Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. Tying in with the upcoming release of Logan Lucky, this week’s edition asks “What is your favorite movie heist scene or sequence?”
Ethan Anderton: Mission: Impossible III
The Mission: Impossible franchise may not immediately come to mind when you think of heist movies since they’re action adventure and spy movies first. But each of the Mission: Impossible moves involves at least one heist where the cast breaks into a seemingly impossible to penetrate facility. While the original is a staple of cinema, it’s been a little hard to appreciate as much knowing that the room containing the NOC list has every security measure imaginable, except video surveillance. But I digress.
For me, I think one of the best heists comes from Mission: Impossible III, when the IMF team has to break into the Vatican City in order to retrieve the MacGuffin known as the Rabbit’s Foot. The only way to do that is to kidnap the man who has it in his possession, the dangerous, underground criminal Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). It’s a task that requires Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his entire team to pull it off, and it also requires the use of the staple IMF mask technology, which makes for a great scene where Tom Cruise slowly is transformed into Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The scene is exciting, suspenseful, and makes great use of the team dynamic that all Mission: Impossible movies have at their center, despite being considered Tom Cruise vehicles. Plus, there’s a great moment of levity when Ethan Hunt, as Owen Davian, and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) have a casual exchange right in the middle of the heist.
Jacob Hall: Rififi
Like the grizzled, older gangster coming out retirement to teach the young punks a thing or two, Jules Dassin’s Rififi remains one of the greatest crime movies ever made over 60 years after it was made. Released in 1955, this noir classic is a noteworthy heist movie for two reasons. First, the big job isn’t the climax of the film – it takes place in the second act, with the rest of the film dealing with the fallout of the “perfect crime.” Second, the big job practically is the entire second act of the film, running 28 minutes and showcasing a jewel heist in such agonizing detail that the film was reportedly banned by French police for being a little too real.
It’s a remarkable heist (sandwiched in a remarkable movie), made all the more breathless and intense because it plays out without dialogue or score. To slip past a vibration-sensitive security system, the crew of criminals use a specialized set of tools to break in through the ceiling and proceed to not make a peep as they carry out the robbery. This means every sound we do hear – a deep breath or the tap of a hammer or even a misplaced footstep – is enough to make you leap out of your seat.
It’s a thrilling experience to watch characters who are good at their jobs do them well. And while Rififi ultimately punishes its characters for their crimes, for 30 minutes, we’re on their side, on the edge of our seats, watching as they showcase true professionalism. Sure, it’s professionalism in service of illegal activity, but you have to admire the nerve and the precision. And that applies to Dassin’s filmmaking, too.
Vanessa Bogart: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
“Do you wanna dance? Or do you wanna dance?” Aside from being one of the sexiest movies ever made (That sheer dress! Those marble stairs! Is it getting warm in here?), the 199 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair boasts not one, but two of the greatest art heist scenes in cinema. And although there is a lot to admire about the opening heist of the $ 100 million San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight by Monet, the heist that has never been matched in my mind,is the one at the end, the one that adds insult to injury: the theft of The Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil by Edouard Manet.
The heist of the Monet that the film is centered round is impressive, and definitely an intricate affair. It is executed so meticulously that even though the detectives on Crown’s tail know it was him, they can’t seem to prove it. And yet, somehow, this $ 100 million job isn’t the most impressive heist in the film. The whole film is a perfect game of cat and mouse made even more enticing with a passionate love affair. Watching Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan toy with one another almost makes you forget about the expensive object at the film’s center. However, Catherine is a serious woman, and through several misunderstandings, Crown knows, anticipates, and counts on her betraying him to the police. He tells her the exactly when he will return to the museum to replace the stolen Monet.
Upon entering the museum in a grey overcoat and red tie, Crown makes sure all eyes are on him, before placing a bowler hat on his head, the perfect image of the figure in The Son of Man, a painting by Rene Magritte that has been shown more than once throughout the film. Crown utters “let’s play ball,” and walks calmly but purposefully into the crowd. To the police, this seems like it will play out as a simple arrest, but that calm sense of inevitable victory is quickly shattered when they realize that Crown has no intention of being caught. Set exquisitely to the tune of ‘Sinnerman’ by Nina Simone, men with grey overcoats, red ties, and bowler hats fill the corridors of the museum, making it impossible to determine Crown from the lookalikes. It is a perfectly orchestrated dance. Once the distraction is set, Crown changes clothes and sneaks into the impressionist wing under the cover of smoke bombs and a fire alarm.
The metal guards close over the paintings to protect them from the sprinklers, but they stop just shy of the Pissaro painting that Crown had so generously donated just three days following the Monet heist. The water begins to wash away the paint exposing the stolen Monet beneath it. That son of a bitch. Before the detectives and the audience can even begin to comprehend the fact that the painting had been there the whole time, the metal gates open, and the Manet that Catherine had admired earlier was gone.
The key to a great heist film is to fool the detectives and the audience. Thomas Crown managed to do so with class and a wicked sense of humor. You can’t help but smirk and applaud. You have been fooled in the most delightful way.
August is a precarious month for the film industry; nestled between the blockbuster summer schedule and the advantageous awards season of fall, it’s a quiet time for big budget fare. Though not quite the dumping ground of, say, February, it’s mostly a breather month – a calm before the prestige storm, and where studios can test their less-trusted properties.
It may evade easy categorization, but August can be a stellar month for film. It’s the season of R-rated comedies, violent road movies, and experiments. Some of the best mainstream films of the last 25 years came out in Leo season. We chose 15 of our favorite August releases, films that exceeded expectations – some economically, some critically, and some that linger on for less discernible reasons.
15. Superbad (2007)
August is the perfect month for this hard-R teen comedy about a pair of high school boys who try to lose their virginity at an end-of-the-school-year party. Stuck in the bittersweet-spot between high school and adulthood, that transitional quality is a great summer cap. Superbad was a critical and box office hit that brought a lot of attention to screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who started writing it when they were 13. The film also made stars out of actors Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and, in her feature-film debut, recent Oscar-winner Emma Stone.
14. The Descent (2006)
Shot on a micro-budget with a cast of no-namers, and released before fall, the odds were stacked against Neil Marshall’s The Descent. The story follows a group of female adventurers who explore a giant and unmapped cave system in the Appalachian Mountains, only to discover it’s inhabited by flesh-eating monsters. The film wound up grossing $ 57 million against a $ 4 million budget, and in time became a horror classic. Marshall’s star also rose after the film’s release. He transitioned to television, directing episodes of everything from Hannibal to Westworld, though he is perhaps best known for his work on two prominent battle episodes of Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall.”
13. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
There’s no reason for this Guy Ritchie-directed reboot of a ‘60s TV spy drama to work as well as it does. But the end result is an honest-to-god blast from start to finish. It’s a great end-of-summer movie, with its brisk and breezy action, cool humor, and zest for fun. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – who play rival spies that must come together for a joint mission – have a natural chemistry, and a then-unknown Alicia Vikander is excellent as their coconspirator. Though technically a box office bomb, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has seen a recent reappraisal from movie buffs, who’ve come to recognize the film for its stylish diversion from typical studio fare. A sequel is allegedly in the works.
12. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the beloved graphic novel series has a special place in the hearts of many. The fiercely original film transposes comic panel to film strip with a frenetic, crackling energy. Sounds and motion are animated, dialogue is fast, and the woes of young love fill the movie with a youthful chutzpah that can be hard to nail down. Though it tanked at the box office, it did well critically, and eventually found a cult audience. Scott Pilgrim is perhaps most notable for its impressive young cast, many on the eve of their big breaks, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Mae Whitman, and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans.
11. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
It may be hard to remember now, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin was a game-changer back in 2005. The raunchy film revitalized the R-rated comedy and sparked the phenomenon of Judd Apatow, whose directing and producing talents remain incredibly influential in Hollywood. Steve Carrell, the virgin of the title, exploded in popularity after release, in a year that also saw his breakthrough TV role as Michael Scott on The Office. The movie opened No. 1 at the box office and was a huge hit – eventually grossing over $ 177 million worldwide.
Amazon Studios to develop Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Beast is an Animal with Ridley Scott
Amazon Studios is in development with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company to create a movie based on the science-fiction fantasy novel The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale, according to Variety. The streaming service is reportedly in final negotiations with Bert & Bertie (Dance Camp) to direct and adapt The Beast is an Animal. The directing duo are also attached to Amazon’s Troupe Zero for Amazon.
Here is the Amazon.com description of the book: “Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters. These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human. And they feed off of human souls. When her village was attacked, Alys was spared and sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think he is. And neither is Alys.
“Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.”
Have you guys read Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Beast is an Animal? Are you excited about the film? We want to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.
Cate Blanchett is in early talks to join Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Cate Blanchett is in early talks to join Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, according to Variety. The Amblin Entertainment and Mythology Entertainment film is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by John Bellairs, and illustrated by Edward Gorey. Eli Roth will direct the film from a script from Eric Kripke.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which is book one of Bellairs’ Lewis Barnavlet series, is described onthe late author’s official site as follows:
Lewis had always wanted to live in a house like Uncle Jonathan’s — full of marble fireplaces and secret passageways and dozens of unused, unexplored rooms. And living with Uncle Jonathan, a real wizard, was full of fun and surprises.
But while Uncle Jonathan practiced funny and comfortable white magic, the original owner of the old house, Isaac Izard, had been an evil sorcerer. Isaac Izard had devised a plan for bringing about the end of the world. Somewhere in the walls of the house he had hidden a clock. Every night Lewis and Uncle Jonathan could hear it ticking — sometimes loud, sometimes soft — marking off the minutes until doomsday.
Lewis knew they had to find the clock before it was too late. Then he decided to dabble in a litte magic of his own, and their time almost ran out.
Kripke, Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt will produce and William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg and Laeta Kalogridis will executive produce.
What do you guys think of a film based on The House with a Clock in Its Walls? Let us know @ComingSoonnet.
New box set from Arrow Video compiles three of George A. Romero’s most interested films and packs them withe extras
This writer is still reeling from the loss of the great George A. Romero, a filmmaker that altered the course of the contemporary horror film but who also fully embodied the independent cinema spirit. And on top of that, he was a sweet, kind, funny, intelligent and humble human being whose company I will forever miss.
But in the context of his filmography, there are a slew of fine films George made in the 1970s post-Night of the Living Dead that are flawed, fascinating and essential pieces of his cinematic journey. There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies, made between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, showcase the extraordinary versatility and dynamism of this irreplaceable American auteur,Three films from the late, legendary director that prove that although he might have defined zombie cinema, it didn’t define him. And now, Arrow Video has compiled these three pictures in a stunning 6-disc, limited edition set, due out October 24th.
There’s Always Vanilla (1971): Young drifter Chris and beautiful model Lynn embark upon a tumultuous relationship which seems doomed from the outset.
Season of the Witch (aka Jack’s Wife, 1972) : Joan Mitchell is a bored housewife whose dissatisfaction with her humdrum life leads to an unhealthy interest in the occult.
The Crazies (aka Code Name: Trixie, 1973): A small rural town finds itself in the grip of an infection which sends its hosts into a violent, homicidal frenzy.
Special Features Include:
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations – English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing – Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx – Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films
There’s Always Vanilla: – Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative – Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford – Brand new interviews with actors Judith Ridley and Richard Ricci, producer Russ Streiner and – sound recordist Gary Streiner – Digging Up the Dead – The Lost Films of George A. Romero – archive interview with Romero looking at his early films There’s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch Trailer – Trailer
Season of the Witch: – Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements – Alternate extended cut – Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford – When Romero met Del Toro – celebrated filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro sits down with George Romero for this candid career-spanning conversation – The Secret Life of Jack’s Wife – archive interview with actress Jan White – Alternate Opening Titles – Trailers
The Crazies: – Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements – Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford – Romero Was Here – featurette revisiting The Crazies filming locations in Evans City, PA – Never Before Seen BTS footage – 2016 Q&A with Lynn Lowry from Abertoir Film Festival – Alternate Opening Titles – Trailers
«It was supposed to be the most secure prison in Europe. It wasn’t supposed to have a flaw.» Lionsgate UK has debuted the first official trailer for an action thriller titled Maze, telling the true story of how 38 IRA prisoners escaped from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland in 1983. The full cast includes Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Martin McCann, Barry Ward, Eileen Walsh, and Aaron Monaghan. This premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July, and will be released in UK cinemas in September, but there’s still no US release date yet. I don’t know much about the history of this story, but I am intrigued to find out how they escaped. The main guy kind of reminds me of Ralph Fiennes. This is worth a look, might be good. ›››
Where are the stars of the failed Justice League of America TV series at today? Who would Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi want to score the move if they were still alive today? Which former Marvel movie villain has joined the cast of Marvel’s new Hulu series The Runaways? Will Cable time travel in Deadpool 2? What did Kurt Russell keep accidentally calling Star-Lord during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 production? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
Marvel executives Cort Lane and Joe Quesada talk about the making of Disney XD’s animated Spider-Man series.
Ryan Reynoldsreleased a statement about the stunt driver death that has forced Deadpool 2 production to cease.
This is Spinal Tap is still the gold standard in mockumentaries. Since most of the movie’s dialogue is improvised, I also thought it would be interesting to see the script, written by Christopher Guest & Michael McKean & Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner, from which the cast worked. The entire script is written this way, so it’s only 60 pages long.
Here is the famous “These go to 11” scene featuring documentary director Marty (Rob Reiner) interviewing rocker Nigel (Christopher Guest) amidst all the guitars and amps he’s acquired over the years.
INT. DETROIT CONCERT VENUE
During the soundcheck, Nigel is showing Marty DiBroma his large collection of guitars, including a cordless model which plays through its amp by means of a tiny radio transmitter. It's like watching a kid show off his toys. He points out that he has his amps customized with special dials. Unlike most amps, whose highest volume level is indicated by a "10" on the dials, Nigel's dials go up to 11.
Here is a transcript of the last part of the scene’s dialogue from the movie:
Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and... Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten? Nigel Tufnel: Exactly. Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder? Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where? Marty DiBergi: I don't know. Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven. Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder. Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder? Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
And now the scene as it plays in the movie:
My movie Alaska was a Castle Rock production, so I was hanging around their offices doing rewrites when Christopher Guest and company were shooting Waiting for Guffman. As a bonus, I got to see some of the dailies and read the script. Guest uses pretty much the same approach with every one of his movies which include Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration: Work out the story with each scene’s beginning, middle and end, cast the movie with skilled improvisational actors, try out a variety of takes, edit the best story possible. Spinal Tap was in effect the proof of this particular concept — and it has proven to work wonderfully as with this great scene.