Scene That I Love For Australia Day: The Chase Begins in Mad Max: Fury Road

Time zones really suck!

I’m in America right now and the date here is currently January 26th.  Now, I look at that date and I think to myself, “Hey, it’s Australia Day!  I’ve got friends in Australia and, according to our site stats, this site has got quite a few readers over there as well!  I definitely need to wish everyone a good holiday!”

Except, of course, I’m a day behind Australia.  In Australia, it’s currently January 27th.  Australia Day was yesterday.

So, what can I say?  I’m a day late in wishing everyone a happy Australia Day and the time zones are too blame.  I’ve never understood why we need time zones anyways.  Don’t even get me started on the International Date Line, which I think was only invented to leave people like me feeling confused.

Oh well.  Happy belated Australia Day!

Today’s scene of the day is from the second-most financially successful Australian film of all time, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.  I don’t know if it’s possible to really describe just how exciting it was to see this film for the first time.  At a time when action films were typically unambitious and uninspired, Mad Max: Fury Road grabbed the world and said, “Wake up, dammit!”

Of course, the film itself is about more than just action.  It’s about empowerment and freedom and the environment and redemption.  It’s a film that seems to be taking place in another world.  That is, until you see all the cars and the spray paint and then you’re like, “Oh wait a minute.  This just humanity in the future.”  Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture and really, it should have won.  Does anyone remember which film beat it?  (The correct answer is Spotlight.)

In this scene below …. well, the chase begins!  And it’s an amazing scene, largely because there is no CGI.  There is no shaky cam designed to make things look more exciting than it actually was.  Those are actual cars, speeding through an actual desert and that’s an actual person playing a guitar that shoots out fire.  And you know what?  Give some credits to the drummers too.

This scene was, of course, directed by George Miller.  Check it all out below:

Scene That I Love: Linda Blair and Jim Bray’s Roller Skate Routine From Roller Boogie

Today is not only Jim Jarmusch’s birthday.  It’s also Linda Blair’s!

Now, of course, the first film that probably comes to mind when you hear the name “Linda Blair” is The Exorcist and that makes sense.  After all, it’s probably the best film in which Blair ever appeared.  Blair even received an Oscar nomination for playing the demonically possessed Regan MacNeil and for convincingly vomiting all over Jason Miller and Max von Sydow. If not for the fact that Mercedes McCambridge provided the voice of the demon, Blair probably would have won that Oscar as well.  Instead, the Oscar went to Tatum O’Neal.

Blair’s gone on to have an active career, though none of her subsequent films ever proven to be as popular with critics or audiences as The Exorcist.  In fact, the majority of her films have been received rather dismissively by the critics.  Of course, Blair’s subsequent films haven’t exactly been in the type of genres that are usually embraced by the critics.  Instead, Linda Blair appeared in several women-in-prison films.  She also appeared in several vigilante films, including Savage Streets.  She did several low-budget horror movies, like the classic Hell Night.  Blair also appeared in two bad-but-kind-of-fun sequels, Airport 1975 and Exorcist II: The Heretic.  (Airport 1975 features Linda Blair as the most perky seriously ill person ever.  Exorcist II, of course, featured Blair trying to keep a street face.)

And here’s the thing — the movies may have occasionally been bad but Linda Blair always kicked ass. In fact, she often literally did just that.  At her best, Blair was the type of exploitation heroine who would kick the bad guy in the balls and then taunt him for crying about it afterwards.  And good for her!

Now admittedly, today’s scene of the day does not feature Linda Blair kicking anyone or exacting violent revenge on the patriarchy.  But no matter.  The 1979 film Roller Boogie is a lot of fun, precisely because it’s a mix of disco, roller skating, and the mob.  Linda Blair and Jim Bray have to protect their favorite skating rink from the mafia.  They also have to win the annual Boogie contest.  Needless to say, that’s a lot to deal with but if anyone can handle it, it’s Linda Blair.

“It’s love on wheels!” the posters proclaimed, presumably because Skatetown U.S.A. was already using, “It’s the greatest story that ever rolled.”  Roller Boogie is a thoroughly silly movie and, not surprisingly, it’s also a very 70s movie.  Every single moment of the film screams out, “1979!”  You know how Saturday Night Fever used the disco scene as the backdrop for a rather melancholy story about a young person struggling to grow up and become a better person? Well, Roller Boogie‘s not like that at all but it does feature a lot of disco and a lot of skating and how can you go wrong with that?

Anyway, here is today’s scene that I love.  Here are Linda Blair and Jim Bray competing for the top prize in Roller Boogie!

Scenes That I Love: The Final Scene of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita

100 years ago today, the great Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, Italy.  It seems appropriate that today’s scene of the day should come from my favorite Fellini film, 1960’s La Dolce Vita.

In this scene, which occurs at the end of the film, jaded journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself hung over on the beach, watching as a group of people pulls a dead sea serpent out of the ocean.  The serpent appears to be a giant squid of some sort.  Myself, I’ve always felt that it was the equivalent of the Biblical Leviathan and maybe the fish that swallowed Jonah.  Regardless of the fish’s history, it’s now dead but, as Marcello points out, its eyes continue to stare.  The people on the beach are less interested in what the fish is and instead more concerned with what they can do with the carcass.

Marcello looks away from them and sees a young woman named Paola (Valeria Ciangottini) standing at the other end of the beach, calling out and motioning to him.  Marcello attempts to hear what Paola is saying but he cannot hear her words over the sounds of the ocean.  For once, Marcello, the journalist and the high society insider, does not know what is being said.  Finally, Marcello walks away with another woman, leaving Paola’s message a mystery.

What was Paola saying?  Perhaps, in the end, that’s not as important as what we think she may have been saying.  (Sofia Coppola later played a sort of homage to this ending with the final scene of Lost In Translation.)  Marcello missed the message but the good life — La Dolce Vita — continues.

Scenes That I Love: James Earl Jones in Dr. Strangelove

It seems rather appropriate that, while we spend this year celebrating TSL’s 10th birthday, we’ve taken the time to recognize the birthdays of so many of our favorite directors and actors.  Earlier today, Jeff already paid tribute to Andy Kaufman and Donald Cammell.

Well, today is also James Earl Jones’s birthday and there’s no way we’re going to let that go unacknowledged.  James Earl Jones is 89 years old today and he’s still working.  Everyone, of course, knows Jones’s voice and the story of how, when he was a child, he suffered from a stutter so severe that he refused to speak.  (Jones has described the years before he entered high school as being his “mute years.”) What’s often overlooked is just how good of an actor James Earl Jones is.  Jones has played everyone from villains to mentors to heroes.  He’s appeared in every possible genre and his presence has never not been welcome.

James Earl Jones made his film debut with a small role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  Jones played Lt. Luther Zogg, one of the men aboard the B-52 bombardier that eventually causes the end of the world.

Jones has often said that he didn’t really care for either the role or the film.  Lt. Zogg is a small role and it is true that, if not for the fact that he’s played by James Earl Jones, you probably wouldn’t remember much about him.  For the most part, Jones spends the majority of the movie listening as Maj. Kong (Slim Pickens) talks about following orders and doing their patriotic duty.

And yet, I think Jones is a bit too dismissive of the role.  It’s a small role but the undeniable authority of Jones’s voice provides a nice contrast to the country drawl of Maj. Kong.  Without Lt. Zogg calmly following orders, it would be too easy for the audience to dismiss Maj. Kong as an outlier as opposed to a representative of what the film viewed as being the military’s blase attitude towards the possibility of nuclear war.

Add to that, Jones’s delivery of “Hey, what about Maj. Kong?” is absolutely perfect.

So, with that in mind, here’s James Earl Jones in two scenes from Dr. Strangelove!