We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.
At first I thought I'd start by skipping the most famous, obvious examples—the opening of Citizen Kane, for instance—but then I found so many well-received movies in my own list that I couldn't resist including them. I'm also going to go ahead and mention these scene descriptions almost always contain spoilers—there's just no way around it. I'll vaguely sort them from more subtle to more bold.
In Jim Healy's introduction to Playtime at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.), he could not have impressed any stronger that he truly loved it. And he was right. It's a masterpiece. (At least from what I've seen of Jacques Tati's films so far.)
The film follows Tati's charmingly bumbling Monsieur Hulot — sort-of. Hulot is only one of the characters in this film shot from the perspective of an omniscient and loving city — if a cold and dehumanizing one as well. The camera watches the trials of humans as they attempt to navigate the brutally unnatural surroundings of the city and its buildings. But as it goes (and as in Tati's other films) humanity prevails.
What was so remarkable was that every single moment of Playtime is richly and deliberately created. Even the most innocuous scene is a fractal part of the central theme.
But what I found most unusual was that when I was leaving the screening, I was struck with an uncanny sense that I had witnessed the completion of all cinema. It was as if I had walked out of every movie ever made — and felt no particular need to see another film. (And although tenacious, the feeling faded over several days, so I just might watch more movies.)