Above my classroom whiteboard in colored letters, the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” by Gandhi spans the wall. The letters, cut out of construction paper, are six inches high, and laminated. Lately, though, I haven’t been thinking much about changing the world. I’ve been thinking about research papers, grading, my master's thesis, and the end-of-the-school-year wrap-up.
Not until last night, with the oppressive heat keeping so many of us in this country up until the wee hours of the night (and longing for the monsoon rains to begin), was I so deeply touched by a story that proved that living by this motto one can, indeed, make radical change possible. All it takes is a dream, a bit of integrity, compassion, and a deep love for all people. Photographer Zana Briski, director of Born into Brothelsand founder of Kids with Cameras is my latest hero.
I love that bitter-sweet feeling when a film moves you at the core, and it ends, and you’re left all full of the weight of truth and the an unbearable longing, and you just want to hug the playwright, the directors, and the actors, because it all comes together into one, great, big masterpiece.
And that’s when you hate that you saw it alone, because you want to talk about it, and you can’t.
Except for the films that we’ve seen, the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the books we’ve read, each of us are the same person we were last year. I’ve already shared my top ten favorite film scenes, but in honor of film and my friend Carlitos of the dancing shoes, here’s the list of my top ten films:
The possibilities are endless. And, as in all things in life, subject to change. I had a tough time narrowing this list down to ten, and had to shave off a few favorites such the “driving across the desert scene” in Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the “I love you/Snap out of it” scene in Moonstruck, the “I’m not a boy” scene in Yentl, and the “eating cheese on the train/lactose intolerant” scene in French Kiss. Ironically, some of these films wouldn’t make my top ten favorite FILM list, but these scenes are brilliant.
10. The Birdcage: the “meet the parents” scene
9. When Harry Met Sally: the “orgasm in the restaurant” scene
8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The desert chase/cave scene
7. Death Becomes You: the Meryl Streep/Isabella Rosellini elixir scene
6. The Hours: the Julianne Moore mother-son “let’s make a cake” scene
5. Amelie: the “café puddle” scene (it’s about one second long, if that) and the “they finally meet” scene
4. Dreams (Kurosawa): Crows: the walking through the paint of Van Gogh’s paintings scene
3. Kill Bill: the “Black Mamba and Copperhead rumble in the kitchen” scene
2. Lost in Translation: the “about to fall asleep/ Bill Murray touches her foot” scene
And Shamash's number one favorite film scene:
The Matrix: the “Keanu Reeves takes the red pill/wake-up” scene
So, Shamash's question of the day is:
What are your favorite film scenes?
(For Kill Bill fans only: a tongue-in-cheek personality test. Which Deadly Viper Assassin are you? Black Mamba, Copperhead, California Mountain Snake, Cottonmouth, Sofie Fatale, Sidewinder, or Snake Charmer? Take this quiz to find out!)