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Archive for November, 2012

(Moderate spoilers below. Discussion is mostly limited to impressions and analysis, not plot description)

I’ve always been fascinated by beginnings and endings. In narrative art, they represent the first and last impressions a work can have on us. The way a film opens, the way an album closes, the way we enter a story — these bookends often interest me more than the works themselves. In bookstores, I like to read the first or last sentence of a novel off the shelves, as if these lines might capture the essence of what lies between them. With music, a great final song can compel me to repeat the album without pause. Or it can compel me to sit in deathly silence, stewing over the last track like the diction of my will.

What resonates more: an album that kicks the door open or one that taxis before it takes off? Like most list-making nerds, I’ve spent far too much time pondering such questions. Prod me for a list of favorite opening tracks, opening lyrics, closing scenes, or last lines, and I should have a draft on your desk by close of business. In this post, I’ll discuss five cinematic endings that approach something like perfection. When I use the word “ending,” I don’t mean plot twists or third-act surprises. You won’t find any twist endings on this list. Rather, I’m referring to the final seconds before the credits roll — the absolute last moments in which a director has our undivided attention. Some are triumphant punchlines, others are ominous ellipses. All of them stir my insides and haunt me the way only cinema and storytelling can.

I’d love to read your contributions in the comments section. What cinematic endings play in your head on slow days at work? (more…)

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