we really cheer for the bad guys? What criteria do we use to judge whether or not a villain is a ‘good’ villain? Or, is it okay to like the villain in some cases?

According to AFI’s criteria, they state,

For voting purposes, a “villain” was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.*

This is a carefully crafted definition, but ultimately it’s praising crafty, wickedness or, simply, in-your-face evil. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Craftiness

The AFI definition states that the wickedness and evil is sometimes masked by beauty and nobility; i.e. craftiness. When I hear the word ‘crafty’, I think of Satan. In Genesis 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty than all the other animals. The serpent was wicked, yet there was something attractive about him. His evil wasn’t repulsive or Adam and Eve would have run in the other direction. His wickedness had an appeal, or beauty if you will, that made Adam and Eve run to him, resulting in the Fall of mankind. Therefore, we can say that evil sometimes possesses a certain level of beauty and appeal.

In-Your-Face-Evil

Some of the villains on the AFI list are those who rage unmasked or are considered horribly evil. Villains like Freddy Krueger, the shark from Jaws, and Terminator from The Terminator. We wouldn’t say that these villains possess a lot of beauty. I know a shark is part of God’s creation, so we can say they possess a certain level of beauty. However, if you were swimming in open water and you spotted a great white racing towards you, I doubt you would think – What beauty that creature possesses!

Some of the villains on the silver screen are pure evil. What is it about those villains that leave a lasting impression? They possess a certain level of power, justice, and wrath we appreciate.

Even though they may use those attributes in a dishonoring way, the attributes, in and of themselves, are godly. We know God as all-powerful, or omnipotent. He is just. And because of his holiness, justice and love, he is wrath too. All of these attributes, however, are only used in a beautiful way that makes his glory known.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate villains. We must be cautious in cheering for the bad guy or taking pleasure in these godly attributes being employed in a villainous manner. However, these attributes, pre-perversion, can help us better understand our mighty God.

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*http://www.afi.com/100Years/handv.aspx

We are continuing our thoughts on trilogies at Reel Thinking, by looking at films that should not have been made. As you can guess from the title, this list includes films that should have stopped with one. Most of the below mentioned films had excellent inaugural films, but horrific ensuing installments. As you know, Men In Black 3 is released today, therefore, some of you may think that franchise belongs on this list. Let us hear from you.

If you missed the reasoning behind our look at trilogies, it is because the release of The Dark Knight Rises, which could prove to complete one of the best trilogies of cinema in recent years. This is our second part of our three-part series on trilogies (see what we did there?). Our Top 10 Trilogies can be found here and here. Our next list will be the Top 10 films that should have a trilogy/sequel, entitled: Why Oh Why Didn’t You Make a Sequel? Hope you enjoy.

John Perritt’s Top 10:

  1. Jurassic Park
  2. The Matrix
  3. Star Wars (I, II, II)
  4. Indiana Jones IV
  5. Karate Kid
  6. Jaws
  7. Batman (Tim Burton’s; it was good for its time but went downhill fast)
  8. The Silence of the Lambs
  9. Dumb & Dumber
  10. The Sting

Josh’s Top 10:

  1. Never Ending Story
  2. Matrix
  3. Scream
  4. Original Batman (1989)
  5. Free Willy
  6. The Wizard of Oz
  7. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  8. The Sandlot
  9. Transformers
  10. Home Alone

Emilio’s Top 10:

  1. Rush Hour
  2. Matrix
  3. Jurassic park
  4. Robocop
  5. Beverly Hills Cop (Part 2 was great, part 3 was awful)
  6. Anaconda (Does not live up to the expectations after the classic first part)
  7. Scream
  8. Transformers (First one is not good, second one makes no sense whatsoever. Awful.)
  9. Speed
  10. Batman sequels (from pre-Nolan era)

John Kwasny’s Top 10:

  1. Bad News Bears
  2. Beverly Hills Cop
  3. Crocodile Dundee
  4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  5. Jurassic Park
  6. Major League
  7. The Mummy
  8. Ocean’s Eleven
  9. Rush Hour
  10. The Santa Clause

Imagine Jaws, Indiana Jones, or Star Wars without music. Those movies would easily have been less enjoyable were it not for the music. John Williams is the composer, to the previously mentioned films, and he makes the music a supporting actor. Music and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly, but why is that?

We all know that music has been around for a while. Anthony Kiedis of The Red Hot Chili Peppers echos this when he sang, “Music the great communicator, use two sticks to make it in the nature.” People have been banging on trees, stomping feet, and humming tunes because of this innate notion of rhythm. When we think back to some of the earliest musicians, King David is one that comes to mind. Prior to his kingship, King Saul would request for David’s soothing melodies. Although Saul was tormented and miserable, there was something about a melody that put his spirit at ease. Something inside Saul resonated when it heard the gentle strumming of a harp.

Thinking back to 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the fist full-length animated cartoon (and according to AFI the #34 movie of all time), even the dwarfs knew there was something to music. Just whistle while you work…It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace…They knew a tune would pass the time and distract from the curse that has effected our work.

Even Steve Job’s revelatory iPod, has taught us something about this rhythm in life. It is all-to-common to see people on the streets, ear buds in, strutting down the sidewalk. There is a soundtrack to life and you find that music often syncs up to the motion that’s around us.

We know that God is a God of order and he has established a rhythm to life. Thinking back to creation, there is a constant pattern, or rhythm, to God’s creating the earth. At the creating of the seven days we hear the phrase; and it was morning and it was evening…and it was morning and it was evening…at the conclusion of each day. Panning out to the work week, we have another pattern repeated; six days work, one rest…six days work, one rest. There is a rhythm to the created order, because God does not ‘shoot from the hip’ so-to-speak.

It’s interesting to think that God really doesn’t think or ponder each and every day, all things are known to him and he already has the end figured out. Many of us make plans and aim for goals, however, we then must figure out how to accomplish those goals and some of those goals my remain a dream. This is not so with God. God knew the end before the beginning and it will all fit into his ordered redemptive plan.

Getting back to film, music is essential to a motion picture. I would argue that a film’s success is highly dependent on the musical score. As mentioned before, the musical score to Star Wars easily increased the audiences likability of the film. George Lucas even commented about John Williams’ score as the only aspect of the film that exceeded his expectations. He was constantly changing things and disappointed at various aspects of the film, but the music was perfect. Just picture the words Star Wars bursting on the screen with the musical score. Now picture those same words in silence…not the same.

Music increases the intensity, often adds to the humor, makes something look cooler, and has the ability to make us jump out of our seats, when employed at the proper moment. Music simply assists in capturing the rhythm or tone of life and reveals the magnificent handiwork of the greatest Artist of all time.

This post led me to compose a top 10 list – just call me David Letterman – of some of my favorite musical scores. Some of these films had strong scores and some of them just had familiar tunes, which is what assisted me in composing this. The most obvious difficulties of composing a top 10 list, is the plethora of choices you leave out. Therefore, let us hear from you and compose your own top 10 list. I would actually encourage you to compose your own prior to reading the below, but whatever. Please note that I am only listing musical scores and not musicals.

Top 10 Musical Scores (John Perritt):

  1. Jaws
  2. Star Wars: Main Title (Star Wars: Episode IV)
  3. Indiana Jones (Raiders March)
  4. Chariots of Fire
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  6. James Bond 007
  7. Dueling Banjos (from Deliverance)
  8. The Entertainer (from The Sting)
  9. The Imperial March (Star Wars: Episode V)
  10. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

John Kwasny’s Top 10:

1. The Pink Panther
2. Jaws
3. Star Wars
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
6. The Sting
7. Breaking Away
8. Chariots of Fire
9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
10. The Lion King

Top 10 Music Soundtracks – Emilio

  1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  2. True Grit
  3. Pan’s Labyrinth
  4. Pulp Fiction
  5. The Thin Red Line
  6. Forrest Gump
  7. Up
  8. Gladiator
  9. Inception
  10. Black Swan

Top 10 15 Music Soundtracks – Josh

So many good scores (some just themes)…Here are some of my favorites in no particular order…okay, maybe Lord of the Rings is at the top for a reason…

  1. Lord of the Rings – Howard Shore
  2. Batman (1989 version) – Danny Elfman
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – Klaus Badelt
  4. The Godfather – Nino Rota
  5. Edward Scissorhands – Danny Elfman
  6. Inception  -Hans Zimmer
  7. Little Miss Sunshine – Mychael Danna and Devotchka
  8. Requiem for a Dream  -Clint Mansell
  9. Gladiator – Hans Zimmer
  10. Back to the Future – John Williams (check out this great salute to JW)
  11. Braveheart – James Horner
  12. Forrest Gump – Alan Silvestri
  13. Shawshank Redemption  -Thomas Newman
  14. The Village – James Newton Howard
  15. Rudy – Jerry Goldsmith

Even though the Oscars for the 84th Annual Academy Awards have been handed out, there are still some lists to compile. These lists might not be nominees for an Oscar, but there are the beginning of a new series at Reel Thinking.

Every now and then we are going to release our Top 10 lists entitled, Reel Lists (how many ways can we play off of the word reel?). The Academy and Golden Globes compose their lists, and the America’s Film Institute has their Top 100, but we are composing ours, however, ours will be somewhat unique. Yes, we will have the typical top 10 lists, but we will also have the not-so-typical, as well.

Our first Reel List, which will be released on Thursday & Friday, will be a fairly normal list. We are going to look at the Top 10 Musical Scores of films. This year, the well-known composer, John Williams, became the second-most nominated person in the history of the Academy with 47 nominations. He is the most nominated living person (Walt Disney is the all-time most nominated with 59).

All of this to say, for Williams to have 47 nominations, it tells us a great deal about music in movies. Music is vital to movies. We are going to take a more in-depth look at that tomorrow, but for now go ahead and take our poll. Be sure and check back tomorrow for some more thoughts on music and see our first Reel List.

Emilio’s Christmas Flicks

Posted: December 2, 2011 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Seasonal, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Well, here is my take in the list of movies to watch during Christmas season. John Perritt did a great job at finding good stuff for his list and decorating it; mine in comparison is, let’s say, meek and mild.

You need to understand something first: I am from Brazil, a country situated in the so called Southern Hemisphere. In this way the seasons here happen in opposite order as in the USA. So Christmas here happens during Summer. We do not have a Christmas school break in which we have a nice movie/family season to watch flicks drinking hot chocolate while the snow falls. Christmas is right in the middle of summer break, so the movie tradition here is much smaller; we are too busy playing in the water. And of course, being hot weather things are quite different: Santa sweats like a maniac, we go to the beach during Xmas and so on. Another disclaimer: I find Christmas movies usually to be pretty bad. Rare exceptions. I know what you are thinking: “grinch-hearted blogger.”

My favorites, in no particular order:

The Grinch stole the Christmas

Not Jim Carrey’s live-action, but the old cartoon. Perritt also mentioned this (he may have telepathically stolen the idea from my head). Man, I used to watch this thing every year. I remember something funky about his heart being small and that used to freak me out mightily. Need to rewatch this one.

Pan’s Labyrinth

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love it dearly. I will, one of those days, write a post on it. This is a good movie that I like to watch every year, and usually at this season. It is set in Spanish and it is well worth the effort of reading some subtitles. Guillermo Del Toro at his finest. Behold the trailer

The nightmare before Christmas

Tim Burton wrote (but not directed) this lunacy, this creepy story full of interesting stuff. And of weird stuff. It involves the idea of a man (?!) that finds out about the Xmas season and suggests to his people replacing Halloween with Christmas; and the many decidedly weird things and characters that accompany it. Just watch it.

JAWS

Remember: Brazil-December-Summer. So this is the kind of thing we would watch at beach/Christmas season, and of course, decide to stay in the sand. Like scared little girls. At least we had soccer.

Gremlins

Another one that used to spook me. They showed this every year in December. All those rules. I was always a bit concerned that someone would gift me a Gizmo and I would end up messing up the rules, feeding him in the wrong time, getting him wet and all that… OS Gremlins, a true nightmare before Christmas. I know grown adults who only watched this as children and who were so spooked that they refuse to see it today, in which occasion they would sigh with relief at discovering that the movie is funnier than scarier.

Scrooged

Bill Murray is the man. Here he has to deal with the wickedness of his ways and heart. Lovely and funny movie. The ghosts of Xmas past are there to teach him what life is about. And if you are not careful, you may learn a lesson or two yourself…

Die Hard

This classic, #epicwin action movie is set during Christmas. Of course, people are too busy running to and from terrorists to bother with mistletoe, but the delicious movie uses several Christmas songs and is quite good, having set the tone for action movies for decades now. It has a magnificent villain; superb action; it has great phrases, such as “Ho Ho Ho now I have a machine gun.” So, there. Here are some videos of scenes from DH 1 and DH2 coupled with the Xmas song I hate the most (warning, there is some red syrup that looks like blood in the video).

The movie Jaws [1975]  is an obvious classic.  If nothing else, it gave us the most familiar musical score in film history.  However, it truly highlights Steven Speilberg’s genius as a filmmaker.  I’ve heard reports about his desire to keep the audience in suspense by not revealing the great white in the first hour of the film.  People thought he was crazy and pushed him to show the shark earlier, but he refused.  Many said this film would surely bomb.  But one could now easily argue that Speilberg’s daring move actually cemented Jaws as a timeless classic.  Why do I say that? Because when we see the special effects of the 1975 shark in the cgi-age of 2011, it looks really fake.

Not only did Speilberg know that the absence of the creature actually heightens the suspense, but he also knew that his film would one day be outdated.  He knew that he was a pioneer filmmaker, but he also knew there would be others to follow in his footsteps that would raise the bar on the whole process.  Whether he could articulate it or not, he was striving for perfection.

I don’t believe that remakes prove that Hollywood has lost unique ideas or stories, rather I think it illustrates a deeper longing we all have and that is perfection.  We touched on this a little yesterday, but now I want us to think a bit more about this idea.

Human beings spend much time and money trying to cover up the fact that we’re not perfect.  You can see this in our interaction with each other.  We can often be fake with one another and act like we’re not troubled with anything.  I’m not suggesting that you go out and share your heart with total strangers, but our outward friendliness often attempts to cover our imperfections.  We also see this with the numerous beauty products on the market.  ‘Wipe away 10 years’ or ‘No more gray‘ are the promises of many products.  All of which are trying to cover up the fact that we’re not only imperfect, but we’re dying.

Being recreated is part of our DNA, because we know that we were once perfect.  It is only natural for films like Fright Night and Conan the Barbarian to be recreated, because they, like us, have aged.  While those films offered good scares and action, they don’t compare to the horror and mayhem that will be at the box office this Friday night.  I guarantee you, if anyone rented the 80’s version of either one of these films, you would laugh.  It would be tough to make it through without somewhat of a smile, because the imperfections are easy to spot.  However, go to your local theater this weekend and see Night or Conan and I guarantee you it will seem more perfected.  Even if the plot is weak and you don’t care for the movies, the recreation is going to be more perfected.  Could it be because we are all moving closer to perfection?

As I mentioned yesterday, both of these films have brought back feelings of nostalgia from the 80’s.  While we do look back to the garden and think of a time absent of sin, Christians must look forward.  The truth is, we too have been remade.  Paul tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Cor. 5:17].  For the Christian, we know we should have bodies that don’t have aches and pains, bodies that don’t feel the effects of sin.  With all the remakes Hollywood has cranked out, and will continue to crank out, they’re really just illustrating the desire we all feel to be recreated.

The great thing about the recreation for Christians is the fact that it is finished.  The remake of Fright Night and Conan the Barbarian will get old.  They will become less suspenseful and less action packed, the special effects will get dated, and the actors will become unknowns.  But the new creation we become in Christ is final.  Once we enter the Kingdom where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal, the idea of recreating will be an afterthought.